The thing about garlic is that you either love it or hate it. Luckily, for those of us who love it, we have our very own garlic restaurant nestled in the heart of Mission — Antonio’s Garlic Clove.
My friend and I recently dropped into Calgary’s bad-breath mecca on a bitterly cold Thursday night. The intimacy of Antonio’s instantly warmed our spirits. Within moments, we were happily greeted and taking in wafts of garlicky goodness.
The rustic room is charming, with a fantastic tin roof and plank wood flooring. Cluttered with wine bottles, olive oil cans and various garlic-themed knick-knacks, I wondered why it had taken me so long to stop by this local favourite.
As the garlic-infused aromas intensified, we started off our evening with the restaurant’s namesake dish: Antonio’s garlic clove. It’s a loaf of homemade bread stuffed with brie cheese and baked with whole roasted garlic ($14).
Antonio’s doesn’t mess around. In my estimation, there was approximately 20 roasted cloves stuffed in and around the loaf. Like taking a shot of whisky, our eyes lit up and our lips pursed as we took our first bite. It was intense. My only criticism is that the loaf needs a little more time in the oven — it would have been much more gratifying had the cheese been just a bit gooier.
For her entree, my friend had the tiger ling ($22). Featuring a dozen tiger shrimp with roasted garlic, fresh roma tomatoes and olive oil served on a bed of linguine, the dish was a winner — simple and fresh, with a comforting home-style touch.
I chose the 8 oz. stinking steak ($32), a Kansas City strip stuffed with garlic and accompanied by a garlic and brandy cream sauce. Although I’ve had better cuts in my day, I did enjoy this dish. The sauce was rich and savoury and paired well with the beef. Featuring a side of tasty garlic and carrot-mashed potatoes, the entree lived up to its aromatic name.
Antonio’s dessert menu continues the garlic theme with dishes such as apple and cinnamon pie with roasted garlic and garlic vanilla ice cream. We chose the bananas à la mode ($9) — bananas sautéed in banana liquor, brown sugar and minced garlic with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. The sweet treat was delicious, and the addition of garlic was a definite highlight.
Antonio’s is a nice departure from the everyday. The setting is cozy, and the service is unpretentious. If you can stand the smell of yourself after a round of garlic mayhem, I definitely recommend this spot for a break from the ordinary.