The porridge is: Hot! Trendy decor, fresh and local ingredients, an amazing lemon tart… a chic bistro with great food!
Today Michelle(@foodstyleaholic) invited me to Downtownfood’s website relaunch. I was a bit wary about venturing out into the “blizzard” but the free appetizers and toonie bar won me over.
The new website was displayed on a big projector screen. Here it is: Downtownfood: a modern bistro on 8th. I liked the scrolling photos on the main page but there are a few small glitches that still need to be fixed. (Such as removing the pumpkin photo because I have a fear of tight clusters… but I digress.) If you click on any part of the top banner, you will be directed to a “404 Not Found” page. The social media buttons on the upper right corner could be more visible. It was nice to be able to read the menus without opening a pdf file but I thought it was a bit weird how the photo of food on the left just “ended” halfway down the menu.
Onto the tasting night!
I really liked the new art pieces on the walls. Gorgeous photos of Calgary at night and dusk.
I never knew the Peace Bridge could look so artistic! ;)
The bar was not too shabby either with a photo of Stephen Avenue all lit up at night.
The appetizer menu! Or as bloggers would say, the “obligatory menu photo.” Okay, now the main attraction… the food!
Roasted Beet Tartare
I got to try this one twice! It was tangy and sweet with a spicy kick at the end. The cumin flake added a nice touch of extra texture. I don’t like beets but I think I would enjoy this even in a full size.
This piece of tuna was really fresh! Seared to perfection and seasoned with some vinegar and ginger. It had a slight spicy tang to it. I really liked this but we were starting to wonder if everything would have a “kick.”
I forget what this was… but the goat cheese was scrumptious… Aha! Thanks to urbanspoon, this was Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crustinis.
Breakfast at Midnight
A breaded quail egg with pancetta. This was a burst of flavour in your mouth! Perfect combination and texture! I loved that the sweet and light egg yolk flavour mixed with the stronger meat flavour. So good.
Pan-fried scallop on guacamole
I was really excited for this because I love scallops. The scallop was tender and sweet but I felt the guacamole ruined this. Something about a hot juicy scallop on top of cold guacamole just did not work. I love them both, but maybe not together.
Honey Shrimp Fritters
I almost didn’t use this photo because my hand looks like a CLAW here. But I figured oh why not, we were using our hands for a lot of the food items so why not show it as is. These sounded amazing on the board… but were quite disappointing. Perhaps I had a piece near the bottom of the bowl but this was covered with too much sea salt. The honey also overpowered what little shrimp flavour there was. Good idea… execution could be improved.
Since when do you get to eat free unlimited fresh oysters? Okay, so I only ate three. But these were good. They were located at the bar and freshly shucked as people quickly devoured them.
I tried a few without any condiments and they were even better! Definitely very fresh. I think a fellow blogger ate about 9 of these.
Wild Mushroom Crustinis
These were… not memorable. But I did like the mushrooms. I love mushrooms and I like toast.. but I have yet to have a “mushrooms on toast” item that I’ve really liked in Calgary. Maybe it needs more of a “pop” in flavour?
Crispy Oyster with Greens
I’m not sure if the items presented later were not as delicious as the starters or if I was just starting to get full. This was all right. I liked the simple presentation. The greens were seasoned with another “tangy” sauce that looked a bit like thousand island dressing but tasted more like spicy mayo. The oyster was good but not amazing. Slight smoky flavour, which I liked. If it had been juicy upon biting into it, that would have been A+!
I think DTF made a naming mistake here. Wontons are made of thin wrappers that give boiled wontons a texture similar to meatballs. Like this. This particular item would be more aptly named Pork Dumpling. See dumplings. I have to be honest and say these were not very good. I think I could make better dumplings. The meat was very dry and instead of eating a dumpling, I felt like I was eating a tiny meatball wrapped in dough. The sauce was also overly salty and just… wrong. My family’s from Taiwan and our standard dumpling dipping sauce consists of soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and lots of minced garlic. My fellow blogger commented that people from Hong Kong like to use red or black vinegar. (Hi Peaches!) This dark brown sauce tasted more like sweet soy sauce. Sorry but that gets a no from me.
Chicken Liver Mousse
Okay I take back what I said about the previous items being salty because this one tops them ALL. This was so salty that I couldn’t finish it even though it was just one bite’s worth. Perhaps if the mousse was spread over the bread it might have been better? It also had a weird chicken flavour(Figures!) that made me feel a little sick. Not a fan.
Well, that ended on a salty note. That’s okay because now we can talk about the desserts!!
These. were. really. good. Burst of lemon flavour without being overly sour. The tart was buttery and so easy to eat. I had to leave the room to resist grabbing a bunch. I can’t wait to be back so I can try these in the regular size!
I also enjoyed these. Creamy and rich milk chocolate in the exact same tarts as the lemon ones. I don’t think I could take this in a regular size but milk chocolate lovers would love them for sure!
These didn’t look anything like macarons I’ve seen but we all grabbed one anyhow. Nice, crisp lemon flavour with amazing filling! I could eat a bowl of the filling as a dessert. (But I don’t think that would be very good for my health.) We all ate a few of these with one of us going as crazy as having five!
Macarons in Various Flavors
When we saw a server go by with a plate of colourful macarons, I think all our eyes lit up and without a word, we all got up and headed straight to the dessert table again. (We were thinking about how great the lemon ones had been…) Looking at these photos now I guess we should have known we’d be in for a disappointment. We were told each color was a different flavour but these all just tasted like sugar.
Dry and uninspiring. These were left on the table because nobody had the heart to finish them. I’m so glad I only took smaller one. (An enticing white macaron… vanilla bean flavour perhaps? Alas, it was like eating sticky sugar.)
So it may seem like I end this post on a negative note, but don’t forget about all the amazing dishes I had! (Quail egg, anyone?) I think Downtownfood is a really lovely and modern bistro with very fresh food, they just need to tweak some small things! I for one, will be back for a larger portion of breakfast.
A big thank you to downtownfood for hosting this great event!
downtownfood (on Stephen Avenue)
628 8 Ave SW