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Hot Dining

Gourmet poutine, locally made ice cream, and the top 5 restaurants with a view

By John Gilchrist and Where Calgary Editors

Photographer: Blair Hill


It would be enough to say that Famoso has brought outstanding Neapolitan pizza to the 4th Street restaurant strip. But the dessert of mascarpone cheese tinged with vanilla and lemon served with a wild berry compote and oven-warm, baked dough puts them over the top. Sweet, fresh, light, and chewy, this dish is a perfect end to a Famoso feast.

River Cafe


1 Sky 360
The mountains to the west, the prairies to the east, the city below, the panorama from Sky 360 atop the Calgary Tower is breathtaking.

2    Q
There are few better places for a relaxing view of the Bow River with canoes, joggers, and strollers passing by. It feels like a park instead of the edge of downtown.

3    The Ranche
Planted in a historic ranch house in Fish Creek Park, the prairie grasses roll out to the Cottonwoods around The Ranche’s sculpted yard. The Ranche serves a fitting menu of Rocky Mountain cuisine.

4    Reader’s Garden Café
Perched on a hill overlooking Stampede Park in the refurbished Reader Rock Garden, Reader’s offers a splendid view of Calgary’s ever-growing downtown.

5    River Café
Situated on Prince’s Island Park in the heart of downtown, listen to the river, watch the ducks, enjoy the greenery, and indulge in chef Scott Pohorelic’s exciting seasonal Canadian fare.



With nearly 400 seats spread over two floors of Scotia Centre and over 400 more on a rooftop patio, West is a huge new addition to downtown dining. A menu of upscale and affordable (almost everything is under $20) modern lounge dishes such as short rib rigatoni and crab cake mac ’n’ cheese plus creative cocktails keeps those seats filled. Scotia Centre, 225 – 7 Ave SW, 403-237-5556.


The historic, prairie-inspired art deco Bank of Nova Scotia is back in business as the new BR& (pronounced “brand”), a steak frites restaurant. Top-notch Alberta beef ranging from flatiron cuts to a 40-ounce porterhouse, double-dipped organic frites, and saucy side dishes such as fried plantains with chimichuri, greet diners in this freshly revamped Stephen Avenue spot. 125 Stephen Ave SW, 403-263-4789.


One of Calgary’s top fine dining restaurants, Teatro, has opened a new café in Kensington. Vendome Café is located in a heritage building near the Sunnyside C-Train station, and serves premium coffee, fresh baking made on site, and breakfast and lunch items such as free-range chicken pot pie. For a quick snack, try their spinach and mushroom croissant. The atmosphere has a European feel, with high ceilings, wood floors and polished décor.



This year, two Canadian restaurants were included in the prestigious S. Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants for 2010. Landgon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario was ranked 77th, and Calgary’s own Rouge came in at 60th, the first time for a Calgary restaurant. Rouge is located in a Victorian home with gardens that create a serene environment for patio diners and supply the chefs with fresh herbs and vegetables. Menu items include smoked elk medallions with asparagus risotto and pickled Swiss chard, and “candy apple” duck breast with apple chutney and sweet potato pave.


Calgary’s late-night dessert café, Nectar Desserts, makes small batches of delectable ice cream and sorbets from scratch, with no preservatives. Ice cream flavours include Mexican vanilla, single malt Scotch, blue cheese and honey. Most of their sorbets are made with only two ingredients—fruit and sugar or honey—and include strawberry, raspberry, apricot, sweet cherry and mango. 

MacKay’s Ice Cream has been making ice cream in Cochrane since 1948. Originally the ice cream was sold in the back of the MacKay general store, but in the 1970s the family switched to exclusively selling ice cream. Their ice cream is made with 16 to 18 per cent butterfat (most ice cream contains 10 to 12 per cent), and is rich, dense and creamy. Popular flavours include chocolate fudge chunk, maple walnut, black cherry, cookie dough and bubblegum.

Poutine Galvaude from Laurier Lounge. Photographer: Blair Hill.


Poutine may be a Canadian classic, but these restaurants go beyond cheese curds and gravy. Brava Bistro adds in lobster with a shellfish butter sauce and marscapone cheese. District takes a “do-as-you-please” mentality, allowing you to add almost anything, including caramelized onions and flatiron steak. Laurier Lounge, however, pushes gourmet poutine furthest with five different types, such as the Poutine Galvaude, which comes with grilled chicken breast and green peas. —Derek Neumeier

Photographer: Jason Dziver.


CBC wine and food pairing expert Linda Garson gives us her recommendations for a wine pairing dinner at Ruan Thai (‘Thai house’) restaurant. Wayne and Toi Sieb have been serving Calgary with authentic Thai food for over eleven years.

■  Barbecue chicken satay with Toi’s peanut sauce
■  Thai deep-fried vegetarian spring rolls (bean sprouts, carrot, cabbage, taro, onion and Thai spices) with Toi’s pineapple chilli sauce

Wine: Dr. Loosen ‘Dr. L’

■  Ruan Thai’s signature pad thai (rice noodles, radish, bean sprouts, chive flower, carrots and peanuts)
■  Sweet green curry with shrimp (shrimp, mushrooms, peas, red and green peppers, basil leaves, coconut mile and green curry)
■  Chicken cashew (chicken, roasted cashews, red and green peppers, pineapple, onion, cooked with dry chilli)

Wine: Montresor Pinot Grigio Val D’Adige

■  Red curry with pork (pork, bamboo shoots, read and green peppers, snow peas, basil leaves, coconut milk, red curry)
■  Beef with lime leaves (beef, onion, garlic, lime leaves, basil leaves)

Wine: Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon

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