Hall of Fame (Out of Competition Entry) – The Coup

He Said:  As we continue our search for “our” restaurant, we wanted to write about a place that is unfortunately “out of competition” as I had been here before. The Coup is easily the place we have visited most during our relationship. And I have to say it has never disappointed. Though I do have a couple go to meals, every dish is full of colour, a brilliantly complimentary orgy of tastes and just the right size (even if I tend to force myself to save some so I can eat it for lunch the next day).

I don’t want to scare any of you Alberta grown meat eaters away by saying that yes, The Coup is a vegetarian restaurant. None of the meals have meat, and yet I think this becomes an advantage more than a handicap as they really have to find interesting and inspired choices for dishes. I myself love meat, but find I never miss it when visiting The Coup.

Greek Goddess… the fave dish of this Canadian Goddess

My two favourite dishes are the Greek Goddess and The Beachfront Hot Pot. The greek goddess is a twist on greek salad (which I would eat everyday if I could) which I usually devour. The addition of lentils especially gives the dish a texture that really spotlights the different flavours. As for the hot pot, I can’t explain how much I love the cornucopia of flavours but to use a terrible and overused cliché … “it’s like there is a party in my mouth and everyone is invited”. The coconut lime broth is drool inducing and perfect foil for the veggies. If you love goat cheese (like moi) you can’t not try it, the warm goat cheese spread is a to die for appetizer. Also, the smoothie’s are a great addition to any meal.

I really could go on forever, but I’ll stop at that, and just say if you haven’t been to The Coup, go as soon as you can, and if you have, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you there soon!

She said – I’m dying right now.. It’s usually like pulling teeth to get Ali to write his parts of the blog, but he went ahead and surprised me by starting a Coup entry! Swoon! (I am apparently the easiest girl to please… or Zaidi’s just set the bar low.)

In any case.. the Coup is by far my favourite restaurant in the city. It’s small and intimate, with the kind of funky atmosphere that you wouldn’t expect to find in Calgary. Boy Ali already spoke to my favourite dish (the greek goddess), so I’ll just post a couple other pictures to get you drooling.

Tempeh sticks with maple dijon dipping sauce

Mushroom soup and a Tempeh Shawarma – Hard to say, fun to eat!

Every dish is creative and oh so tasty. The only other dish I’ll speak to (way too many faves to do them all) is the sunflower seed pate. Even if you’re allergic to sunflower seeds, just order it and keep your epi pen handy – it’s too good to miss.

Ali did a great job of describing everything we love about this place, so there’s not much left for me to say! Other than to tell you all to eat here now. Like right now. Even if you’re not hungry. Just drop everything and I’ll meet you there.

Ranking – Location: 5 out of 5 “I Feels” (Less than a 10 minute walk..can’t get any better.)

Service: 4.5 out of 5 “Yay Hurrays” (People that always go out of the way to ensure a happy dining experience. Sometimes, you may have to wait awhile for the bill, but we’re usually so caught up talking we don’t mind.)

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 “Purple Shirts” (one of our favourite vibes in the city, small, beautiful and homey.)

Nicheness: 3 out of 5 “Green Tights” (the only fault of The Coup is that it is probably one of the busiest places in Calgary. Unless you go at 5pm or 9pm it is pretty much always at least an hour wait, but man is it worth it).

Price: 4.5 out of 5 “Overstuffed Wallets” (All reasonably priced dishes, and one of the few places where you can have a great night out, without spending over $50.00).

Taste: 5 out of 5 “Jeepers” (Every dish is unique, original, and absolutely scrumptious!!).

Overall: 27/30 Yes this would’ve been the place if it was in competition. Regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or not, what makes The Coup so great is that it always offers an amazing meal, friendly service and a memorable night out. Our favourite place in Calgary.

Hiding his shame over pre-disqualifying this place… tsk tsk

The Coup on Urbanspoon

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Candela Lounge – September 25

She said – The boy has been feeling a little slighted about his role in the blog, so we’re gonna do this entry a little differently. Last night we went to Candela for, you guessed it, TAPAS!! Throw in a fancy blue drink in a martini glass and I was the happiest girl in the world. We conveniently ordered six dishes, so we’ll each run you through three.

happiest girl in the world!

First was the tuna ceviche, which I apparently don’t understand at all (I was picturing some sort of raw fish salad?) Oddly enough, the raw tuna was the most flavourful part of the dish. I loved the taste of whatever the tuna had been marinated or cured in, but when combined with the other elements (the mayo, watermelon, and bland tomato salad) the dish fell a little flat.

We both had an overwhelming urge to eat this with chopsticks… all that sushi has us programmed.

Ooooooomg the beef short ribs. To die for. The meet was tender, juicy, and served in a delicious red curry sauce. To quote boy Ali, the dish had a “brown food” taste with the yogurt and naan bread that came with it, and though I didn’t feel the naan really added anything to the dish, I (naturally) ate it anyways.

Boy Ali wishes he could make an East Indian dish this good.

I mandated that we order at least one veggie dish to counter all the meat (the fact that we only tried one saddens me) and the waiter recommended the zucchini fritters. Being sheep, that’s what we decided to order. Getting past the guilt that they were fried, the fritters were the right combination of crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and mixed with the dried fruit and yogurt they really came alive (behold, my best attempt to sound like a real food reviewer).

mmmhmmm dried fruit in yogurt

He said – It’s about time I got equal billing and space on this blog, it’s pretty obvious most come for my wit and taste as it is, and AliSON’s comments are word vomits at best ;p (she said – rude). Anywho, we had seen Candela driving by one of our favourite Calgary neighbourhood’s Mission and as it looked new (and rumours are its run by people that also Own one of our favourite restaurants Alloy) it was a must try.

By far the best dish of the night was the unbelievably delicious calamari (see picture above). The calamari is worth a visit to Candela alone, the freshness, crispiness and that magic sauce were stunning. In fact, I’m salivating thinking about eating it right now, if only they offered take out, I feel the calamari would become a weekly fixture. Awesome!

After the calamari were the chicken tacos, which looked so good that I took a bite before Ali was able to take a picture (i.e. below), and it was pretty damn good. Though the pink cabbage wasn’t turnip (commonly found in shawarma’s) it felt like Candela’s version of the famous Persian dish, and it was definitely one of the better dishes we had. The sauce was light, but sweet, and I loved the soft taco shell. One I’d have again when I go back.

Poultry overload – making duckface while eating chicken tacos

The only real misstep of the night was the flank steak. I wasn’t a fan of the side chips (dry and tasteless), and the steak was nothing to write home about either. The “fixings” on top didn’t add anything to the meat, which wasn’t especially tender or juicy. A mistake on an otherwise tasty night.

Flank steak

Ranking -Location: 4 out of 5 “I Feels” (Who doesn’t love Mission?)

Service: 4 out of 5 “Yay Hurrays” (gotta love a waiter who admits there’s something on the menu not worth ordering.. though we could have guessed chicken liver was worth skipping on our own)

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 “Purple Shirts” (minimalist with funky, old world, Spanish feel. And I loved watching my cocktail get made at the island bar)

Nicheness: 3.5 out of 5 “Green Tights” (tough to say – owned by the same guys who run Alloy so that goodwill will spread fast)

Price: 3 out of 5 “Overstuffed Wallets” (the sad thing about tapas.. all those little plates add up. As do the $12 cocktails.)

Taste: 4 out of 5 “Jeepers” (Not the best tapas I’ve had in the city, but it’s definitely a worthy stop).

Overall: 22.5/30 (A nice tapas place, but they’re still a couple on this blog we would take over Candela for now).

Candela Lounge on Urbanspoon

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Taste – Aug. 2, 2012

She said – TAPAS! Five little letters that bring so much joy.

Taste was one of those new restaurants we’d passed idly and thought “yeah, we should try there one day” without ever making a plan to. As with most reviews on this blog, we ended up at Taste after our original plan to go to Cafe Koi fell through, and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

The restaurant is quite small and very intimate. There’s one cook in a small open kitchen and you get to watch him do his thing while waiting for your food. The menu is small and consists of sharing plates, divided evenly between hot options and cold, and charcuterie plates.

Despite my half-hearted protests of “really not that hungry,” I relented and agreed to share four plates with Zaidi. AND a dessert (to my everlasting shame). But the whole menu just sounded too good not to.

First up were the beef tacos, tied for my favourite plate of the night. The softness of the beef carpaccio and the crunchiness of the wonton shell made them tricky to eat, but there are no complaints about the taste!

Beef Tacos

Second was Chicken IN waffles, Taste’s take on a couple of classics. The chicken is fried in waffle batter and served in a sweet sauce on rice like Chinese chicken balls. I was opposed to this dish mainly out of guilt for my waistline and didn’t full love the taste. The chicken wasn’t greasy, but the whole dish was a little generically sweet.

Chicken IN waffles. Mind blown

Third was the rabbit tostada – more like a Mexican pizza! There were a lot of flavors on the pizza that were all complementary, but I couldn’t find a distinct taste of the rabbit. Ah well… like most things, it probably just tastes like chicken. Also tied for my fave.

Try to forget that what’s under all those toppings once had an adorable face

Fourth dish was the horse tartar. Ali couldn’t quite wrap his brain around the fact that you could actually order horse, so we had to try it. It’s a very adventurous choice, so if you’re not a fan of raw meat then you should probably steer clear. The meat and egg were quite fresh though, so we had no concerns about the safety.

Giddy up!

And finally – the dessert. It’s been too long since we ate here for me to remember much about this dish, just that this was a cheesecake in a mason jar with some form of berry compote and a piece of nut bark on top. The cheesecake was creamy and delicious, but the bark was a little burnt.

Cheesecake in a mason jar. Three cheers for portion control!

He said – I loved the dessert, atmosphere and creativity of the plates. As much as it hurts me to say it, Lady Ali pretty much nailed the restaurant, a beauty of a place. Small and romantic, this will be a repeater many times fo sho!

Ranking -

Location: 4 out of 5 “I Feels” (Victoria Park!)

Service: 4.5 out of 5 “Yay Hurrays” (Friendly, knowledgeable fellow!)

Atmosphere: 4.5 out of 5 “Purple Shirts” (very chic and minimalist)

Nicheness: 4 out of 5 “Green Tights” (not well known as yet… and how many places in the city serve horse??)

Price: 3 out of 5 “Overstuffed Wallets” (Definitely on the expensive side. Sadness forever)

Taste: 4.5 out of 5 “Jeepers” (With the exception of the chicken balls, everything was amazing).

Overall: 24.5/30 Yet another excellent contender! And who needs a boy to write a restaurant review.

Taste Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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80th & Ivy – July 20, 2012

She says – Regardless of what Zaidi says, I found 80th & Ivy first.

I was watching the construction of what was shaping up to be a very chic and trendy restaurant mere blocks from the boy’s house for sometime (and pointing it out everytime we drove by) and getting quite excited. Just because he actually ate there first, doesn’t mean he gets the credit.

We finally got to try 80th & Ivy a couple Fridays ago before going to see the new Batman movie (because man cannot live on popcorn alone). The inside of the restaurant is every bit as funky as I thought it would be, but we decided to eat on the patio and people watch instead. The views inside are much nicer – that is, unless you enjoy sight of people lined up outside the neighbouring Liquor Depot. 

The service was very friendly and personable. The waitresses shake your hand when they introduce themselves, which is a bit startling at first (“Oh hi, we’re Alis?”) but a really nice touch when you think about it!

Now on to the good stuff (my brain’s a little fried this week, so it’s in point form).

Cockatils – just look how fun those are. Both were very sweet, girly, and unique. Mine had egg whites??

You guessed right, boy Ali’s is the pink one

Duck two ways – so good! I think I prefered the duck balls, but the spring rolls were equally tasty. It’s hard to go wrong with fried things.

Steak bites – always delicious. The steak was tender and the fancy asian dipping sauce they came with was drink-out-of-the-little-cup good.

Duck and cow

Duck, cow. Cow, duck.

Halibut – admittedly, a little disappointing. The sauce and veggies were tasty (mmm asparagus), but the fish was a touch dry. I ate most of this course myself, because when it came, Zaidi was frantically trying to find a way to get our Dark Knight Rises tickets out of an email on his broken phone. By the time his sister came to the rescue with a way to get the tickets, I think he’d lost his appetite.

Insert “just for the halibut” joke here

He said – So after a friend and I were walking along 17th and discovered 80th and Ivy without any help from anyone (including any other writers of this blog), and it had all the makings for a possible keeper, I thought what better place to try for our next entry.  The patio is placed right on 17th Avenue, which is a perfect place for people watching, and once the waitress came up and introduced herself (with a handshake to go with it) I knew we were at a contender. The food on both occasions was really tasty excluding the halibut which was a bit dry. But what makes 80th and Ivy stick out is the over the top positive and friendly service, the chic interior, and the “it” atmosphere. It feels like the place you have to be at. On top of that the cocktails are some of the most unique and tasty I have tried, and they are all worth a sip. If you get a chance, I recommend sitting at the bar and chatting with the knowledgeable bartender staff, but be warned that you will need a cab ride home!

Ranking:

Location: 5 out of 5 “I Feels” (we actually walked the walking distance this time… booyah)

Service: 4.5 out of 5 “Yay Hurrays” (Not quite Cibo amazing, but still pretty top notch. Unless you’re a handshake-hating germaphobe)

Atmosphere: 4.5 out of 5 “Purple Shirts” ( the inside is very cool! And they have a white couch… in a wine bar!)

Nicheness: 4 out of 5 “Green Tights” (Though it gets pretty busy, it’s small enough to still have privacy, and isn’t too popular yet.)

Price: 3 out of 5 “Overstuffed Wallets” (On the expensive side, but still better than most “fancy” places in downtown)

Taste: 4 out of 5 “Jeepers” (Only the halibut wasn’t top notch so far, otherwise the food is different and tasty. Also those cocktails are worth a visit alone).

Overall: 25/30. One of the best new restaurants in Cowtown! And the top ranked entry so far. So glad that I, girl Ali, found it :)

80th & Ivy Wine Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Van City!! Part 2 – July 1-2, 2012

We came, we saw, we went home 15 pounds heavier.

Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar (5pm Dinner, July 1) He said – Sushi! Sushi! Sushi! It’s all anyone talks about when making a trip out to Vancouver…and with the Blue Water Cafe…they may have a case. This fancier and hella fresh sushi joint, was one of our favourite spots and definitely worth the little wait time, and more expensive prices. We sat out on the patio in Yale Town and enjoyed the best sushi we had while in BC. The rolls were unique and tasty, and the atmosphere was lively and classy. Highly recommended for a romantic date on a special night!

left: something unagi | right: soemthing tuna

Chambar (8:45pm Dinner (yes, we’re disgusting), July 1) He said – Chambar had a funky and modern vibe, and was just the under the maximum amount of hipster/pretentious without either of us feeling to out of place. The food was fine, but not memorable, and it was probably more expensive than the food was worth. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty romantic date place, and the wine was very yum!

some “fine, but not memorable” halibut

Naam (Lunch, July 2). She said – OMG. We need to move to Kitslano like now, because this could be our place. It’s a kitschy, homey, off-the-beaten path vegetarian restaurant, with a wide selection of dishes all at decent prices. The amount of cashews on the menu was problematic (cashews = Ali’s kryptonite), but the waiter and the kitchen were really careful to avoid cross-contamination for us. This honestly would be a major contender for our place if we just happened to live a few hundred km’s to the west. Absolutely Delicious! Yay hurray!

Mexican Dragon Bowl – I would like to eat this once a week for the rest of my life

Donair Dude (frantic donair mission aka dinner, July 2).

She said – Once learning of our plan to eat our faces off all weekend, a fellow wedding guest told us Donair Affair in Surrey had the best Chicken Shawarma. When it was closed both late night Sunday and Monday morning, Ali got it in his head that he had to have a Vancouver donair before leaving, elsewise the trip would be ruined. I personally don’t understand what could possibly make a Vancouver shawarma different from a Calgary shawarma (or frankly what makes a shawarma different from a donair), but Ali was hellbent on finding one. For the amount of cross town driving he did to find one with less than two hours to go before our flight home, I’m just glad he liked it!

He said – Well, I had to have at least one shawarma while I was in Vancouver, and after going to two donair places that were closed on Monday (possibly because of the long weekend) I was becoming desperate. Luckily, Donair Dude had a really good rating on urbanspoon, and had the reputation for having pitas that were packed beyond sanity. It definitely lived up to being packed beyond belief, and was a very tasty way to end our Van City trip. However, to be honest, it wasn’t much different than any shawarma you could get in Calgary (she said – ah hah!!)… but in general, desperation and hunger have a tendency to make food ahhhmahhhzing.  A perfect way to end an awesome trip!

one small meal that had the potential to unravel the whole weekend…

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Van City!! Part 1 – June 28 – June 30, 2012

We said – We recently returned from a mini trip to Vancouver – aka a four-day excuse to eat too much. Officially, we were in BC for a wedding, but that only took up a day and a half of the four-day weekend (ceremony Friday, reception Saturday). The rest was ours to eat.

Rather than write a full entry on each restaurant (too much) or pick one to showcase (too little), we decided to briefly highlight each of our culinary adventures, starting with…

Akasaka (Dinner, June 28). A Japanese/sushi restaurant in Surrey that we forgot to take pictures of. The sushi was yummy and fresh and the restaurant had cool private dining rooms that we got to enjoy until boy Ali got a little too comfortable and lost us our sliding door privileges.

No meals out June 29. Just deep-fried things, cream sauces, and rice (aka Indian food) all wedding day long.

Stephos (Lunch, June 30). Greek!  Average tasting greek food, but cheap for the amount of food you get. We ate dolmades (yum), roast lamb (also yum) and chicken souvlaki (meh), all of which  came served on a mountain of rice. We must have looked like aspiring marathoners, because we also received a side order of carbs in the form of pita bread.

Good, but I could have used a little more rice…

Romer’s Burger Bar (pre-Dinner, June 30). I finally relented and agreed to share a burger with Ali. It seemed silly to eat at 4 with the wedding reception starting at 7:30, but I’m glad we did; the dinner buffet didn’t open until about 10:30 that night (oy).  This meal had me conceding some merits of burgers – we split a Kobe beef burger with horseradish jack, mushrooms, onion strings, watercress, organic mustard, and red wine demi-glaze. It was rich, juicy and it had me swooning!

Don’t let the pic fool you… we’re really not hungry

Two days down, two to go… to be continued!

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Cibo – June 23, 2012

She said – Three cheers for the return of date night! Even if I have to plan it.

I had mentally catalogued Cibo (pronounced chee-bo) a couple weeks ago when its bright white sign and funky patio caught my eye. Right away it hit a few key criteria; close to Ali’s place (max 10 minute walk, but like lazy bums we drove ), new (no chance either of us have been here on dates), and trendy-looking (not a blog requirement, this just fits a personal need to feel hip).

see left of building for funky patio

Unfortunately for us, it poured rain the day we went, so no funky patio. The inside had a trendy, minimalist feel, but holy crap was it loud. I don’t mind a nice hum, but having to say “Say again?” more than twice just ruins the timing of my jokes. Not cool.

Unlike a lot of the new, trendy restaurants in town Cibo will actually take reservations (no mad Twitter checking for unrealistic wait times for me, thank you) which scores it points right off the bat. It felt pretty good bypassing the two hour line (!!) other patrons were stuck with.

We had filled up on dosas just a couple hours earlier so we decided to keep dinner light – 3 scodellina (fancy word for mini appetizers) and one pizza. For appies we settled on roasted eggplant (a dip, even though it’s not descirbed as such on the menu), roasted peppers, and lamb meatballs (a now recurring theme for us). All were very tasty. We were apparently hungrier than I originally let on, because we forgot to take a picture until half way through this course.

At $4 a pop, I don’t know why I thought they’d be larger!

Next came our pizza, which was topped with assorted goodness: chicken, goat cheese, scallions, artichokes, green olives, peppers, and tomatoes. It was tasty, but frankly, nothing all that special or different from anywhere else in the city. In fact, think boy Ali preferred the Awesome Kitchen tandoori chicken pizza we had much much later that night. We did devour most of it though before remembering to take a picture, so infer from that what you will.

Maybe we liked it more than I let on

He said: A new restaurant on 17th Avenue near my place…count me in! Well i’m a little lazy, and took a bit too much time after eating here so I will keep this short and sweet as I think Girl Alee did a pretty damn good job of describing the experience. Cibo (See-boo is the actual pronunciation) has a very western vibe with its wood decorated interior, which makes it perfect for Stampede time. I have to give special mention to the service as it was pretty amazing. Our server gave us a couple free glasses of wine even though he told us that the pizza would take a bit longer (and it didn’t even take that long). So pretty amazing stuff. The food was pretty damn good, but to be honest I don’t remember anything that strongly, but I think its a great night spot that’s definitely worth a check out…I will definitely bring my bolo tie next time.

MINE!!!

Ranking:

Location: 5 out of 5 “I Feels” (next time, we won’t be so lazy and we’ll hoof it here on foot)

Service: 5 out of 5 “Yay Hurrays” (the waiter was amazing. He warned us the pizza would take long, but continually apologized for the wait time and treated us each to a free glass of wine for our “inconvenience”)

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 “Purple Shirts” (hip and chic inside (I need new adjectives), but not very unique and frankly, very loud.)

Nicheness: 3 out of 5 “Green Tights” (somewhat unknown because of it’s newness, but that won’t last long… if it hasn’t disappeared already)

Price: 3.5 out of 5 “Overstuffed Wallets” (Not bad. Pretty average price for a nice night out)

Taste: 3.5 out of 5 “Jeepers” (very yummy, but not a unique yummy)

Overall: 23 out of 30 not too bad! It might be worth another visit, but there’s some much more in the city we’d want to try before repeating chee-bo

Cibo on Urbanspoon

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