The Big Taste 2016

It’s that time of year again! A #YYCFOODIE favourite…

The Big Taste!

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So get out your calendars, open up that open table account, and be prepared to drool while you glance through the menus. On from March 4 – 13, it’s the best time of the year to taste what the Calgary food scene has to offer, without overdoing it on your weekly budget.

Each participating restaurant has either lunch, dinner, or gourmet menu offerings (and sometimes all three), at a feature price. The portions are smaller than their regular mains, but the ability to have an appetizer, main, and dessert at a low cost price more than makes up for it.

Most lunches range from $15-25, dinners for $25-$35 and gourmet feasts for $80, per person. And, with prices this low, you can afford to pick up the cheque for your sweetheart, friend, or even parent.

Last year I went through some of my favourites with you – you know, the ones I’m eyeing up and plugging in calendar invites, and I’m doing the same for Big Taste 2016. Just a heads up, you’ll likely want to book reservations in advance because things can get pretty busy. For example, I just tried to book a 7pm slot for a specific table next Saturday, only to find it was already gone!

So, without further adieu, here we go:

For Lunch

Boxwood Café – Priced at a sweet $15, you can select between soup/salad, a sandwich, and a cookie. Unfortunately there are no reservations here, but they’ve got a beautiful patio outside if the weather is warm, and a cozy interior if it isn’t. What would I choose? The chicken sandwich with sweet Okanagan apples.

Bonterra Trattoria – This is the perfect spot if you’ve got a hankering for authentic Italian pasta. Arancini balls, oxtail ravioli, and dolce volce – ugh, yum.

Charcut Roast House – Seriously one of the best spots for a business lunch, their 45 minute lunches get you in and out of there with time to spare. With daily rotisserie or house-made sandwiches, parm fries, salad, and warm cookies – you definitely won’t leave hungry.

Divini Wine & Cheese Bistro – this menu is exactly what you need for a lazy Friday afternoon, or any other chilly day of the week. Squash shoup, risotto with pecorino, and sponge toffee.

RE:GRUB Burger Bar – the juiciest, freshest, and frankly, best burgers in town. Sink your teeth into “The Works” – a 6oz grassfed beauty with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and sauce. Your lunch also comes with house made hickory kennebec fries (the best!), coffee, and a cookie.

The Trib Steakhouse – I was just here recently and my steak was absolutely phenomenal. What caught my eye this time, however, was the house-smoked salmon mac & cheese with gruyere and sweet peas.

For Dinner

Avec Bistro – one of my favourite French spots in town. They’ve got an outstanding steak frites (or for the big taste, moules frites) that perfectly embodies french cuisine.

Buchanan’s Chophouse – every set of dinner recommendations requires a steakhouse, and Buchanan’s is mine. Not only do both the New York steak and the stuffed pork tenderloin sound delicious, but the sides look decadent and stuffing. It’s also one of the few dinner options that offer wine pairings (2 for $30).

Cucina Market Bistro – we headed here for the big taste last year and it was hands down my favourite of the bunch. This year, the menu is quite similar with braised lamb shank or sweet potato gnocchi, which makes me quite confident in referring you again.

The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen – this is a great option if you’re stuck downtown at work late. Located on 8th Ave, the Derrick has cleverly named drinks and delicious high quality meal options.

Laurier Lounge – this year, this is the spot I’m most excited about. Located in an old house in the beltline (Laurier’s, infact), it is such a quiet and romantic setting. I’ve been here on a date and with family, and both times we felt so relaxed and at home. This year, for the price of $35, you get cheese fondue, beef fondue, and chocolate fondue. And, now that I’ve decided I’m into cheese fondue, it’s a done deal.

Posto Pizzeria and Bar – for something a bit lighter, Posto has the BEST pizzas in town. Hands down. So naturally, they’ve got a pizza on their menu, accompanied with a salad and Italian cream cake.

Gourmet

Chefbar – this spot has been on my list for quite some time now. I have heard nothing but excellent reviews, so I have no doubt the gourmet menu is going to shine. With veal shank, yam chips, cheese, and sticky toffee pudding, you might want to make sure your pants have an elastic waist.

Chef’s Table – located along the water in Kensington, this is a highly sought after place for a romantic dinner for two. The menu items are a little bit out of the ordinary, but it might be the perfect place if you’re a self-proclaimed foodie. Plus, they’re offering wine pairings.

Market – Although usually I find Market a little pricey, the fresh ingredients and flavour combinations are not to be missed.

Shokunin – recently opened, Shokunin has been giving me major food envy with each Instagram post. Their speciality? Japanese grilled meats. The five course gourmet menu offers a wide selection, with the main course cooked over Kyushu binchotan charcoal.

Whitehall – Given the chef’s past success overseas, I would say he’s got something to prove this year. Offering upscale English cuisine, Whitehall has some interesting options on their gourmet menu that truly encompass the meaning of gourmet. Plus, they’ve got recommended wine pairings to bring out that extra flavour.

Happy eating friends! I would start booking your reservations now, before things fill up. I, myself, already have 3 in the bag 🙂

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