For my partners Birthday I saved up some dollars so we could go somewhere usually out of my price range, and I thought I would share the experience. The Belvedere in Calgary is relatively young restaurant on the historic strip of downtown Calgary's 8th Avenue. It has a restaurant area as well as a bar/lounge with seperate menu. Entrees are in the 25-40 dollar mark.
We made a reservation a week in advance, and were given a really excellent corner table. The cocktail selection was very complete - which is where we started as we weren't sure where to go with the wine yet.
For appetizers we chose the Lamb tender confit with wild mushroom risotto and port jus as well as smoked Ahi tuna carpaccio with pea shoots. Both of these were well prepared and delicious. The Ahi Tuna carpaccio lacked the leathery surface that most smoked salmon has, and with the sesame oil had a warm velvet texture. The Lamb tenders were two slices of tenderloin on the bed of risotto. The Port Jus was very good, though not overpowering to the taste of the lamb which had been grilled. In my head I know the term overpowering seems hackneyed, but I'm not sure how to say it - the port jus was quite sweet, and the lamb was delicate and somewhat aromatic. The only thing about these appetizers is the lamb was practically meal size.
Dinner was a roasted 1/2 Brome Lake duck with israeli couscous for my partner, and I had the New York Bison steak with Thai Prawns - served with chardonney butter and roasted garlic. The Bison was well prepared though not as strongly flavoured as I would have expected. The Prawns were cooked and had a nice surface to them. The waiter recommended a Cabernet with this, and it added quite a bit to the enjoyment of the dish. The Brome Duck was well prepared and had excellent flavour posting throughout it. The Orange sauce was sweet but not candied. I didn't pick up in the mint flavour in the couscous, but Israeli couscous is quite a bit bigger then I had seen before, almost pasta like in texture. Both dishes were served with grilled vegetables that were nicely done, though they could have had a bit more attention.
One thing that was very remarkable in comparison to dining experiences I've had in the past was the temperature of the food. Perhaps my bison was not yanked out of a 5 degree fridge before slapping it onto a grill, or the insulative qualities of the chardonney butter, but it and the duck both stayed edible for entire course.
At this point we switched to the lounge and split a sticky toffee pudding with treacle sauce and devon cream - It went very well with the port (A Tawny 15) and was nicely put together.
Like I mentioned I dont dine out at this level very often, but it certainly raised the bar for my expectations. I dont know if it is the megasize culture, but I thought the portion sizes a bit large - Next time I will know its okay to leave something on the plate.
The service was so professional - the waiter's timing was impeccable and his advice and recomendations given with intelligence and not a drop of condecension. There is no doubt in my mind that service wise it is the best meal I've had. At many restaurants ordering wine has been a chore, where my lack of wine knowledge is somehow laughable. All I ever seek is some direction and suggestion - well, at The Belvedere, I felt well taken care of.
Ive added the link below, I'd be curious to hear how other people's experiences at the Belvedere fared?