Muse Restaurant Media Showcase Dinner
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Disclosure: Several Calgary is Awesome editors were invited by Muse to a free media showcase dinner. We were not obligated or compensated to write this post. Opinions are 100% our own.
Last month, a few of the editors from the Calgary is Awesome team were invited to Muse to see how the restaurant has changed since new co-owners Stephen Deere and Heather Wighton and executive chef JP Pedhirney (formerly of Rouge) took over earlier this year.
The decor at Muse has largely remained the same, though Wighton states that the space did get a bit of a “facelift” with a few minor changes and a fresh coat of paint. All of the guests chatted in the airy upstairs area over champagne, oysters and cheese as the chefs finished creating our meal in the kitchen.
It wasn’t too long before we were ushered to the more formal, dimly lit dining area downstairs. I couldn’t help but notice all the wine glasses that were set before me – I was a little disappointed that I’d driven! Immediately I was impressed by the high-end service – for each course, the servers walked out together, dishes in hand, stopping only briefly behind us before setting the plates down in unison in front of every second person, then in unison again for the remaining people.
For the amuse-bouche, we enjoyed a rutabaga soup with pickled pearl onion, Asian pear and crispy chicken skin.
The rutabaga soup was creamy, but light. The tiny balls of onion and pear helped to give it some sweetness and texture, but overall the soup was savoury and umami, thanks to the chicken glacé and crispy chicken skin.
[CIA managing editor] Irene: The soup was a great start to the meal; a nice light way to get your taste buds going. I’m not usually a rutabuga fan, but enjoyed how it was incorporated into soup form.
Our first course was thinly sliced raw hamachi (yellowtail), slightly flavoured with coriander and lime vin, red chilies and togarashi (Japanese spice mixture usually served with noodles), and garnished with microgreens and different coloured radishes.
For many, the hamachi was their favourite dish as the fish was very fresh. I personally would’ve preferred just a touch more spice, but I think many people preferred the fact that it was very mild and highlighted the flavour of the fish.
Irene: I’m a big sushi fan so the hamachi was great. I really like fresh, FRESH fish and that’s exactly what this dish was. I also like that the seafood is sustainably-farmed and shipped in fresh.
I usually don’t mention wine in my posts, but I really enjoyed the pairing with the Joie Farm Noble Blend Aromatic White VQA 2011. There are a lot of Joie fans in Calgary and with a taste of this I could see why – the wine was quite floral and easy to drink; it reminded me of one of my favourite white blends, Tapestry from Little Straw in Kelowna.
The next course, Potato, was a play on risotto, using brunoise (finely diced) potato instead of rice. Green peas were scattered throughout the potato mixture, which was topped with shaved truffle, sous-vide egg and a generous block of crispy pork belly with a dollop each of bacon gel and Brassica mustard on top.
The potato “risotto” had an interesting texture, and I loved the additional flavour from the pork belly, bacon gel and mustard. A few at the table agreed that more mustard would’ve been nice in this dish to cut through some of its richness. I personally like my eggs more on the “medium” side so the runny yolk put me off a bit in terms of taste and texture.
Irene: I LOVED the potato egg risotto mix. I love a good runny egg, and this dish had tons of delicious, complementary flavors. It reminded me of a twist on brunch, but for dinner.
The next dish was a caraway-crusted grilled sturgeon served with beet ribbons, squid ink crostini, a touch of caviar crème fraîche and Brussels sprout leaves. A server came by to each of us to pour borscht consommé over the entire dish after it was served.
I’d never tried sturgeon before so was surprised to find such a dense, meaty fish. Neither the beet ribbons nor borscht consomme had the sweetness that I usually associate with beets, but they added an earthiness to the dish.
My favourite course was the lamb two ways – a round of grilled saddle was propped up by a small piece of farinata (chickpea cake) topped with crispy lamb belly. Tiny, caramelized cippolini onion dotted the plate, which was finished with a swipe of black olive emulsion and rosemary dust.
The saddle of lamb was done perfectly to medium-rare; the meat was moist and flavourful. The chickpea farinata provided some interesting flavour and texture to contrast the crispy lamb belly. The rosemary dust was a fun addition to the dish, but I thought the flavour was a little overpowering.
Irene: The lamb course made me a fan of lamb. Usually I would never choose a lamb course, but it was really well done and succulent. All of the flavours on the plate worked well together.
After being served two meat courses, we were treated to a palate cleanser of crabapple soda. Everyone cooed over the tiny bottles that they were served in.
Hearing “crabapples”, I’d expected the soda to be tart, so I was surprised to find that it was quite sweet. Still, the small dose of fruity flavour was the perfect interlude between the main courses and dessert.
Dessert was another highlight for me. A wedge of chocolate crémeux was served with a scoop of sweet potato sorbet, dollops of toasted meringue, lemon gel and coriander-chocolate dust.
The chocolate crémeux was dark, creamy and smooth, but not too rich. I loved how the chocolate was paired with a variety of flavours, like the marshmallowy meringue, bright lemon and I particularly liked the pairing with the savoury and herby coriander. I wasn’t a big fan of the sweet potato sorbet – I think the starchiness of the sweet potato would’ve worked better in something richer, like an ice cream or even a gelato. I found the lightness of the sorbet a bit confusing.
Irene: I thought dessert was awesome! It gave you a taste of everything with chocolate, meringue and lemon gel.
Shortly after dessert was served, the entire team paraded out to thunderous applause. Chef Pedhirney spoke of how he was inspired to be a chef at age 18 by a meal at Muse by then-executive chef Cam Dobranski (now of Brasserie Kensington and Winebar Kensington), and how thrilled he was to now be holding the reins. Chef Pedhirney also mentioned how much he enjoyed creating multi-course meals and taking his guests through the progression of each course.
In addition to the delicious meal and fantastic service, we were spoiled even further with gift bags as we left. I’m looking forward to what Wighton, Deere and Chef Pedhirney have to offer as they continue to breathe new life to this classic space.
107 10A St NW
Calgary AB T2N 4M7
Open Tues-Sun 5 PM-Close. Closed Mondays.