Category Archives: Restaurants

Here you can find the reviews of restaurants we’ve visited.

Alabama Jacks

We’d decided to take a more scenic route from Miami to the keys and having heard about Alabama Jack’s from some fellow riders I suggested we drop in for lunch before crossing to the keys.

Now any place that looks like an open air market on the side of the road with a large number of bikes and cars in the lots is going to attract my attention. It just happens that Nancy found it interesting as well, so the chances that we’d drive by were exactly ZERO. The odds were sealed by the sign that stated they had the best Conch Fritters in the Keys (more on this later). It was even better to walk in and be warmly greeted by both staff and at least one pleasantly glowing patron. Although I tend to think the fellow would have warmly greeted just about anything that moved near him.

The place was rustic and had a great feel about it with a little country music charm. I’m not a fan of cheap “bought-at-Walmart” plastic chairs but since they are open air in a place that gets a fair amount of  rain and where the humidity is always high I guess they can be forgiven. There are several tables and a bar with one side of the place open to the Everglades. The decor was interesting and eclectic in the way some chain places try to replicate (Montanas for example) but with an actual non-theme park/corporate attitude that I found relaxing.

‘Bama Jack’s is built over the water on the estuary from the Everglades to the Gulf of Mexico and we chose to sit right next to the rail over-looking the very clear and slow-moving water where boats were tied up so their owners could enjoy a cold one.. There were birds gliding past just above the surface and we could see large fish hanging around. We discovered why both were there soon enough.

We ordered a couple of drinks. I had to try a local brew so the Key West ale was a given. Being so close to the Keys we felt compelled to order Conch and since we both have a favorite version of this tasty shellfish and both were on the menu we got them. Nancy asked for the Conch Salad and as for me… Anyone who’s been reading here for a while will know that on this trip I discovered a new addiction…Conch Fritters. Now, I’ve loved fritters since I was a kid and my Grandmother made us the corn variety. Since her passing though I’ve never been able to find any that were that good in any restaurant this however hasn’t kept me from sampling almost every one I see on any menu just in case. The ones I had in Nassau were amazingly good and started a quest to taste every Conch fritter I could locate while in Florida. Of course if you are indeed a regular reader you’ll know that this particular quest caused me no end of mental agony and on occasion a certain degree of intestinal distress. It seems that most Conch fritters in Florida are just boring and oily, with some being just plain nasty. I’m guessing that is due to them being over-sold as a “must-have” for tourists. My quest had only just begun when we stopped at Alabama Jack’s that day and the honeymoon was in full swing. I’d had some poor examples of fritters since The Bahamas but just chalked it up to bad luck.

On this day I was to sample a conch fritter that would solidify the above thought and galvanize my will  as I pushed forward in my search. They arrived with my beer and looked great. These were truly what I’d been searching for. They were crispy and light, full of flavour and were not oily. Served with a dipping sauce that I quite liked and a key lime wedge these are very good and may well deserve the title they claim.

Nancy’s Conch salad was small, it came served like a salsa in a bowl with tortillas. We both liked it and found that the ingredients were fresh and the flavours worked well together. I’m not sure about the chips but did not know if this was common or not so I’ll just say it was interesting as a choice.

While dining we noticed that both the large fish and the birds were tending to pay a good deal of attention to us and were both now quite close to us and in ever-increasing numbers. Just for fun I flicked a piece of tortilla in the air and to my surprise it was snatched immediately by a swooping bird in mid-flight. I crumbled some more up in my hand and dropped it over the side of the rail… the fish went nuts. This was without a doubt why they hung around near the place. I’m not one to generally feed wildlife and stopped quickly but it was something else to see the birds aerobatics and the fish swarm in.

All told we had a very nice snack at Alabama Jack’s and would strongly suggest that anyone driving to the Keys avoid the super-slab and take the back roads (for more reasons than this) on the way in order to drop in.

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Taiyo Japanese Restaurant review

Anyone who visits here and reads my reviews or has dined with me is well aware of my longstanding enjoyment of sushi. I’ve been fortunate enough to sample it in restaurants all over the world and have developed a fair palette for the delicate flavours.

Unfortunate then that I live in a part of Calgary where there are few choices that don’t involve travelling farther than my inherent laziness will permit. When sitting in my office and the craving hits me I generally ignore it. I settle for something else rather than drive to the nearest place that serves acceptable sushi. Yes, there are grocery stores nearby but I have never been that desperate.

Given the above information it’s easy to understand how hearing of a new Japanese restaurant opening very close by would arouse a healthy curiosity on my part. My only hope was that other than a new place to try Taiyo would also prove to be one that offered sushi and that the aforementioned sushi would be good.

Taiyo is located in the Creekside Shopping Centre and as such is really the only Japanese restaurant in the area. Sure you could drive to Crowfoot hoping one of the places there will be having a good day or take your chances with mall food courts or the previously mentioned supermarket offerings, these however are not as good an option now(not an option at all in my view) since this store has opened.

I’d only just heard that a new Japanese place was opening and since I had a desire to eat some sushi and wanted to get a little riding in while the clouds had briefly parted I jumped on my bike and headed over to give Taiyo a try.

It’s not surprising that I had not noticed the signage go up here since this place is at the far North end of this long mall. I only ever find myself there when visiting Rona. If I’d not had my spies inform me of its existence I may well not have found Taiyo for some time. Luckily this was not the case.

Being a storefront location the owners have put “glass etch” window film up and you cannot see into the restaurant. I had expected a basic open space with bare walls and a few tables. I was pleasantly surprised at the nicely thought out and attractive dining room I found when I entered. There is a sushi bar at the far end near the kitchen, couples seating, booths, floor-level style booths and a private dining area for groups. All in all a well made casual dining room.

I was promptly greeted by a smiling pretty young lady and shown a table. The two sushi chefs behind the bar were working at making orders but were nice enough to smile and nod in welcome to me as I was seated. I asked for some sake and a glass of water and they were brought right away.

I took a look at the lunch menu and decided on an 8 piece nigiri combo with two pieces of  the house roll and 6 of nigiri which also came with miso soup and a salad. In addition to this I ordered some separate pieces of unagi and tamago, two of my favourites and some of the items I like to use to gauge the sushi in a new place. I found the prices of the sushi to be on the high side of normal for Calgary while the sake was priced about average. Adding the drink and extra nigiri was going to make this a filling if somewhat expensive lunch since I’d already decided to splurge for the green tea iced cream.

I was very pleased with the service I received and found that the two young ladies who served me were very attentive and friendly. I discovered while talking with one of them that Taiyo is family owned. My servers’ older brother and sister ran the place. The brother was behind the sushi bar and the sister was the other girl doing front of house duty along with the one I spoke to. She informed me that they had only been open a few days, as such I was fairly impressed with things so far.

Having my water filled when near the bottom of the glass is certainly nice but when moments after finishing with a plate or bowl it is removed and this is done with every one of several during my meal I can honestly say the service is far better than is common in Calgary. I also found the staff to be pleasant to speak to without being overly talkative. I hope this level of service is something they maintain as it will set them apart from any competition and will certainly bring guests back.

My soup and salad were on the table just shortly after my sake had arrived. The salad was fresh and I found the dressing to be light and tasty. The miso was the standard version I’ve had many times. It was not too salty and contained a good amount of tofu and greens.

I had not quite finished with my soup and salad when the nigiri platter was brought over. The sushi looked good. The presentation was minimal and clean. I saw that the meshi pieces were smaller than many in town and this is okay in my opinion, I’m not a fan of huge amounts of rice with my sushi. The fish looked to be well cut for the most part and proved to be quite fresh. The pieces weren’t too large to deal with as is becoming popular with the “more is better” crowd(something sushi lovers generally dislike). Upon sampling the nigiri I did find that the meshi was not firm and the portions tended to fall apart when handled. The two pieces of the house roll were firm and well made. I liked the combination used and will try this roll on its own at a later date. While the selection in this combo was nothing exotic the fish was fresh and tasted good, with the salad and soup it was priced again somewhat on the higher end at $14.

The separate pieces of nigiri I’d ordered arrived shortly after the main platter. The unagi looked very nice, it was slightly charred and crispy looking. It turned out to be very good. I hate cold or room temperature unagi and this was just right, warm with a small amount of sauce as opposed to the often dripping versions I’ve had on several occasions. The eel was also the proper texture leading me to believe it was fresh and as with the other portions was a fair size.

The tamago however proved to be somewhat of a disappointment. I really like this type of sushi and as a gauge for how good a sushi chef is in Japan it is perhaps unrivalled with every itamae having his own recipe. The egg on mine was slightly frozen in spots and overall the taste and texture were not as good as I’d have hoped for. I’ll give it another go when I visit again but don’t think I’ll be calling it a favourite.

On the whole I quite liked my visit to Taiyo. The food was fairly good for the most part and while not upscale it surpassed the offerings of the other far NW sushi places, several of which I’ve visited recently. The price may be an issue with some but for fresh fish served by lovely, friendly and attentive staff who go out-of-the-way to provide good service I’m willing to pay it. I’m certainly pleased that I can now satisfy my sushi cravings while expending as little energy and time as possible driving to acquire it.

Taiyo on Urbanspoon

UPDATE:

After visiting a second time I was very pleased to find that the tamago had been reworked using a new recipe and was very good. The owners worked together I’m told to come up with a version that would impress the customers, I’d say they succeeded in doing so. I will now say that this tamago is as good as any in town.

I have to say that if you love Unagi as much as I do you should visit Taiyo. I can state without hesitation that they offer the best version of this nigiri I have had locally. Unagi that is worth eating needs to be warm, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and not be smothered in sauce, this is just what you’ll get here. I also enjoy it just charred a little and it’s served exactly this way.

This time I induged in some ebi tempura prior to my meal and found that it was quite nice. The coating was good and there was very little oil to speak of on or soaked into the pieces of prawn.

I also sampled the house special roll called the “Sunshine Roll”(since Taiyo translates to Sunshine it’s fitting) at the suggestion of the sushi chef and was pleased with this creation. I would say that the pieces were a little thick for easy eating but none the less this is a very nice offering that I will be ordering again.

As on my first visit the staff were exceptional and I recieved very good service from both the front of house staff and the sushi chefs at the bar.

Mimo Restaurant review

Being a seafood lover I’m always happy to locate a restaurant that serves more than the basic North American versions. I’d never had Portuguese food and while the seafood in Macau that we’ve eaten may be influenced by it I wanted to try the real thing.

Mimo is located just off of International Avenue(17th Ave) in the cities’ SE and is surrounded by stores serving food from many parts of the world. They are family run and have been around for quite some time, two facts that are not lost on the foodie looking for a good meal. Being one of only a very few Portuguese places in town we felt they needed to be tried.

We visited Mimo as the June instalment of our monthly UrbanSpoon foodie runs. I’m still amazed and very pleased with our selections thus far. We’ve not chosen a place that disappointed and this is something considering that we tend towards more interesting ethnic fare and smaller stores

Having read a little about this place I was unsure what to expect as far as the store itself, the food has gotten nothing but great reviews but the location has been described in less than glowing terms . I’d heard that Mimo was a bit of a hole and one had to navigate through a bar then down a hallway into a dark windowless dining room. I’d also read of renovations, and thus could only go and see for myself.Flaming Sausage

It turns out that the renos were done and the space was nicely lit with the dining room moved right to the front and there are windows. Although not a large space it wasn’t cramped. I will however give less than high marks for the hard and unpadded chairs, but then I’m getting old and we were there for over 3 hours.

Looking over the menu it’s hard to make a decision as everything was either great sounding or looked so interesting as to almost call out to the foodie in me. In the end the fact we were in a group and Portuguese is yet another food culture that believes in large share plates we decided to go with that.

The staff were very friendly and being a family run store that has been around for awhile they are very comfortable with their customers. Our servers were chatty and fun to talk with as they explained the food to us and while unwilling to divulge any of the secrets we continually tried to pry out of them we were happy with the service they provided.

Given that fact that we were the smallest group in the dining room(by far) the kitchen and the front of house kept up quite well. We may not have recieved the same attention as we might have if the place was less crazy but we were certainly not left to our own devices for any length of time and the food came out in fairly quickly.

First up was a selection of appetizers. We decided on the Home-made sausage, a delicious Portuguese chorizo that is cooked over a flame on its plate in front of you. The second was snails in wine sauce and finally grilled squid.

All of these were terrific choices with the squid being tender and the sausage tasting very nice. The snails were basic but as with the other apps and mains it was the sauce that made the dish. We had to ask for a second plate of bread to soak up all that remained on the plates.

The mains were something that involved more discussion than we would have thought. You see as foodies we tend to want to sample as much of the menu as possible and this tends to lead to difficulty walking to our cars at the end of the meal (usually with take-home bags). KC Foore’s other half was the voice of caution on this night and we all decided to listen. So, instead of the Paella for 3 and extra main that we had originally wanted to order we opted for a single and just the 3 mains.

What we ended up with was easily enough for the 6 of us. The Discover Portugal is a huge, heaping platter of seafood and veggies that contained lobster, crab, clams, mussels, shrimp, squid and vegetables smothered in yet another tasty sauce with just a bit of heat(which can be turned up on request). The paella was also the selection of seafood but over Portuguese rice. Our third selection was the bacalhau (poached cod). This is a dried salt cod that has been reconstituted while cooked. It’s served with boiled potatoes and olive oil with vinegar as a condiment. This is a most interesting dish which was unlike any fish meal I’d had prior.

The Discover Portugal and Paella are seafood lovers dreams and we all enjoyed making a mess while devouring them with our hands. I only have one sour note regarding the seafood and that is that it was over-cooked. This did not impact my enjoyment to a large degree but was noticeable. As with the appies the sauces were wonderful and both they and the rice in the paella disappeared quickly.

After savaging this ginormous pile of food most of us were really in no condition to eat any more, this however did not stop the more intrepid in the group. So while some enjoyed a glass of port or spiced coffee myself , KC Foore and Twisted Chinaman ordered some dessert to complete the Mimo experience.

I have a deep-seated weakness for rice pudding that was formed during a childhood being fed by my Ukrainian Grandmother who was a masterful cook, so after seeing this as a selection on the menu I had little choice but to order it. The pudding was creamy and nicely spiced but the rice was a little on the chewy side and I felt it could have been cooked longer. This aside It was a pleasant finish to my meal and not likely to be consistently undercooked.

Aside from a few minor issues this was a very good meal and one that I’m not going to miss the chance to repeat in the future. Anyone with a thing for seafood should give Mimo a visit, but I’d suggest caution when confronted by the selection and only order a couple of dishes to start, you can always order more.

MIMO Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kinjo Sushi & Grill review

I really have to give Peter Kinjo the credit he’s due. This is a guy who came to Canada from Japan with little money and only minor skills. Now he’s owned a number of restaurants in Calgary and is truly the poster boy for what you can do if you try hard enough and believe in what you are doing.

The first time I met Peter is actually not a moment I even remember but since I’ve eaten at the first Edo Japan in South Centre from when I was quite young I’m sure I’ve met him. Peter’s the guy who started this popular and successful chain of shops and it’s a great thing to have on his life’s resume’.  He’s owned several restaurants since coming to Calgary and he should be proud of what he’s accomplished.

Peter’s latest venture is a sushi place he’s named Kinjo Sushi & Grill and it’s as far as I am aware the only restaurant he currently owns. Located on Macleod trail in one of Calgary’s busiest dining areas Kinjo occupies a building which was once a fast food place that went away. This space is now renovated and houses a large oval moat filled with small plastic boats packed bow to stern and carrying plates of food. These boats constantly circle the food prep area where they are replenished and a bar style dining counter surrounds the moat from where customers seated there can pick any of the plates they want. At the end of the meal you pay based on the colour and number of the chosen plates.

This style of dining is one I’ve seen in many places around the world.  From Tokyo to Hong Kong or Miami to London this is a fairly common way to eat sushi. It is however on the bottom end of the dining scale and is actually more akin to a McDonalds then to an actual sushi-ya. The food is therefore in most cases equivalent in quality to a fast food place as well, designed more for high turn-over than for producing good sushi.

We’ve visited on a few occasions and at each of these times we’ve left very disappointed in the quality of the food we’d eaten there. Some of what we tried was even to the point of smelling bad and much of the rest showing obvious signs that it was past the point where it should be served to customers. I’ve always wondered how fast turn-over places cannot have fresh looking food when it’s constantly being replenished. The only thing I can come up with is that the ingredients are lower quality to begin with and that little care taken in the preparation adds to the problem.

Whether it was a roll, maki or nigiri from the boats or something ordered from the kitchen the quality of the food has always been lacking on our visits to Kinjo. Small poorly made rolls that contain old tasting fish should never end up in front of a customer and no amount of sake or free pocky sticks can change that fact. The food prep staff need to try harder to put out quality and if something is no longer fresh it should not be served. I’m not a fan of throwing out food but old and stale fish is a health hazard.

I do like the effort that Peter puts into trying to provide a fun and happy environment for his customers, and while it doesn’t always thrill some people to have a knife-wielding guy dressed in a kimono interrupt their meal, I think that most understand what’s behind it. Again, I for one appreciate these hijinks for what they are and see no reason for anyone to complain about them.

I like Peter and admire his successes but would give him the advice that he needs to improve both the quality of the ingredients as well as the end product if he is going to have another winning enterprise on his hands. Those who don’t know what good quality sushi should taste like are bound to find out at some point. And when these people do discover better food they won’t be back.  I’ve already seen reviews from former customers who have decided that the food is not up to par and no longer want to dine at Kinjo. If this trend is to be avoided things have to change. The only way to do this is to provide quality food to the customer. Other places in town have sourced and seem to be able to serve fresher looking/tasting fish so there’s no reason Kinjo cannot do the same. As for the staff they can just put somewhat more effort into what they do.

As for me, I’ve given Kinjo as many chances as I can and with such poor quality and apparent lack of concern on the part of the staff I’m not likely to visit again. Sorry Peter.

Kinjo Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

Boogies Burgers review

I’ve known of Boogie’s burgers for most of my life and it’s one of those places that I keep thinking I’d like to visit and never seem to get. I finally did get the chance to try the food here when I wanted to take the convertible out for a run and enjoy the nice weather.

Boogie’s has been around for a long time, since the late sixties as a matter of fact. This burger place was started by Gus Peiters, the same man who also gave Calgary one of its most beloved institutions, Peter’s Drive-in. This may be one of the reasons I never went for such a long time, it may have been in my mind that it would be the same food and so why not just go to Peter’s instead. I’m not sure if that’s the reason or not but at least I can now say I’ve been to both.

Located on Edmonton Trail and only a short drive south of Peter’s Drive-in We found that Boogie’s was quite busy for a mid-week and earlier than normal dinner. we looked over the menu while waiting in line and found that the offerings were much more varied than I’d expected, with a large number of burgers to choose from. Many of these burgers were quite unique with toppings ranging from the ordinary to the somewhat less so such as fried egg and even a hotdog.

We ended up ordering a Sam’s burger for Nancy and a Fay’s burger for myself. I’ve since discovered that these two burgers are named for the couple who ran Boogie’s for much of its existance. The Sam’s is a single patty with all the usual toppings in addition to a fried egg, cheese and Boogie’s house made red sauce. The Fay’s burger is also a single with fried mushrooms and onions, bacon and a mushroom sauce as well as the expected additions. We also ordered some of the yam chips, a small plate of onion rings and to drink a raspberry shake and a coke for me.

After ordering the fellow at the counter told me he’d have the food brought outside to one of the tables if we wanted to eat there. We liked the idea of dining in the sunshine and I told him that yes that would be great. I am quite surprised that they’d bring us our food considering how busy they were and this is a plus for boogie’s in my book. We paid and proceeded out into the sunshine to sit at one of the uniquely pinkish picnic tables provided.

Our drinks arrived soon after we’d sat down and the shake was quite good, not the cheap flavorless variety I’d come to expect from most places and similar to what you’d get at Peter’s.

Sam's Burger

We were finished the drinks long before our food arrived and while I generally don’t like to wait so long for something as simple as a burger it was nice out and since I’d read that every burger was handmade fresh as the orders come in I was okay with it.

When the burgers and sides arrived I was quite pleased with what I saw. The burgers were large and looked great, just what I’d hoped I’d see when I heard they made them to order. Both were well made and put together with care despite how busy the kitchen must have been, I do hate thrown together food and whether good or not will not be happy with any place that allows this.

Fay's Burger

The burgers came on amazingly fresh buns that were not the over-puffy or heavy ones I’m used to. They also seemed to be thinner than what I’d have expected and thus did not over-power the burger as so many do. I decided that it would have been good if I’d ordered a double patty, I didn’t do so as I was unsure of the size and didn’t want to end up with a huge monster that I’d have a hard time eating. These were not the huge thick slab of meat I thought I might find and were in fact much thinner than I’d have hoped for, rather like the fast food patties one finds at MacDonald’s but much larger in diameter. I found this to be disappointing.

Both of us liked our burgers but given that each was covered with a different sauce that was not in short supply we were surprised that neither of them had a great deal of flavor. My Fay’s burger was actually rather bland tasting, I could not discern the flavour of the mushrooms or the onions and the sauce could have been missing for all the impact it had. Nancy had similar feelings about her Sam’s burger. Between the thin patties and the lack of flavour we were actually disappointed in our first visit to Boogie’s.

Basic Rings

The onion rings were the basic version that I’d had on countless occasions and while a little bit on the oily side were quite enjoyable. I’d hoped that I’d find that Boogie’s made their own rings as I’ve not had hand-made onion rings in so long I cannot remember. This, if it had been done and they were good would have made Boogie’s a favorite of mine even if the burgers were not to my liking.

Yam Chips

The yam chips were also good and despite some being a tad chewy they were for the most part crisp, light and tasty. Unlike the rings these were perfect and one would be hard presses to notice any oil on them at all. As a substitute for regular run of the mill fries these were a nice change and I’m glad they are offered.

All in all I liked Boogie’s and while some of what we had disappointed me I would like to return and sample some of the other unique burgers to find out if what we experienced was the norm for this place. I may not go out of my way to visit but would say that they do offer good food that is made well. Next time I’ll have a double though.

Boogie's Burgers on Urbanspoon

I’ve known of Boogies burgers for most of my life and it’s one of those places that I keep thinking I’d like to visit and never seem to get. I finally did get the chance to try the food here when I wanted to take the convertible out for a run and enjoy the nice weather.

Boogies has been around for a long time, since the late sixties as a matter of fact. This burger place was started by Gus Peiters, the same man who also gave Calgary one of it’s most beloved institutions, Peter’s Drive-in. This may be one of the reasons I never went for such a long time, it may have been in my mind that it would be the same food and so why not just go to Peter’s instead. I’m not sure if that’s the reason or not but at least I can now say I’ve been to both.

https://chowtown.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/p1010608.jpg?w=300Located on Edmonton Trail and only a short drive south of Peter’s Drive-in We found that Boogie’s was quite busy for a mid-week and earlier than normal dinner. we looked over the menu while waiting in line and found that the offerings were much more varied than I’d expected, with a large number of burgers to choose from. Many of these burgers were quite unique with toppings ranging from the ordinary to the somewhat less so such as fried egg and even a hotdog.

We ended up ordering a Sam’s burger for Nancy and a Fay’s burger for myself. I’ve since discovered that these two burgers are named for the couple who ran Boogies for much of its existence. The Sam’s is a single patty with all the usual toppings in addition to a fried egg, cheese and Boogie’s house made red sauce. The Fay’s burger is also a single with fried mushrooms and onions, bacon and a mushroom sauce as well as the expected additions. We also ordered some of the yam chips, a small plate of onion rings and to drink a raspberry shake and a coke for me.

After ordering the fellow at the counter told me he’d have the food brought outside to one of the tables if we wanted to eat there. We liked the idea of dining in the sunshine and I told him that yes that would be great. I am quite surprised that they’d bring us our food considering how busy they were and this is a plus for boogie’s in my book. We paid and proceeded out into the sunshine to sit at one of the uniquely pinkish picnic tables provided.

Our drinks arrived soon after we’d sat down and the shake was quite good, not the cheap flavourless variety I’d come to expect from most places and similar to what you’d get at Peter’s.

https://chowtown.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/p1010604.jpg?w=300

Sam’s Burger

We were finished the drinks long before our food arrived and while I generally don’t like to wait so long for something as simple as a burger it was nice out and since I’d read that every burger was handmade fresh as the orders come in I was okay with it.

When the burgers and sides arrived I was quite pleased with what I saw. The burgers were large and looked great, just what I’d hoped I’d see when I heard they made them to order. Both were well made and put together with care despite how busy the kitchen must have been, I do hate thrown together food and whether good or not will not be happy with any place that allows this.

https://chowtown.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/p1010605.jpg?w=300

Fay’s Burger

The burgers came on amazingly fresh buns that were not the over-puffy or heavy ones I’m used to. They also seemed to be thinner than what I’d have expected and thus did not over-power the burger as so many do. I decided that it would have been good if I’d ordered a double patty, I didn’t do so as I was unsure of the size and didn’t want to end up with a huge monster that I’d have a hard time eating. These were not the huge thick slab of meat I thought I might find and were in fact much thinner than I’d have hoped for, rather like the fast food patties one finds at MacDonald’s but much larger in diameter. I found this to be disappointing.

Both of us liked our burgers but given that each was covered with a different sauce that was not in short supply we were surprised that neither of them had a great deal of flavour. My Fay’s burger was actually rather bland tasting, I could not discern the flavour of the mushrooms or the onions and the sauce could have been missing for all the impact it had. Nancy had similar feelings about her Sam’s burger. Between the thin patties and the lack of flavour we were actually somewhat disappointed in our first visit to Boogies.

https://chowtown.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/p1010606.jpg?w=300

Basic Rings

The onion rings were the basic version that I’d had on countless occasions and while a little bit on the oily side were quite enjoyable. I’d hoped that I’d find that Boogie’s made their own rings as I’ve not had handmade onion rings in so long I cannot remember. This, if it had been done and they were good would have made Boogie’s a favourite of mine even if the burgers were not to my liking.

https://chowtown.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/p1010607.jpg?w=300

Yam Chips

The yam chips were also good and despite some being a tad chewy they were for the most part crisp, light and tasty. Unlike the rings these were perfect and one would be hard presses to notice any oil on them at all. As a substitute for regular run of the mill fries these were a nice change and I’m glad they are offered.

All in all I liked Boogie’s and while some of what we had disappointed me I would like to return and sample some of the other unique burgers to find out if what we experienced was the norm for this place. I may not go out of my way to visit but would say that they do offer good food that is made well. Next time I’ll have a double though.

Sura Korean Restaurant review

I’m a big fan of Korean food and have been for a long time. I have a close friend whose wife makes some of the best Kalbi I’ve ever had and while mine is not too bad I always take the opportunity to enjoy Lisa’s if given the chance.

I’ve been to a few Korean restaurants in Calgary and while some have been okay I’ve never really been too thrilled by what I’ve had. There have been some exceptions to this however and our recent meal at Sura is one of these.

Located on 4th Street NW and away from many of the more dining-centric areas of town this place has been on my must-try list for a while. There are some more highly regarded places around but the number of positive reviews I’ve read about Sura made it a shoe-in as the next Korean place I’d visit.

When we arrived I was surprised by just how much space they owners give to their customers. I’m used to small cramped tables that are very close to each other and this was not the case at all. The four of us had a nice sized table that was not right on top of the next one and the chairs were quite comfortable, even for a guy of my larger than average frame(among other things). Most places that receive good reviews are crowded so that they can seat as many as possible in what is normally not a large space. Not so here.

When our dining companions arrived we spent  some time going over the menu which seemed to be a nice variety of Korean dishes that included some of the more popular ones like Bulgogi but also some that I’d not heard of before. In the end it was the BBQ trio that won all of us over as a main and since it feeds two we ordered a pair of these.

To start of with we asked for an order of fried tofu, some of the sweet chili wings and the pot stickers. we enjoyed all of the appies very much but would have preferred the wings came with the others instead of just prior to the mains.

The sauce on the chicken wings was something else and I’m guessing its made with honey, it was thick, sweet and nicely spiced. The wings themselves were coated in a fairly hard batter that was very crisp and made for a very enjoyable start to the meal. I sampled the pot stickers our friends ordered and found them interesting. They were different from those at Chinese or Japanese restaurants and I rather enjoyed this fact. The fried tofu was also tasty and the sauce it came with had a pleasant flavour.

Soon after the wings arrived at the table we were given the many side dishes that accompany the meal. This is the norm at Korean restaurants and I’d expected them, but I was happy to see some that I’d never tried before, such as the potato salad and lotus root. These samplings of many different flavours and textures are one of the highlights of a Korean meal for me and the fact I got to try some new ones made it even better.

The BBQ trio comes with spicy pork Bulgogi, Kalbi and chicken each in its own unique and tasty sauce. I’d had the pork in the form of a cook at home version from a local  Korean meat shop and this tasted exactly the same as that delicious meal. The kalbi had a unique flavour that was not like any I’d tried or made before, it was not as sweet as most and seemed to use different seasonings. I really liked the difference and would enjoy trying this again. The chicken was tender and moist with a milder sauce that the pork which worked very nicely.

I was also happy to have lettuce and rice brought to the table with which to wrap up the meats, this is something that is sorely missing from some of the Korean places I’ve visited in the past and the authenticity is good to see. They also provided us with shear so that we could snip the kalbi into manageable pieces, this to is not always the case and is quite welcome since it’s not easy to eat the ribs otherwise.

The staff at Sura were attentive and friendly, we never had to wait for them to come by and ask if we needed anything throughout the meal and they were very patient with us when we had not yet decided on our meal because we were too busy chatting.

With some of the best Korean food we’d tried in Calgary and good service Sura is sure to be a place we will visit again when we feel the need for some good food in a very pleasant location.

Sura Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lloyd’s Patty Plus review

There’s a saying in business that applies to finding a niche. “Do one thing and do it better than anybody else”. This is something that can be taken too far and in the food business must be applied carefully. I’ve seen small places that made just a few dishes of a very specific ethnic food that were not able to attract the numbers they should have because they only served such a limited menu. Despite being great at what they did make they are now out of business.

Sometimes though the extreme application of this can make for success. Case in point would be Lloyd’s Patty Plus located in Short Pants Plaza(yeah, that’s the name) in Calgary’s NE. This place only makes Jamaican Patties, and has been quite a success. Okay you can pick up a few other Jamaican baked items such as coco bread as well – hence the “Plus”, but it’s all about the patties.

Jamaican patties are the meat filled turnover type pies you can often find at C Stores and in the deli section at supermarkets and are quite a popular snack. They’re recognisable by the yellow pastry which is a result of the egg yolk and turmeric used in the dough. You’ll only find beef or chicken filled ones in town although in Jamaica the fillings can include vegetables, shrimp, lobster, fish, soy, curry or cheese. I’ve loved them for years but have only ever had the reheated ones with the soft pastry. I always wanted to sample freshly made ones with crispy crust.

I heard of Lloyd’s by reading a post about them on Foodosophy and being someone who really likes hot Jamaican patties I had to make a point of dropping in to try their offerings.

Short Pants Plaza is a goldmine of small ethnic places and I’ve made a mental note to go back and investigate further the stores around Lloyd’s. This is a strip mall but it’s not in a residential area like one would expect. A very odd location in my view.

When you enter Lloyd’s you’ll see that it’s not a restaurant or lunch counter, there are a few tables, a cooler and the counter where you can order your patties.  As it turns out I’ve likely had Lloyd’s patties before as this is a wholesale bakery which makes and packages Jamaican patties for sale by others in the city, the retail side is a small part of what they do.

Lloyd’s offers only chicken and beef patties in either spicy hot or mild varieties and in as large a number as you want. You can buy ready to eat/hot out of the oven patties or ones to cook at home. I bought fresh hot ones and was in too much a hurry as is evidenced by my burnt tongue.

The patties are terrific. I tried both the spicy and milder versions of the beef filling and they are without a doubt the best I’ve tried. I would love to sample one with real scotch bonnet pepper but I can understand why they offer this at Lloyd’s. The scotch bonnet is third in scoville units of heat behind the bhut jolokia and red savina habanero peppers so most would not appreciate the addition of it to their food.

What more can I say? these are outstanding patties and I’ll be returning for more on many future dates, you can bet on it.

Lloyd’s Patty Plus on Urbanspoon