Calgary’s cuisine tops the city’s list of surprises

I had the recent opportunity to visit Calgary for the first time, as part of a FAM trip by the good folks at Meetings Calgary, and came away pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure what I expected exactly, but the city is clean, attractive, friendly and seemingly very safe as well.

Among my favorite experiences on the visit were zip-lining at the Olympic Park, an amazing compound of indoor and outdoor activities that is still seeing massive upgrades take place; attending the famous Stampede and watching some ‘chuckwagon’ races, one of the craziest spectator sports you could imagine; and just wandering their substantial pedestrian-only neighborhoods and spectacular city parks.

But reflecting back to this visit of a few weeks ago, the most surprising and pleasing aspect of the long weekend might very well have been Calgary’s cuisine, which just seemed to get better and better everywhere we went. Here are three of my favorite dining stops on the trip:

NOtaBLE Restaurant. Some planners on the trip joked that the name of this place means they have ‘no table,’ but it’s actually a confusing play on words related to the owner/chef’s name (Michael Noble). Our group of about 18 took a private dining room in the back, though I probably would’ve preferred the main dining area as the restaurant has a nice interior and an energetic, vibrant atmosphere.  Regardless, my lunch of an Asian prawn soup followed by a gourmet hamburger couldn’t have been better, and a Velvet Fog brew by the Wild Rose brewing company was as smooth as its name.

Osteria de Medici. Following a cooking demonstration by owner and chef Antonietta Terrigno we gathered in a private dining room and feasted on some delicious delicacies that went beyond the typical Italian pasta dishes. A sole in a white wine and lemon sauce was particularly enjoyable, but there were no disappointments during the rest of the meal. In addition to the private dining room—which probably seats 20 comfortably—the spacious restaurant also adjoins an ample patio area, where a party was being set up as our group left.

Teatros. While the aforementioned dining spots were top-notch, Teatro’s really takes it to the next level and is a great choice for a group seeking the very best. We dined in a dramatic private room with a private bar, and every aspect of the meal was tremendous, including an asparagus soup to start followed by a second-course featuring one of the best crab-cakes I’ve ever savored. The main course of Alberta beef with a reduction sauce was melt-in-your mouth, and though I was full by then I couldn’t help but devour the desert of blackberry cobbler a la mode.

If you’ve never visited Calgary, I think you’ll find many surprises; and if you’re a foodie, you’ll find few disappointments.

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