Thanks to Groupon and similar discount sites, I’ve been to more restaurants faster, than I normally would, which has been wonderful, since going out to eat is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Since the number of restaurants in Calgary vastly exceeds my budget, it’s good to have an extra push towards something you’d visit one day anyhow, but it might take you a couple of years to get there under your own steam. And thus it was that on a lovely Monday evening I took my mother for an early supper at Vero Bistro Moderne.
Despite the ridiculous name (if you can say Moderne without sounding like an idiot… more power to you), the online reviews were mostly positive, and the menu looked like it had a good variety of dishes. Since we got there at the super early hour of about 5:30 we were able to snag a lovely table nestled in front of a large window for good light and views of Kensington. The red and black decor was lovely, heavy napkins graced the tables, and small dishes of olive oil and balsamic were waiting for an excellent bread basket.
Since we’re both on a perpetual quest to NOT OVEREAT – a condition which happens with stunning ease for both of us, we decided to order two appetizers and one main dish to share. We settled on an appetizer platter, the lobster bisque, and the 72 hour braised short rib. The first thing that I loved about the appetizer platter is the abundance. Too often the portions we see seem on the small side for the price – dwarfed by the large platters they’re served on. They force the hindbrain to go into a calculation mode, trying to equitably divide small bites into shareable pieces. This one had so many things piled on in abandon, that the calculating part of the brain relaxed, knowing there’s plenty to go around. The second thing was quality – most of the bites went very well together and were fun to nibble on. From the sundried tomatoes, to the artichokes, to a lovely lentil salad, some cured meat, olives, spicy peppers, beets… it was a mélange of good flavors.
The lobster bisque was a bit disappointing. Although lovely to look at, under a puff pastry hat, it was a shade bitter, too smoky, and just flavored wrong. Like the pot scorched that day, and the bitter flavors permeated the soup. It badly needed some cream and a touch more lobster flavor rather than the smoked undertones that it had. It was edible, just not very good.
I chose the short rib dish knowing that my mother would enjoy it, and it did not disappoint. It was an amazingly rich dish, with flavors that worked like a symphony together. The meat was fork tender, achieving that special unctuous texture that short ribs get, the sweet potato gnocchi were perfectly tender and added a hint of sweetness to the dish, the morels subtly perfumed everything, and the fried green onions added some savory crunch. It’s a magnificent, generous dish.
It was also a very filling dish, so we had no room for dessert and simply finished off dinner with a pot of tea. I highly recommend the tea that says something about apricot flavors, it was very good. The place was starting to fill up as we were wrapping up, and we vacated our wee table full and happy. Overall it’s an excellent addition to the Calgary dining scene, my mother was thrilled with the dinner, and we’ll definitely be back.
209, 10 ST NW 403-283-8988