Model Milk – Uptown 17th Ave

I’m going to start off by saying that if you live in Calgary, you must book this place for Sunday Supper at once. I don’t think I’ve been so pleased with a meal in a long time! I say this because not only was the food mind-blowing, the price extremely reasonable, but it was so much food we had to pack some home! This is a true mark of an excellent restaurant. Not to mention all the other things that make a restaurant, like impeccable service and interesting decor.

DSC_0132   So this was actually our last stop in Calgary. We had planned it so that we’d make it to Sunday Supper, which was recommended by the reviews that tfung had found. Everytime we mentioned Model Milk to someone around the Alberta area, they responded with “My friend went there and they thought it was fantastic!”. We didn’t really think much of the menu at first because it really didn’t appeal to us. But we were sure glad we took the plunge in the end. He had already made a reservation, which I highly recommend, and the doors really didn’t open until 5:00pm. At 5:00pm sharp, we walked in, and were promptly seated. We were situated in a cozy corner, where we got a good view of the whole place. There were two sort of mezzanines between the bottom and the top floor (which were both for seating). The lower mezzanine was the bulk of the tables, and was where we sat. The higher mezzanine was where the kitchen was. You were able to somewhat see their quick yet controlled bustle around the kitchen to get our orders out. Sunday Supper is a set menu for everyone that night. It changes every week, which is a great marketing idea. Firstly, a new menu every week is enticing to foodies that reside in Calgary. Secondly, the fixed menu for everyone makes it easy for them to streamline production and serve in a timely and orderly fashion. Thirdly, it allows for a slightly reduced cost due to the purchase in bulk, and the streamlined labour and preparation. Absolutely brilliant.

Smoked trout with Potato Salad
Smoked trout with Potato Salad
Smorgasbord
Smorgasbord

For us, our starter was a Smoked trout potato salad and a Smorgasbord of wonderful things. The smoked trout was nice and pink, done very well, so that it has the full texture of the trout, with just a hint of smokiness. It was great for me, especially because I am not a huge fan of the smokey flavour, but do appreciate a small amount of it. The potato salad was out of this world! They had perfected the salad dressing and the firmness of the potato completely. The julienned onion made it more visually appealing, and actually made for a longer crunchy break between bites of the potato. Obviously the green onion was a must as well. As for the amazing Smorgasbord, which was served on a fitting milk bottle-design plate, it housed a fairly extensive variety of food. There were devilled eggs, with the yolk whipped quite nicely, with a bit of bread crumb to add crunch. They also served beets and cauliflower in a tiny mason jar, which was incredibly cute. There was 4 small “grilled cheese” stacked. They are not real grilled cheese, as they substituted bread for brioche, and the cheese is Jarlsberg cheese.  Adding some meat on the plate, there was bison charcuterie, served with a mustard seed mixture, which was very tender and flavourful. To finish it all off, there was some sort of cracker that I forgot the name of. It tastes like a perfected version of fortune cookies. Everything on the plate was done extremely well, and completely balanced in every way. And the beauty of this is, there is no “front” or “back”, making sharing amazing! Every time you turn the plate, it’s a new visual experience! Moving onto the main, there were two dishes:

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Swedish meatballs with Fermented Nappa Cabbage and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Cod with Butter Sauce
Steamed Cod with Clams and Butter Sauce

They steamed the cod with clams and butter sauce in a parchment paper package, which we’ve seen once before in a Japanese omakase restaurant. The parchment paper retains the white colour of the fish, and retains the hydration of the fish. Coupled with the flavour of the clams and rich butter sauce, it was quite enjoyable. Unfortunately it was overshadowed in flavour and power by the Swedish meatballs.

First off, there were 4 gigantic meatballs on the plate, which we split evenly. The meatballs were delicious. Fully loaded with big flavour. Secondly, though we’re used to the flavour of nappa cabbage, we’ve rarely seen it fermented in such a way leaving a sour, acidic taste (it tastes like kimchi without the spiciness). Thirdly, the garlic mashed potatoes. Holy cow, these were amazing! I have nothing but good things to say about this dish. The meatballs were fat, meaty and juicy.

What I believe is meant to accompany the steamed fish is a beautiful pilaf that was served separately in a rice bowl. Unfortunately we have no picture of it, but let me tell you, it was hella delicious! It was the fluffiest, airiest rice I have ever had (and the two of us has had a lot of rice…)! We’re not sure of the specific broth they used, but they did it with such balance along with the herbs, we couldn’t resist packing this home (as we were unable to finish it). From this amazing experience, we will soon be experimenting with making pilafs, though we’re unsure whether we’d ever get it to taste like this…

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Apple Fool

To end the meal, they presented a very simple apple fool in a small mason jar, with cinnamon sprinkled on the top. The apples were baked to a consistency that agreed with me; not too mushy, retaining a slight bite and even crunch to it. The cream part of it was done very smoothly, with a bit of flavour, and paired with the apple, it made for a (seemingly) light dessert to end the meal, without it being too bland.

The whole choreography of the meal was absolutely amazing. Some things that would have been labeled as sides did not take a muted presence. Instead, these “sides” were just as interesting as the “main” ingredient of the dish. I love that every bite was something to be excited about. I truly haven’t been so excited to eat since San Francisco!

Although they used a lot of potatoes in the entirety of the meal, it was done in a way where each time we had it, the potatoes were done differently, so that the texture and flavour was not similar. That is the true mark of an excellent meal. It’s all about the contrast in flavour, texture, colour and presentation. I will not hesitate to make another reservation as soon as I know I am back in Calgary, because Model Milk is PHENOMENAL!

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 9.3/10
Atmosphere: industrial, open, bustling
Price: $35 for sunday supper

Model Milk on Urbanspoon

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Lili co. – Plateau Mont-Royal

To celebrate our end of midterms, me and my girlfriends went to eat at Lili Co, situated on Mentana which is a short walk from Station Mont Royal. I had been here before for brunch, which was phenomenal, but hadn’t tried their dinner. I had actually made a reservation by email, and interestingly, the waitress who served me and Wangfood for brunch last time had remembered me! We had told her that we wrote food blogs, and I guess she remembered my post. So props to you, Lili Co!

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Anyway, after deciding on some wines (which the waiterss was very helpful with), we were explained the menu, as two of us were not fluent in French. I definitely had trouble with some of the less common words, and it turns out that they were organs very uncommonly eaten at restaurants.

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Honey-grilled lamb testicles with roasted garlic, lemon zest, smoked tomatoes and soft wheat

We shared a testicle (yes, testicle) appetizer to start. Obviously we were intrigued when we asked what “animelle” was. Turns out, it was the male genitalia of the lamb! Fun! Honestly though, it did sound delicious. And was it! The testicles were very soft and tender. The texture is like a more fluffy hot dog weiner. The same homogenity throughout the organ, yet very airy, fluffy and soft on the inside. It was very fragrant due to the honey. It was accompanied with a delicious mix of soft wheat, tomatoes and some greens. Lastly, they finished the plating with some plain yoghurt. The three went together perfectly. The yoghurt balanced out the organ-taste of the testicles, while the veggie mixture added the bite that you need.

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Grilled salsify, blood orange syrup, dulce de leche butter, pumpernickel bread crumbs, fleur de sel

This dish was very visually appealing. All the colours and the placement just makes you want to take a picture (and we did). The salsify was something I’d never even heard of, but she told us that it was similar to Jerusalem artichoke. Cutting into it, it was quite firm. The salsify root vegetable itself doesn’t have a lot of flavour, but paired with the pumpernickel bread crumbs and the blood orange syrup, it was quite interesting. The first appetizer was definitely a more flavourful and rich dish, where as this was a lighter one. They played more with the colours and the different textures as opposed to punch of flavour.

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Roasted Duck with braised artichoke, white beans and chorizo butter

For my main, I ordered the magret duck, which is duck with the skin on, and cooked to a medium rare to medium degree. Obviously the duck was done quite nicely. It was a little more chewy than what I’m used to, but I didn’t mind. The artichokes were quite soft, balancing the chewiness of the duck. And the white bean and chorizo butter sauce was quite interesting, with a gritty yet fragrant texture and taste.

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Miso grilled pompano, bacon dashi, mushrooms and chickpeas

My two friends both ordered the miso grilled pompano which is a white fish. It was bathed in this miso soup-sauce, accompanied with clamshell mushrooms and chickpeas. They commented that the dish was WAY too salty, and that it burned my friend’s lips. Such a shame because I think this dish could have had a lot of potential to becoming very tasty.

Overall, I thought that their appetizers had the wow factor and captured your interest, and the mains were not up to the quality of the appetizers. Given the price, I did expect a little more to eat. We weren’t full after the meal, and ended up hitting another place to grab some much needed food after our battle with exams. The service was very nice and you feel more tended-to since they are a smaller restaurant. I think I will be continuing to come back for brunch quite soon, but may not be back for dinner for a while.

Service: 4.7/5
Food: 8.4/10
Atmosphere: masculin, cozy, open kitchen
Price: $40-60 (with wine)

Lili Co. on Urbanspoon

~kehwon

(San Fran Trip) The House – North Beach

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The house is a small restaurant in North Beach just east of Chinatown that serves Asian-American fusion cuisine. In actuality, the food is closer to Western cuisine than Asian cuisine. The ambiance as we walked in was casual and relaxed. It was dimly lit, but the decor was basic and not too refined. It felt like an average restaurant that just dimmed the lights to try and appear more upscale.

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Grilled Sea Bass with garlic ginger soy

Anyways, on to the important stuff – the food. I ordered the Grilled Sea Bass. The sea bass was very well done. It was cooked to perfection. It was moist, soft, and tender. There was a thin crust on the outside from being pan seared which was browned very well. The sea bass was accompanied with string beans which was a bit tough and chewy, but seasoned well. The ginger soy was a really good sauce that went well with the sea bass. I found that overuse of the sauce masked the flavour of the fish, so I only used it sparingly. Overall, I thought the sea bass was very good.

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Kurobuta Pork Chop with pomegranate currant sauce

Karen ordered the Pork Chop. Initially they asked us if we wanted medium rare or medium. Because of the high risk of trichinosis with eating raw pork, she ordered the pork medium well.  It was a pretty large pork chop making the dish a good sized portion. The pork chop was thick, juicy, and like the sea bass, it was done to perfection. The sauce was but sweet and savory. The sweetness came from the pomegranate currants, and the savory came from the richness of the drippings from the pork chop. The noodles that the pork chop came with were a bit of a let down. It was their attempt at fusing Chinese cuisine. The noodles were flavoured in this garlic soy sauce that just tasted like american-chinese fast food noodles. We were not impressed by that, but the pork chop made up plenty for that.

The house is a fusion restaurant that really is just a North American restaurant that uses one or two ingredients that are commonly seen in Asian dishes. However, the quality of the food is very far from typical. Their pork chop and sea bass were both very delicious dishes that used fresh ingredients and were excellently prepared. This justified the relatively higher price.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.5/10
Atmosphere: Fusion, Casual,
Price: $30-50

The House on Urbanspoon

~ Thomas