811 1 St. S.W.
Located in the Grain Exchange building above Beat Niq is one of Calgary’s most beloved bistros, Piq Niq, and in contrast to the extremely frigid temperatures outside at the time of my visit, the space is invitingly warm and cozy. With seating for only 34, the intimate room screams French bistro with its sage drapery adorning the walls, large framed mirrors and a magnificent antique brass chandelier.
After ordering a luscious bottle of Pinot Noir (alternately, you can bring your own bottle for a $15 corkage fee), we get right up in the menu. Everything looks great and it’s hard to decide, but eventually we put together a meal guaranteed to delight.
Our first dish is the pâté du jour ($12). Today’s plate features duck rillettes. It’s close to a pâté — the meat is cooked until it is tender enough to be shredded and cooled with enough fat to form a paste.
The dish also features house-pickled golden beets, cornichons, a Brassica cranberry mustard and a generous handful of crostini. It’s a great assembly of ingredients and hard not to inhale — everything is delectable and the plate is clean by the time we are done.
Same goes for the winter green salad ($10), a gorgeous affair, piled high with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and Fairwinds farm feta. The frisée lettuce is vibrantly fresh, and I love the mix of textures and flavours. This perfect balance of crunchy, creamy and sweet is tossed with an invigorating walnut-thyme vinaigrette and pear gastrique. #saladrave
For his entree, my dining companion goes native with the confit de canard ($26). Prepared with a leg of duck, the confit is made with an age-old process of salt curing the duck and then poaching it in its own fat. The last step involves frying the legs in the fat until they are brown and crisp.
The result is stellar — a crispy leg perched on flageolet beans with a side of finely ground housemade sausage, confit pig’s jowl and port jus.
I try the pan-seared East Coast scallops ($28), a dish comprised of four plump and perfectly seared scallops nestled on a bed of red-and-white quinoa, flavourfully spiked with roasted red peppers. This dish is fantastic. Topped with roasted kernels of Taber corn and rustically chopped boar bacon, my senses are reeling.
The evening’s pièce de résistance is a piece of cake. Layered with a cashew butter filling and topped with chocolate-coated cashews and salted caramel sauce, Piq Niq’s chocolate cake ($8) is divine. For those who like a little salty with their sweet, it’s a perfect dessert.
Piq Niq is a bright light in Calgary’s local dining scene, with fantastic service and a menu from executive chef Andrew Trinier that aims to please.