River Cafe (Big Taste 2017)

One of Calgary's biggest food festival held by the Calgary Downtown Association is back! From March 3rd - 13th, over 95+ restaurants in Calgary will be participating in #BigtasteYYC.

First restaurant that I went to this year is River Cafe, located in the heart of Prince's Island Park. What I enjoy most about the restaurant is it's rustic, wood decor; it's a little get-a-way hidden inside the city. River Cafe focuses mainly on Canadian cuisine, using local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients.

Quick fact: Did you know River Cafe made it on Avenue Magazine's Top 10 Restaurant in Calgary (#67 in Canada's Top 100)? They are also having a promotion where when you mention #eatthelist and #bestrestaurantyyc in your reservations (or mention to hostess/server), you get a little amuse bouche for your table! Also if you try River Cafe's Big Taste Lunch menu, go on the weekend for a bonus poached egg!

Granville Island Sake Cured Salmon Roe - Smoked Vital Greens Sour Cream, Roast Cucumber, Puffed Amaranth, Cucumber Sorbet, Compressed Cucumber

River Cafe's lunch offering for Big Taste is a $15 three-course meal starting with a Cucumber 'salad' three way. The cucumber was transformed into a sorbet, compressed, and roasted. I thought this dish was well composed and all the flavours came together. From the saltiness from the sorbet and roe, to the creaminess of the sour cream it was a good dish.

Second course was bison sausage with cornmeal and squash. If you take a bit of everything and marry all the ingredients together in your mouth, it was the PERFECT dish! Imagine the creaminess from the cornmeal and egg yolk, saltiness of the sausage, and sweetness from the squash, happening all at once. Wow!

Kolb Farms Bison Sausage - Wood Grilled Delicata Squash, Buttermilk Stone-Ground Cornmeal, Fermented Fife 'XO', Poached Egg

Carrot Ice Cream & Brown Butter Milk Powder

Maple Choux & Vancouver Island Salted Chocolate Bark

To finish, it was a mini choux filled with maple cream and salted chocolate bark. But because I mentioned #eatthelist as we were finishing our entree, they gave us something a little extra for dessert. Their house made carrot ice cream and milk powder roasted with brown butter.

One thing I have to rant about is about their time limit on tables. I booked a table near the window for 1:15PM (did not get there till 1:20PM). At that time the hostess explained that the only table near the window paid already and is still sitting there. Either we wait or sit at a different table. We wanted the window table therefore we waited. It wasn't until 2:10PM we finally sat down. Even though I asked the hostess if they can nudge the table to leave (since they've been there for two hours), the manager informed that we can't 'reserve' tables. The table did not leave until the servers came by to remove dish ware. I understand River Cafe does not have a seating time limit or 'reserving tables' however, during such a busy time especially with Big Taste, they should mention to people that there is a limit of two hours.

However, overall I had a good experience and would definitely come back for more.

Look for my future review on River Cafe's sister Deane House!

Recommend: Bison Sausage
Price: $$$$$
Taste: 4.5/5
Environment: 5/5