A really local burger from Charcut.
These days it’s nearly impossible to open a restaurant’s menu and not see the word “local” somewhere in regards to the ingredients being used. While I am certainly all for a culinary movement that embraces the delicious things we can find in our own backyard people take a lot of liberties when they make the “local” statement.
If a restaurant is actively promoting a local mentality but serving you asparagus in January (the season here is a few short weeks usually starting in late May) or making an Asian-inspired dish with tiger prawns (an imported option that is not considered sustainable) then maybe it isn’t as authentic as the menu suggests.
Here are five local (in both senses of the word) eateries that live eat and breath the regional food philosophy — and did so long before it was the thing to do. They are not the only examples in Calgary — read those menus carefully and ask questions to help identify others.
This upscale spot on Stephen Avenue is a culinary gem on a line of blocks filled with several chains and/or steakhouses. Chef Chris Dewling’s menu changes regularly especially from early summer to fall when myriad Alberta ingredients are ripe for the picking. Even in the middle of winter the restaurant manages to keep things interesting with seasonal staples like parsnips and celery root.
(111 8 Ave. S.W. 403-263-5330 blinkcalgary.com)
Co-chefs and owners John Jackson and Connie Desousa have been using mainstream media to actively promote their decision to go the local route since they opened their doors five years ago. All of their meats come from Alberta producers and in addition to the plethora of local produce they utilize they also partner with The Jungle Farm in Innisfail to have specific crops grown for their exclusive use which is pretty cool.
(899 Centre St. S.W. 403-984-2180 charcut.com)
As far as food trucks go Nicole Fewell’s mobile business is one of the most in-tune with the importance of using regional ingredients in this city if not in all of Western Canada. You’ll find most of the truck’s suppliers at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. Just to name a few the cheese that makes the perfectly gooey sandwiches comes from suppliers like Sylvan Star Farms and the brisket and pulled pork made
in-house/in-truck come from Silver Sage Beef and Spragg’s Meat Shop respectively.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an ingredient on this restaurant’s menu that is out of season. This refined dining destination in the heart of Calgary has never settled for anything less than hyperlocal since day 1 (and that was almost 25 years ago). For years they’ve grown a large amount of their own produce during warmer months and even have staff members with shifts solely dedicated to gardening. River’s newest initiative? Not only is it committed to reducing its food waste as much as possible which includes saving leftover scraps and turning them into compost but now it is also providing that organic waste to partner farms to aid with growing crops. If that doesn’t impress you I’m not sure what will.
(25 Prince’s Island Park 403-261-7670 river-cafe.com)
With a backyard garden that most restaurateurs would kill for Rouge makes the most of the city’s growing season with rows upon rows of herbs vegetables and fruits that find their way into almost every dish on the menu. Proteins like elk or lamb are raised just a short distance outside of the city and when they’re putting seafood on the menu they make sure it’s all 100 per cent Ocean Wise-certified.
(1240 8 Ave. S.E. 403-531-2767 rougecalgary.com)