Q Haute Cuisine
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Q Haute Cuisine is an upscale restaurant in what used to be La Caille on the Bow that serves up French cuisine with an emphasis on local foods whenever possible. Dinner is a rare, expensive occasion for most, but many people who work downtown enjoy their $15 lunch specials. For dinner, adventurous palates can order the Chef’s Tasting Menu – you can order from three up to eight courses, with or without wine pairings; a 12-course menu is available upon special request. The restaurant also offers an à la carte menu – two courses for $57, three courses for $73 and four courses for $89.
Although I would have loved to splurge on the Chef’s Tasting Menu, this was, after all, not a special occasion, so we decided to play it safe and ordered two courses each from the à la carte menu.
But first, we were treated to an amuse-bouche of smoked tuna on red and golden beets.
The tuna was only lightly smoked, so not overly salty, pairing well with the earthy sweetness of the beets and the tangy vinaigrette. A perfect bite to start the meal.
For my starter, I ordered the Digby scallops, topped with sunny-side-up quail eggs and surrounded by roasted pearl onions and a small bundle of abalone mushrooms.
The scallops were warm and tender, and I liked using them to sop up the sauce from the quail eggs (we had a basket of bread for that too). The onions were little sweet jewels and the abalone mushrooms were meaty but light.
B. had roasted quail paired with white beans and goat cheese in a red wine reduction.
B. shared a bite, and underneath the crisp skin was moist, flavourful meat. After the meal, B. declared that this was his favourite.
For the main course, I had the cardamom-infused venison with grapes in a port jus.
I would say the cardamom was a little too overpowering for me, but it was interesting how it brought out the rich, gamey flavour of the venison. Surprisingly, B. liked the cardamom more than I did. The bold flavours of the meat played interestingly with the sweetness of the grapes and the sauce. I had ordered the venison medium-rare, though it seemed that the chef had put the emphasis on the “rare” – it was still fine; even as I was ordering the waiter warned me that the venison is better when it is less well-done.
B. ordered lamb two ways – a simple roasted rack of lamb, and a leg of lamb stuffed with gorgonzola. Everything was drizzled with a Madeira jus.
Like my venison, the flavours in this dish were bold, but leaning toward a more savoury spectrum. The meat could have been more tender, but overall it was an interesting dish.
If you’re wondering how we were able to fill up on this meal, not pictured here was the fact that soon after we were served our meal, the waiter came by with a copper pan of baby vegetables – tiny carrots, golden beets, green beans and summer squash. And a copper pot of truffled potatoes.
I loved these truffled potatoes – rich, creamy and rustic. B. thought the sauce tasted like cream of mushroom soup. Too bad, more for me.
Once we had scraped up the last morsel of meat and scooped up the last bite of potato, our plates were whisked away and replaced with our bill (of course, not before we were tempted again by an offer of dessert, but none of them sounded appealing that day) and a pair of chocolate truffles rolled in shredded coconut.
The smooth chocolate started melting almost the instant that it hit our tongues, finishing with a bit of a tangy note.
Overall, we had a good experience at Q Haute Cuisine. The atmosphere is quiet and formal, with rustic, classy decor and beautiful views of the Bow River and Prince’s Island Park. The service was professional but friendly. However, I’m not sure if I’ll go back again – although the food was good, considering the cost, I didn’t find myself “wow”ed by the meal… the food was just too “precious”.
Q Haute Cuisine
100 La Caille Place SW
Calgary AB T2P 5E2
Open for lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-2 PM; cocktails Mon-Fri 4 PM; dinner Mon-Sat 5:30-10 PM. Closed Sundays except for private events. Online reservations available.