Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Calgary food critic John Gilchrist recently crowned Avec Bistro (along with Candela) as Calgary’s Top New Restaurant of 2012. Did it deserve these accolades? My Perennial Brunchmate Tiffany and I broke from our usual brunch pattern and decided to check it out for dinner a couple weeks ago.
The space looks much bigger on the inside than on the outside, with the bar in the centre of the restaurant as the focal point. The restaurant is dimly lit, with vintage French posters adorning the walls, though I think the floor-to-ceiling windows that make up two sides of the restaurant keep it from feeling too cozy. I appreciated the fact that there were hooks all along the walls, so big coats can be tucked away.
I decided to kick things off with The Ruby ($12.50), a cocktail of gin, Campari, vermouth and blood orange purée.
It was very refreshing – not too sweet, not too boozy, with just the right amount of citrus. We were off to a good start.
Tiffany ordered the Beef Tartare ($14), which we ended up sharing.
While we both loved the flavour of the tartare, we expected the beef to be more finely minced. Also, the crostini was a little chewy instead of being completely crisp. Still, we polished off the dish but not the best first impression.
For her main dish, Tiffany ordered the Roasted Squash & Chestnut Pappardelle ($18).
The wide noodles were cooked just to al dente; the sweet and earthy flavours of the squash and chestnut complemented each other very well, and the chestnuts also added a unique texture to the pasta dish.
I ordered the Duck Confit, served on a bed of white beans and spinach, with stewed sour cherries ($25).
The duck’s crispy skin made way to moist, flavourful fall-off-the-bone meat while the sweet-and-tart stewed cherries were the perfect foil to the richness of the dish. The beans were very buttery and I easily polished my plate.
Somehow, we managed to make a little bit of room for dessert, sharing a Banana Bread Pudding ($8).
When the dish came, we were a little disappointed that it was more “banana bread” than “bread pudding”, but the warm, moist banana bread sitting in a pool of yummy warm maple-y syrup was as decadent and satisfying as any.
Tiffany and I enjoyed our experience at Avec Bistro, but do we agree that it’s the Top New Restaurant of 2012? The jury’s still out.
105 – 550 11 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2R 1M7
Open for lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; dinner Sun-Thu 5-10 PM, Fri-Sat 5-11 PM.