When I arrived back in Calgary from my adventures in Australia and New Zealand, I immediately took to eating. Not that I didn’t eat a lot while I was traveling, we humans need to eat of course, but in the month and a half I was away, five new restaurants had opened up. Crazy!
A transformation of space and taste is always expected when a new restaurant opens in the place of an old establishment but looking at the newly opened MARKET restaurant, you would never know that it had a previous life as The Yardhouse bar.
The interiors in MARKET are visually divided, with black floors and walls highlighting a bar area covered in a funky chalk mural, while whitewashed walls pull your sight straight back to the open kitchen. Living orbs hanging above MARKET’s long, tiled bar are the real design highlight in the space. Small living plants hang from the roof while bartenders shake, stir and pour drinks for patrons.
MARKET dishes have a sort of rustic elegance. Though the offerings change often — note the ‘print date’ on the top corner of the menu — you should cross your fingers that the bison tartar with flank jerky and pickled shallots as well as the Pork Salad with kale, pork shoulder, bacon, pig ears and shaved gouda both grace the menu when you arrive.
It’s hard to keep track of all of the great new dining options popping up around the city these days. Amidst all of the small plates and gastro pubs, it’s refreshing to see a restaurant that’s focussing on a well-known ethnic cuisine and taking it to the next level.
The space that was previously the Virginia Christopher Gallery and Vue Cafe has now been re-opened as Xocolat, a casual fine dining restaurant that’s using the Mexican flavours we all know and love in ways we may have never experienced before. The dining room is playful with a brown and pink colour scheme, bright floral paintings adorning the wall and eccentric wooden carvings placed around the room.
Xocolat’s cocktail menu is strong and refreshing. Most beverage options weigh in at two ounces of spirits per serving, except the homemade sangria which is three ounces and made with Belvedere, pineapple vodka fruit and, of course, red wine. If you’re craving a stiff drink with lunch or dinner, definitely go with the Paloma — a bright blend of Don Julio tequila, orange, lime and grapefruit soda.
If you’re coming by for lunch, now that spring has sprung, a nice way to start would be with the Langosta salad, a fresh mix of tender lobster, arugula, avocado, cherry tomatoes and cilantro tossed in a tart lemon vinaigrette.
Another new addition to our city’s dining scene, Yellow Door Bistro brings a breath of fresh air to what has long been a vacant space in the Hotel Arts. The bright yellow door opens at 7 a.m. and closes around 10 p.m. in the evenings, with the restaurant offering patrons breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
The interior of Yellow Door is a direct juxtapose to Hotel Arts’ other establishment, Raw Bar, the dimly lit cocktail hotspot just a few steps away. During the day, sun floods the dining room highlighting the eclectic window shutter walls and the white and metallic grey design accents.
While the Alice through the Looking Glass-esque decor may be a bit much for some, it can’t be argued that the room exudes an imaginative playfulness. Whether you like the ornate rabbit lamps and gigantic black horse greeting you at the front door is up to you, but I did. At the very least, the room makes for an excellent conversation starter.
Now that spring has officially sprung, light, fresh-tasting seafood dishes like executive chef Duncan Ly’s wild prawn cocktail or the crab salad with brûléed grapefruit, butter lettuce and sliced apples in a sweet coconut lime dressing, are perfect choices to enjoy during the lunch hour or for a lighter dinner.
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