Tuesday, August 23, 2011

...River Cafe (Calgary)

Overall:  7.5/10
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Food: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Ambiance: 7/10
River Cafe on Urbanspoon
Steelhead trout
Earlier this summer, we had the opportunity to revisit River Cafe and enjoyed some seasonal fish and game.   We took advantage of the Early Bird special which included appetizer and main for $25, allowing us to try a few more items on top.  It was a hot evening so we decided to dine inside rather than on the patio, a decision we did not regret since it still felt muggy inside with the lack of air conditioning.  The service was casual and friendly, slightly making up for the ever-present buzzing of flies by the window we were seated by.  
The appetizer included in the Early Bird special was the red lentil hummus with canola seed flatbread.  The hummus, served in a large jar, was deliciously addictive with the flatbread. There was however, much more hummus than flatbread, so we had to use the bread they serve prior to the meal to accompany the remaining hummus.  Perhaps they should have offered more flatbread?


On top of the Early Bird special, we tried the "Fish and Game Board", their own version of a charcuterie board.  It included candied trout, boar rillette, steelhead lox, bison pastrami, pickled egg with a mustard, pickles, cheese (we forget what kind?  gouda is currently on their menu) and house made crackers.  We enjoyed everything on the board, our favourite being the candied trout.  However, we felt underwhelmed by the presentation- it made it seem as though there was less of what there actually was, and a little too precious for the aesthetic they portray.  Also, the hard boiled egg seemed to have been peeled by someone who was wearing mitts!

For our mains, I had the steelhead trout which was pan fried rendering the skin nice and crispy.  Usually my main fear is over done fish, but this trout was cooked just right.  The dish also included roasted turnips, fried green tomato, asparagus topped with a sprinkling of pretty flower petals- all of which went very well with the fish.
The other main we tried was the boar flank with roasted potatoes, garlic puree and beans.  The medium rare boar was slightly chewy but not unpalatable, and very flavourful.  




Luckily we saved room for dessert, and chose a vanilla bean pannacotta with a cherry compote and a rhubarb bread pudding with vanilla gelato.  The cherries were not overly sweet and went wonderfully with the pannacotta.  We liked how the bread pudding was crisp along the edges and how the gelato balanced the heaviness of the pudding.




Overall we had a good experience at River Cafe and found the Early Bird to be a great deal.  We think the regular menu is overpriced, with main dishes close to $50 a plate.  We have been to the River Cafe more than a few times, but despite the good food, it is not on our "Top Eats" list in Calgary.

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