River Café

Review by: 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.

What To Eat




River Café Recipes


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