River Café

Review by: Jane & Michael Stern

Calgary is Canada’s cow town. Home of the annual Stampede – Canada’s #1 Rodeo – it is a place where ten-gallon hats and belts with saucer-size trophy buckles are standard attire, and where Alberta beef commands respect no less than beef in Texas. One of the best places to eat that beef – as well as all sorts of other great food – is the River Café on Prince’s Island Park. The restaurant boasts that it offers “regional seasonal ingredients that bring to your palate a sense of place.” As those lofty words suggest, the price of a meal is at the top of the Roadfood scale. If price is no object and you want a profoundly regional splurge, it can’t be beat.

The restaurant’s location is itself magical, in Prince’s Island Park, best accessed on foot or bicycle. Designed to look like a rustic fishing lodge, the River Café is a romantic destination with an open deck shaded by cottonwood trees. The menu is a broad one, serving an authoritative repertoire of Northwest cuisine that ranges from Dungeness crab and giant Pacific octopus to rainbow trout and heirloom turkey. For about $100 per person, a table can indulge in a multicourse chef’s tasting meal, described on the menu as “a unique culinary adventure.”

What drew our attention as we walked towards the front door was the aroma of sizzling meat; in particular, we relished a strip loin steak that was firm, full-flavored and satisfying the way only the best beef can be. To compare and contrast, we also sampled an Alberta buffalo rib-eye. It came with fetching horseradish emulsion; it was juicy and flavorful; but tasty as it was, we’ll return for beef every time.

Directions & Hours

11am - 10pm
  • Monday: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Thursday: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM

What To Eat

Steak

DISH
Salmon

DISH

River Café Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of River Café?

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Beef Stampede

By Jane and Michael Stern Originally Published 2002 Gourmet Magazine Calgary’s annual stampede is one of the biggest of all summer paydays for rodeo cowboys. But for anyone who...

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