The good the gone and the revived

Another year has passed with a string of great spots opening while others made soft exits from Calgary’s culinary landscape. So who were the stars of 2013? And what’s coming in 2014?

Let’s start with the highlights.

One of my new faves is Downtownfood . This hotspot (amongst foodies and chefs alike) opened quietly and earned instant cred with fabulous dishes like the Qualicum Bay scallop “ceviche” with albacore tuna stripe prawn coconut milk aji amarillo pickled celery and tandoori popcorn. Or their mouthwatering braised wagyu beef and chanterelle mushroom ravioli with a miso and dashi emulsion Parmesan arugula and freshly shaved black truffle. Plus they have a rooftop garden. Win-win.

Another great new entry is Posto . With lip-smacking small plates like the kale salad duck arancini and wild boar tagliatelle this was definitely one of the best arrivals this year.

On the more casual side of things I fell for Flipp’n Burgers in Kensington. Having visited a few times now I’m never disappointed with their fresh and tasty burgers and impressive array of toppings.

The fresh sushi of Big Catch is a great addition to the Kingsland Farmers’ Market. They have to-die-for tuna sashimi and inventive rolls to boot. When was the last time your wasabi came in the shape of a dragon?

Another spot I loved this year was Bistro Rouge a new French bistro from the folks at Rouge that features seasonal offerings with a focus on the fresh ingredients and the craftsmanship that Rouge is known for.

And if you’re going to do brunch anytime soon the place to have it is at Ox & Angela . Order the Brunch Table. Trust me.

And now for the goodbyes.

While I won’t name them all one place I’m sad to see go is La Casa D’Italia an institution in Calgary since 1974. My husband and I will greatly miss their tangy Caesar salad and home-style spaghetti with meatballs. Taking up residence in the massive space Nicastro’s has renovated and now offers pub food Italian fare and Neapolitan-style pizza from a wood-burning oven. I’ll pop in soon.

Also sad to hear of Sushi Club in Kensington closing its doors — diners were sad to see it go.

But I can’t say I’m surprised that Tilted Grill is gone. The new tenants LeVilla Chophouse on 4th Street are reversing the trend of most upscale spots by starting in the ’burbs and opening a second location downtown. At any rate I enjoyed the meaty fare at the west location and am looking forward to trying out the new digs.

One spot I cannot wait for is Shiki Menya opening in early 2014. Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi has always been my go-to spot for ramen and I’m thrilled to see that they are opening an exclusively ramen spot in Bridgeland (complete with their very own noodle-making machine). Another ramen spot opening in the New Year is Concorde Group’s Goru and Gun . The group is also opening a second Double Zero location in Chinook where the defunct Flatiron restaurant was slated to open.

Chef Michael Noble is also opening a new spot in town. The man behind Notable in Bowness is taking on a new location in Inglewood’s former National Hotel. Slated to open in fall 2014 The Nash promises to be another hot dining spot with late-night drinks to follow at Off Cut.

I haven’t stopped in yet but I’ve been hearing great things about Wings n Tings now open in Kingsland Farmers’ Market. I’m looking forward to trying Necole Hines’ oven-baked Jamaican jerk wings and tings like the rice and peas dish made with thyme coconut milk scotch bonnet pepper garlic and onions. Yum.

On the tongues of many a food writer this past year was Brix and Morsel a new restaurant coming to Victoria Park although no opening date has been announced. And for those anticipating Connie DeSousa and John Jackson’s charbar at the Simmons building in East Village we’ll have to wait a little longer — it’s not opening until early 2015.

Lastly be sure to visit the spots that have reopened after the flood such as River Café at Prince’s Island park Fourth Street locations like Wurst and Mission Diner and Chinatown’s Thi Thi Vietnamese Submarine among many others. They’ve had a tough year and could use the support.