Downtownfood {THE BIG TASTE}: Calgary, Alberta

I’ve been wanting to post about Downtownfood for awhile, but never had chance to do so until now.  My first experience there was with  friends after we checked out the Home Expo back in January.  I did instagram some pictures (@annasappetite) of my first experience and at the end we all went home full, amazed, and happy. 🙂

My second experience where I brought a better camera was during Big Taste Calgary.  This time my friend and blogger Miss.Foodie and I decided to check out their tasting menu and for me repeat the experience I had the first time I went.

Downtownfood had a $35.00 set menu for the Big Taste.

Chef Darren's house-made baguettes.  Beware-  they're super tasty.

Chef Darren’s house-made baguettes. Beware- they’re super tasty.

First off I must say that Chef Darren is probably one of the most craziest, creative and ridiculously dedicated chefs out there.  He’s really focused on making most of the items in house, such as breads, vinegars, charcuterie and even tofu.  It’s a ridiculously amount of commitment and effort one needs to do, and what’s remarkable is that he does it all pretty well.

Beet Tartare

Beet Tartare

Our first course for the night was a Beet Tartare which came with house-made cumin chips.  This is a beautiful take on the beef tartare.  By no means is he trying to imitate beef with beets, this was a dish that could stand on it’s own.  There was a combination of roasted local beets with capers, garlic aioli and mustard.  It was refreshingly sweet and crunchy and a very subtle hint of that mustard spice.  The cumin chips where delicately thin and crispy with a nice hint of cumin.  A great start to our meal!

Seafood Ceviche

Ceviche of Scallop, Mussel, Shrimp and Albacore Tuna

The next dish few dishes were complimentary from Chef Darren and his kitchen.  We got a Ceviche of Scallop, Mussel, Shrimp and Albacore Tuna.   I’ve had this Ceviche during my first visit with friends and it was exactly the same as I remembered when I had it this time around.  This had a sauce comprised of aji amarillo, coconut, and lime with bits of spicy popcorn and paprika oil.   Absolutely  refreshing and I loved the sharpness of flavours in this dish.


Fung Style Kampachi

The next complimentary dish was the Fung Style Kampachi.  This was kampachi that was cured with konbu over some horseradish and edamame puree  and topped with scallions, furikake, and tobiko.  A really nice upgrade on your standard sashimi since I can detect an underlay of konbu flavour in the kampachi.  Well executed and beautifully presented.

The Truffles.

The Truffles.

What do you do when you see this plunked down at your table?  You.don’

First off, when we saw this at the table Miss.Foodie and I were surprised and speechless. I think both of us were questioning “Is it or isn’t it?”, “Could it be truffles?”,  so much speculation in those minutes which felt like hours because you got some truffles in front of you and the only thing that’s seperating you and those truffles was a glass lid………. AHHHH,  I can’t take the suspense!  Finally, our server came by and lifted the lid and proceeded to shave truffles onto our equally exciting dish.

Slow Braised Beef Ravioli

Slow Braised Beef Ravioli

Let me tell you folks, this is a polished, jacked up, sexy ravioli.  If ravioli could be amazing like Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie Limitless, this would be it.  The truffles were shaved into our bowl of Slow Braised Beef Ravioli which consists of handmade ravioli pasta stuffed with beef and chopped truffles, immersed in a miso and foie gras broth.  SERIOUSLY?  Who gives this complimentary to people?  I nearly passed out with all the excitement because little humble me would never imagine eating truffles this soon in my life.  Let alone as a topping for something as equally delicious…. .  The miso foie gras broth was delicate and tasted earthy and creamy.  The ravioli was cooked perfectly al dente and the truffle flavours were just amazing!  This was ridiculously good shit.

Pork Trio

Pork Trio

I had this dish the first time I came to Downtownfood with my friends and even after nearly two months of not being at Downtownfood, I still ordered this dish as my main.  It was as equality impressive and delicious the second time around.  The dish I speak of is their Broek Acre Pork Trio.  The Pork Trio consisted of 3 pork elements,  the pork belly confit,  a 48 hour sous vide pork loin, and a sizzling crispy pork rind.  All of this on a bed of kohlrabi puree, shmeji mushrooms, and an Asian BBQ sauce. When our server came out with this dish, you can actually still hear the pork rind crackling.  Again, this dish did not disappoint as the pork belly was so flavourful and decadent, the sous vide pork loin was insanely moist and full of flavour.  How many times in your life have you had moist pork loin?  Hardly ever I’m sure…. but when you do, it’s amazing.  The pork rind was super crispy and crunchy like a chip but it was seasoned just right so you do get a little spice kick out of it.  The kohlrabi puree was light and had an underlaying sweetness and balanced nicely with the savoury flavours of the Asian BBQ sauce.

 –  Definite item to order the when you guys go.

Lemon Brulee

Heath Lemon Tart with a Cassis Sorbetto

Then came dessert,  ahh dessert.  No matter how full your belly is with all this ridiculously delicious food how could you not go for dessert?  Well we were gonna have it one way or another as this was part of our Big Taste menu and we were so excited.  We had a choice between two desserts, but we ended up getting one of each and shared.  The first one we dug into was the Heath Lemon Tart with a Cassis Sorbetto.  The lemon tart was prepared in a style of a brûlée, so the shortcrust pastry was first baked,  then they poured the lemon custard into the crust and baked it again.  The texture of this lemon tart was incredibly creamy but with a nice density to similar to your traditional creme brûlée.  This was full of that lemony tart flavour and wasn’t overly sweet as most lemon desserts are and it came with a side of Chef Darren’s own Cassis Sorbetto which as prepared by Fiasco Gelato but using the Chef’s own personal recipe.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Ahh,  don’t be fooled by this simple little Chocolate Mousse dessert.  This little devil is deceiving.  I know a lot of people order the chocolate mousse in restaurants and in reality the chocolate mousse from restaurant to restaurant tastes the same, but you’ll be surprised.  Do not underestimate this simple dessert, this was divine.  I would be happy to go and grab me a bowl of this stuff right out of the back kitchen if I wasn’t so polite.  This had such great chocolate flavours and textures,  I couldn’t imagine a better tasting chocolate dessert.   The crunchy chocolate cookie bits taste like an Oreo cookie with a peanut brittle.  The mousse was layered with milk, white and dark chocolate mousse which were creamy and not overly sweet.  Eating this you can taste all the contrasting textures of creamy and crunchy.  A truly delightful way to end a wonderful meal.

Overall, this meal will forever be forged in my memory.  This was a delicious meal from beginning to end and I have to personally thank Chef Darren and his team at Downtownfood for doing such a wonderful job with the meal and service given how busy service was that night.  Regardless of complimentary dishes or not, our main courses were well executed and the taste was spot on amazing.  This night was also a night where Downtownfood actually ran out of food because it was so busy.  I highly suggest giving this place a try, at least once and believe me you’ll be happy you did.

downtownfood on Urbanspoon


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