|After three years of writing restaurant reviews for Fast Forward, Ive decided to retire my cutlery. Here are my final recommendations, burns and shout-outs:
·What every restaurant needs: Purse stools, which are offered at Piato Greek House. Beautiful purses shouldnt have to touch the floor.
·Biggest pet peeve about the Calgary dining scene: The early dinner hour. Restaurants that are packed and buzzing late at night are a true indication of a happening city.
·My favourite, and only, letter from a reader, regarding my review of the Sunday dog brunch at the Urban Dog Market: "
you have hit a new low with a review of a dog food boutique. I guess we can look forward to your dropping restaurant reviews completely, so let me suggest the following for your, uh, food column: 1. A review of lawn fertilizers (food for your grass!). 2. A review of gasolines (food for your car!). 3. A review of communion wafers
." John Manzo (chowhound.com).
(Incidentally, I reviewed, for the defunct Calgary Straight, a gas station because it also doubles as the Greek eatery Crete. My suggested headline Greek food that gives you gas! was, disappointingly, not used.)
·Number of times I found a foreign object in my meal while on assignment: one. The Verve (in Mission). It was a long, plastic wrapper in my butternut squash cannelloni. Yowza!
(I still cant believe Brangelina (at last, I find reason to use this moniker in print!) chose to eat at The Verve of all places. Director Rod Lurie of Resurrecting the Champ, the Hollywood movie that began shooting in Calgary last week starring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett and Teri Hatcher, declared Galaxie Diner as one of his favourite Calgary eateries. Now thats more like it!)
·Number of times a restaurant owner has called up my Fast Forward editor ranting and raving about a bad review: two Nawab and The Verve (Mission).
·The one and only restaurant where I accidentally forgot my review notes: where else but, The Verve (Mission).
·Spunkiest restaurant owners: Jimmy of A & A Foods, Peter Kinjo of Kinjo Sushi and Grill.
·Best alternate phrasing to "Hows your meal?": "How are the flavours?" (Il Sogno).
·Cutest takeout box: Bumpys Café.
·Coolest drink seal: Thai Tai on 4th Street. Their must-have machine covers drink tops with colourful anime seals.
·Best entertainment: Saturday nights at Skazka, a Russian fine dining restaurant.
·Most overrated restaurant, of late: Saint Germain.
·Best food stand at Calgary Farmers Market: Margaritas Ukrainian food (and Id like to give a shout-out to proprietors Danny and his mom!).
·Location with the most turnover in my three-year tenure: 720 - 11 Ave. S.W. Bodega, then Dolce Euro Dining Lounge, then Myles Avery and now the sumptuous Casbah.
·Great restaurants that have closed in the last three years: DDs Delectable Delights, Mescaleros.
·These are a few of my favourite things: veggie momos at Tibet on 10th; smoked meat sandwich at Palace of Eats; Invitation Azamani (butter chicken cooked with mango slices, brandy and wine at Moughal Mohal); sumo hot dog (Japanese mayo, wasabi, pickled ginger, lightly toasted sesame seeds) at Tubby Dog; banana bread at Coco Brooks Bakery; artichoke-filled ravioli at Murrietas (please put this back on the menu); yam fries with tahini-miso gravy at The Coup; bread rolls at The Tribune; mussels and fries, Belgo; any cheesecake at Yamato Dessert Café (OK, the black sesame seed cheesecake); PEZ juice at The Siding Café; mint tea at The Casbah; hanpen-cheese at Sushi Sen; karnatzel at Grumans Delicatessen and Montreal Bagels.