I’m a self described “foodie with a passion for travel and a love of food and wine and recently spendt 48 hrs in Calgary that I would like to share with you.
Recently, I made a quick trip to visit friends in Calgary. Although Calgary may seem like an unlikely destination in winter, it still has a lot to offer for a few days or a weekend away.
Where should one stay? Hotel le Germain is a boutique gem in downtown Calgary that comes highly recommended.
Calgary is carnivore heaven for foodies. There is an abundance of excellent restaurants from downtown to the suburbs.
In the neighborhood of Bowness is one of my favorite Calgary restaurants, NOtaBLE. With an extensive, locally focused menu, there is something for everyone in this neighborhood hot spot. Menu items range from a hardwood rotisserie grilled prime rib to a warm confit of duck leg salad. The room is a large one with a variety of seating options. Going for just a casual evening, the high tables with comfy stools in the lounge area are perfect, and offer a great view of the open kitchen. . For group diners, there is a special table called the “Harvest Table” in a separate section of the restaurant to the side of the kitchen area. The main dining room has a number of banquette tables, some nestled in cozy corners for more intimate dining.
On our last visit to NOtaBLE, we secured a banquette table for four people with a good view. The wonderful wood fire-grilled bread with an accompaniment of roasted whole garlic and assorted tapen-ads was the perfect choice to warm up with a bottle of Four Graces pinot from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. From there we each chose a different entrée. I love the idea of “taster” and “main” size options for some of the appetizer choices You won’t want to miss trying some of the ever-changing “Seasonal Inspirations”. This part of the menu, created by Chef Michael Noble himself, features local, seasonal ingredients and offers well appointed wine pairing suggestions. Our server was friendly, knowledgeable, and had just the right level of attentiveness to enhance our experience. The most unique aspect of NOtaBLE has to be their policy of only taking reservations for 50% of their capacity. That means, if you don’t mind waiting, you can arrive without a reservation. Great idea.
If you are staying downtown, you won’t have to venture too far for a great meal. CHARCUT, attached to the Hotel Le Germain, is an excellent choice. Calgary’s latest destination restaurant, bar and gathering place, serving local, chef-driven, urban rustic cuisine. The “CHAR” in Charcut stands for the custom built Rotisserie and Charbroiler, while “CUT” stands for the vintage-style slicer and hand-crafted charcuterie eating bar. The restaurant is on the small side, but is nicely laid out with a lounge area and banquette seating. The dining room includes an elevated area that can accommodate a large group. CHARCUT specializes in family style dining and all the entrées are meant to be shared. The Share Burger CHARCUT Style is a great choice for a casual meal; try it with a side of the Duck fat fries poutine. The CHARCUT board of house-made sausage and cured meats is also not to be missed.
Feeling French? Petite is my French restaurant of choice when in Calgary. I admit I haven’t been since they moved from their ‘petite’ location to downtown but I am looking forward to trying this restaurant again soon. My past visits have been excellent. I am definitely putting Petite at the top of my list of ‘must eat here’ restaurants for my next trip.
There are a variety of shopping opportunities in Calgary. The downtown stores in the Core shopping center are a must stop. The Bay’s flagship store in downtown Calgary is a great place to look for a larger selection of winter coats and boots than you’ll find in the Bay stores in Vancouver, Victoria, or Nanaimo. Holt Renfrew, located right beside the Core offers free valet service. How convenient is that? For serious bargain hunters, Cross Iron Mills, located just north of Calgary, is an exceptional shopping destination with lots of new stores and great outlets. Plan on spending the day!
My time in Calgary ended much too soon with many things to do and places to see that will have to wait for a future visit.