Avenue Calgary March 19

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Bestrestaurants2019 r e v O t s e B 0 2

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WITH US! Whether you are well versed in the real estate market or not, you have likely heard that it’s a buyer’s market. While we do agree that it’s a great time to buy, if you’re serious about selling, now is seasonally the best time to sell. With spring around the corner, we anticipate an influx of buyers to start shopping and making purchases for summer possession dates. If you’re looking for professional representation in a market that can be challenging give us the opportunity to interview for the job. You won’t regret it. Our team is comprised of highly qualified agents with vast experience in Calgary’s real estate industry. Working as a team ensures we are able to provide you; our client, the best possible service by pairing you with an agent whose expertise best suits your needs. To request your complimentary home evaluation, visit YYCREADVISORS.COM/VALUE.PHP or personally contact me on my cell at 403.383.1579 Sincerely,




“It's nice to get out of the swamp every now and again!" So make plans to dine out in Bragg Creek On Friday April 12th, 2019 you’re invited to the 7th annual Taste of Bragg Creek. Year round, Bragg Creek wine & food merchants and restaurateurs offer culinary experiences to fit every occasion. Whether it’s after a long day on the trails, to quench your thirst after golf or to impress a significant other, Bragg Creek is the destination for you and your taste buds. Celebrate the Taste of Bragg Creek culinary event for the entire month of April. For complete details visit tasteofbraggcreek.ca Facebook facebook.com/tastebraggcreek Twitter @TasteofBragg

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BED: 3 BATH: 3 4,736 SQ.FT. MLS: C4219569

BED: 2 BATH: 2 1,529 SQ.FT. MLS: C4218872

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Luxurious River Facing Penthouse with 360 degree views of River and Downtown from this full floor unit.

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Luxurious Tuscan inspired estate home built by Knightsbridge and overlooking the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Indoor pool, professional theatre and sport court!

Heather Waddell

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2201 30 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB

339 Diamond Willow Point, Elbow Valley, AB

BED: 6/2 BATH: 5/1 3,314 SQ.FT. MLS C4222324

BED: 4 BATH: 3 2,498 SQ.FT. MLS C4215816

BED: 4 BATH: 2.5 2,700 SQ.FT. MLS C4223975

BED: 4 BATH: 2/1 2,441 SQ.FT. MLS C4224347

Rarely does a family home of this caliber come to market, situated in Altadore's w/ over 5370 sqft of living space, 6 bdrms & 6 bath + Den.

This charming character home shows pride of ownership inside and out.

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Outstanding Location - Backing southwest onto a ravine and nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac is this exquisite 4 bedroom fully updated walk-out bungalow.

Renata Reid

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BED: 4 BATH: 4 1,873 SQ.FT. MLS: C4218626

BED: 4 BATH: 4 2,754 SQ.FT. MLS C4225153

BED: 3 BATH: 2/1 1,446 SQ.FT. MLS: C4223792

BED: 3 BATH: 2 1,462 SQ.FT. MLS C4223615

Fabulous attached home by Willix Developments in desirable Killarney. Refined finishing includes 10 ft ceilings & in floor heating. West backyard & steps from 17th Avenue & C Train.

2 storey home w/ walkout basement, triple garage and nanny suite! Backing onto Lakeside Greens Golf Course. Walking distance to Lake Chestermere.

3 bdrm townhouse only a few steps away from the Bow River pathway and minutes to downtown, the University of Calgary, and Foothills Hospital.

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16th Annual Best Restaurants | Mountain Adventure Planning Guide | Spring Fashion

MARCH 2019 Bestrestaurants2019 r st Ove 20 B e

st New all • 3 Be

• 34 More Best

Places to Eat now

PM# 40030911

O N T H E C OV E R Charred cabbage with grated mimolette and jalapeno salad cream at Pigeonhole. PHOTOGRAPH BY Jared Sych


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84 Best Restaurants


Our annual deep dive into dining out in Calgary with the 20 best overall places to eat right now, plus the three best new restaurants on the scene and top picks in a variety of categories, from best downtown dining to best takeout.

Shimmer into spring with sparkly accessories and luxe pieces with plenty of shine.

By Shelley Arnusch, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Colin Gallant, Jennifer Hamilton, Hannah Kost, Käthe Lemon, Gwendolyn Richards, Erin Tettensor, Alana Willerton and Julia Williams 26


Next stop: Atlanta.

New non-stop flights from Calgary to Atlanta. Come to Atlanta for the southern hospitality but stay for so much more. During the day, discover lush natural greenery, sweeping skylines and trails leading to sights worth sharing on social media. In the evening, enjoy authentic world-class dining that stays true to its southern roots. So, if you’re thinking about visiting somewhere new this spring, why not make your next stop Atlanta?

To book, visit westjet.com or call your travel agent today.

Service starts March 3, 2019. Schedule subject to change.




contents MARCH 2019



Mountains Even though the mountains are still covered in snow, there’s no time like the present to start planning your great summer adventure in the great outdoors.

104 Decor

A Hillhurst penthouse with 360-degree views is transformed into a home that exudes warmth and oozes personality.

110 The List

Dastar designer Jenn Nguyen’s favourite things in Calgary.


Detours The ninth biennial Festival of Animated Objects continues the tradition of progressive puppetry in Calgary. Plus, the teenaged sisters who have made a business of making and selling science kits, and a conversation with Yvonne Chapman, the Calgary actor starring in CBC’s Street Legal redux. 28



Workout A bona-fide cycling scene exists among the city’s chefs, who ride for fitness and for fun, as well as for the rush.


New & Noteworthy We’re crushing on Canadiandesigned handbags and silk sleep masks. Plus, a local designer’s program to give DIY decorators a leg up and an app that makes it super easy to get a massage.


THE TOTAL PACKAGE. CALGARY IS THE MOST LIVABLE CITY IN NORTH AMERICA AND RANKS 4TH WORLDWIDE. Loving Calgary isn’t just dinner table conversation - it’s the story we’ve been touting to the world for years. Let your friends know that Calgary is the place to make a living and a life. If our amazing culinary scene isn’t enough, we’ve got affordable housing, 333 days of sunshine a year, great wages, and mountains in our backyard. Opportunity awaits. bepartoftheenergy.ca AvenueCalgary.com


avenue RedPoint Media & Marketing Solutions 100, 1900 11 St. S.E. Calgary, Alberta T2G 3G2 Phone: 403-240-9055 Toll Free: 1-877-963-9333 x0 Fax: 403-240-9059 info@redpointmedia.ca AvenueCalgary.com Facebook: Avenue Magazine — Calgary Twitter: @AvenueMagazine Instagram: @AvenueMagazine

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Phone: 403-240-9055 x0 Toll Free: 1-877-963-9333 x0 advertising@avenuecalgary.com AvenueCalgary.com Published 12 times a year by RedPoint Media & Marketing Solutions. Copyright (2019) by RedPoint Media & Marketing Solutions. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Canadian Publications Mail Agreement No. PM 40030911.

Publisher Joyce Byrne, jbyrne@redpointmedia.ca Editor-in-Chief Käthe Lemon, klemon@redpointmedia.ca Executive Editor Jennifer Hamilton, jhamilton@redpointmedia.ca Senior Art Director Venessa Brewer, vbrewer@redpointmedia.ca Executive Editor, Digital Content Jaelyn Molyneux, jmolyneux@redpointmedia.ca Senior Editor Shelley Arnusch Associate Art Director Sarah McMenemy Assistant Editors, Digital Content Alyssa Quirico, Alana Willerton Editorial Assistant Colin Gallant Staff Photographer Jared Sych Production Designer Austin Jansen Contributing Editor Andrew Guilbert Editorial Intern Stephanie Joe Fact Checkers Hadeel Abdel-Nabi, Matthew Coyte, Jennifer Friesen, Hannah Kost, Victoria Lessard Contributors Kara Chomistek, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Jason Eng, Jeremy Fokkens, Christina Frangou, Jennifer Friesen, Hannah Kost, Kait Kucy, Citlali Loza, Fabian Mayer, Andrew Penner, Gwendolyn Richards, Lynda Sea, Erin Tettensor, Nickol Walkemeyer, Julia Williams, Katherine Ylitalo Print Advertising Coordinator Erin Starchuk, production@redpointmedia.ca Sales Assistant Robin Cook, rcook@redpointmedia.ca Director, National Sales Lindy Neustaedter Account Executives Elsa Amorim, Janelle Brown, Melissa Brown (on leave), Jocelyn Erhardt, Deise MacDougall, Anita McGillis, Chelsey Swankhuizen Production Manager Mike Matovich Digital Advertising Specialist Katherine Jacob Pickering (on leave) Digital Advertising Coordinator Rebecca Middlebrook Audience Development/Reader Services Manager Rob Kelly Printing Transcontinental LGM Distribution City Print Distribution Inc.

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Make a ring as unique as your love story



BEST DRESSED See who our judges picked for our annual list of the city’s most sartorially savvy.

SPRING STYLE Improve your accessories game with these fashion finds from local shops.

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE Have your own Julie Andrews moment in a beautiful mountain meadow on one of these wildflower-filled hikes.





16th Annual Best Restaurants | Mountain Adventure Planning Guide | Spring Fashion

A Feast of Options


Bestrestaurants2019 rall • 3 st Ove 20 B e

Best New • 34 More Best Places

to Eat


PM# 40030911

G E T AV E NU E O N YO U R TA B L E T! To get the tablet edition, go to




Käthe Lemon Editor-in-Chief klemon@redpointmedia.ca

(both S.E. and S.W.), road closures for construction have exacerbated these difficulties. However, while these issues have claimed a few victims over the past year, the dining scene in the city remains robust. It was as difficult as ever to select amongst the city’s incredible dining options to narrow down to a list of the 20 Best Overall. That Calgary boasts such a tremendous assortment of places to dine is a testament to the talent, creativity and commitment of the chefs and owners who are driving the constant growth of the local restaurant industry.






Are you a local maker? Find out more about the Made in Alberta Awards and how to enter at MadeInAlbertaAwards.ca

While our focus here is often on food, dining is of course not the only great advantage this city has to offer. If you are looking further down the road and planning for more than your next meal, take a look at our mountain adventure guide, particularly if you’re hoping to go chasing waterfalls this summer. This year’s guide focuses on finding water — from mountain lakes and streams to waterfalls within a day-trippable distance. Here’s to getting out and enjoying the best this city has to offer, both near and far, indoors and out.

Photograph by Jared Sych; hair and makeup by Citlali Loza

ere at Avenue, spring starts when the March issue hits the newsstands. Yes, I know, technically spring starts on the 20th and there’s a good chance that there’s not only still snow on the streets, but in the air and perhaps threatening to come for another month (please let it not be more than that). But at this point in the year, we’ve turned a discernable seasonal corner. It may still be the winter of our discontent, but it is no longer the winter of our despair. And with the March issue focusing on the best dining options in the city, our minds turn once again to going out to try all of the delectable options from the Best Overall Restaurants (we’ve selected the top 20 with the feedback provided in our annual survey of restaurant insiders and diners), and the top options in a number of categories including best new restaurant, best Chinese, best steak and many, many more. It is not an overstatement to say that the last couple of years have been punishing for the local restaurant industry. Continued economic bad news and uncertainty have kept many diners at home. Rising food and labour costs have increased the burden on business owners. And for those operating restaurants along 17th Avenue



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ON THE WEB The Establishment Brewing Company


ELIZABETH CHORNEY-BOOTH Elizabeth Chorney-Booth is an award-winning Calgarybased freelance writer with 20 years of experience writing about food, travel, local goings-on, pop culture and whatever else strikes her insatiable sense of curiosity. She’s a regular columnist on CBC Radio, writes for a number of local and national publications, is a longtime contributor to Avenue, and is the co-author of two best-selling cookbooks. When she’s not travelling or checking out local restaurants, Chorney-Booth can likely be found in her northwest Calgary home, curled up with a good book or hanging out with her husband and two children.

WHAT TO DO IN CALGARY EVERY DAY THIS SPRING The first day of spring is March 20. We'll help you plan the season.

JARED SYCH Jared Sych is a Calgary-based shutterbug and when he’s not working as the staff photographer for Avenue Calgary and the rest of the RedPoint Media Group publications, he likes to spend time with his lovely fiancée Bre, daughter Harlow, dog Joey and cat Gomez. His favourite thing about shoot-ing food is getting to eat the food afterwards.

AvenueCalgary.com/Spring /avenuecalgary @avenuemagazine @avenuemagazine

NICKOL WALKEMEYER With a career spanning 19 years, Nickol Walkemeyer has developed a defined aesthetic within the world of fashion and editorial makeup. Her passion for her art has led Walkemeyer around the globe and given her the opportunity to work with publications such as Vogue Arabia and India, Grazia France and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. She is based in Canada.

Subscribe to our weekly Food, Style and Weekender newsletters to get the latest restaurant and store openings, advice on what to eat and where to shop, and our picks for the best things to do in Calgary.

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KATHERINE YLITALO Katherine Ylitalo still wonders what she will be. At 16, she went to Stanford University to become an architect, but after a year in Florence, Italy, turned to art. She developed a ceramic studio practice, taught art history in a correctional institute and saw her first Northern Lights outside Yorkton, Sask. A master gardener, Ylitalo blended horticulture with art to become a garden historian. After 30 years as a museum professional, she still feels privileged to work with remarkable artists. Curator, writer, educator and arts advocate, this Aquarian starts the day at the pool in deep water.



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Puppetry in various forms will infiltrate the city this month for the ninth biennial Festival of Animated Objects.

A Golden Age of Puppetry

Photograph by Sean Dennie


his month, the ninth biennial Festival of Animated Objects (FAO) highlights Calgary as one of the best places in the world to watch or make puppetry, mask or “animated objects.” The city’s status as a puppetry hotbed began in the 1980s with artists such as Ronnie Burkett, Interlude Mime Theatre and Aréte Contemporary Mime Troupe introducing puppets as an artform for serious work, rather than just kids’ entertainment. Through the nineties, puppetry was incubated by local mainstay companies including the Green Fools, WP Puppet Theatre and One Yellow Rabbit.

Today, FAO founder and co-artistic director Xstine Cook says Calgary’s puppetry is picking up steam more than ever. “It may be due to the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to inhabit Calgary and lives through the people who invent, create and innovate here. A can-do, self-made attitude works well in an artform that is largely self-taught, and is constantly reinventing itself,” she says. Even those outside the world of puppetry are probably nonetheless familiar with the Old Trout Puppet Workshop. Since its inception in 1999, the local troupe’s myriad independent and collaborative productions have grown it into a staple of the city and the nation’s arts scene.

Trout productions have toured the world, earning rave reviews and awards along the way. So it was a natural fit for Old Trout co-founder Peter Balkwill to join the FAO as co-artistic director four years ago. In fact, it was necessary; running the festival on her own had taken its toll on Cook and, as Balk-will recalls, she nearly quit. “I went, ‘no, no, that can’t be, this has to happen, this is way too important. If you don’t do it, I’ll do it.’ And so she called me on that and she went, ‘okay, dude, you’re up.’” Since then, the two have shared FAO duties while taking care of their own outside responsibilities: Cook heads the Calgary Animated AvenueCalgary.com



Outside of the FAO, the Old Trouts are getting ready to premiere their latest production (in collaboration with Calgary Opera), Ghost Opera, in Banff and Calgary this May, and CAMP is offering intensives and workshops on an ongoing basis. Whether you’re looking to learn the art yourself or simply want to see objects come to life on stage, it seems that now is as good a time as ever for puppetry in this city. —Colin Gallant The 2019 Festival of Animated Objects runs March 16 to 19, puppetfestival.ca 38


Teenaged sisters Ashley and Lauren Voisin are behind the STEM kit company Robots Are Fun.

Robot Reboot


ike many entrepreneurs, Robots Are Fun CEO Lauren Voisin, age 14, got her start in business when she noticed a hole in the market. Back when she was six, she took to assembling science kits. The more kits she did, the more she saw room for improvement that she believed she could address. So, six years ago, at the age of eight, Voisin started her own science-kit company. “I wanted to give kids a way that they could build robots and learn what the components do and how they work together,” she says. Lauren now runs Robots Are Fun along with her 15-year-old sister, Ashley Voisin, who serves as chief creative officer. The Voisins manage the company around their schoolwork (Lauren is home-schooled and Ashley is a student at Bishop Carroll High School). Robots Are Fun sells robotics kits priced around $10 to $20, available by contacting them directly through their website, (robotsrfun.com). The kits offer different levels of complexity, with advanced kits building on the knowledge imparted by simpler ones. Lauren primarily designs the kits and presents at events — in 2017 she appeared at the UN Global Compact Network Canada’s Gender Equality Forum in Toronto. Ashley ensures the products are on-trend and marketable, and also plans Lauren’s presentations. Together, the sisters also run teambuilding exercises with companies and do workshops in classrooms. “Imagine a class full of grade two

students, and they’ve gone step-by-step to learn how to build a robot and how the circuit works. They turn the robot on all at the same time and it’s like this eruption of excitement,” Lauren says. The Voisins say moments like that are the most rewarding, but as young female entrepreneurs, they have their fair share of challenges, as well. “We’ve been told that this isn’t for girls, or this isn’t something we should be interested in,” Lauren says. “But we’ve also done activities with people in the technology industry, and they’ve said it’s changed the way they view their job.” At one of their workshops at a Telus Spark adults only night back in 2017, the sisters were demonstrating their Brushbot kit, a motorized household scrubber with optional googly eyes that moves by vibration. Curious engineers approached and soon began enthusiastically building their own. “They had so much fun adding more power to see how well they could make it work, and what the best design was,” Lauren says. “We get people like that a lot.” Ultimately, the sisters say Robots Are Fun exists to teach and inspire — the low prices of the kits yield only modest profits — but the company has also benefited the Voisins in other ways. “It has made me a lot more assertive and it’s given me a lot more confidence,” Ashley says. “It’s extremely validating when we see the impact we’re having on the people we’re teaching; it just makes it worth our while. And worth their while.” —Hannah Kost

Puppet photograph by Sean Dennie

Objects Society; Balkwill, in addition to being a member of the Old Trouts, teaches at the University of Calgary, the Banff Centre’s Puppet Theatre Intensive, the New England Puppet Intensive and the Canadian Academy of Mask and Puppetry (CAMP), which he founded in 2016. The way Balkwill discusses puppetry is magnetic and intoxicating. His words spill out in a torrent as he explains the artform’s “shamanistic” qualities and how it’s more like an intersection for artists of all disciplines rather than just one form of artistic expression. His enthusiasm for the programming at this year’s FAO is infectious. The 2019 roster includes Ghost River Theatre’s first foray into the world of animated objects with the new work Giant, based on the life of wrestling legend André the Giant, plus Tria Fata by France’s La Pendue Company. The adult-content Dolly Wiggler Cabaret is returning this year and the festival will also feature works by emerging artists financed through CAMP’s new micro-grant program.






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or Calgary actor Yvonne Chapman, calling her grandma to let her know that she had a role on the reboot of Street Legal has been a highlight of the whole experience. “My grandma is happy for all my successes, but she’d watched the original show and knew what it was and I think that brought her a lot of joy,” says Chapman. Chapman’s grandma isn’t the only one excited for the return of Street Legal. The show, which ran from 1987 to 1994, was the longestrunning hour-long scripted series in Canadian television history until it was unseated by Heartland in 2014. The reboot mirrors aspects of the original show in following the professional and personal lives of Toronto lawyers. It also honours the original by reintroducing some of the characters, including Olivia Novak, played again by Cynthia Dale, who joins a boutique law firm that includes Chapman’s character, Mina Lee. Chapman, who enjoyed a successful career in corporate finance in Calgary before pursuing acting in Vancouver and now Toronto, says the series has given her the meaningful character she’s been waiting for. “I’ve been so close to roles in the past, and I’ve been heartbroken over them,” she says. “When I got this one, it made all of those losses make sense.” “WITH MINA, WHAT I RELATE TO MOST IS THAT SHE’S SURROUNDED BY EXPECTATIONS IN BOTH HER PROFESSIONAL AND HER PERSONAL LIFE OF WHO PEOPLE WANT HER TO BE.” — Yvonne Chapman, actor

Part of the appeal for Chapman is the contemporary issues the show tackles, and the complexity of both those narratives and the characters living through them. “The stories are so true to the social and cultural landscape of our world today,” she says. “With Mina, what I relate to most is that she’s surrounded by expectations in both her professional and her personal life of who people want her to be.” 40


Part of the new Street Legal’s strength, says Chapman, is the racial diversity and sexual diversity of both the on-screen cast and those working behind the scenes. “I don’t even use the word ‘diversity,’ it’s just reality,” she says. “Street Legal is incredibly inclusive.” While Chapman says she does feel some pressure to live up to the show’s legacy, she says the cast is excited and hopeful their work will resonate with audiences the way it did 25 years ago. “My last day on set, Cynthia turned to me and said, ‘I really hope it’s everything for you that it was for me,’” Chapman says. —H.K. Calgary actor Yvonne Chapman stars in the CBC’s reboot of Street Legal.


This month you, along with schoolkids from K to 12, can find out how earth science affects every aspect of our lives — even if you’re not a geologist — at the Earth Science for Society Exhibition at Stampede Park. “As a resource-based economy we are highly dependent on earth scientists for our water, oil, gas, metals and minerals,” says organizing committee chair Marissa Whittaker. “Ultimately, if you look around, anything that isn’t a plant or animal came from the earth processes. Every day our lives are impacted by earth sciences, either in the material we use, or the scenery we look at. “Many UNESCO sites close by were chosen because of the influences of the earth: Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Burgess Shale, for example, are both famous for the fossils they contain. The Burgess Shale is home to trilobites and other sea critters found in the mountains because the Rockies are the result of colliding tectonic plates, which forces sedimentary rocks upward.” The Earth Science for Society exhibition runs March 17 to 19 at the Big Four Building, Stampede Park, esfscanada.com.

Photograph of Yvonne Chapman by Matt Barnes

Street Cred


Some call it


we think of it as an anthem



Ruth’s Chris Steak House is known around the world as one of the best steak experiences you can have. How do we make your experience so special? It all starts with the food, of course. We use only the top 2 percent of beef available, which is referred to as Prime. We serve it on piping hot plates with sizzling butter — and the sound of that sizzle, coupled with the steak’s mouthwatering aroma, are almost intoxicating. The best part is, everything on the menu tastes even better than it smells or sounds. Match this with an award-winning wine list and attentive hospitality, and you’re in for a truly memorable meal. Elegant and approachable As a fine-dining establishment, Ruth’s Chris brings an elevated experience to steak connoisseurs, and we offer a variety of ongoing promotions to make this experience all the more accessible. The Prime Time menu, for instance, is

offered daily before 6:30 pm and all night on Sunday. It’s a two-course dinner that starts at $44, but you can add a third course for $8 and a glass of wine for $10. For couples, Date Night is available every Wednesday. At $120 for two people, it’s a three-course dinner that includes a glass of wine for each person. Dine in style With private dining rooms available for any of your special events or business meals, and prime ingredients cooked and served to perfection, it’s no wonder Ruth’s Chris won the 2018 Trip Advisor award for best steak house. And, thanks to our two locations in Alberta — one in Edmonton, one in Calgary — our world-class steak house experience is waiting just beyond your own front door. As our founder, Ruth Fertel, liked to say, “Life’s too short to eat anywhere else.”

Alberta locations — Alberta owned RUTH’S CHRIS CALGARY 294, 115 - 9th Avenue SE, 2nd Floor of Calgary Tower RUTH’S CHRIS EDMONTON 9990 Jasper Avenue OPEN DAILY AT 5 P.M.


What’s in a name? We’re the first to admit that our name is a little odd, but it’s been that way for more than 50 years. Our history dates back to 1965, when Ruth Fertel, a single mother of two boys, purchased a restaurant called Chris’ Steak House in New Orleans and turned it into one of the most notable eateries in the city. When a large kitchen fire completely destroyed the building, Ruth moved her business to another locale not too far away, but she wasn’t allowed to move the Chris Steak House name along with it. So, with a glint of mischief in her eye, she named her new place Ruth’s Chris Steak House— and a tongue-twisting legacy was born. AvenueCalgary.com




do to

this month

THE BIKE SHOP Long-time local retailer of all things cycling The Bike Shop recently relocated its south location, which is now in an almost 20,000-square-foot space. 7413 Macleod Tr. S.W., thebikeshop.com

LOVENOTE This Vancouver-based bridal shop and design studio carries modern wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and accessories at its new boutique in the heart of Inglewood.

The Scarlet Letter.

1317 9 Ave. S.E., lovenotebride.com



Some stories become more resonant with age.


Case in point, this modern adaptation of The

For 27 years, Artifact (formerly $100 Film Festival)

Scarlet Letter at Theatre Calgary speaks clearly

has been one of the world’s only film festivals to ex-

to today’s divisive climate. The story follows a

hibit exclusively 16-mm and Super 8 works. Each

defiant Hester Prynne who refuses to crumble

night begins with the Film/Music Explosion! which

beneath the Puritan values of her community

pairs emerging filmmakers with indie bands for a

after being banished for adultery.

one-night-only collaboration, followed by screenings

Max Bell Theatre, Arts Commons, theatrecalgary.com

of process-intensive works by local and international talent, as well as Artifact’s visiting artist.


The Grand, 608 1 St. S.W., artifactfilmfestival.com

NIGHTS & WEEKENDS Open Thursdays to Sundays, Nights & Weekends



A Jamaican Tim Hortons manager, a teenage


downtown space, opening for business once the

Syrian refugee and a Chinese doctor walk into a

This Cuban music-and-dance spectacular has

daytime sandwich shop has closed. Nights & Week-

rink. That’s the premise behind Alberta Theatre

appeared on the Latin Grammy awards and on

ends serves up menu items such as oysters, pasta

Projects’ The New Canadian Curling Club, a

Broadway. The Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba ensemble

and wagyu beef tartare.

comedy in which immigrants and small-town Ca-

performs with a high-energy live band across styles

821 1 St. S.W., nightsandweekends.ca

nadians hit the ice together, for better or worse.

from the country’s rich musical history. Expect to

The final show in the ATP 2018-19 season is an

hear cha-cha, mambo, rumba, conga and bolero


underdog tale illustrating that even the unlikeliest

at this cultural-event-meets-epic-party.

You can get sushi rolls or a sukiyaki beef rice

teammates can be winners. Audience members

Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons, artscommons.ca

bowl and pair it with real-fruit iced tea at this

is an evening restaurant run out of Meat & Bread’s

will be able to get a pre-show drink from the bar

new Japanese eatery in Midnapore.

on the stage, adding to the interaction.

336, 22 Midlake Blvd. S.E., 403-457-2822,

Martha Cohen Theatre, Arts Commons, atplive.com




The Scarlet Letter illustration by Andrea Ucini; Lovenote photograph by Ellyse Anderson









Local f lair, European fare. Grocery. Bakery. Deli. Café.

At our shops, we import thousands of European culinary treasures to compliment ingredients produced by Alberta farmers and purveyors to create a truly unique blend of local and global flavours.

Italiancentre.ca EDMONTON Little Italy | Southside | West End



CALGARY Willow Park

Bestrestaurants2019 34 M

r e v O t s e B 0 2

New t s e B 3 • l al

ore Best Pla ces to Eat n ow

It has not been an easy year for Calgary’s chefs and restaurateurs, with the increase in minimum wage, rising food costs, prolonged construction on 17th Avenue S.W. and overall economic uncertainty in the province. But what’s more noteworthy is how many restaurants are not just surviving, but thriving, despite the tough climate. This resiliency can be seen in myriad ways, from restaurant groups forming strategic alliances, to a rise in fastcasual dining with more approachable prices and expanded offerings such as takeout and happy hours. For some, it’s a staunch commitment to stay the course of chef-driven excellence emphasizing local, seasonal cooking. The result is a dining scene as diverse as it has ever been, delivering more high-quality options than we’ve ever seen. For our 16th annual overview of the best restaurants in the city, we polled chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and other dining enthusiasts to come up with the 20 best places to eat right now, presented alphabetically. The group also weighed in on the three best new restaurants and their top picks in a variety of dining categories. Ultimately, the places that made it into this issue are a reflection of the talented, creative and committed people behind them, and we heartily congratulate — and thank — all of them.

Bon appétit! BY Shelley Arnusch, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Colin Gallant, Jennifer Hamilton, Hannah Kost, Käthe Lemon, Gwendolyn Richards, Erin Tettensor, Alana Willerton AND Julia Williams PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jared Sych

Addresses for all restaurants appear on page 82.

45 AvenueCalgary.com

Best overall Alloy


s a scientific term, an alloy comes from mixing two elements to create one of greater strength — an apt metaphor for this fine-dining restaurant that has withstood economic downturns and an off-the-beaten-track location in the Manchester industrial area. It also works to describe what Rogelio Herrera, who is of Colombian descent and has worked in France, the Middle East, Israel and Spain, does in Alloy’s kitchen. Taking local ingredients and combining them with global flavours and techniques allows Alloy’s executive chef and co-owner to create meals greater than the sum of their parts. His keen talent to merge the unexpected — beef braised with a hint of vanilla, as one example — is heightened by his ability to make his creations look nearly too beautiful to eat. Emphasis on nearly, of course. The Alloy metaphor also connects Herrera and co-owner Uri Heilik, who is a trained chef but these days works more on the numbers side, curates the cocktail and wine lists and oversees the front of house, maintaining the same superior service the restaurant has offered since it opened 11 years ago. Add all of this to Alloy’s beautiful, airy and comfortable dining room — surely one of the prettiest in the city — a great wine list and plenty of free parking and it all comes together for an unforgettable experience. —G.R. 46


Alloy chef Rogelio Herrera with dishes of roasted red beets and lamb sirloin.

Food Global flavours merge with local ingredients in artfully designed dishes.

Vibe Cool and

casually comfortable.

Decor Lush California ’60s mod.

Dish Lamb meatloaf with buttermilk mashed potatoes, dried cherries, mustard glaze and heirloom carrots.

tip Whet your appetite (and find out what’s on special) by following Herrera on Twitter @rogeliochef.

Best overall



iners are faced with a fork in the road upon entering Anju. On the right, there’s a lively open space where laughter and chatter bounce between the bar and semiopen kitchen. On the left, there’s a more intimate dining room, encased by Korean art, which is framed reproductions of antique Korean postage stamps, and crowned by a contorted bronze light fixture. Throughout the whole space, blue walls and the bustle of ever-arriving plates announce an evening of flavourful indulgence. The menu is mainly made up of shareable plates and changes frequently at chef Roy Oh’s discretion, but staple dishes include crispy tofu with kimchee and pork belly, soy maple Brussels sprouts and Maple Hill chicken wings. Endurance diners may wish to start with a selection from the raw menu — like the ponzu-doused beef tataki — to invigorate the belly for the richer dishes still to come which encourage the consumption of soju. Literally translating to “food you eat with alcohol,” Anju is a haven for adventurous Korean food with firm traditional roots that evokes a family outing as much as a night of drinks with new friends. If you live in Calgary long enough, you’ll eventually come to know it for both. —C.G.

FOOD Contemporary Korean. VIBE Vibrant postmodern lounge.

DECOR Dark-hued

with a blend of traditional and modern accents.

DISH Fried chicken with cheesy shallot waffles and black vinegar-infused maple syrup. TIP It’s impossible to over-order the addictive kimchee — ask your server to keep the rounds coming.

Seafood curry ramen nest.



Best overall




BAR VON DER FELS At a tiny spot where food and wine share the spotlight, a good list is to be expected. For a unique experience, hand yourself over to owners Will Trow and Thomas Dahlgren and let them pour something from their eclectic selection of open bottles.



verything about Bar Von Der Fels suggests relaxed confidence — from its minimalist decor and its concise menu to its open-plan kitchen that invites you to watch just how much can be achieved in a tiny space. Malbec is shunned, Comté is crowned the “king of cheeses” and wines-by-the-glass are often selected spur-of-the-moment. These guys know about matching particular wines with their particular food, and if you let them — and you should — they’ll guide you through the unique, complementary and often surprising traits of each. It’s an exercise in trust, and take our word for it, that trust isn’t misplaced. Chef Douglas King, formerly of Kissa Tanto in Vancouver (via a stint as chef de cuisine at Pigeonhole) puts his experience blending Asian and Italian flavours to good use at BVDF, churning out small but imaginative plates designed for sharing that are best described as “new Canadian.” Ingredients are seasonal and local, so the menu changes frequently, as does the glass-pour selection. The full wine list, meanwhile, is carefully curated by sommelier and co-owner Thomas Dahlgren, and has an impressive selection of those harder-to-find varietals you might be craving, like dry German rieslings, white Burgundies and refreshing gamays. “The Calgary wine market is pretty amazing,” says co-owner Will Trow, which was part of what convinced him the city was ready for a smaller wine bar where guests get to experience and try a wide range of wine styles to pair with great food. Judging from the lineups every night at the door, he was right. —E.T.

PIGEONHOLE Just as the restaurant menu changes often at this wine-and-snack bar, so too does the wine list. Setting it further apart is this spot’s focus on natural wines — those made with very few additives and interventions by the winemaker.

TEATRO With a massive cellar taking up the vaults of this one-time bank, Teatro has the right bottle for any wine desire. Some 10,000 bottles with about 800 labels are stored below the restaurant, ready to be enjoyed. —G.R.

Chicken wings stuffed with liver and cheese, served with liver mousse. 48


Food Sharing plates designed for wine pairing. Vibe Tiny and lively. DECOR Simple and minimalist.

Dish The seasonal menu changes frequently, but there’s always a tartare, and it’s always worth trying. Tip Grab a stool at the bar and chat with the bartender about wine. Best seat in the house.

Owner and restaurant director Leslie Echino at the entrance to Blink.



BLINK RESTAURANT & BAR Understated and elegant with a well-curated wine list, Blink is ideal for a business lunch or an evening date.

CHARCUT ROAST HOUSE With its urban-rustic cuisine and buzzy vibe, Charcut has been a popular place to take out-of-towners (and locals) since it opened to much fanfare in 2010. The “lunch all at once” with a bag of warm cookies to go is a must.

Best overall

Blink Restaurant & Bar


link is a contemporary restaurant, but its setting, a long, narrow room in a sandstone building on historic Stephen Avenue, is as “Old Calgary” as it gets. The space was originally built as a saddlery in the 19th century and, in 1923, saw Eddie King ride his horse through the building to mark the launch of the Calgary Stampede. Today you would be very unlikely to witness such a commotion in the room — indeed, the atmosphere is beautifully calm, the service assured and the food elegant. The kitchen, led by executive chef Brian Diamond, seeks out local producers and creates seasonal dishes that focus on organic and regional ingredients. Owner and restaurant director Leslie Echino, the granddaughter of an Italian immigrant who made wine and grappa as a hobby, has applied a lifetime of knowledge and international travel to Blink’s remarkable wine list. The list features family-run wineries and distinctive grape varieties that pair perfectly with the menu and includes Echino’s own commercially sold wine, Conti-Mei, named after her two Italian grandmothers. Since it opened in 2007, Blink has been a favourite spot for business lunches and the place to impress out-of-towners with masterfully executed Canadian cuisine. The dining room, with its soft lighting, dark wooden floors and spa-like touches (even the washrooms have squishy chairs and mirrors that make you look taller), is a downtown oasis — cool in summer and cozy in winter. It’s one of the few restaurants in town where quiet conversation is possible, and with food and wine like this, you’ll find plenty to talk about. —J.W.

Garden Affair cocktail at Klein / Harris.


Food Contemporary

fine dining with a spotlight on organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Vibe Grown-up and serene. Decor A long, brick-

walled room with an impressive wine rack, soft lighting and an open kitchen.

Dish Ling cod with hand-rolled macaroni and salsify. Tip Blink’s baby sister

Bar Annabelle is right next door if you’re in the mood for excellent wine, whisky and tapas.

A balance of light and dark, formal and casual, cocktails and cuisine, Klein / Harris is one of Calgary’s most versatile restaurants. It’s also one of the most proudly Canadian with “true north” takes on both food and drink.

TEATRO From its beautiful bank building location to its contemporary Italian fine-dining menu, Teatro is the epitome of downtown refinement.

THE WEDNESDAY ROOM This swanky lounge is a hit for its mid-century style, classic cocktails and creative, well-executed food. Head downstairs to fully appreciate the eclectic rumpus-room ambiance. —E.C.B. and J.H.



Bread and Circus

Best overall


A Cacio e Pepe



n ingenious use of a throwaway space, Bread and Circus is a Roman-style trattoria nestled between the Una Takeaway pizza counter and the backroom Frenchie Wine Bar on 17th Avenue S.W. The name references a poem by Roman poet Juvenal, interpreted here to mean “dinner and a show.” For dinner, you can choose from a small menu of boldly flavoured dishes created by chef Kayle Burns, including a charred-cucumber and salt-cod starter and a meltingly tender braised-lamb ragu lasagna. Nothing at Bread and Circus is called a “sharing plate,” but pretty much everything is shareable so you can sample a variety of dishes. As for the show, it’s everywhere you look: chefs plating salads behind a marble bar, kitschy paintings, people squeezing past tables en route to Frenchie. It’s a loud, fun space that seats up to 39 diners, many of whom are tucked elbowto-elbow at the bar. All three establishements, along with Una Pizza + Wine next door, are owned by the BMeX Restaurant Group and share a basement kitchen, with Bread and Circus also operating a smaller designated kitchen of its own upstairs. It’s an eccentric set up, for sure, but it makes every meal at Bread and Circus feel like a magic trick. —J.W.

Food Roman trattoriainspired dishes with bold flavours and a big Italian wine list.

Vibe Fun, noisy and clandestine. Decor Rustic-

industrial with colourful paintings and chic bric-a-brac.

Dish The menu changes often but the carbonara is a fail-safe mainstay. Tip Bread and Circus is a challenge to spot from the street, so look for the sandwich board on the sidewalk. Cacio e Pepe pasta.

Bridgette Bar culinary director JP Pedhirney plating the albacore. tuna crudo with salsa verde, yogurt and sesame rice puffs.

Best overall Food Seasonal, shareable, wood-fired. Vibe See and be seen. DECOR Mid-century modern.

Dish The wagyu beef carpaccio that melts in your mouth. Tip The unassumingly named “garlic bread” is actually cheese curds wrapped in dough and fried, so don’t overlook it.

Bridgette Bar


im lighting. Exposed brick. Ornate chandeliers. Playful decor. A lot of artful touches give Bridgette Bar its sultry vibe. But don’t let the stylish interior and stellar cocktail list distract you from the food; it’s been chef-driven from its inception. Bridgette prides itself on a menu that evolves with the seasons, the use of fresh ingredients, creativity in the kitchen and diner engagement. New dishes are conceptualized and rigorously tested by the culinary team to meet exacting standards; they don’t relent, says culinary director JP Pedhirney, until the dish yields “extraordinary happiness” from the staff.

Preparing the food often involves playing with fire. Bridgette’s kitchen has both a wood-burning oven and a wood-fired hearth for cooking over hot coals or above open flames. You can taste the bold earthiness of grill and char in the wood-fired pizzas, the wood-roasted half-duck or the smoked potatoes served with the maple-barbecue rainbow trout. To be thirsty at Bridgette is to be in luck: the wine selection is varied, there’s a sake list and the cocktails are expertly crafted. And what should you expect after pairing elevated bar fare with a creative cocktail? If Pedhirney has his way, extraordinary happiness. —H.K.

Mushroom pizza from Una Pizza + Wine.





Featuring “00” flour pizza dough and house-made fior di latte, it’s obvious that Double Zero puts a lot of care into its pizzas. A must-visit during any trip to the mall (or whenever you have craving for great pizza).

The blue pizza oven at Posto is like the little pizza oven that could — it cranks out delicious thin-crust pizzas for both its own patrons and those next door at sister restaurant Bonterra Trattoria. Take advantage of Posto’s fantastic half-price pizza deal on Sundays.

Una’s California-style pizzas range from cheesy creations like the 4-maggi to weekly feature pies starring anything from prawns to zucchini. Listen for the sound of Harry Potter audiobooks in the washrooms. —A.W. 51

Best overall

Cassis Bistro


hough its location on the ground level of a condo building at the busy intersection at 17th Avenue S.W. and Crowchild Trail doesn’t exactly scream “authentic French bistro,” inside Cassis is all the charm and warmth that you would expect to find in the French countryside or tucked off a secluded Paris side street. Owned and operated by Gilles and Andrea Brassart, the restaurant’s distinctive family-run feel removes any of the pretention that can come with traditional French food. Yes, you will find beef tartare and foie gras torchon on the menu, but even those typically fancy dishes feel friendly and approachable. The Brassarts have since expanded with neighbouring businesses The Little French Market and Vélo Café, while Cassis has returned to its roots with the return of business partner and original executive chef Dominique Moussu to the kitchen after taking time to focus on other projects. Hailing from Brittany, Moussu’s food is unmistakably and unapologetically French — from the lunchtime croque monsieur sandwiches to an elegant Alberta beef cheek à la bourguignon. Fusion is not on the menu here. Expect hearty, classically prepared dishes, French wines and a welcoming dining room full of life. C’est magnifique, n’est pas? —E.C.B.



Food Classic French bistro. Vibe Relaxed and family-run. Decor Comfortable and cozy. Dish Steak frites. Tip Zip next door to The Little

French Market to bring a taste of France home with you.

Alberta heirloom beet salad.


Deane House interior.


AVEC BISTRO Bistro at its best, Avec combines classic French fare (think gougeres, foie gras and frites with truffle aioli) with warm service. And, with coowner and sommelier Jackie Cooke looking after the wine list, you know there will be something worth sipping.

CASSIS BISTRO With the sound of French being spoken and a menu of requisite favourites such as beef bourguignon and steak frites, Cassis is an escape from Calgary’s hustle.

SUZETTE BISTRO Start with a cup of cider while deciding which of the savoury buckwheat crepes to order. And save room for the sweet dessert versions, such as the salted butter and caramel. While the Mission location has closed to make way for a French steak house, the latest offering from the team also behind Cassis, you can still find Suzette in Brittania Plaza. —G.R. Complète galette at Suzette Bistro.

Best overall

Deane House


hen Sal Howell opened Deane House a little over two years ago, she was quick to establish that the restaurant wasn’t simply a sister business to her other spot, the much-loved River Café. Specializing in contemporary Canadian fine dining, in addition to the food, Deane House’s pull is its extraordinary venue and location. In a literal house that was originally built in 1906 for its namesake Captain Richard Burton Deane, the restaurant sits near the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers — in many ways, it represents the physical and historical heart of Calgary. But location counts for very little if the food isn’t up to snuff, and the offerings at Deane House match the grandeur of the building in both quality and spirit. Executive chef Matthias Fong (who also oversees the kitchen at River Café) and chef de cuisine Galasa Aden are still cooking up contemporary interpretations of Canadian ingredients, but over the past few months they’ve brought in some extra historical oomph. Fong has taken to using archival recipes and photographs as inspiration for creative one-of-a-kind dishes, made extraspecial with house-made preserves, locally sourced produce and meats, and bits from the riverside garden. Every detail is taken care of — with the food, the wine, the service and the atmosphere all working in carefully orchestrated harmony, Deane House is writing its own chapter in the culinary history of this city. —E.C.B.

Food Contemporary Canadiana. Vibe Comfortable fine dining. Decor Early 1900s prairie elegance.

Dish Pacific ling cod in “Hannah Glasse” curry sauce with mussels and pink-peppercorn yogurt.

Tip For group celebrations, request the garden room or dining room for a special curated experience. AvenueCalgary.com


F Foreign Best overall


usion is no longer a trendy buzzword in restaurants. Diners are not surprised to find chefs taking the best parts of international cuisines and meshing them with North or Latin American ingredients and techniques. (Korean tacos, anyone?) Foreign Concept doesn’t fuse so much as it plays with Asian flavours and crosses them with French and Canadian flavours. A mix of Vietnamese and Korean with a soupçon of French? That is, indeed, a foreign concept. With executive chef Jinhee Lee at the helm, bolstered by her mentor, restaurant owner Duncan Ly, this is just the team who can bring it together. Both award-winning chefs in their own right, Ly and Lee

bring a knowledge and understanding of Asian ingredients and techniques to the kitchen. In Lee’s expert hands, the dishes are a riot of flavours, though none overpower the next. There is the requisite balance of spicy and cooling, crispy and tender in the unique creations served at this Beltline spot. Local ingredients, such as Alberta trout and Angus beef, get the Foreign Concept treatment by combining with chili shrimp paste, lemongrass and kimchee. Even the tartare is spiked with chili and served with seaweed-and-tapioca crisps. Order one of the equally creative cocktails, such as the green tea-infused gin martini, or a bottle of sake to make it a truly international affair. —G.R.

Food Modern Asian fusion. Vibe Relaxed yet refined. Decor Classic meets contemporary Asian.

Dish Char siu pork and foie gras steamed buns with fragrant herbs. tip Go at lunch to try

unique takes on burgers and banh mi sandwiches.







Executive chef Jinhee Lee and chef-owner Duncan Ly.

FOREIGN CONCEPT Vietnamese influences definitely play into Foreign Concept’s pan-Asian cooking, with dishes like the Alberta trout cha ca la vong offering a modern take on Vietnamese flavours and traditions.



Calgary has its share of traditional Vietnamese restaurants and this southwest spot is a long-time favourite for many with its fresh and reasonably priced bowls of pho, rice vermicelli, baguette sandwiches and crispy spring rolls.

Taking traditional Vietnamese dishes to the next level, Pure offers refreshing and slightly fancier versions of classics like char siu pulled-pork spring rolls, open faced bahn mi sandwiches and lemongrass vermicelli. —E.C.B.


BREAD AND CIRCUS TRATTORIA ROMANA Entering this trattoria tucked behind the Una Takeaway counter is like stumbling upon a hidden gem on some Roman back street. Come hungry to ensure there’s room for antipasti.

COTTO ITALIAN COMFORT FOOD Giuseppe Di Gennaro is a chef synonymous with impeccable Italian dishes. At Cotto, he takes a comfortfood approach with fresh pastas, the chef’s signature arancini and a Milanese pork chop worth returning for. Mercato’s bistecca alla Fiorentina with mushrooms and prosciuttowrapped asparagus.

MERCATO Jam-packed with diners at meal times, Mercato is a lively spot where you will be well fed on salads, risottos, pasta and meats while you get to watch the action in the open kitchen. Grab Italian staples, produce and deli items from the market for an Italian feast at home.

TAVERNETTA It’s the casual charm combined with hearty Italian eats that keep us coming back to Tavernetta. With co-owner Tony Migliarese warmly chatting with guests as plates of seasonal pastas and salads come out of the small, central kitchen, it’s like going for dinner at a friend’s house.

TEATRO Teatro’s longevity and reputation for being a top restaurant in the city is a testament to both the classic Italian food coming from the kitchen and impeccable service on the floor. —G.R.

Best overall



t has been almost 15 years since Dominic Caracciolo moved his family’s Italian market from Bridgeland to its current home in the heart of Mission. As the name implies, Mercato was originally much more of a marketplace. And while it still offers a robust cheese and meat counter, and a variety of house-made and imported Italian foods, including prepared dishes to take home, the emphasis and an ever-growing amount of the space has been given over to dining. Despite loving the market offerings (especially the fresh pastas) we are certainly not complaining. Whether you want to stop in for a quick coffee and a pastry or a sandwich at one of the market side tables, enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner on the restaurant side, or be part of the action by sitting around the bar of the open kitchen, there is an experience in this lively and welcoming space that will suit you. It probably goes without saying that the handmade pastas and hand-rolled gnocchi are superlative — Mercato is, after all, run by a family that has been involved in Italian food in this city for more than 40 years. But you couldn’t be blamed for choosing a lunch of just the bruschetta (which comes three ways: traditional, bean purée with crispy prosciutto and grilled zucchini). And you really should come with a group to try the bistecca alla Fiorentina — a truly memorable steak, even here in the land of beef. —K.L.

Food Italian family food with style. Vibe Action-packed and lively.

DECOR Minimalist

take on Italian trattoria: think stone tile but no check tablecloths.

Dish Bistecca alla Fiorentina or the polpo (charred octopus). tip There are a couple of parking spots at the back and free parking for 90 minutes at the ParkPlus lot a block away at the Trolley Square building at 4th Street and 24th Avenue S.W.



Model Milk

Best overall


n instant winner when it opened in 2011, chefpartner Justin Leboe’s 17th Avenue S.W. labour of love has become a Calgary institution. At Model Milk, the food is inventive and the service impeccable, but you can show up in jeans without feeling weird about it. Model Milk’s multi-level space was once a 1930s dairy (Leboe kept the name), and today diners sit in a highceilinged, multi-level room that once housed pasteurizing tanks. The restaurant, designed by Frank Architecture & Interiors, honours the building’s industrial history with exposed brick walls, a concrete floor and steel beams, as well as playful touches like chandeliers made from milk bottles, massive barn pendant lights and an open kitchen that’s elevated like a stage. The Model Milk menu is a selection of clever dishes that apply international techniques to local, seasonal produce. The result is accomplished, eclectic comfort food that’s as fun to share as it is to eat. The restaurant is famous for its fried chicken, but subtler dishes, such as roasted cauliflower with white miso and barbecue duck bun with fermented black bean, feed Model Milk’s reputation for flawless creativity with a menu that is always evolving. Since it opened, Model Milk has added Model Citizen, an upstairs cocktail lounge with a speakeasy vibe that can accommodate up to 50 people seated, or 80 people standing. —J.W.



Line-caught Atlantic cod.

Food Elevated Canadian comfort food designed for sharing. Vibe Hip, airy and chatty.

Decor Industrial-chic

with a touch of nostalgia, including a vintage bathtub full of wine bottles.

Dish Line-caught Atlantic cod. Tip Model Milk throws away the menu once a week for a family-style Sunday supper, served from 5 to 9:45 p.m.

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Modern Steak

Best overall


t took a few years for Modern Steak to really hit its stride, but now that it has, proprietor Stephen Deere has set a new bar for what a steak house can be in Calgary. With a menu that reads like an educational guide to the world of beef, Deere takes his promise of 100-per cent Alberta ranch-specific beef very seriously — every steak can be traced back to a local ranch. Taking the concept even further, the Modern Benchmark black Angus cuts all come from the offspring of a specific bull owned by the restaurant and managed by Benchmark Angus in Warner, Alta. Cooked on an 1,800-degree (Fahrenheit) infrared broiler for a crispy exterior and a juicy centre, the difference between ranches, breeds, cuts and drying methods all affect the taste of each steak, making ModFood Ranch-specific ern Steak a prime destination beef and steak-house for true beef connoisseurs. classics. Knowing that premium Vibe Club VIP room steaks aren’t an every-night meets contemporary food for most customers, fine dining. chef Dustin Schafer’s menu is full of other steak houseDECOR Anti-traditionworthy items, like beef tartare, al steak house. seafood dishes, pastas and even a selection of vegetarian Dish 40-ounce choices. It’s clearly a formula Benchmark tomahawk that’s working — in December, steak for two. 2018, Modern Steak opened a second location on the second Tip Go on Wednesdays floor of the downtown Hyatt for the Date Night Regency Hotel, plus Bar Modspecial: two steaks, ern on the main floor, a more two sides and a bottle casual take on the restaurant’s of wine for $78. ranch-specific philosophy. —E.C.B.





The bone-in Benchmark tomahawk steak for two.



The original downtown Caesar’s is a delightful time capsule, serving premium steaks for over 45 years. Each steak is still cut individually and can be paired with steak house staples like twice-baked potatoes and tableside Caesar salad.

Younger, hipper decor isn’t the only thing that sets Modern Steak apart from traditional steak houses. With its ranch-specific Alberta beef program, the restaurant takes a revolutionary approach to sourcing its steaks.

VINTAGE CHOPHOUSE & TAVERN A classic steak house, this is the place to indulge in a juicy New York strip and a glass of Scotch. The opulent menu is rounded out with treats like fresh seafood (in tower form!) and lobster mac ’n’ cheese. —E.C.B.

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Best overall


Mother Clucker.

CLUCK N CLEAVER Choosing between Cluck N Cleaver’s juicy rotisserie chicken, perfectly crispy Southern fried chicken and the spicy Mother Clucker sandwich with coleslaw and pickles might just be the best “problem” a diner could have.

TUK TUK THAI With five locations around the city now, it’s never been easier to get your hands on Tuk Tuk’s flavourful tamarind chicken or beef masman curry, served in colourful containers shaped like lotus flowers.

UNA TAKEAWAY Pop into Una Takeaway (located next door to Una Pizza + Wine) to grab one of the California-style pizzas for home. Or, if you’re just in the mood for a snack, there’s pizza by the slice, as well. —A.W. Happy Chickens on the rotisserie at The Nash.

The Nash and Off Cut Bar


he historic National Hotel, built in 1907, has come a long way from the days when it housed transient railroad workers and operated as a tavern. After an extensive renovation, The Nash and Off Cut Bar opened on the Inglewood premises in 2014 — an elegantly warm and inviting space designed by Sarah Ward of Sarah Ward Interiors. Though the room features many nods to the building’s past and the history of the neighbourhood, including sepia-toned photos of Calgary convicts and tables made from reclaimed boxcar wood, the food is very much of-the-moment. Chef de cuisine Paul McGreevy and his kitchen staff make everything from scratch, including stocks, breads, pastries and preserves. The emphasis is on upscale comfort food, featuring the likes of wood-fired rotisserie chicken, pappardelle Bolognese and a crave-worthy burger that’s not too fancy, not too plain. Just as the food and the interior design complement each other, so does the restaurant complement the neighbourhood of Inglewood. It’s the kind of place where you’re bound to bump into an old friend or colleague, where hipsters and grannies happily co-exist, sharing an appreciation of a well-made cocktail or a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. And hey, if lunch runs long and you lose your motivation to cook dinner, you can always grab a Happy Chicken and some gourmet sides to go. —J.H.



FOOD Expertly prepared comfort food. VIBE Neighbourhood

chic, cool and casual.

DECOR Seamless blend of historical charm and modern comfort.

DISH Whatever the daily rotisserie meat offering is. TIP On Thursdays, Off Cut features live music by local talents starting at 8 p.m.

BEST IN THE MOUNTAINS CRAZYWEED KITCHEN A long-time Canmore classic for its hearty, house-made fare, Crazyweed’s globally inspired flavours (think pan-seared Arctic char in rich lemongrass-coconut broth) are the perfect chaser to a day of vigorous outdoor activity.

PARK DISTILLERY RESTAURANT + BAR The vibe at this Banff hot spot is rustic-cozyvintage-National Parkkitschy-fun and the menu follows suit, serving up rotisserie chicken with “campfire drippins gravy” and a “Picnic in the Park” share plate with Alberta charcuterie and wildflower honey.

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Park Distillery photograph by Anna Robi

THE POST HOTEL & SPA Helmed by Swiss-born chef Hans Sauter, The Post delivers alpine fine dining at its finest, with entrees of Alberta-raised beef, bison and lamb — even a Northwest Territories caribou striploin — expertly paired with wines from the Lake Louise hotel’s vast and celebrated cellar. —S.A.

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RIGHT Lamb neck taco at Native Tongues. BELOW The Native Tongues interior and bar.

Best overall

Native Tongues

T FOOD Modern Mexican

with inventive deviations.

VIBE Cantina hideaway. 62


DECOR Rustic Mexican charm. DISH Pork belly pibil, marinated

in earthy achiote and brightened by pineapple.

TIP Build your mezcal palate by ordering an off-menu si, vale, a smoke-heavy twist on an old-fashioned.

he restaurant that kick-started the success of Thank You Hospitality (Calcutta Cricket Club, Two Penny) has been consistently bustling since opening in 2015. Diners are hooked on Native Tongues’ respectfully elevated takes on the street taco, with enduring favourites barbacoa de cordero (slow-roasted lamb neck) and hongos (locally cultivated mushrooms and kale) exemplifying the menu’s tradition-meets-innovation approach to cuisine. That modus operandi is mirrored in the space’s thoughtful and paradoxical decor — designer Amanda Hamilton has incorporated time-worn, rugged overtones into a modern layout that shows reverence for history. These foundational elements of Native Tongues are a hit, and the establishment could easily run a thriving business serving tacos, mezcal and snackable antojitos alone. But what makes it one of Calgary’s best restaurants is its quiet dedication to finetuning details and adding flair to its offerings. The team takes a yearly pilgrimage to Mexico to inspire growth and keep its finger on the pulse. This past summer a brand-new charcoal rotisserie was installed to enhance the aroma of the pollo rostizado and the bar continues to grow its over-60bottle-strong collection of mezcals. The menu also boasts quirks like the cheeky hamburguesa (perhaps the city’s worst-kept burger secret), a take-out only burrito and blissfully simple house-made doughnuts. Whether you’re looking for an authentic meal shared among friends or a quick oddball bite to accompany a quaffable cocktail, Native Tongues has a multi-faceted spirit that more than lives up to its hype. —C.G.

BROK A glamorous twist on the Iconic Steakhouse

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Best overall Food Modern Canadian.



s contemporary and international as Pigeonhole feels — Russian-style caviar service, wagyu beef, decor that would be at home in New York or Paris — it also feels quintessentially Calgarian. Stitched leather and exposed brick bring to mind the city’s 19th century roots. Its Olympic heyday is evoked through preserved touches from the building’s previous occupant, the storied Victoria’s Restaurant, the sign from which still hangs outside. And modern Calgary — cosmopolitan, constantly evolving and unmistakably Canadian — is perfectly distilled into creative, locally sourced fare. The menu is balanced between vegetables and “non-vegetables,” the latter containing several fish options (including the not-to-be-missed rainbow trout). Ever-evolving as the menu is, the restaurant’s “new” direction is not new at all, according to chef and owner Justin Leboe. “In its initial DNA, Pigeonhole was designed to be less of a full-service restaurant and more of a bar that serves amazing food, so some of this is to return to where we started.” This focus includes letting the ingredients in dishes speak for themselves, and speak they do — some loudly, like the rich smoke of the charred cabbage with jalapeno cream, others softly, like the subtle hints of black truffle and thyme in the delicate ricotta dumplings. Visit Russia with the caviar and vodka, France via cheese and pastries, or stay right here in Alberta with a black Angus rib chop. Better yet, grab a handful of your besties, order some share plates and do all three. —E.T.



Vibe Urban casual. Decor Historic

Calgary via Brooklyn.

Dish Charred cabbage with grated mimolette and jalapeno salad cream. On the cover. Tip Pigeonhole is now open for breakfast Wednesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Doughnuts with cacio e pepe fondue.





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Best overall

River Café


hile using locally sourced seasonal ingredients has become a baseline for a good restaurant in recent years, River Café not only started that trend here in Calgary back in 1995, it has managed to stay at the forefront of the movement. And yet, there are a few important ingredients that you just can’t get in this snowbound land. Far from being daunted by these climate limitations, executive chef Matthias Fong has found new methods, new flavours and new ingredients to satisfy the restaurant’s commitment to local while also satisfying the demanding palates of River Café’s customers. For example, in Food Alberta cuisine place of lemons he uses sumac — at its best. a spice common in Middle EastVibe Laid-back fine ern cuisine that grows on shrubs, dining. even in Alberta. As for chocolate, Fong has Decor Fishing lodge worked with Jacek Chocolate in the city. Couture in Sherwood Park, Alta. to develop a custom single-source, Dish The menu triple-fermented chocolate just for changes seasonally, but the restaurant. This high level of carnivores will always commitment to local and sustainbe very happy with the able ingredients doesn’t get in the fish and game board. way of enjoying the food — it’s a guiding philosophy, not a shtick. tip You already know Knowing that the River Café staff about the gorgeous have thought about every step patio, but did you know of the process from farm to fork River Café prepares relieves diners of having to think picnic baskets to take about it and instead allows them to Shakespeare on the to fully enjoy the moment of a Bow? Pre-order for the lovely meal served professionally best-ever dinner and in a beautiful space. —K.L. a show in the park.

The rustic prairie charm of River Café’s interior.




CALCUTTA CRICKET CLUB Serving street foods inspired by the cuisine of West Bengal, this 17th Avenue S.W. restaurant is as pretty as it is tasty. And don’t overlook the excellent cocktail program and the secluded 50-seat patio on which to crush said cocktails.

Paneer kati rolls at Calcutta Cricket Club.



The flavours and aromas of Kashmiri food come alive at this long-time favourite, which offers plenty of vegetarian options and perhaps the best butter chicken in the city. Oh, and it also does takeout.

This Sunalta restaurant specializes in authentic North Indian flavours with dishes modified to be healthier and lighter than traditional versions. If you’re into spicy, try the fiery hot beef vindaloo. —J.H.

BEST THAI JUREE’S THAI PLACE The lush, tropical feeling of sitting in this spot is only matched by the classic (and off-the-beaten path) dishes coming from the kitchen. Juree Trentham has created a tasty escape, with all the salty, spicy, sweet and tangy flavours we love in Thai cuisine.

THAI SA-ON RESTAURANT Sure, there’s satay and pad Thai, but what sets this long-standing Thai restaurant apart (besides its surprisingly excellent wine list) is the sheer variety of dishes on the menu, which give us a chance to go beyond standard stir-fries and curries. Start with the appetizer sampler and explore from there.

TUK TUK THAI Thai street food made from traditional family recipes and dished up in handy takeaway containers (perfect for delivery) are the mainstay of this chain, which now has five locations. —G.R.

Cashew chicken from Tuk Tuk Thai.



Best overall


CACTUS CLUB CAFE Perennial favourite Cactus Club gets by with a little help from Iron Chef America winner Rob Feenie, whose butternut squash ravioli with prawns and crispy sage is like a textbook course in how to craft a flavourful dish.

Food Euro-inspired, Alberta-raised.


Vibe Formal but not fussy.

Whether you go for a time-tested classic like the Chicken Hunan Kung Pao or something newer to the menu, you know what arrives at the table will be fresh-tasting and fine-tuned to be ultimately delicious.

JOEY RESTAURANTS It’s hard to talk about Joey without mentioning the well-loved drinks menu, but those beverages are matched by a range of tasty dishes drawing inspiration from the cuisines of Japan, India and Italy, as well as North America. —S.A.



Decor Heritage home with local modern art.

Dish Brome Lake duck however it’s offered when you go. Poached Ora King salmon with potato fondant, roasted sunchokes and creamed leeks.



he historic Cross House has many ties to the local food scene. The original homeowner A.E. Cross was one of the “Big Four” co-founders of the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition, and he founded the A7 Ranch and Calgary Brewing and Malting Company, the first brewery in Western Canada. For the past 18 years, the house has been home to Rouge restaurant — a fine-dining restaurant helmed by chef Paul Rogalski and co-owner Olivier Reynaud. Since it opened, the kitchen has seen various changes, but Rouge’s commitment to quality, local ingredients and using the bounty of its beautiful

tip Unlike most innercity restaurants, there is ample free parking in the lot across the street near the zoo bridge.

backyard garden has remained. This is a restaurant that has deep roots — in the community, in its garden and in the culinary pasts of its co-owners. Rouge’s menu takes cues from both Reynaud’s French heritage and the Canadian farming history of Rogalski’s family. After closing the more casual sister restaurant Bistro Rouge in 2017, Rogalski and Reynaud have refocused attention on the original Inglewood location, and are now joined by chef du cuisine Darnell Japp, formerly of Bears Den and Avec Bistro. While Rogalski refers to Rouge’s cuisine as “modern farmhouse” that doesn’t quite capture the refinement of the food or the experience, which in both cases blend European and Western Canadian sensibilities. —K.L.



Best overall



t its best, Japanese food is a celebration of highquality ingredients, and Shokunin exemplifies that in everything it does. Paraphrasing celebrity chef Thomas Keller, Shokunin chef-owner Darren MacLean puts it this way: “If you and I have equal skills as chefs, but I can get betterquality products, I’m going to be the better chef.” For MacLean, sourcing the best ingredients is a priority, which is great news for diners who want to binge on fish without guilt, since all the seafood at Shokunin is Ocean Wise and

sustainably sourced. Even the charcoal is special: binchōtan, made from ubame white oak and renowned for its extremely high heat and purity, is brought in from Japan and lends its smoke to everything from fish skin to cabbage. MacLean’s respect for his ingredients shines through in every bite, from the care he takes not to over-pack his sushi rice to the art he assembles on the plate, each dish a precise sculpture of colours and textures. But it’s the flavours you’re here for, and you won’t be disappointed, whether you’re into meat or fish or both. Some are clean and composed, others bold and playful, and it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite. We’ll narrow it down to the lobster sashimi with fried fennel and apple juice, the grilled cabbage with kimizu hollandaise, or the miso-cured bone marrow and escargot. In the end, though, it’s the melt-in-your-mouth bison tataki that is sure to win your heart. —E.T.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Miso-butter grilled cabbage, Alberta bison tataki, seared lobster “sashimi,” miso-cured bone marrow and escargot, grilled Gindara sablefish, yellow fat chicken oyster skewers with soy and egg dip. 70


Food Modern Japanese. Vibe Casual and energetic.

Decor Japanese pulp.

Dish Bison tataki with fried garlic crumble and sansho pepper.

Tip Ask general manager Chris Maybroda for his sake pairing suggestions. As a certified sake sommelier, he’ll steer you right.


DANDY BREWING COMPANY Dandy not only produces some of Calgary’s most delicious and interesting beers, but its taproom also has excellent food. Chef Merritt Gordon’s menu of hot dogs, rollmops and other delights is enough to bring non-beer drinkers through the door.

Dandy Brewing Company.

Fast & Flavourful Authentic Thai Cuisine TROLLEY 5 With huge garage doors on two floors that open up almost the full wall, Trolley 5 has one of the best indoor/ outdoor spaces in town. And it’s also got one of the most extensive selections of brewery food. Pop in for a cold one and a burger or something from the housesmoked barbecue menu.

WILD ROSE BREWERY TAPROOM In 2014, Wild Rose moved the majority of its brewing to Foothills Industrial Park. However, its taproom, restaurant and some brewing remain at Currie Barracks. There are few better places for a pint and some pub food. —E.C.B. and J.H.

Trolley 5’s half-rack of ribs.

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A Teatro Best overall

Food Italian-influenced with hints of French. Vibe Intimate and

upscale yet inviting.



cornerstone of Calgary’s dining scene for more than 25 years, Teatro has managed to find a balance between modernity and tradition. The excellent service is unchanging, the building unaged from when it served as Calgary’s Dominion Bank (from the outside, at least) and the base recipes are still rooted in classic Italian cuisine. But dining here isn’t stale. Instead, a meal at Teatro is timeless. With corporate executive chef Matt Batey bringing his extensive experience to the kitchen, diners can expect to find the high-quality dishes Teatro is known for — but with a touch of Batey’s passion for being a hands-on chef.

Decor Art nouveau. Dish Give yourself over

to the experts and opt for the tasting menu.

tip Ask for a tour of Teatro’s remarkable wine cellar with its more than 10,000 bottles housed in the bank vaults below the dining room.

Changing seasons and available ingredients greatly influence the menu, but no matter the time of year, depend on finding rich and comforting pasta dishes and other Italian classics, such as arancini, gnocchi and risotto. Make sure you leave room for dessert. The addition of pastry chef Daniel Ramon to the team means a sweet finish is a must. Known for his inventive pastries and unique chocolate treats, Ramon finds ways to play with flavours — sometimes with a little humour. If a full dessert is too much, opt for one of “Papi’s bonbons.” At one dinner, the bonbons had music notes printed on the bottom which, when played, were to the massive hit song “Despacito.” Even though the restaurant’s most recent anniversary is silver, Teatro is a gold standard. —G.R.

Historic grandness meets modern elegance at Teatro.



Best overall


Ten Foot Henry

en Foot Henry owners Stephen Smee and Aja Lapointe tell their staff that a balanced plate typically includes a protein, veg and starch, but at their restaurant, the table should be thought of as the plate. This food philosophy guides Ten Foot Henry’s evolving family-style menu; focused on shareable elements instead of entrees plated with sides, each item is celebrated in the kitchen and garnished to stand on its own. Diners then choose from a selection of proteins, vegetables and starches to transform their table into a shared “plate” — with or without the help of the restaurant’s service team, who undergo comprehensive training to offer suggestions that balance the meal. Smee first experienced family-style dining in Italy and brought it home with him. He noticed it made A selection of dishes in front of artwork depicting the 1930s comic-strip character that inspired the restaurant's name.

conversations livelier and energy more dynamic. Locally sourced pasta noodles (from Mercato) and sourdough (from Sidewalk Citizen) further Ten Foot Henry’s community-minded mandate. Visits to the west coast of the United States inspired the menu, and a striking emphasis on veg elevates cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and beets with acid, cream, heat and sweet. This isn't to suggest you should leave the carnivore at home; the adobo chicken is brightened with Peruvian green sauce and the hanger steak sings with a side of truffled mustard. It’s food that surprises, at once fresh and bold, yet clean and simple. Ten Foot Henry is ultimately a place to explore thoughtful cookery, an inspired menu and a dining experience that feels both intimate and communal and leaves a lasting impression. —H.K.

Food Vegetable-forward and enjoyed family-style. Vibe Intimate and

approachably upscale.

Decor Inviting and

warm, with pops of live greenery and casual wooden tables.

Dish Roasted tomatoes with herbs, feta, Sherry vinegar and Sidewalk Citizen sourdough toast. Tip Don’t fret if you don’t have a reservation; you might have to wait but they always try to make room for walk-ins.



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CLIVE BURGER Decked out in whimsical illustrations of burgers, hot dogs, fries and shakes, this popular spot serves made-to-order burgers with your choice of toppings and custard shakes in flavours like chocolate, cherry, strawberry, coffee or vanilla.

Double Clive burger.

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J OEY + H A P P Y H OUR Now bigger and better than ever. 20 food items. 11 drinks.

SEED N SALT This Mission eatery offers healthy options all day long with a selection of breakfast dishes and more than a dozen different salads and bowls filled with toppings ranging from avocado to turmeric cauliflower.

TUK TUK THAI This local chain serves up takeout boxes of Thai classics like a quick, welloiled machine. Complete your meal with Tukky sticks (think skinny spring rolls) and roti. —A.W.





Donna Mac's four co-owners (from left) Jesse Willis, Amy Turner, chef Justin Longpre and Jeff Jameson at Donna Mac.

FOOD Equal parts new-school sensitive and reliably classic. VIBE Inviting and fuss-free.

DECOR Open, bright

Donna Mac


he distinctly modern twist Donna Mac gives to classic dishes is juxtaposed by the simple elegance of the bright but minimal interior. Vast windows, white walls and rotund light fixtures are crisp for lunch and brunch by day and iridescent when the lights are lowered for dinner and cocktails at night. Dedicated to being good neighbours, Donna Mac invites vegans, vegetarians and the gluten-intolerant to enjoy as wide a range of dishes as their animal-eating, wheat-worshipping cohorts. Seasonal comfort food and finer fare are treated with the same thoughtful care by chef Justin Longpre. Meat lovers will swoon for the double cheeseburger with pork belly and the hanger steak with tomato jam in equal measure; vegan diners will delight in both the mushroom fried rice with charred-onion peanut sauce and a rotating vegan blue-plate special. For drinks, try the “sippable” or “crushable” cocktail offerings or a wine from the “old school” or “new school” designations on the menu. What ultimately makes Donna Mac a new sensation in the city is its dedication to having solid options. You can order as adventurously or conservatively as you happen to feel on any given night, and you’ll have no trouble including (and impressing) friends with different dietary needs and preferences than your own. —C.G. 76


and modern.

DISH Donna “Mac & Cheese” with cavatelli, burrata, bacon and Parmesan. TIP Don’t forget bar snacks and sides. The cheesy crullers and grilled carrots can elevate the experience.

Tuna Poke Bowl and Crispy Tofu Bowl Inspired by the fresh, vibrant flavours of Hawaii. soy chili tofu or sesame ginger ocean wise™ ahi, jasmine rice, mango, cucumber, avocado, edamame, radish. AvenueCalgary.com


best new

Gorilla Whale


he name is a good tipoff for what to expect from the newest kid on the Inglewood block. Gorilla Whale — a reference to the original Japanese name for Godzilla (Gojira), which was made up of the Japanese words for gorilla and whale — is about combining classic Japan and American kitsch, with a few high-brow ingredients and creative cooking techniques thrown into the mix. There are the requisite skewers of meats and other goodies roasted over binchōtan charcoal, but the chicken hearts come with a cornflake crumble; other dishes include such ingredients as Dr. Pepper (as a marinade), Cool Ranch Doritos and hamburger-stand standard American cheese, which tops a crave-worthy fried chicken sandwich. Not even the ramen gets a traditional treatment. With the elevated approach to Japanese bar snacks and comfort food, the experience is filling and fun — no wonder considering it’s the team of Brendan Bankowski, Tilly Van Duyvendyk and Dean Symonds behind the “Japanese-ish” spot. Art along the walls includes rock ’n’ roll tour posters from popular bands playing in Japan and the cocktail list nods to the Land of the Rising Sun with a host of Japanese whiskies, shochu, sake and cocktails by expert bartender Nathan Head. Between nibbling on the creative plates and imbibing any of their drinks including a great selection of local beers, you’ll be sure to have a (gorilla) whale of a good time. —G.R.



Food Japanese gets funky in dishes that embrace high and low. Vibe Japanese rock ’n’ roll.

Decor Restaurant meets rec room.

Dish Gorilla rice. tip Be sure to ask

your server to outline the YYC Growers Box feature, the chef’s choice preparation of seasonal veggies. Yakitori sticks (clockwise from top: lamb, cheese and eggplant).

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best new



ood is important, says Two Penny co-owner Cody Willis, but dining in restaurants is also about the experience — the vibe of the space, the hospitality. “Restaurants are the sum of all their parts,” Willis says. That ethos is on full display at Two Penny, with its 1920s Shanghai-deco decor, thoughtful cocktail and tea programs, and cheeky takes on classic Chinese dishes. Devotees of sister restaurant Calcutta Cricket Club will find much that is familiar in Two Penny’s Western approach to Eastern flavours. The menu boasts plenty of familiar names like fried rice, potstickers, and ginger beef, but diners shouldn’t expect a traditional take on any of them. The special fried rice has bone marrow



mixed into it tableside. The vegetarian potstickers are stuffed with napa cabbage. And that ginger beef? It’s a top-grade cut that’s been slow cooked for 30 hours, then dredged and deep-fried until it’s lightly crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth inside. That’s because Two Penny isn’t trying to replace your favourite local Chinese, it's doing something entirely new. “Here’s this dish we all know and love,” Willis explains of the ginger beef, “and we take the essence of it — beef with slightly sweet sauce — and use a modern technique like sous vide.” Dim sum is handmade in-house, and pairs beautifully with the many wonderful teas on offer. Sample them both during the cold tea happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m. daily, or downstairs in the Tea House bar during live comedy on Thursdays. —E.T.

Expect quick service and seriously tasty dishes like steamed pork soup dumplings, stir-fried beef with Chinese broccoli and fried green beans with minced pork at both Great Taste locations.

SILVER DRAGON RESTAURANT Boasting five decades in business, Silver Dragon is known for its wellmade Szechuan and Cantonese fare. Bring a few friends to share a couple dishes off the huge menu, which includes steamed pork dumplings, crispy ginger beef and straight-fromthe-tank lobster and crab.

TWO PENNY Two Penny’s 1920s Shanghai-inspired dining room offers a beautiful setting to share plates of lobster and shrimp won tons and crispy-skin pork belly. Finish the night with a Slurpee 001 cocktail in the downstairs Tea House bar. —A.W.

Food A yin and yang of Chinese flavours and Western techniques. Vibe Approachably trendy.

Decor Shanghaideco with midcentury touches.

Dish Ginger beef made from slowcooked short rib. Tea coffee kuri squash. 80


Tip The cocktails are great, but don’t miss out on some truly special teas.

Avenue’s writers and editors are occasionally invited to eat at local restaurants as guests. Neither free meals nor advertising are required for coverage in Avenue. Neither restaurants that advertise nor those that provide meals or other incentives are promised editorial coverage, nor do they have the opportunity to review or approve stories before publication.

Murrieta’s is pleased to welcome two exceptionally talented culinary professionals into our ranks. Dave Bohati - head chef of Murrieta’s Calgary, has spent over twenty years working in kitchens around Canada, earning achievements in prestigious culinary championships. Mitch Vernaroli - bartender and self-proclaimed cocktail enthusiast, has


played a key role in Calgary’s ever-evolving cocktail culture. Murrieta’s Calgary looks forward to a fruitful future of working with both gentlemen to bring the best food and drink Calgary has to offer.

200 – 808 1st Street SW 403.269.7707 | murrietas.ca | ? @



All the


t s e B s

t n a r estau

o t e r e h w &

m e h t find ALLOY

220 42 Ave. S.E., 403-287-9255, alloydining.com


736 17 Ave. S.W., 403-229-9224, cliveburger.com


105, 344 17 Ave. S.W., 403-460-3341, anju.ca

1511 14 St. S.W., 403-266-2067, cluckncleaver.com



550 11 Ave. S.W., 587-352-0964, avecbistro.com

314D 10 St. N.W., 587-356-4088, cottoyyc.com

BAR VON DER FELS 1005A 1 St. S.W., 587-349-2656, barvonderfels.com

BLINK RESTAURANT & BAR 111 8 Ave. S.W., 403-263-5330, blinkcalgary.ca

BREAD AND CIRCUS TRATTORIA 616 17 Ave. S.W., 403-476-3615, breadandcircusyyc.com

BRIDGETTE BAR 739 10 Ave. S.W., bridgettebar.com

CACTUS CLUB CAFE Three Calgary locations, cactusclubcafe.com

CAESAR’S STEAK HOUSE 512 4 Ave. S.W., 403-264-1222, and Willow Park Village, 110 10816 MacLeod Tr. S.E., 403-278-3930, caesarssteakhouse.com

CRAZYWEED KITCHEN 1600 Railway Ave., Canmore, 403-609-2530, crazyweed.ca

THE DANDY BREWING COMPANY 2003 11 St. S.E., 587-956-8836, thedandybrewingcompany.com

DEANE HOUSE 806 9 Ave. S.E., 403-264-0595, deanehouse.com



2055 16 Ave. N.W., 403-264-6477, jureesthaiplace.com

KLEIN / HARRIS 110 8 Ave. S.W., 403-262-8100, kleinharris.com

LEMONGRASS WEST VIETNAMESE CUISINE 116, 3715 51 St. S.W., 403-242-2633, lemongrasswest.ca

MERCATO 2224 4 St. S.W., 403-263-5535, mercatogourmet.com

MODEL MILK 308 17 Ave. S.W., 403-265-7343, modelmilk.ca

MODERN STEAK 107 10A St. N.W., 403-670-6873, and 100 8 Ave. S.W., 403-244-3600, modernsteak.ca

MOTI MAHAL 1805 14 St. S.W., 403-228-9990, motimahal.ca

THE NASH AND OFF CUT BAR 925 11 St. S.E., 403-984-3365, thenashyyc.com

NATIVE TONGUES TAQUERIA 235 12 Ave. S.W., 403-263-9444, nativetongues.ca


CF Chinook Centre, 403-457-7677, doublezeropizza.ca

306 17 Ave. S.W., 403-452-4694, pigeonholeyyc.ca



Multiple locations, earls.ca

200 Pipestone Rd., Lake Louise, 403-522-3989, posthotel.com



101, 899 Centre St. S.W., 403-984-2180, charcut.com


219 Banff Ave., Banff, 403-762-5114, parkdistillery.com

340 17 Ave. S.W., 403-719-1555, calcuttacricketclub.com


1240 8 Ave. S.E., 403-531-2767, rougecalgary.com

1002 9 St. S.W., 403-719-3622, donnamacyyc.ca


1214 9 Ave. S.E., 587-356-2686, gorillawhale.ca

GREAT TASTE CHINESE RESTAURANT 123 2 Ave. S.E., 403-265-9880, and 594 64 Ave. N.E., 403-275-6577, greattastecalgary.com


Multiple locations, joeyrestaurants.com


1011 1 St. S.W., 403-719-7288, foreignconcept.ca

105, 2505 17 Ave. S.W., 403-262-0036, thecassisbistro.ca








POSTO PIZZERIA AND BAR 1014 8 St. S.W., 403-263-4876, posto.ca

PURE CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE KITCHEN + BAR 815 8 Ave. S.W., 403-475-1899, purecontemporaryvietnamese.com

RIVER CAFÉ 25 Prince’s Island Park, 403-261-7670, river-cafe.com

2008 4 St. S.W., 403-460-9904, seednsalt.com

SHOKUNIN 2016 4 St. S.W., 403-229-3444, shokuninyyc.ca

SILVER DRAGON 106 3 Ave. S.E., 403-264-5326, silverdragoncalgary.ca

SUZETTE BISTRO 829 49 Ave. S.W., 403-719-3343, bistrosuzette.ca

TANDOORI GRILL 1101 14 St. S.W., 403-251-5252, tandoorigrillcalgary.com

TAVERNETTA 1002 Edmonton Tr. N.E., 403-250-8894, tavernettayyc.ca

TEATRO 200 8 Ave. S.E., 403-290-1012, teatro.ca

TEN FOOT HENRY 1209 1 St. S.W., 403-475-5537, tenfoothenry.com

THAI SA-ON RESTAURANT 351 10 Ave. S.W., 403-264-3526, thai-sa-on.com

TROLLEY 5 RESTAURANT & BREWERY 728 17 Ave. S.W., 403-454-3731, trolley5.com

TUK TUK THAI Multiple Calgary locations, tuktukthai.com

TWO PENNY 1213 1 St. S.W., 403-474-7766, twopenny.ca

UNA PIZZA + WINE 618 17 Ave. S.W., 403-453-1183, unapizzeria.com

VINTAGE CHOPHOUSE & TAVERN 320 11 Ave. S.W., 403-262-7262, vintagechophouse.com

THE WEDNESDAY ROOM 100, 118 8 Ave. S.W., 403-4525080, wednesdayroom.com

WILD ROSE BREWERY TAPROOM 4580 Quesnay Wood Dr. S.W., 403727-5451, wildrosetaproom.com




shine on

Sparkle and shimmer in spring’s signature styles.

84 avenueMARCH.19

Embroidered crepe couture dress by Valentino, $6,250, from Holt Renfrew; gold bangle, $6,560, gold hoop earrings, $2,315, black diamond rings, $7,205 and, $12,540, pink moonstone ring, $6,880 and grey moonstone ring, $5,490, all by Brinkhaus Jewellers, all from Brinkhaus Jewellers.

Sheer beaded longsleeve gown by Inbal Dror, $11,000, from Powder; diamond hoop earrings, $38,275, dimond tennis bracelet, $54,120, Munsteiner peridot ring, $31,950, ruby and diamond ring, $9,315, cognac diamond ring, $8,710, Forevermark diamond stacking rings, $2,045 and $2,190, all by Brinkhaus, all from Brinkhaus.


Sequin leopardprint dress by Dolce & Gabbana, $4,695, from Holt Renfrew; black diamond spiral ring, $6,350, gold spiral ring, $2,805, cognac diamond ring, $6,880, all by Brinkhaus, from Brinkhaus; 18-karat yellowgold and black Tahitian pearl earrings, $1,600, one-carat chocolate-coloured diamond dinner ring with yellow and white diamond accents set in rose gold, $9,500, both by Designs by Manuel Jewellery, from Designs by Manuel Jewellery. OPPOSITE PAGE Red jumpsuit, $7,200, Perspective Cavaliere mega wide cuff, $950, passage studded GM bracelet $1,150, Toupet bag, $12,100, Tamara sandal in rouge, $1,250, Passage Cloute choker in rouge, $2,150, all by Hermès from Hermès. 86


Gold quilted down jacket by The North Face, $350, colourblock pleated skirt by Moncler, $780, metallic Sloane T-shirt by rag and bone, $455, all from Nordstrom; emerald starburst earrings by Indi City, $250, from Indi City; malachite beaded bracelets by J.Vair Anderson, $350 each, 3.5-carat ruby pavÊ crownwork ring in yellow gold, $4,900, 4.85-carat champagne diamond with oxidized-silver ring, $12,850, 3.5-carat black diamond and oxidized-silver with yellow-gold crown ring, $6,300, all by Ray Griffiths, all from J.Vair Anderson Jewellers; Gucci sneakers with removable crystals, $1,890, from Holt Renfrew; white see-through large Whitney tote, $348, by Michael Michael Kors from Michael Kors; socks, stylist’s own. 88


Floral sequin blazer by Self-Portrait, $631, V-neck bias-cut slip dress by Vince, $385, both from Nordstrom; 18-inch 18-karat yellow-gold chain necklace by Schofer, $1,275, seven-strand Tanzanite 18-karat gold crownwork necklace, $9,200, 18-karat yellow-gold small ball pendant necklace, $1,525, chalcedony necklace with 18-karat yellow-gold accents, $6,200, all by Ray Griffiths, 18-karat

yellow-gold nine diamond earrings by Mizuki, $18,150, cabochon rose quartz ring set in 18-karat rose gold by Wilhelm Gathmann, $1,793, luna rose quartz ring set in 18-karat rose gold by Pomellato, $2,475, moonstone with diamonds 18-karat gold ring by Jochen Pohl, $13,150, all from J.Vair Anderson Jewellers; So Kate rainbow bootie by Christian Louboutin, $1,575, from Holt Renfrew. AvenueCalgary.com


FORKING AMAZING CHEF’S CHOICE MENUS Black and silver tweed blazer, $8,325, sunglasses and chain, $1,235, clip-on earings, $1,255, all by Chanel, from Chanel.

A delicious culinary experience at each unique location




FA S H I O N SOURCE Brinkhaus Jewellers, 823 6 Ave. S.W., 403-269-4800, brinkhaus.com Chanel Boutique at Holt Renfrew, The Core, 403-232-6240, chanel.com Designs by Manuel Jewellery, 1106 6 Ave. S.W., 403-245-5225, designsbymanuel.com Hermès Boutique at Holt Renfrew, The Core, 403-767-9100, hermes.com/ca/en Holt Renfrew, The Core, 403-269-7341, holtrenfrew.com Indi City, indicity.ca J. Vair Anderson Jewellers, 409 3 St. S.W., 403-266-1669, jvairanderson.com Michael Kors, The Core, 403-264-4981, CF Chinook Centre, 403-537-0093, and Southcentre, 403-225-1943, michaelkors.ca Nordstrom, CF Chinook Centre, 587-291-2000 Powder, 454 8 Ave. S.E., 403-514-0007, powderbride.com

join us for

Bbrews & views BRUNCH sundays 10am - 1pm

@tank310_ 310 old canmore road canmore, ab | 403 678 2487





92 avenueMARCH.19

Whitewater rafting on Toby Creek, Panorama, B.C.


Spring is on the horizon and summer is not far behind, so there’s no time like the present to start thinking about what you want to do once the snow melts in the mountains. Since there’s nothing quite so lovely as an aquamarine alpine lake, a crystal-clear mountain stream or a river raging through a rocky canyon, we’re definitely inspired by water this season — whether that means hiking up to it, fishing in it, floating down it or just gazing at it. Waterfall road trip, anyone?

Rafting on the Bow River near Canmore.


S FLOAT I N G T HE B O W I N CA N MO R E For an alpine rafting excursion that’s Toby Creek photograph courtesy of Kootenay River Runners; Bow photograph by Jeremy Lewis

more chill than thrill, Canmore Raft Tours does scenic floats down the crystal-clear (definitely not white) waters of the Bow River. The one-hour Townie tour is about as laidback as river recreation gets, meandering out from the Canmore Boat Launch right in the middle of town. The tours offer a prime vantage for sightings of elk and even bears as well as insightful commentary from the guides about the geological make-up of the region. —S.A. canmorerafttours.com

o, if every river was a rock song, the lower section of Toby Creek that plunges down the mountain near Panorama would definitely be “Crazy Train.” The only headbangers who run this section of water are seasoned kayakers. But even though it’s much tamer, the upper section of Toby Creek is still a thrill. Rafting this section may not have you “Screaming for Vengeance,” but it ain’t no “Sound of Silence,” either. Expect plenty of “Troubled Water.” Kootenay River Runners’ two-hour rafting trip down upper Toby is ideal for whitewater newbies. With class 1 to 3 rapids and regular wildlife sightings (on my maiden voyage a massive moose was spotted slurping the glacier-fed waters) you’ll be engaged from start to finish. In those rare moments of calm, hilarious guides entertain you with off-colour jokes and instigate all-out, paddle-splashing warfare with the other boats on the water. One of the best aspects of Kootenay River Runners’ Toby Creek trip is the cost — $67 for adults and $57 for kids ages eight to 14 — making it one of the least expensive white-water rafting trips on the market. With just a 20-minute drive separating the put-in and take-out spots, it’s also one of the most convenient. During the summer, tours depart daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. from Panorama’s Adventure Centre in the Lower Village, so you can raft the river in the morning and still have the entire afternoon to play golf, go for a bike ride or just enjoy some serious patio time. —A.P. raftingtherockies.com AvenueCalgary.com


Dave Burns, a.k.a. The Golden Gillie.


Breakfast at From Scratch — A Mountain Kitchen.

CAMP COZIES Even in summer, camping out in the mountains can be chilly. Here are three insulated pieces to keep you cozy and warm.

Sure, these machine-washable insulated blankets are soft and cozy, but they’re also built to last using ripstop fabrics treated to shed dog hair and withstand spilled beverages.


$159 at MEC, 830 10 Ave. S.W., 403-269-2420, and 19587 Seton Cres., S.E., 403-523-7258, mec.ca

T H ER M -A -R ES T H O NCH O P O NCH O This unisex poncho takes the insulated blanket up a notch with hands-free convenience and a front kangaroo pocket for easy warm-ups. $130 at Crown Outdoor and Tactical, 1005 11 St. S.E., 403-265-1754, armysurplus.com

T H E NORTH FAC E THERM O B A L L T R A CT IO N M U L ES When it’s too chilly for flip-flops, tuck your toes into these insulated slippers with a water-resistant ripstop upper. They’re like cozy little sleeping bags for your feet. $45 at SoftMoc, CF Market Mall, CF Chinook Centre and TheCore, softmoc.com 94


tanding in a dusty loggingroad pullout waving around a piece of string attached to a children’s fishing rod, it’s hard not to feel silly. But embarrassment quickly fades, replaced by a mix of focus and frustration in the eternal struggle to draw the string back and forth in the desired long arcs with nothing but subtle arm movements. Casting gets easier after a few instructive tips from fly-fishing guide Dave Burns, whose next step is to take me out, now armed with a proper fly rod, on forest-lined Blackwater Lake — one of the many lakes Burns fishes — in his small boat. Though the hook does wind up stuck on my hat once or twice, it doesn’t take away from the satisfaction of steady improvement, especially when, aiming for some submerged logs close to shore, I hook my first ever fish and reel it in. Burns deftly unhooks the small rainbow trout and sends the fish on its way, on to the next cast. Bull, rainbow and cutthroat trout (among other species) thrive in the Columbia Valley’s alpine lakes, crystal clear creeks and in the Columbia River itself. The scenic nature and sheer variety of fishing holes in and around Golden B.C. is one reason the region is gaining renown as an angling destination. Burns, or the Golden Gillie as he’s known around town, launched Golden’s first commercial fishing guide operation

in 2016. He’s been fishing in the area for nearly two decades and has the kind of local knowledge that comes only from experience — knowing where to go and at what time of day depending on the season is crucial to getting bites. Like most fishermen, Burns is also a great storyteller. (“Some people think that I get paid to fish, but I really get paid to talk,” he says.) Once he gets going you’re guaranteed to learn something about Golden, the region’s lakes and rivers or the characters (and fish) he has encountered over the years. Throughout the afternoon you’ll begin to understand why Burns almost exclusively fly-fishes, as opposed to using the more common spin rod. The deep focus and precise, repetitive movements that fly-fishing demands make it easy to find some Zen. Being on the water surrounded by mountains helps, too. As the session runs its course and Burns turns the boat back toward the lakeshore, lifting the fly out of the water, bringing it back and forth overhead to let out more line, and casting a decent distance in the right direction remains a challenge. It would seem that a few hours aren’t enough to master a skill people spend years perfecting (darn). It’s hard learning to fly-fish in a day. Learning to enjoy it, on the other hand, is wonderfully easy. —F.M. goldengillie.com

Rumpl blanket courtesy of Yakima; Fly-fishing photograph courtesy of The Golden Gillie



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M O U N TA I N S 3 More K-Country Hikes with Lakes P I C K L EJ AR L AKES This 11-km-long trail has four connected glacial lakes and you’ll often see anglers catchand-release on the shores of this backcountry fishing haven. The second lake is the deepest and clearest. Expect one major steep section.






G R A S SI L AKES Popular for a reason, this classic hike has it all: waterfalls, two brilliant aquamarine lakes, a petroglyph, rock climbing and views of Canmore. You can make it a loop of just under 3.5 km by going up the difficult way and coming down the easy path.

U P P E R KAN AN ASKI S LAK E S Many come here to start the trek to Rawson Lake but the eight-km loop around the upper lake is worth a hike in and of itself. The shoreline-hugging trail reveals ever-changing scenic views of the Fox, Foch, Sarrail, Lyautey and Indefatigable peaks. —L.S.

still be some snow patches by Lower Galatea Lake — a reminder of just how high up you are. Crowds of fellow hikers will have thinned by this point, even more so if you continue up the grassy section toward the bowl of the last lake. Hiking the entire 17-km round-trip route is both a strenuous exercise and humbling experience, which makes you fully appreciate water as a pure force of nature. —L.S. kananaskis-country.ca

Galatea photograph by Louise Alberg and Matt Little; Upper Kananaskis photograph by Rebecca Middlebrook

p in the mountains of Kananaskis Country, among the imposing limestone peaks, there’s something inherently powerful about being near water. The Galatea Creek Trail is a true testament to this power. The 2013 floods that surged through southern Alberta forever changed the trails in K-Country. With the backcountry campground at Lillian Lake completely wiped out, the Galatea Creek Trail was closed off in the aftermath and only officially reopened in 2015 after it was re-routed and rebuilt. Hiking today, you’ll still pass flood debris like uprooted trees and piles of branches strewn around a widened creek. Water (specifically meltwater from winter snow) is also the main reason why this ever-popular trail is closed during the spring months, usually opening to hikers at the end of June. Setting off from the trailhead just an hour’s or so drive from Calgary on Highway 40, the trail slopes downward and crosses a large suspension bridge across the Kananaskis River. As you weave in and out of the lush forest, you’ll cross a total of 10 bridges that meander back and forth across Galatea Creek. At the 6.3-kilometre mark is Lillian Lake, the first of three alpine lakes on the trail. Encircled by trees, it is a shimmering emerald filled with cutthroat trout. Before you even see the lake you’re bound to see flashes of colourful nylon tents among the trees and hear the voices of backpackers (there are 17 backcountry campsites at Lillian Lake as well as washrooms). As you approach the shore, the view of the lake fully reveals itself and on a clear day the still water is like a mirror. While some hikers stop for lunch here, call it a day and turn back, those who aspire to reach Galatea Lake will need to push on for another kilometre up the rocky scree, gaining 180 metres in that short distance. The vantage provides an expansive view of the mountains looking down at Lillian Lake. Continue on and you’ll be rewarded with not just one, but two more pristine lakes cradled by alpine cirques. Even on a hot summer day, there will, surprisingly,

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You can’t get much more quintessentially Canmore than an experience that incorporates food, wine, mountain bikes and Olympic athletes. At the progressive dinner by bike events hosted by the Canmore Uncorked Food & Drink Festival each year in May, sporty participants gather at the dinner hour at a


central meeting point (last year it was the Grizzly Paw Brewery) and from there set out on a pedal-powered tour of four restaurants, with a food course and a voucher for an accompanying glass of wine or cocktail at each stop. Guiding the tours are Canmore-based Olympians — most likely to be cross-country skiers considering the town is home to a world-class Nordicskiing competition facility. The Olympian element is a nod to the progressive tour by bike originators: Canmore Olympic alumni-turned-hotelier-supercouple Sara Renner and Thomas Grandi. Back in 2014, Renner


and Grandi signed up for one of the conventional progressive

Nestled between Jasper and Banff National Parks, Bighorn Country is one of

dinners by bus, but the sporty couple informed organizers that

Alberta’s most underrated wilderness areas. Here, you’ll find Crescent Falls,

they intended to ride between restaurants instead. Their hack

two cascading waterfalls in a double punchbowl on the Bighorn River. Though

of the event proved so much fun that the couple convinced

not strikingly high at approximately 25 metres, the two-tiered waterfall is, nev-

the festival organizers to add it to the lineup the following year,

ertheless, quite popular because of its easy accessibility and stunning sym-

saying they would come back and serve as guides. Renner and

metry. Take a short, steep trail with ropes down to the pool below the upper

Grandi still guide the odd tour, but have since delegated the role

falls to watch the pounding water gush, surrounded by views of a dramatic

out to other Olympians, as well.

canyon. Rock cairns dot the ledges at the base of upper falls; a marker of

Progressive bike dinner participants don’t have to be

past visitors who have also sought out this low-effort, high-payoff view. —L.S.

Olympian-level fit, but there is a certain level of sportiness that

309 km from Calgary via Hwy 2 north and Hwy 11 (David Thompson Highway)

you’ll need to bring to the table. The ride covers a lot of ground

west; or take the scenic route, 338 km, Trans-Canada Hwy west, Hwy 93 north

— literally. At one of last year’s dinners, things started with an

(Icefields Parkway) and Hwy 11 east at Saskatchewan River Crossing.

uphill grind to the Iron Goat, followed by a coast back down to


the scenic route along treed pathways to the Canmore Golf and

Everything about Yoho National

Country Club before the final push, an extended ride all the way

The series of mini-falls at Big Hill

Park is grand and wild and this

out to Three Sisters Village for dessert at Market Bistro. Even

Springs Provincial Park aren’t going

star-attraction waterfall is right at

more than the initial uphill climb to the Iron Goat, it was the ride

to wow you with their rushing force,

home amidst its striking surround-

back to town in the dark, lit by headlamps given out at the start

but they’re lovely all the same.

ings. Well-marked and easily

of the tour, that really got the blood pumping.—S.A.

Tucked into a coulee between Co-

accessible off the Trans-Canada

Canmore Uncorked can facilitate bike rentals for this event if

chrane and Airdrie, Big Hill Springs

on Yoho Vallery Road, 39 km west

necessary. For more information visit canmoreuncorked.com

is a hidden gem where you can ob-

of Lake Louise and preceding the

serve and learn about tufa, porous

turn-off into Field, B.C., this 384-m

rock formed when moving water de-

stunner is what waterfall road trips

posits minerals more rapidly than it

are all about. Prepare to feel some

erodes the rock underneath. Big Hill

serious spray! —S.A.

Springs’ proximity to Calgary makes

210 km from Calgary via the

it an ideal waterfall road trip if you’ve

Trans-Canada Hwy west.

got little kids, not least because the falls are only a short walk from the parking area. —S.A. 42 km from Calgary via Hwy 1A north, Hwy 766 (Lochend Rd.) west and Range Road 34A south.

Avenue’s writers and editors are occasionally invited to experience dining or adventure activities as a guest, including some of the experiences in this story. Neither complementary experiences nor advertising are required for coverage in Avenue. Neither companies that advertise nor those that provide other incentives are promised editorial coverage, nor do they have the opportunity to review or approve stories before publication. 98


Uncorked photograph by Noel Roger; Crescent Falls photograph by Jeff Bartlett, courtesy of Travel Alberta

Mountain Mercato on Main Street. From there, velo-diners took


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The restaurant scene in Calgary counts many avid cyclists including (from left) Justin Leboe of Model Milk and Pigeonhole, Connie DeSousa and John Jackson of Charcut and Charbar and Andrea and Gilles Brassart of Cassis, VĂŠlo CafĂŠ and The Little French Market. 1 00




WORKOUT BY Christina Frangou PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jeremy Fokkens

Cycling has really taken off among the city’s chefs and restaurateurs as a way to stay physically fit and deal with the high-stress nature of their industry.


ohn Jackson, chef and co-owner at Charcut and Charbar, biked more than 14,000 kilometres in 2017. That works out to nearly 40 kms every single day — a feat he accomplished by commuting everywhere by bike and by twice cycling to Regina, a 760-km trip he describes as “a good two-and-a-half days.” He continues to commute by bike, often looping out to Bragg Creek from his home in Lake Bonavista en route to work to add another 100 kms (give or take) on the day. Any of this would have been unimaginable to Jackson prior to 2015. That year, overworked and overweight, he set a goal of cycling to and from work. He quickly became hooked and the habit has stuck. “I made biking a mandatory part of my life because it was something that made me happy,” Jackson says. “Over the last three years, it’s been non-stop; 365 days a year, I ride.” He’s in good company. Many of Calgary’s chefs and restaurateurs are avid cyclists, putting in thousands of kms a year on their bikes. They ride alone or in organized groups, for fun or for commuting, with others from the food industry


or people with no culinary ties whatsoever. Last year, they found enough local cycling chefs to put together a team, named The Canadians, to enter in Chefs Cycle, a three-day, 480-km ride in California that raises money to fight child hunger — yet another example of the extraordinary spirit of collaboration that has come to define Calgary’s chef community. Jackson was part of that team, as was Charcut/Charbar co-owner and chef Connie DeSousa. No matter how and why they cycle, there’s a common theme: among people who work in the high-stress industry of restaurants, cycling has become a choice form of relief. “For me, cycling is an escape from the kitchen. It’s like the exact opposite of being in the kitchen,” says Justin Leboe, chef and owner at Model Milk and Pigeonhole. Leboe describes himself as a “chef with a nasty cycling habit.” He cycles between 200 and 450 kms a week starting in the spring and continuing through October, supplemented by indoor training in the winter. During a busy week, he’ll head out before work and spend an hour and a half riding up and down a steep one-km stretch of road near Edworthy Park — a leg-ripping regimen known among local cyclists as “Edworthy Hill repeats.” Leboe now plans his vacations around his two wheels, be that trips to California wine country or long weekends spent pedaling up Alberta’s mountain roads with other local chefs. A highlight for him so far has been cycling through Italy. “It’s still something I do totally for fun, but it’s become all-consuming,” Leboe says. He has even switched to a diet of intermittent fasting in order to lose weight for cycling — driven, in part, by AvenueCalgary.com



Jackson, Leboe, the Brassarts and DeSousa at Vélo Café, which the Brassarts opened as a gathering place for the cycling community.


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his competitive streak with Jackson and other cycling chefs who have reduced their body fat. “That’s how maniacal this has become with me. I will go out and ride 80 kms in the morning on zero food and not eat until two in the afternoon,” says Leboe. Cycling’s allure, of course, isn’t unique to the culinary world. All-round, the sport is growing in popularity, both as a form of exercise and a means to socialize. The Economist in 2013 proclaimed cycling “the new golf.” For people who work in the world of restaurants, however, the draw to cycling is amplified. Gilles and Andrea Brassart, the husband-wife duo behind Cassis, Vélo Café and The Little French Market, as well as Suzette Bistro and the just opened Le Petit Boeuf, ride together several times a week. They see similarities between running a

restaurant and road cycling. Both domains, at their best, mix moments of high adrenalin with quieter periods of heightened sensory focus. The Brassarts break into each other’s sentences as they list what attracts them to cycling: mountain vistas and the meditative hum of wheels on the road; the satisfying indulgence of a coffee after 40 cold kms and the camaraderie of racing friends up a climb. When they talk about cycling, they talk about food, and vice versa. “I think there is an appreciation on the bike of views and food and everything, but also there is an adrenalin,” says Gilles. It’s similar to what attracts him to restaurants. “The chef persona, we love a rush. On the bike, you can meditate or you can have this crazy rush when you are in the big group and you go super-fast. You can have both.”

Cooking in a restaurant, operating a restaurant, neither is easy work. It’s an industry where many develop heart disease or diabetes at young ages due to high stress, long hours and rich diets, says Andrea. But she and her husband want to thrive, healthily, in this industry for a long time. Cycling keeps them fit, she says. “You have to take care of yourself. You have to find a way to relieve stress.” In a business where the hours are long and odd, cycling also connects like-minded individuals, says Gilles. That was the genesis of the Brassarts’ Vélo Café. The cycling-themed coffee shop grew out of an informal riding group that initially consisted of many local restaurateurs who met up at Cassis to ride on Monday mornings. As the group expanded, the Brassarts decided to turn the space adjacent to Cassis into a café where riders in cleats and spandex would be always welcome. “We’d already opened a restaurant, but we wanted to promote a lifestyle: good food, biking, coffee, these things go together,” Gilles says. The most obvious association between cooking and cycling is a calories-in-calories-out approach to health, but on a grander scale than most of us experience. Professional chefs spend their waking hours thinking about food and wine, often consuming extra calories in the process; a cyclist working hard for a few hours on a bike can burn a few thousand calories. In the three years since he started cycling seriously, Jackson says he has lost 80 pounds. “I definitely love to indulge. I love food and making people happy through food, that is why I started in the business to begin with,” he says. “But cycling definitely opened my eyes a bit. Do I need to be eating poutine seven days a week, or is one day a week enough?” And on the days when chefs who cycle indulge, do they ever! Here’s what a glorious summer day looks like to Leboe, Gilles Brassart and Brad Morrison, chief operating officer and partner at the Concorde Group restaurants: a ride of around 200 hilly kms through the Canadian Rockies followed by a dinner of thick, carefully selected steaks and several bottles of 10-year-old Burgundy. “To be fair,” says Leboe, “we probably do the same thing as other cyclists. We just probably eat better.”

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AT THE TOP Taking the entire top floor of a new condo building in Hillhurst, this penthouse has been transformed into a home with heart and soul, plus a touch of glamour.


hen interior designer Ijmal Haider of Haider Design Group first stepped into the new Hillhurst condo owned by John Eresman and Ali Walker, it felt like the proverbial blank canvas, ready for his paintbrush. The home encompasses the entire top floor of the building, complete with stunning, nearly 360-degree skyline views. Haider’s task was to take the empty space from its builder-grade state and create a home that represented the personalities of the homeowners — two young professionals with a love of art and entertaining. Although the couple recently moved to Calgary from Vancouver, years ago Eresman had lived just down the road from the condo in a home built in the 1930s, and he loved the neighbourhood. “As sad as it is to see old things go, I think there is a lot of new life being brought to this area through new developments,” Eresman says. “I have friends and family all in walking distance. Hillhurst feels like a real neighbourhood where you will run into people walking down the street. That was important to me when choosing where to move.” Eresman and Haider have been friends since childhood, so Eresman and Walker felt comfortable essentially giving the designer carte blanche to help them create the perfect space for their new life in Calgary. “I already had an idea of what John’s personal taste was and I was able to draw inspiration from the art pieces and quirky objects that he already owned and loved,” says Haider. The combined living room and kitchen was Haider’s first focus. “The open-concept layout was already ideal for entertaining,” he says, “but the challenge was bringing the whole space together in a way that felt warm and cozy, and reflected their playful, fun and youthful personalities.” His starting point was the sofa, which faces the fireplace and television. “I wanted to do a traditional

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Interior designer Ijmal Haider lets the sun into the penthouse home of John Eresman and Ali Walker. The open-plan living room and kitchen are ideal for entertaining with a picture-perfect panoramic view of the city thanks to wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows.




Haider created an art-filled reading nook just off the kitchen, ideal for enjoying the afternoon sun.

tufted sofa to play up the mid-century lounge vibe of the space, contrasting the industrial-modern with the couple’s quirky, artistic style,” he says. “Since the space is so expansive, we needed furniture that could hold its own amongst the floor-to-ceiling windows. The sofa paired with two large coffee tables sets the stage for a little drama and a lot of opportunity to show off the couple’s art objects and coffee-table books. We were going for a luxe-hotel-lobby kind of feeling,” Haider says. While the penthouse has an open and spacious floor plan, Haider has ensured there are plenty of tucked-away, private spaces for the couple as well. “The long, skinny room off the kitchen was originally supposed to be the dining room,” he says. “Instead, we turned it into a cozy gaming and media room with a custom arcade cabinet, big-screen TV and cocktail bar. Even with the wall-to-wall windows, we were able to achieve an intimate space with warm textiles and the statement wall treatment created by Interiors to Inspire. A big focus for the home was showcasing the couple’s growing art collection. Every room features at least one piece that Walker and Eresman had previously collected or found during the design process with Haider. “Many of the art pieces we chose for the home include natural materials which give the space a lot of warmth,” says Haider. “However, John and Ali are also interested in pop culture and humour, so we brought in touches of that through photography and pieces created or collected by John. As a result, the collection tells a story that is unique to this couple and their home. 1 06


TOP Interiors to Inspire created the custom

wall treatment with dramatic gold foil, giving the media room a glamorous and moody look.

ABOVE With suede-upholstered furniture and touches of brass, the media room has a decidedly Mad Men mid-century vibe.


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DECOR CREATING AMBIANCE WITH LIGHTING Interior designer Ijmal Haider says good lighting is just as important in making your home feel cozy as curating an art collection or building your personal library. Lighting adds personality and character — much like a good pair of shoes, a good light fixture is the finishing touch to the look of the room. 1. Warm things up using Edison bulbs or fixtures with exposed bulbs. Sometimes just changing the bulbs will give your fixtures a completely different feel. 2. Don’t be afraid to mix metals, or even materials. Your whole house doesn’t need to be brushed nickel — try mixing in brass, copper or wood to change things up. 3. Always keep your ceiling height in mind. The rule of thumb for eight- to nine-foot ceilings is to hang your semiflush mount fixtures about six to eight inches from the ceiling, but always test it out to make sure you won’t hit your head on the fixture. 4. Experiment with different kinds of fixtures. Your first choice might not work out in

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The giant Scrabble board in the den is always a draw for a cozy night in with friends.

the space, so be open to new ideas. 5. Get dramatic. Lighting should be fun and reflect your personality. Make a statement with a sparkling mid-century-inspired piece or modern-industrial lighting.

The pièce de résistance in the entryway is The Vestaboard, one of Eresman’s prized possessions. The digital signboard can be updated with inspiring messages directly from Eresman’s phone. The warm and welcoming guest room is bright and sunny with an eclectic mix of colours, patterns and fabrics. The main bedroom is a true retreat from busy life, with furnishings and fixtures that continue the mid-century-inspired look of the home, bold artworks and accessories as well as more natural light and great views.

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Interior design by Haider Design Group, haiderdesigngroup.com Builder, Birchwood Properties, 403-270-1814, birchwoodproperties.ca Lighting throughout from Signature Lighting, 3500 Blackfoot Tr. S.E., 403-243-4294, signaturelighting.com Wallpaper throughout from Walls Alive, 1328 17 Ave. S.W., 403-244-8931, wallsalive.com Hardware throughout from Banbury Lane Design Centre, 1301 10 Ave. S.W., 403-244-0038, banburylane.com Living-room couch from Restoration Hardware, Southcentre Mall, 403-271-2122, restorationhardware.com Living-room chairs from Metro Element, 1221 Kensington Rd. N.W., 403-257-7588, metroelement.net Coffee tables from CB2, cb2.com Rug from Crate and Barrel, Southcentre Mall, 403-278-7020, crateandbarrel.ca Curtains from Sheila’s Drapery, 1338 11 Ave. S.W., 403-277-4988, sheilasdrapery.com Kitchen stools from CB2 Climber art from Metro Element Shelving in window frame from Structube, three Calgary locations, structube.com Media-room wall treatment by Interiors to Inspire, 6, 4623 Manilla Rd. S.E., 403-243-7433, interiorstoinspire.com TV console from Restoration Hardware Media-room couch from West Elm, 868 16 Ave. S.W., 403-245-1373, westelm.ca Pillows from HomeSense, multiple locations, homesense.ca Blue-velvet media-room chairs from West Elm Arcade custom-made by Big J Arcade, 115, 15 Circle Dr., St. Albert, 780-418-8997, bigjarcade.com Rug and coffee tables from CB2 Dice from HomeSense Beatles art from Home Evolution, 7133 11 St. S.E., 403-253-5552, home-evolution.com Den coffee table from Urban Barn, multiple locations, urbanbarn.com Wall-mounted Scrabble board from Restoration Hardware Main-bedroom bed frame from Restoration Hardware Rug from West Elm Main-bedroom artwork and clock from HomeSense Barn door from Timbertown, multiple locations, timbertown.ca Guest room bed frame from West Elm Side table from CB2 Rug from Crate and Barrel

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a f f o r d a b l e p e r s o n a l5i z5e5 d c-a 60 b i n eav t r ye n u e Se , Ca l g a r y 40 3 . 2 5 2 . 5 5 5 2 f i t t i n g yo u a n d yo u r l i fe st y l e 5 5 5 - 6 0 AV E N U E S E , C A LG A R Y | 4 0 3 - 2 5 2 - 5 5 5 2




from concept to completionTM

since 1977 AvenueCalgary.com


THE LIST AS TOLD TO Jennifer Friesen


Two Hills Earl Grey Ice Cream from Village Ice

Cream “I love ice cream and this


Esker Foundation “I love to randomly stop by when I’m

walking down the street. The exhibi-

is my absolute favourite. It’s sweet,

tions are always changing, and the

but also has that really strong tea

rooms are so airy. It makes me feel

taste. I love the aroma, and the

really light and relaxed to be there.”

flavour isn’t watered down or too strong — it’s perfect.”


Boxing at Rumble Boxing Studio “It’s just a good,

healthy way to relieve stress, and it’s different than going to the gym. I got into it for self-defence, and it prepares you to be tough.”


Textiles at Bhatia Cloth House “They import a lot of

fabrics from India and China and they’re really fashion-forward. It’s great for inspiration; I purchase

their fabrics to test out designs.”


With a background in both art and business, Jenn Nguyen had been searching for new ways to combine her two areas of interest. Her vision came to life two years ago when she founded Trendy Singh, Canada’s first custom dastar (turban) company. Although Nguyen herself isn’t Sikh, she wanted to open up a way for Sikh men to express themselves and start a conversation through fashion. She has immersed herself in the local Sikh community through her friends and by volunteering with a variety of groups. Trendy Singh has a line of solid-colour, camo- and floral-print turbans, and is set to release a new line of designs this month. Here are 10 things in Calgary Nguyen loves.


Public Art Along the RiverWalk in East Village

Jewellery “We started col-

“The walls on the path are full of

laborating with them to make pins

pop-culture geometric art. It’s es-

for turbans, but they also specialize

pecially beautiful at nighttime, when

in custom rings. I have a few of my

all the lights of the city are reflecting

own and it’s a great way to express

off the river.”

your creative side by having something customized.”


The New Central Library “It’s almost overwhelmingly

beautiful. It feels like a museum in New York. It’s like a big tree house, and you get to go inside and create a world of your own.”


Salute Vegetarian Pizza from Seniore’s Pizza


Pho Satay at Saigon Pearl “There aren’t a lot of vegan

Vietnamese places out there, but

“It’s like a king’s dinner, so over-the-

Saigon Pearl has this off-the-menu

top and delicious. They don’t hold

option for vegans or vegetarians.

anything back — all the toppings

I love this dish. It’s perfect for getting

are fresh and loaded up. You could

something spicy when it’s cold.”

have one slice and feel like you ate an entire pizza.”


Moroccan Mint Tea at Sultan’s Tent “Ordering this

tea is an experience in itself. They prepare it right in front of you, so you see all the spices and herbs mixing with the water. It’s like artistry, how they mix and pour the tea.”

1 10 avenueMARCH.19

Jenn Nguyen photograph by Anoop Brar; pizza photograph courtesy of Seniore’s Pizza

Jenn Nguyen

Custom Rings by Soul Box

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Celebrating Calgary’s best and brightest under the age of 40 for the Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2019


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LOU’S 1801 9TH Ave S.E. Calgary 403-261-4030




Local Finds The Stowe Handbags

The Stowe handbags are designed by former-Calgarian Molly Spittal.

try this

MAS S AGO Wellness and relaxation are now available in your home — or office — at the click of a button. You can transform your living room or boardroom into a spa with the Massago Massageto-Go app, a mobile massage service that launched last year in Calgary. Massage options from $99 to $139 include deeptissue, Swedish, prenatal and sport and are available for individuals, couples and groups. Setting up your massage is simple: pick the location, time and length of the massage and the app shows all of the available vetted RMTs in your area. Payment, including tip, is all done through the app. Download the app at massago.ca.

Designed in Canada by Molly Spittal, a former Calgarian, The Stowe handbags are prototyped in Montreal and handmade in Spain. Spittal says she draws inspiration from the everyday needs of women. “My concept is so simple and always just to make handbags that women really want to wear. I’ve never designed an object that I wouldn’t wear everyday myself,” she says. Leo Boutique, which showcases a number of Canadian brands, carries a selection of bags from The Stowe’s collection. Leo Boutique, 810 16 Ave. S.W., 403-410-9236, leoboutique.com

sun & moon Sleep Masks

Palette Archives

Sleep well at any time of day with a sun & moon sleep mask ($60 to $100).

If you’re contemplating a home-decor update and your need for help

Designer Tiffany Wollman says that with each mask she hopes to encourage

(or your budget) falls somewhere between being able to do it all on your

relaxation, better sleep and a deeper inner connection to oneself and to

own and needing a full design service, Palette Archives is for you. This

nature. To do this, Wollman emphasizes the use of natural materials such

new company headed by interior designer Amanda Hamilton aims to take

as organic lavender and flax. She makes each mask by hand — for the

some of the legwork and guesswork out of selecting finishings by having

coloured masks she even hand-dyes the 100-per cent silk charmeuse us-

curated palettes of flooring, cabinetry, wallpaper, paint and tile samples

ing plant-based dyes (the black masks are not hand-dyed). Silk is thought

sent directly to your door. The Palette Archives showcases more than a

to help prevent fine facial lines and keep skin hydrated for a true “beauty

dozen design styles, from Santa Fe to Pop Art, Scandinavian Minimalism

sleep.” Some of the masks are also embellished with quartz crystals and

and Memphis (pictured). Select any one of the styles and receive a box of

amethyst gemstones, said to have healing properties for the body that

coordinated samples along with the necessary product-ordering informa-

include improving energy and enhancing the dream state.

tion and applicable discount codes to get started on your design project

Available at sunandmoon.ca; Thermae Advanced Aesthetics,

promptly. Most boxes are $449.

14B 22 Richard Way S.W., 403-263-8873

Palette boxes are available at palettearchives.com

1 12 avenueMARCH.19



JOIN US THROUGHOUT THE YEAR FOR UNIQUE DINING EXPERIENCES AT A SELECTION OF AVENUE ’S BEST RESTAURANTS. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit AvenueCalgary.com/dinnerseries









WORK OF ART CURATED BY Katherine Ylitalo


ine blue lines suggest the skeleton frame of a vintage airship that is still under construction, yet already appears to hover. Intricate scaffolding and mooring ropes support the semi-transparent cylinder within a vast hangar. Shards of golden light fracture the airy architecture and suffuse the space with a hazy glow. The exercise in perspective is intricate and atmospheric; it would appeal to admirers of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the great 18th-century Italian printmaker. With chalk, pastel and graphite, artist Alison Norlen drew on a canvas so large that she had to deliver it rolled up and then stretch it onto an aluminium frame in the atrium of Calgary City Centre, a downtown tower that opened in 2015. Within the expansive lobby space, the

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immense scale and detailed surface of the drawing combine to create a dizzying effect. Norlen was commissioned to make this largescale work based on a small watercolour, related drawings and her considerable track record. Based in Saskatoon where she teaches at the University of Saskatchewan, Norlen has works in collections across the country, from the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa to The Art Gallery in the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat. Her source material for Glimmer (Zeppelin) includes a photograph of a blimp being built inside the Goodyear hangar in Ohio, but her dreamy image is nuanced, inviting you to slip between places and time. Travel back to the early 20th century when people marveled at the

promise of comfortable air travel; fast forward to 1937 when the transatlantic voyage of a different zeppelin, the hydrogen-filled luxury Hindenburg airship, ended horribly, bursting into flames as it attempted to land. Caught on film, the first footage of a major transport disaster was shocking and, 82 years later, the image retains remarkable power in our collective memory. This drawing captures the zeitgeist of optimism around the potential of technology but can’t be read without a sobering sense of premonition. Memory permeates the ghostlike image; you might catch a glimpse of human folly through the cracks.

Photography by Jared Sych

Glimmer (Zeppelin)

TITLE: Glimmer (Zeppelin), 2016 ARTIST: Alison Norlen MEDIUM: Mixedmedia on canvas. SIZE: 490 cm by 978 cm. LOCATION: Main floor, Calgary City Centre, 215 2 St. S.W. NOTE: Glimmer (Zeppelin) was commissioned by Cadillac Fairview with the assistance of art consultants Stephen Smart and Wayne Baerwaldt. Nineteen works of art, most by other Canadian contemporary artists, can be viewed in the building’s public spaces with guide booklets available from the main lobby security desk.


221 10th Ave SW CALGARY, AB 403.262.6813 luxuriesofeurope.ca Instagram: @loeyyc AvenueCalgary.com





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