Though we would have preferred to have had every meal from a food truck, that just wasn’t possible with so many vendors out of commission over the weekend. So we filled in the blanks with restaurants, which didn’t turn out so bad at all either.
Though we had good intentions to walk over to 17th Avenue for dinner, we succumbed to our lethargic mood and decided to choose a restaurant near our hotel (the Le Germain, our new Calgary favourite). We wandered Stephen Avenue, and decided to revisit Blink.
The last time we dined at Blink was three years ago, for a Dine Out Week prix fixe menu. I had been impressed by the service and the interior (I’m a sucker for exposed brick!), while the food was a mixed bag. Still, they had the most enticing menu on our walkabout, and it was a good opportunity to dine at the same place again.
Mack and I chose to share four appetizers and sides, something our server was clearly not accustomed to. But it worked out well, as all four dishes arrived simultaneously, so we could graze as we pleased. Our server was also very attentive – I don’t think my water glass ever reached half empty before being refilled.
The pork belly and roasted scallops ($14.50) were sensational. It was easily the best pork belly I’ve had in some time – the fat didn’t just melt, it burst, dissolving into a silky swathe for the tender meat beneath.
Pork belly and roasted scallops
It was great to see several tomato dishes on the menu, celebrating the best of what the late summer season had to offer. We would have easily eaten a bowl full of the roasted tomatoes that topped the tart ($12), but we were just happy that the vegetables (accented with a basil puree) were the star of the dish. The tart itself was thin and buttery, and complemented the tomatoes instead of overwhelming them.
I had been wowed by the puree of squash varietals that I had tried previously, and was hoping for a similar impression from the roasted tomato soup ($12.50). It was good, but I would have preferred a touch more sweetness to balance the tartness.
Roasted tomato soup
The macaroni and cheese ($8.50) was the only real dud of our quartet. No question a generous hand dealt the great melting cheese that encased the crevasses of each noodle, but the cheese itself tasted flat and flavourless.
Our second experience at Blink would be enough to bring me back again. There’s something intimate about the restaurant, low-lit and understated. And with a deft kitchen in the back and stellar service up front, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to others.
Maybe we just need to visit Calgary more often, but I find there’s always a new diner to try when we get there. This time, it was Red’s Diner, just down the street from Central Memorial Park.
When we arrived, there was already a cluster of patrons on the sidewalk waiting for tables. But we were told the wait time was just fifteen minutes, so we stuck around. And unlike at other diners, the estimate wasn’t deceiving – we actually did get seats after fifteen minutes!
Loved the “retro” coffee mugs
We sat at the counter (where there were purse hooks underneath in front of each stool – so thoughtful), and as a result, had a front row seat to the kitchen. This kitchen put up empty plates on the window, and filled them accordingly – an orange twirl to start, then some bacon, toast, then eggs…ding! Order up!
The view from the counter
I ordered Red’s big breakfast ($12.99), which definitely lived up to its name. Three eggs, bacon, sausage, a giant buckwheat pancake and two pieces of toast (sourdough cheese toast – not something often seen as an option); I was defeated. The eggs could have been creamier, but that was my only quibble.
Red’s big breakfast
Mack, who figured he wouldn’t be getting his perogy fix via food truck, decided on the Prairie breakfast plate ($13.99). It was also quite the hearty breakfast, with homemade perogies, kielbasa, two eggs, potatoes and toast. Mack thought the potatoes were seasoned really well, and his eggs were perfect.
Prairie breakfast plate
The kitchen was quick, service was friendly, and Red’s captured that perfect weekend morning atmosphere – bright, bustling and brimming with the simmering aroma of breakfast. We have many diner favourites, but Red’s is now close to the top of that list.
Jelly Modern Doughnuts
A Calgary food trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Jelly Modern Doughnuts. We were first introduced to their delectable treats back in June, when Mack picked up a dozen doughnuts on his way home from a conference. Their handmade, creative concoctions are made with local ingredients to boot!
I love the option of a kid-sized doughnut (available for most of their flavours), which for me, was absolutely the perfect size. The sprinkles were the best part.
Though Calgary is only a few hours away, it always seems like a world away in terms of food. I’m sure it has something to do with its relative novelty, and feeling like a tourist in the city, but a trip to our southern neighbour is always a fun getaway.