A Rustic Celebration at River Cafe

Last night we headed out to celebrate Cole’s (27th!) birthday at the River Cafe.

Set in the middle of Prince’s Island Park, this little restaurant has a rustic setting, surrounded by large trees and flower bushes. Our reservation was quite late, and as we walked down the path to our destination, the sun was setting and the antique-like pathway lights were beginning to turn on.

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When we arrived to the restaurant, we were kindly guided to our table to join the rest of the dinner party. The interior has a rustic vibe, with cedar accented walls, large windows, and wooden tables and chairs. Dimly lit with cabin-style light shades, you can watch the chefs carefully prepare each meal in the back while you relax near the large, stone fireplace. Placed around the restaurant are additional cabin accessories, such as a large canoe and wooden poles.

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Dinner started by ordering wine and enjoying a few slices of bread with salted butter. The bread was soft and chewy, spotted with herbs for additional flavor. I glanced through the menu and decided the Salmon would be my dish of choice.

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For appetizers, we ordered hummus and a charcuterie board made up of cheese, fish, and various types of game meats. I quickly snatched one of the pieces of candied salmon and upon my first bite, remembered why I loved this place. The salmon was smoky, tender, and a little bit sweet.

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Next, I helped myself to the wild boar prosciutto and broke off a generous piece of the canola seed crackers. Deliciously salty!

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We continued to munch away at our appetizers, Cole enjoying the smoked salmon, chicken liver pate, and the bison and blueberry terrine. There is no better place to try something new! One of the best parts about this restaurant is just how fresh and local everything is.

Moving on to main courses, we watched as each creative dish came out after the next. Food presentation here is beyond excellent! My salmon came surrounded in a circle of potatoes, sweet peas, radishes, mushrooms – and something else which I couldn’t quite figure out.

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I took my first bite, and YUM! This is probably the best salmon I have ever had. Soft and flaky, it tasted like the perfect combination of fish, lemon, and butter.

Cole ordered the eggplant, which was accompanied by misted froth and placed on a bed of polenta and watercress. He remarked how rare it is to find a restaurant that can properly cook eggplant – but this was one of them.

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After sauntering through our meals, we perused through the dessert menu but quickly came to the conclusion we were stuffed. If I had to choose, I would’ve selected the chocolate pot de creme. But alas, I will have to save it for next time!

We grabbed our coats, opened the large wooden doors, and headed back down the dimly lit path stopping to admire the night view of Calgary’s downtown core.

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If you are looking for great food, an “Albertan” venue, and a place where you can truly have a quiet conversation, this place is a must!