It’s Not Just Food, It’s Family! Calgary – July 2013

More food adventures in Calgary! Let’s hop to it!

Places visited:

I’ve visited Calgary at least once (sometimes twice) a year for the past few years, and I’ve noticed ever since the opening of CHARCUT that there’s been this exciting new energy in the Calgary food scene, as typified by restaurants like Clive Burger and Model Milk.

I have family (by marriage) in Calgary, and it feels like a home away from home. Especially when I’m shoving my face into homecooked Vietnamese food like this:

Mother-in-law's bun bo hue (spicy pig's foot noodle soup). Not for sale.
Mother-in-law’s bun bo hue (spicy pig’s foot noodle soup). Not for sale.

People always ask me where the good Vietnamese food is in Vancouver, and I usually say that the vast majority of Vietnamese food in Vancouver is average. The restaurants try to do too much, don’t do what they do well enough, don’t go to the trouble of supplying those special herbs (other than basil), try to fake the bun bo hue, and so on. The best Vietnamese food is cooked by my mother-in-law. Truly, that’s the only answer I can give.

But when I’m in Calgary and not eating her delicious homecooking, I love exploring Calgary’s growing tight-knit scene. They love their meats and pickling.

MARKET Calgary

Trying out MARKET Calgary. It’s on 17th Ave, aka the cool street. Award-winning, locally-sourced food, blah blah blah, you know the deal 😉


I love chalkboard signs.


So we’ve got weed, cows, more weed and forks. Great!


Le menu.


We would end up ordering the “Citrus” dessert.


Affligem! Gesundheit! I prefer the tripel over the dubbel though. Personal taste.


You CAN eat oysters in Calgary 😀 These were west coast “satori” oysters. Not bad.


Tuna Crudo. Delicious.


Bison Carpaccio. The brioche croutons, burnt shallot aioli and juniper combined with the meat created a great taste/texture combo.


Wendy raved about her Kale Salad. She even enjoyed the parmesan crisps.


Halibut. Very firm and meaty.


I got the Burger with housemade beer cheese. Good to try but I was a little disappointed. I wasn’t a fan of the firm dry texture of the patty. The patty had straight sides, like it was punched out of a ring mold. The burger wasn’t exactly *salty* but the saltiness that was there seemed to be distributed throughout the whole burger, so when you’re biting into it and chewing, you get this wall of general saltiness rather than flavour mixing with salty bits.


The Duck with confit leg croquettes. It was initially too bloody for Wendy so she sent it back to be refired and then it was perfect for her. She enjoyed it.


The Citrus dessert. I was fooling around in the washroom when this was delivered to the table and unfortunately it melted a bit while they were waiting for me to return to take a photo. Sorry guys! But at least it was still delicious. I like looking at these fancy plated desserts.


I really wanted to come back to enjoy some of these “bits & bites” but didn’t get a chance. We tried coming back on a Sunday night around 10pm but they were already closed :(

Market Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Design District Urban Tavern


Back to Design District Urban Tavern for beer and eats. This was their Cucumber Wheat Ale. Pronounced cucumber aroma. Very nice!


Wendy’s nonalcoholic mojito with muddled peach and strawberry. Initially came out too bland but they added more of the peach and strawberry stuff then it was ok.


House pickles. They were ok. A little on the soft side.


Bucket of bacon is back! I got this the first time I went to District so now I have to get it every time I come back. So simple but so good. Housemade bacon with maple syrup. Ain’t no way you’re pairing wine with this! This is beer food!


Another great Calgary salad with cajun chicken. Wendy liked it. A great Cobb salad!


My blue cheese and cheddar mac ‘n cheese with chunks of house cured bacon. Pretty good!


Shalamar’s poutine. Also good. I like the really well-done pub food at this place and recommend anyone to try it out and see if it doesn’t charm you at least a little bit.

Design District Urban Tavern on Urbanspoon

Yann Haute Patisserie


Revisiting Yann Haute Patisserie for macarons! Seems like we’ve been going here almost every time we’re in Calgary.




More yums.


I ended up buying one of their baguettes. Impressive colour. I usually don’t see places bake their baguettes this far. Gives it a nice carmelized flavour.


Hazelnut coconut something or other. Forgot to take notes. Was very yummy.


Some other stuff.


Variety of macarons for the girls.


Passionfruit macaron. All their macarons are technically well done and have punchy, delicious fillings.


The baguette from Yann Haute Patisserie. It was alright. Not totally loving the crumb structure though. But if we found ourselves back there for their macarons and other great pastries, I’d probably get the baguette again just because of the carmelized bake on the outside.

Yann Haute Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Sherbrooke Liquor


We did a day trip to Edmonton to visit some friends. I had to stop by Edmonton’s best liquor store, Sherbrooke Liquor. AMAZING selection! Lots of stuff I don’t see in BC. I had to come out with…


…a box of beer! I felt a strange mix of joy and guilt.

Won Jung Gak


Korean-style Chinese food in Edmonton at a place called Won Jung Gak.


Apparently award-winning.


I like the mix of traditional korean elements and hoochy k-pop at the entrance.


Korean-style sweet ‘n sour pork (Tang soo yook nom). Nice to eat once in a while.


Short ribs.


Black bean noodles. Wendy loved it.


Seafood hot pot. By the end of the meal, the broth reduced down and became really intense and spicy.

Really couldn’t complain about the food. Well done Chinese-style Korean food.

Won Jung Gak on Urbanspoon

Raving about my Mikkeller beers (and mother-in-law’s food)


My beer haul from Edmonton.


Mostly Mikkeller beers. I’ve never had any of these before.


I had to drink a few in Calgary cuz it wouldn’t all fit into my suitcase. I brought plenty of bubble wrap.

I LOVE Mikkeller’s label design. Really fun and playful.


Gotta start choking these down so I can bring the rest of the bottles home in my suitcase! Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Single Hop. Fruity, tropical, bitter. Nice but perhaps one-dimensional, showing that the best beers have a balance of different types of hops.


Another beer: Evil Twin Ryan and the Beaster Bunny. This was a saison-type beer with the most lively, super long-lasting head I’ve ever encountered. Was almost like whipped cream! Subtle spicy saison aroma, bitter citrus with hot alcohol hit. Lots of sediment. Nice dry finish.


Mikkeller Dim Sum beer! (5%) Excellent zesty lemongrass flavour. Great balance, drinkability and flavour.


Mikkeller Spontankoppi. Sour and funk smell. Coffee essence without the taste or smell, if that makes sense. Aftertaste/finish is very coffee-like. Pretty drinkable for a sour beer. Coffee really works with the funk and sourness. Great with cheese.


Mikkeller American Dream Pilsner (4.6%). Poirot liked it, Abs hated it cuz of the bitter IPAness. Sweet grape/citrus/grapefruit. Super nice flavour! Fruity hop, just enough sweetness. Light body and alcohol.


Mikkeller Belma Single Hop…another one of Mikkeller’s single hop beers. Just ok.


Mikkeller Stateside IPA. This one was bolder and stronger compared to the previous beer. Alright.


Wendy’s mom made great salad rolls with mini-spring rolls inside!


More Vietnamese soup noodles, this time with assorted meaty goodness.


A bit of Vietnamese crepe (Banh Xeo) courtesy of Wendy’s mom.


We came across a Denny’s and a Wendy’s right next to each other! This is significant because those are our names 😀 Which would YOU choose? You know where I’d go 😀

Clive Burger


Late night eats! Starving and disappointed that Market was closed, but that’s ok cuz Clive Burger was just down the block and open late!


Love their menu. Straightforward and not too big. Custard shakes?! And the illustrations are just too cute.


They even have two beers on tap. I chose the India Black Ale. Not a bad CDA-style beer.


Not the best beer selection, but it probably works for their hipster clientelle.


Lots of design-y magazines for you to read.


Wendy chose the cherry shake. There was a sour, almost yogurty tang that Wendy didn’t like. I think it might’ve been from the cherry flavouring, which didn’t taste that much like cherry. I would come back later by myself to try the chocolate shake and I didn’t taste any of that tang. Or maybe the chocolate flavour covered that up.


I would’ve sworn I ordered a small fries :) maybe cuz it was near the end of the night…they might’ve just given me a large anyways.

Cool thing here is that all of their packaging is compostable! Whether you eat in or take it to go, they give you your food in a paper bag. Even the plastic milk shake cups are compostable.


Late night double cheeseburger and beer. Can’t beat it! We’ve got bacon tongue!


This was an absolutely well-done burger, no doubt about it. But somehow, with that extra char on the patty that comes from cooking it that well-done, it really accentuated the taste of the beef. The beef here is really clean and flavourful. They use Spring Creek beef which is the same brand of flat iron steaks that I like to buy in Vancouver when I see it. You know from the first couple bites whether you like a burger or not. And I liked this burger. So much that I’d come back the next day and have another one for lunch!


I love malt vinegar on my fries 😀


So I’m back at Clive Burger for lunch! I got an awesome chocolate shake! I’m not sure about the custard element…it just tasted really good to me!

When you order, they give you a coaster that will light up and vibrate when your order is ready 😉 Pretty cool system.


I got a simpler burger this time. Single patty with lettuce, tomato and pickle. Awesome. Great beef taste just shines through this humble-looking burger.


I think I love this place.

Clive Burger on Urbanspoon

CHARCUT Roast House


Back at CHARCUT! Soft pretzel? Yes please!


CHARCUT always has an interesting beer list.


The naughty-looking pretzel. Not bad. Served with cheese dip and various pickles.


Wendy’s bone marrow. Awesome.




The bone marrow had chunks of fried beef. Great combo! I love how there was meat sticking to the outside of the bone. It was delicious.


Laughing Dog Rocket Rye IPA (6.9%). Citrus hops, great balance, spicy ryeness, probably one of the better rye IPAs I’ve had.


Pork belly.






Wendy’s whole fish. It was “Euro Bass”.


Pig’s head mortadella. I was a little disappointed. The texture was chunkier than I remember. I actually like the bologna-ness of typical mortadella, and this was too chunky and rustic for me. I think they might’ve changed the recipe :( But there was plenty to bring home and I enjoyed it more eating it as leftovers.


Beef heart kielbasa. Not bad. I imagined this would taste better sauteed a bit.


Wendy’s flaky and delicious fish.


Chocolate ovaltine desserty type thing. Wendy liked it. I appreciated the smooth elements co-mingling with the crispy elements.


Doggy box with stamp of four pigs on it. Cute.

This trip to CHARCUT was…fine. Ironically the fish was really good. The bone marrow was awesome but the charcuterie wasn’t as delicious as I remember. Foodies are so fickle, eh?

Charcut Roast House on Urbanspoon

Model Milk


Model Milk! My favourite restaurant from our Calgary trip!


Love the room.


Apparently the building used to be part of a dairy farm? But Abs said that it recently was a gay club :)


Very modern farmhouse style.


I like how there’s a section of non-alcoholic drinks for Wendy.


Eventually I want to try all of these bar snacks.


I choose…The Burger!


The enticing dessert list, especially the “MM Fat Kid Cake”, but we were too full to order dessert :(


Love the brick! Rustic and tactile.


First Phillips beer that I’ve enjoyed in quite a while. Phillips Bottle Rocket ISA (India Session Ale).


Delicious fresh-tasting heirloom tomato salad with burrata.


The most awesome fried chicken skins ever! Served with pimento cheese and butter lettuce.


Make a cute little bundle and eat!


Wendy’s steelhead. That emulsion was too creamy for her.


The most amazing burger cooked rare!


This is what I love about a burger: cooked rare, loosely packed, juicy, right amount of saltiness, quality beef. Nuff said!


There was also grapefruit in Wendy’s fish.


View of the open kitchen.

Ohhhhhhhhh man, I love this place for chicken skins and THAT BURGER. I want to come back again and again.

Model Milk on Urbanspoon

Tail end of the trip :(


Unfortunate casualty of the Calgary floods. They make good subs.


Without Papers pizza truck! Didn’t get a chance to try though.


I’ll have to try it next time.


They only sell full or half pizzas here.


Last taste of Wendy’s mom’s cooking before we leave. Veggie fritters, Vietnamese ham, lettuce, herbs and bean sprouts on top of flat rice noodles. Pour fish sauce on top and eat! Clean, wonderful and delicious!

Ah, Calgary…whenever I feel like I’m getting bored of Calgary, I find something new or different that just resparks my interest. I’ll be back!

Back Home


We’re back home! Too tired to cook so we got takeout from The Union. Green papaya salad with little battered fried shrimps! Looks a little sad in the takeout box but tasted quite good!


Their crispy fish banh mi is so good and worth the $8.


This pork belly banh mi looks skimpy but was delicious. Firmish belly instead of melt-in-the-mouthy.


Heheh, glad to be home…

The Union on Urbanspoon

4 thoughts on “It’s Not Just Food, It’s Family! Calgary – July 2013”

  1. really really awesome Blog Dennis! some of the best photos and to the point writing that’s out there!! I look forward to learning more about Calgary’s dining scene from a Vancouver foodie!! Andy (Brandy’s husband)

  2. Would suggest Cibo, River Café (not cheap)…Calgary’s restaurant scene is a bit thin.

    But best place for bison, Saskatoon berries, kohl rabi.

    1. Thanks Jean! Nice blog! I love that you’re active and outdoorsy :) I really love visiting Calgary. I guess to me it’s exciting cuz I’m usually just there for one-week stints. It’s a refreshing change from Vancouver and I enjoy my time there every time. I can’t get enough alternative proteins like bison!

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