Hey Folks, I havent posted much on here before but I have some time tonight and thought I would just add a review.
My girlfriend and I are both pretty food orientated, having lived and worked around the world, she is from Sweden and I am from Calgary originally. We are also both chefs by trade.
Having just moved back to Calgary recently from Sweden we thought it was time to check out the updated food scene!
So on Sunday night since we both had the night off we thought it would be a good idea to go and check out a restaurant we have been hearing a lot about but havent had a chance to eat at, Divino Wine and Cheese Bistro. We had walked in there a few weeks back and the smell from the open kitchen was absolutely to die for but unfortunately they were all full up for the night so we were hoping we could sneak in this time and fortunately it wasnt to hard, the restaurant was only about half full.
So we were seated and absolutely bombarded with paperwork, a menu each, a cheese menu, a desert menu, a wine list, a drink list each. All of this seriously took up our entire table and took us a long time to look over. They really need to figure out a system for delivering this a bit better. Eventually though we got it figured out and decided upon a self picked 5 course as follows:
We started off with a soup each, Emelie had the French onion($9) which she considered one of the best she has had in a long time 9/10 and I had the North Forest Mushroom soup($8) which was mediocre 2/10. At 8$ for a small cup I expect the taste to be spectacular and the ingredients of the top caliber but it just didnt come together. It tasted old and the soup was breaking from the oil.
For appetizers, originally we wanted the Fois Gras Torchon but it was only after taking 15 minutes to look at the menus and decide to order that we were told it was not available, so after some deliberation Emelie decided on Grilled and Honey Ginger Marinated Quail($17) which was very simply presented with a small salad(6/10). The tastes were ok, but nothing mindblowing. I decided upon the Sweetbreads with chantrelles and double smoked bacon($16) which was the absolute epitimy of mediocre(5/10). The double smoked bacon overpowered the delicate taste of the sweetbreads. The dish does not make sense at all in my chefs mind.
Emelie decided upon the Duck with swiss chard, fingerlings and an orange sherry reduction for her main($34). It was definately not cooked medium and I have no clue how it was allowed out of the kitchen. It would have been a stretch to even call it medium rare, but it was fine with Emelie because she prefers her duck on the rarer side. For an average customer though this would definately have been a big deal. Overall a 8/10 for the duck based completely on taste and not doneness. I had the Pork Rack($32) with Dill/Mustard Spaetzle and Braised Cabbage. I really enjoyed this dish, great flavours, great combinations. Simple and Rustic (9/10). I also had a great Belgian beer($9, sorry cant remember the name right now) paired with my main and I was so glad to see it served in a proper belgian beer glass(almost looks like a brandy snifter).
For Desert we decided to share the Champagne Creme Brulee($10). Emelie and I are huge fans of Creme Brulee and this was a decent one, although there was absolutely not a single hint of any champagne in the entire thing...?? Overall though a solid 7, but if you are going to call a dish something you better make sure you can at least taste it.
To finish the meal we decided on a 3 choice cheese plate($14) which was served very plainly and cleanly(9/10). One big surprise here was the Ermite Blue, a fantastic Quebec blue cheese, absolutely spot on and delicious. It was worth the entire price of the meal just to discover this little gem.
Overall, Divino was exactly what we expected, good solid food, prepared nicely. We didnt expect to be blown away, we just expected a decent meal in another up and coming calgary restaurant and they delivered. The mushroom soup and the sweetbreads were a bit of a dissapointment but the rest was solid. The wine and the cheese were definately the highlights and the to die fors, and of course I would hope so considering they call themselves a Wine and Cheese Bistro!
In the end, Dinner for 2 was $250 with a 20% tip. We each had a glass of red wine($14), a latte at the end and I also had a beer. I would give Divino a rating of 7/10 and I would reccommend highly for anyone to check it out and definately give that Ermite Blue a try!
Donnie and Emelie