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5 new restaurants – and what to order at them

Story and photography by SILVIA PIKAL

We’re lucky with the variety of restaurants that have opened in Calgary and area in the last few months, from French and Italian cuisine to a charcuterie and butchery shop you can stop at for lunch. Check out our favourite dishes from 5 new restaurants, the first post in our new bi-monthly food and drink series.

CARDINALE: MODERN ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Housed in the historic Defoe building in Victoria Park, Cardinale is a refresh and rebrand of La Vita é Bella restaurant. The new restaurant focuses on fresh pasta made in-house, hand-crafted cocktails and fine Italian wine. The space is beautiful; exposed brick, green velvet booths and a large bar greet you when you walk in. A short walk away from the Saddledome, it’s a favourite hang-out when the Flames play.

Chef Steven Dowdell’s menu gives a nod to traditional Italian cooking elements while incorporating new twists. Try the mezze maniche pasta that’s topped with sister restaurant Hayden Block’s smoked bacon; it’s creamy and decadent. Pair your meal with a cocktail that features Italian liqueurs like the Il Bidone. If you’re craving something sweet after your meal, have the panna cotta, which is smooth and refreshing.

Cardinale, 401 – 12 Ave SE, cardinale.ca 

DONNA MAC: NEIGHBOURHOOD RESTAURANT

Donna Mac is named after co-owner Amy Turner’s grandmother, who took care of her family by hunting, gardening, woodworking and more. This new spot in the Beltline pays homage to her resourcefulness with a sharing menu that incorporates seasonal cuisine and focuses on sustainability. Highlights include the fingerling potatoes with porcini mayo and king oyster mushrooms, and the beef cheeks that rest on a bed of creamed jalapeno and cheddar potatoes.

Donna Mac, 1002 – 9 St SW, donnamacyyc.ca 

THE EDEN: FRENCH BISTRO IN INGLEWOOD

Ron and Nadine Eden are the husband-and-wife duo behind The Eden in Inglewood. Rob Eden told Where Calgary he bills the restaurant as a “blue collar bistro” thanks to the full spectrum of people in the space. “I like seeing work boots next to suits,” Rob says. The simple menu makes use of Nadine’s French family recipes. It’s truly a family business—you may see an adorable 8-month-old baby with mom and dad!

There’s a lot of flavour packed in each dish, with generous portions and food that tastes like grandma’s cooking. Stand-out dishes include the beef bourguignon, with melt-in-your-mouth slow-cooked beef. The chicken cordon bleu sandwich features juicy chicken breast wrapped around gruyere cheese. For dessert, indulge in the velvety “blue cheesecake” with a hint of blue cheese.

The Eden, 1219 – 9 Ave SE, edenbistro.ca 

EMPIRE PROVISIONS IN HAYSBORO

Empire Provisions, a charcuterie and butchery business, has opened up its own space in Haysboro. You can order a charcuterie board for a party, bring home meats, salads and pies, or simply stop for lunch in the café. Meat lovers will love the “porchettaaboutit” sandwich with slow-roasted pork belly on a ciabatta bun. Veggie lovers won’t feel left out—the “vegetarians are people too” sandwich is packed with fresh vegetables. The daily deli salads use filling ingredients like chickpeas, quinoa or lentils. End your meal with a fresh-baked cookie and take home something ready-to-eat like spicy pork meatballs.

Empire Provisions,  8409 Elbow Dr SW, empireprovisions.com 

STONES RESTAURANT AT CHINIKI CULTURAL CENTRE

Stones Restaurant inside Chiniki Cultural Centre focuses on authentic cuisine inspired by the rich history of Chiniki First Nation. The main dining hall is a stunning, light-filled space and ideal for anyone looking for a good meal on their way out of Calgary (or coming back hungry from rock climbing). For lunch, try the Stones nicoise salad with oven-baked salmon; it’s a delightful combination of baby potatoes, sliced egg and greens with a tangy buttermilk dressing. Stay to view the exhibits or browse art in the gallery.

Stones Restaurant, Chiniki Cultural Centre, Highway 1, Morley, AB, chinikiculturalcentre.com

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