Monday, 4 November 2013

Canvas Coffee and Wine, Calgary, AB -hidden gem and sinfully decadent seafood mac and cheese

Initially known as a nice place to have a cuppa java and take in the artwork and simple elegant decor or people watch from their heated patio, we were intrigued when my boyfriend's cousin suggested it for supper as they had launched their food menu recently.  And were we glad we did!  Despite still ironing out some hiccups in the new menu, Canvas' chef is well on their way to executing a varied menu that will satisfy Calgary's fickle food scene.  And since we were a pretty large group, we were able to order almost everything they had on the menu.. and experienced probably the most decadent seafood mac and cheese ever.  It is a definite must eat, and must return for item!
We walk past the heated patio (thoughtful for the chillier fall nights)...



to find ourselves in a comfortable yet casual dining room with a large bar at the back.


And zero into the comfy sofa seats that flank the side of the restaurant.


the DRINKS
Offering a small selection of wines, imports, a few of us went with a Malbec that was on special (unfortunately still a bit young), while the rest of us went with a kick your teeth down your throat Twisted Julep - a Hennessey based cocktail with lime, ginger and fresh mint.  This was definitely not a girly cocktail... my boyfriend's eye's bugged out when he tried a sip *evil grin*  Would be nice to see a few more signature cocktails on their board in the future though... with both sipping fruity cocktails and knock 'em sock 'em choices.

My boyfriend went with a light smooth golden ale instead.  Love their cups!

the APPYS
We started off with the Pan Sauteed Lollipops -beef and chicken skewers served with  tri-coloured dips (hummus and 2 others I can't remember), diakon, carrot and celery sticks.  


The chicken was flavorful, but the beef was sadly overcooked and a bit on the chewy side as a result

The Fried Bocconcino Cheese Caprese served with a basil remoulade and drizzled with a reduced balsamic vinegar was a winner.


Brocconcino balls (think young mozzarella) are lightly coated in a crisp crunch coating, with the balsamic vinegar and light creamy  basil remoulade balancing out the rich ooey gooey fancy fried cheese balls... they didn't even need the grape tomatoes to disappeared like magic.

The Calamari Fritti was another winner of the night with thin rings of calamari in a light crisp golden buttermilk coating fried to a perfect tenderness and served with a side of basil remoulade as a dipping sauce.

Say no to these babies... just try! Resistance is futile Nom!

Rounding out our appetizers was the PEI Mussels Vongore with the mussels steamed in a very generous amount of white wine, served with garlic baguette (overtoasted but still served well to sop up the mussel broth) and strangely a saffron aioli (which was largely ignored).


Served in a cute pot, the mussels just needed a pop of mild acidity (diced tomatos?) and fresh herbs (not seen - maybe someone ate them before I got to them) to give them a punch of brightness.

the ENTREEs
And yes, in this category, it turned out our whole group ordered all their entrees except the chicken heehee!  Now I'm going to rave about the Seafood Mac and Cheese.  Its a deceivingly small and simple looking dish...

Once you break through the crust of applewood smoked cheddar, hat you'll wish you were 2 inches tall so you could swim in the ridiculously addictive cheese sauce with a lobster? broth base that is out of this world.  They could seriously forget about the large prawns, chunks of salmon, mussels and other random bits of fresh seafood hidden in the mac and cheese.. and just serve me the mac and cheese... it is THAT good!

This was the last time I saw my entree intact... I had 2/3 of my dish vanish as it was sampled over and over by others lol!

The Atlantic Salmon entree was executed well, with the salmon fillet seasoned and seared to a moist perfection, served with a beetroot risotto and saffron cream.


The beetroot risotto which looked like a beef tartare, surprisingly stole the show.  The balance of sweet, tangy and comfort foodiness was hard to beat... and it was hard to not "sample" all of it off everyone else's plates!

The Alberta Beef Steak Sandwich  was the only disappointment to the array of entrees.  The 7oz striploin had quite a bit of gristle, and perhaps a more tender cut that holds up to fast cooking like rib eye should be considered in the future.  After all, Alberta produces excellent quality beef, and its a darn shame if its not showcased well. And yes, since its Alberta, we happily pay more for a good quality steak out!

The Hand Pressed Gourmet Burger served with a basil aioli, red onion relish, helium tomatoes, butter lettuce and melted applewood smoked cheddar was a winner!


The thick burger had a nice sear on the outside, cooked to a juicy nomnomnom, and the groceries made me want to steal my boyfriend's burger after one bite. Mmm!  The fries were good too! (those I did steal a lot of!)

the DESSERTS
Sadly, we were just a week short of Canvas launching their dessert menu, so even though we had (barely) left room for dessert we opted to head out after digesting for a bit to get dessert.  My boyfriend's mom tried one of their coffees, and we sat back to chat. The owner and managers were quite friendly, passionate about the restaurant and chatted with our table after our meal as they lit up some neat lamps for ambiance.

They treated us to mimosa's on the house in lieu of no dessert menu!  We had to ask what champagne he used as they were super delicious way to end our meal.  His secret?  He used Prosecco.  Brilliant!

the VERDICT
Canvas is a little gem in the rough that makes a killer addictive seafood mac and cheese I'm more than willing to drive 3hours up to Calgary to taste again.  With time and experience, Canvas will be a place that Calgary foodies will flock to... I'm already in love... seafood mac and cheese please!! :d

Canvas Coffee and Wine
Address 602 11 Ave SW #102 Calgary, AB T2R1M7
Phone (587) 353-1299
Hours Tue-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Canvas Coffee and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
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