Belvedere 7 Courses with wine/spirits - $170
Even though they know me and the service goes above and beyond the call when I am there, I'll still write about my last dinner at the Belvedere. Chef Chris Walker continues to impress me each time I go. The only thing better than his food is his humility when speaking with customers about his food.
There's fine dining for real...like in New York, Paris, Tokyo, etc. and then there's Calgary fine dining...which is good but often overpriced, poorly executed, and caters to our redneck palates (do we need anymore steak houses?). Anyway since I haven't traveled in a while I needed a fix and figured I'd splurge at the B. Here's the lineup we had...
1. Solitary East Coast Oyster with a house made mignonette. This was a great oyster. Lovely brine, perfect temperature and paired with the Bollinger Cuvee NV Champagne. Nothing original here but full marks for freshness and quality of ingredients.
2. Seared scallop served in a Thai curry broth containing shaved fennel bulb and topped with a mint cucumber relish. WOW! Now this was the type of thing I had been craving. Perfectly cooked, excellent balance and the relish was packed with flavor. 10 out of 10. Can't recall the pairing here as I was trying to steal my fiancés' portion.
3. Pan seared frog legs with a garlic veloute. Just like little chicken drumsticks. So crisp, so moist, and the veloute came with a pickle on the side so you could mix and dip the "wings" in. A fresh take on a French classic and very UN-Calgary. Paired with a Gewurztraminer.
4. Duo of Quebec Foie Gras….Pan Seared and Housemade terrine, with hazelnut brioche, Ground cherry and Kerner ice wine compote...another 10 out of 10. I could eat a bucket of Ground Cherries and a loaf of the brioche. Paired with Summer Hill Ehrenfelser.
Palate cleanser...pureed pineapple mixed with Champagne.
5. Naturally raised AB Grilled Elk Striploin with roasted carrots, beets, and served over house made seared Agria potato gnocchi…topped with shaved truffles. The portion of Elk was much too big...but full of pink perfection. The gnocchi may have been the best I have ever had in Calgary. Paired with Casa Silva Gran Reserva Carmenere, great choice here.
6. Cheese course featuring house smoked goat cheese, stilton (quince puree), brie, and a gouda. Again, very large portion and served with a 20 year old port...just wonderful.
7. Chef’s chocolate tasting with housemade ice cream, housemade truffles, chocolate bomb, etc. Wayyy too much on this plate. The Reserve Grand Marnier washed it down but we had to take one of the plates home as it was just too much!
If I have one criticism of this menu...they could reduce the portions and the cost a bit in order to make it all more approachable...then again if you just starve yourself all day you won't complain.
One nice thing I need to mention about this evening is how they timed the courses. There was no rush and we thoroughly enjoyed the many hours we spent dining and chatting in a relaxed space. I am also a big believer that any resto that wants to be considered "fine dining" needs to bake their own bread and it needs to be good. The Belvedere served up 2 types of housemade breads, both were excellent. It's the little things that put a smile on my face! You can do this tasting for $120 without any pairings...but the pours were healthy and generally on the mark.
PS. Since the St. Canut Farms (Quebec) pork wasn't part of the tasting I had to go back for lunch...that's worth the trip too if you haven't had this milk fed swine that is now appearing on menus all over Calgary. Unless Martin Picard one day comes to Calgary or someone starts copying his food...this is probably the most tasty expression of pork we'll get...not counting roast suckling pigskin at Pegasus.