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Calgary restaurants

Dining Spotlight: Stephen Deere

By SILVIA PIKAL

May 22, 2018 

Photo by Nadine Benoit.

Stephen Deere decided to try something a little less traditional when opening Modern Steak in 2014. The steakhouse and cocktail lounge has a rotating, seasonal menu that encourages guests to choose their steak from a selection of local ranches, all in a bright and energetic space. Guests can expect to hear hip-hop, R&B, dancehall and reggae tunes that are selected — and often spun — by the owner himself.

“Sometimes when I don’t want to run a restaurant I play some music,” Deere says. “It keeps you fresh.”

DJing provides a passion and creative outlet for the busy restaurant owner; you might spot him mixing at a concert with best buddy DJ Kav.

Deere grew up in Calgary in Forrest Lawn, where he checked out records from the public library only a few blocks away from his school, fostering a lifelong love of music. He says running a restaurant and DJing share a similarity in that they both provide instant feedback.

“With DJing, people are having fun and the dance floor is full — or the dance floor is empty. When people get their food, they get an emotional response and they tell you if it’s good or bad right away. That’s a great driver everyday to hit that moment with guests.”

Deere got his start as a humble dishwasher when he was 14 years old. Over the years he worked his way up in restaurants and nightclubs around the world, including a stint in Montego Bay where he managed multiple restaurants.

While he still considers Jamaica a second home, Calgary ultimately called him back. After owning two highly successful restaurants (Escoba Bistro and Wine Bar, and Muse), he decided to open a steakhouse that appeals to Kensington’s lively demographic.

The menu concept was inspired by his love of local cuisine, nurtured by his mother’s side of the family who came to Canada from Spain. His grandfather made Serrano ham and chorizo sausage using local ingredients.

“You should use what you have. We have the best beef, so let’s do this amazing steak concept with local beef where we can showcase different styles.”

The restaurant is truly his vision. He works with the chef on developing each new menu, handles the graphic design, social media and even collaborated with interior designers on the layout of the restaurant.

Now that Modern Steak has been running for a couple of years and has cultivated a loyal crowd, one of Deere’s new favourite responsibilities is acting as a mentor.

“Seeing people that have worked for me as a chef or manager doing well in what they’ve chosen to do is a big deal to me. This is an apprentice-style business and people have mentored me. It’s a responsibility to pay it back.”

What’s new and notable with Calgary restaurants

By SILVIA PIKAL

April 11, 2018

Read the latest in our bi-monthly food and drink series, which rounds up eats, drinks and food news!

Elbow Room launches spring menu

Char Siu at Elbow Room/Photo by Silvia Pikal.

Elbow Room’s new spring menu launched on April 10. The elegant restaurant in Britannia focuses on globally inspired Canadian cuisine. Luckily for our tastebuds, tried and true favourites are staying on the menu, including the crispy fried Brussels sprouts with irresistible serrano pepper cream sauce, and agnolotti — pasta squares stuffed with smoked chicken and mushroom filling.

From the new items, we loved the Char Siu option, which comes as a pork platter for two (or more) with charred pork belly, roasted tenderloin and miso mayonnaise, accompanied by Chinese pancakes, ginger soy vegetables and crispy rice. On the drinks list, don’t miss the samurai cocktail with plum sake and gin — it’s simply delicious.

Emilio’s and Blk Rbt open in Grain Exchange Building

Emilio’s is a new joint located in the Grain Exchange Building on 1st Street. The eatery is named after Alberta’s famous rumrunner Emilio Picarriello and serves contemporary, Italian-inspired dishes.

For a different vibe, drop into Blk Rbt speakeasy for snazzy beats, a sophisticated cocktail list and small bites. We dug all the artwork in the space and were wowed by the lemon pie sour cocktail — it was truly tasty.

Daily specials at Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey 

Brisket, watermelon salad and mac, three cheese and bacon at Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey/Photo by Silvia Pikal.

Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey’s meat is smoked daily up to 14 hours in a Memphis-style smoker that can hold 685 pounds of meat. We couldn’t get enough of the brisket, available by the 1/2 pound, and it went perfectly with the epic mac, three cheese and bacon, and watermelon salad. Pair that with a side of corn bread for only $1 and you’re in meat heaven. They know their whiskey cocktails here, and the whiskey sour with Bulleit Bourbon was delightful, and presented with style.

Their daily specials are the perfect chance to try the delectable house-smoked meat and hand-crafted cocktails. Check out Tuesday’s $20 brisket and bourbon special and on Fridays, you can get a feature whiskey cocktail for $10.

OMO Teppan and Kitchen opens on Macleod Trail

Sushi at OMO Teppan and Kitchen/ Photo by Silvia Pikal.

This new restaurant on Macleod Trail seeks to give guests a fun Teppanyaki experience paired with exceptional Japanese hospitality. If you’ve never eaten Teppanyaki-style, you’re invited to sit around a large table where talented chefs prepare your food on a hot griddle, and show off their cooking skills in the process.

We couldn’t get enough of the teriyaki chicken and wagyu steak. It’s also the only restaurant in Alberta to serve Kobe beef, a delicacy known for its tenderness — call 24 hours ahead of time if you want a Kobe steak.

Aside from the six teppanaki tables, the restaurant holds more than 100 and has a kitchen menu with cold and hot appetizers, noodles, entrees, tempura, sushi and wagyu slices or sliders. Try sake off their drinks menu, or for something different, the cold-brewed premium green tea from Japan.

Q&A: Roy Oh of Anju

By RACHAEL FREY

April 9, 2018

Photo courtesy Roy Oh.

When Roy Oh volunteered for a humble job cooking for a fundraiser at his church, a spark was lit. He enjoyed cooking so much that he quickly became the go-to guy for Christmas dinners and other large events.

“I found I was really enjoying myself and had a knack for it,” Oh says.

At the time, he was running a vinyl graphics business, but sold it to start his dream of becoming a restaurateur. He began working in kitchens and just a couple short years later, opened Anju with his wife Anh on December 31, 2008. Their first major challenge arose when Anh gave birth to their first child just nine months later, leaving Oh to handle the restaurant on his own.

While the first three years weren’t exactly a breeze, word began to spread around town and in 2013, Oh took the risk of shutting down the restaurant in order to build a bigger and better Anju.

In partnership with the Concorde Group, he reopened a year later at the busy corner of 4th Street and 17th Avenue SW, and the extra space has been more than needed as Anju has risen to one of the most respected and beloved restaurants in the city.

The clever and contemporary fusion of Korean food with inspirations from around the globe, draws in restaurant industry professionals, foodies and just about everyone else night after night.

Why did you choose to focus on Korean tapas?

A friend of mine that was in the restaurant business told me I should be cooking the food I grew up eating. I know Korean flavours better than any other so that was an easy decision. I also love the relationship between food and drinks. Anju (food eaten with alcohol) embodies that for me. It’s not just about the food but also about the relationship between what would be the best beverage to pair with that food. And the possibilities are endless!

Do you have a food philosophy?

Make food that tastes good and is something that you would enjoy eating yourself.

What is the #AnjuEffect?

That was created by Daniel Ramon, AKA Papi, from Teatro. It’s when you don’t like tofu but you try it here and fall in love with it, and now all you can think about is crispy tofu. It’s eating things at Anju that change the way you think about food and making you crave things you had no idea even existed. I’d say it’s an unexplained addiction to Anju food.

4 Must-Try Asian Tapas

By SILVIA PIKAL

Oxtail tortellini from Anju 


The oxtail tortellini is a must at Anju. Oxtail meat is shredded and placed inside a small dumpling, with soy sauce, truffle oil and grana padano cheese poured and sprinkled on top. You’ll be ordering more than one plate of this toothsome dish.

Pork belly steamed buns from Raw Bar

A post shared by Hotel Arts (@hotelartsyyc) on


Raw Bar in Hotel Arts has one hell of a happy hour. Tuesday to Saturday from 4 pm to 6 pm, small plates are half price. The pork belly steamed buns are a can’t-miss dish. Generous and mouthwatering portions of pork belly are topped with cherry hoisin sauce and sautéed onion before being swaddled by steamed buns.

Trout from Foreign Concept

Photo courtesy Foreign Concept.

Share the large plate of Alberta trout cha ca la vong at Foreign Concept. It’s a stand-out dish of turmeric fish served on scallion rice noodles and you’ll be wishing you ordered your own plate.

Mushroom dumplings at Two Penny Chinese

Photo by Silvia Pikal.

The crispy mushroom dumplings at Two Penny Chinese provide a crunchy hit of tasty mushrooms with each bite, and are divine when dipped in the addictive black truffle soy mayo.

5 places to get an Old Fashioned in Calgary

By SILVIA PIKAL

The Old Fashioned cocktail is a classic typically made with spirits, bitters, water and sugar. You can’t go wrong with this classic and it’s quite popular amongst Calgary’s happy hour hoppers. Here are five places that do them particularly well.

Barcelona Tavern 

Smoke in a glass at Barcelona Tavern/Photo by Silvia Pikal.

The drink here is made with Bulleit Bourbon and the glass is cedar smoked by the bartenders. Drop by on a Friday after work and you’ll smell it in the air. (more…)

Where to celebrate Pi Day in Calgary and other foodie updates

By Silvia Pikal

March 13, 2018

Read the latest in our bi-monthly food and drink series, which rounds up eats, drinks and food news!

Where to get pizza and pie in Calgary for Pi Day

Mini pies from last year’s Pi Day at The Beltliner/Photo by Silvia Pikal.

In our geeky hearts, Pi Day (March 14) is one of the best days of the year. The annual celebration of pi, the sexy mathematical constant you know and love, is observed around the world with specials on arguably two of the best foods on the planet—pizza and pie.

Hop by one of Calgary’s Blaze Pizza locations to add some pizzazz to your day for personal pizzas at the special pi price of $3.14.

The Beltliner is participating in Pi Day again this year by offering apple and Saskatoon mini pies for —you guessed it—$3.14.

Crave Cupcakes will be selling raspberry sour cream pies for $5. The single-serving pies are baked with raspberry sour cream filling and topped with brown sugar pecan crumble, along with a pi symbol in honour of Beakerhead (and the Mathletes among us)— $1.00 from each pie sold will benefit Beakerhead programming. Pre-order or stop by a store on March 13 or 14.

Elwood and the Rabbit now open for lunch

Opening night of new restaurant Elwood and the Rabbit/Photo by What’s Good Photography, courtesy Elwood and the Rabbit.

This new restaurant in Bridgeland with quirky rabbit-themed décor cooks globally inspired comfort food. They’ve officially opened their doors to the lunch crowd, providing hungry diners with tantalizing menu options like buttermilk fried chicken with kimchi potato salad, or grilled flank steak with hot and sour wild rice.

Get your brunch on at Murrieta’s Bar & Grill


Murrieta’s is officially serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm. You’ll find mouth-watering traditional brunch dishes like eggs benedict, along with modern fare including banana bread French toast, tiramisu pancakes, avocado toast and smoked salmon tacos.

Michael Noble launches Noble Fare catering


Michael Noble, the chef behind highly successful and acclaimed restaurants The Nash and Notable in Calgary, launched Noble Fare Catering and Events on March 1.

“We’re doing what we do best in small bites,” Noble said.

Noble Fare will serve weddings, parties and corporate events with the delicious and familiar comfort food you know and love from Notable and The Nash, along with options from a wine and cocktail list.

We were lucky enough to try some bites at the launch party, which included unbelievably gooey mac n’ cheese and tasty mini burgers cooked right in Noble’s restaurants for catering customers.

Vintage Chophouse offering Social Hour

Vintage Chophouse and Tavern now has a social hour menu with food and drink specials. We’re eyeing meaty and decadent plates like the BBQ glazed confit duck wings for $12, pork belly tacos for $5 each and beef ribs for $10.

5 delicious reasons to eat through The Big Taste foodie festival

By SILVIA PIKAL

February 28, 2018

Read the latest in our bi-monthly food and drink series, which rounds up eats, drinks and food news!

The Big Taste is back

Now in its 17th year, The Big Taste foodie festival gives Calgarians the chance to sample a variety of dishes from their choice of more than 90 participating downtown restaurants.  (more…)

Calgary restaurants: 4 new and noteworthy things

By Silvia Pikal

February 15, 2018

Read the latest in our bi-monthly food and drink series, which rounds up eats, drinks and food news!

Elwood and the Rabbit opens in Bridgeland

Photo by What’s Good Photography, courtesy Elwood and the Rabbit.


If the name Elwood and the Rabbit makes you think of an imaginary rabbit named Harvey, you’re not alone. We promise. (more…)

Dining spotlight: Andrew Keen’s journey from ski bum to Murrieta’s chef

By MICHAELA RITCHIE

Photo courtesy Murrieta’s Bar and Grill.

Who doesn’t love an adventurous dish prepared with exciting new methods and piled high with unusual ingredients? Nothing feels quite so top-of-the-line as imported ingredients and menu items with names you can barely pronounce, right? Well, not according to chef Andrew Keen, leader of the charge at Murrieta’s Bar and Grill.

Born in Ontario, raised in England, and a culinary prodigy of Canada’s west coast, Keen may be a citizen of the world, but he still insists the best menu around is the one grown right here in Alberta’s backyard.

“I love the simplicity,” Keen says of the steakhouse fare he’s cooked for over 17 years. “It’s about showcasing and respecting the product and the skill of cooking it. It’s tempting to get creative, but the simplicity of a perfectly cooked steak sometimes gets a little lost. Salt, pepper, a great piece of meat and a hot grill—those are really the only ingredients you need.”

After abandoning his former career as an insurance broker in London to live the life of a ski bum on the slopes of Whistler, Keen first stepped into the kitchen when the money for his lift tickets ran out. He cut his teeth cooking omelets at the Nancy Green Lodge, a natural choice for a part-time gig, he says, given the town’s history as a hospitality hotspot.

“You’d do your best, and sometimes you’d cry yourself to sleep in the store room to make sure you were there bright and early for the next morning, but the camaraderie of the kitchen was like nothing else.” (more…)

Calgary restaurants: 5 new and noteworthy things

By SILVIA PIKAL

January 31, 2018

This is part of our bi-monthly food and drink series, which rounds up eats, drinks and food news!

Brunch Happy Hour at Earls

Brunch got a lot happier at Earls in January 2018. All brunch entrées are $8 on the weekends during brunch happy hour, along with $5 mimosas. Hollandaise fans should order the chorizo and mushroom hash with crispy fried potatoes and poached eggs, topped with everyone’s favourite breakfast sauce. Visit their website for a list of times and locations. (more…)

Calgary restaurants: 5 new and noteworthy things

By SILVIA PIKAL

January 19, 2018

This is part of our bi-monthly food and drink series, which rounds up eats, drinks and food news!

Bar Annabelle now open on Stephen Avenue

Photo by Jasmine Croteau.

Bar Annabelle’s pink doorway with gold script draws you inside to a tiny but welcoming space. The wine bar opened in December 2017 right next door to sister restaurant Blink on Stephen Avenue, and offers a unique drinks list and tapas menu. The cozy bar is accented by pink, from the light fixtures to the distinctive Kat Marks price point and bill markers complete with Bar Annabelle’s logo. (more…)

Where to Dine Awards: Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2017

Our panel of 10 judges had a difficult task this year due to the extremely high bar that is being set by Calgary’s restaurants. There was much rigorous debate before they narrowed it down to 12 stellar examples of the very best the city has to offer. Each of these restaurants (presented in alphabetical order) are well worth the time and offer something new to visitors to Calgary—they are all original to our city. We invite you to see for yourself what our judges are raving about.

ANJU RESTAURANT

Photo courtesy Anju restaurant.

(more…)