Los Mariachis Found

IMG_6284Summer is coming and it is almost time to sit out on the patio with a Corona and have good Mexican food. Too bad Los Mariachis don’t have a patio but then, who wants to sit out on the parking lot facing busy Macleod Trail? Instead come inside to a rustic cantina and explore the menu that have a bit of everything Mexican. There is fajita, tacos, enchiladas, burritos and even horchata on the drink menu. And if you have room afterwards, there is the caramel flan for dessert. (We never got that far but that would be my choice).

I had the El Trio which had a chile relleno, enchilada and chimichanga. I never stopped to ask but the chimichanga tasted a lot like the enchilada. Both had beef in it and both were wrapped with a soft tortilla. The only different was the sauce on top. For some reason, I thought the chimichanga was fried but then, I could have been mistaken. The chili relleno was tender and tasty.

My wife had the snapper and it came with green peppers and olives topped. The fish was firm and hard to tell whether it was previously frozen or not. (We should have asked but we didn’t). Both dishes came with some rice and refried beans.

When the bill came, we were surprised to find that the chips and salsa wasn’t complimentary like it is at many Mexican restaurants. After taking our order, the waiter thanked us then asked if we wanted chips and salsa to start and we (foolishly) said ‘Of course’. The chips and salsa is an appetizer here and sells for $10. As an appetizer, it comes with chips, salsa, guacamole and some pickled vegetables.

Would we return? Probably not right away but when we do, we have to be careful to not say ‘Of course’.

 

 

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Koto not my Goto

Grilled Halibut

Grilled Halibut

Thanks to the drop in oil price, I had to curb my spending on eating out. Hence the reason why I haven’t blogged much about food lately – sorry! After not eating Japanese food for awhile, I finally broke down and bought a Groupon to try out Koto, a Japanese restaurant and bar. The place is nice with Terra Cotta warriors in the front, seating against the window, a drinks bar, dining room and sushi bar in the back.

The hostess decided to seat us in the back where the sushi bar was behind us and we had a clear picture of who sat at the bar and what drinks they were having. I can see this how outside visitors staying across the street (at the Westin) could come here for a night cap.

We decided to order an entree each and share. I chose the steak and my wife chose the Grilled Halibut. I enjoyed my steak but the halibut was not good at all. For some reason, we both had expected the halibut to be a slice rather than filet. It didn’t look like halibut and the taste wasn’t good either. It was warm, not hot. And stiff. Was it basa?

There were plenty of veggies that came with both entrees and the fried ball actually contained fried rice which was a pleasant surprise. I initially thought it was a large potato tater.

Koto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Something Dark and Wicked

Funnel Cloud over Calgary

Funnel Cloud over Calgary

Something dark and wicked rolled our way on Wednesday. I was in line at the Richmond Registry in Westhills when an Alberta alert came over the television screen that warned us of a tornado. Minutes later, I heard the rumbling in the line as some lady was talking about a funnel cloud outside. Everybody in the registry was getting nervous.

When I stepped out to the parking lot, there were a bunch of kids with their smartphones pointed west. I walked up to my car and looked over to the west. There in plain sight was a large funnel cloud that was halfway to the ground. This was the closest I have ever been to a funnel cloud.

I took a snap of it and jumped into the car. It started hailing as people bolted out of the parking lot. The roads were getting busy as people were hurrying out of the area. The winds started to pick up and the hail became larger. I drove east to get out of the way of the tornado that was forming behind me.

For once in my life, I felt for my friend Todd, who lives in Oklahoma City (right in the dab of tornado alley) and works as a Senior Claims Adjuster, helping people pick up their lives after a tornado rips through their home.

A Burst of Flavour?

Steak and Sushi

Steak and Sushi

When you talk about steak houses in Calgary, you don’t normally think of Joey’s at Barlow. But we made a mistake of booking a dinner reservation there last week and hoping for something else.

I haven’t been to Joey’s for some time but I used to order their ‘Burst’, a nice refreshing concoction made up of 7-up or Sprite and a scoop of blended fruit. It used to contain more chunks of fruit in it but now, it’s thin out like a lemonade. They give a free refill but after that, you have to buy a new drink. Be careful with that one. It’s not written anywhere and they assume you know.

The menu had changed over the years and the jambalaya that we had grown to love is now gone. In place of some fantastic dishes is now sushi. I usually don’t order Japanese food in a non-Japanese cuisine restaurant but I made an exception. I ordered the Steak and Sushi entree for $25, hoping it would fill my empty stomach but I am sorry to say that I was still hungry after the meal. The sushi was ok but I was really disappointed when I saw the steak. It was small to begin with but they served it sliced up. Perhaps if they left it whole, it might have lasted longer. When it’s cut up for you, it’s easy to count the number of pieces with just one hand.

JOEY Barlow on Urbanspoon

Not a Milestone

Prime Rib

Prime Rib

Lobster Jambalaya

Lobster Jambalaya

After eating out three days in a roll, I am cooking dinner at home tonight. Last night, we ate at Milestone’s at Market Mall and was again, disappointed. As entrees, I had to try their new menu item, the ‘Lobster Jambalaya’ ($26) and the ‘Prime Rib’ dinner.

The jambalaya was dry and uninteresting. I found 2-3 shrimps in it and 1 piece of lobster, a small section of the claw. It was the size of two ice cream scoops with 4 slices of grilled pita bread. The rice was overcooked and dry. Definitely, not worth the money.

The prime rib was dry as well. The edges were very tasty from the seasoning but not on the inside. It was served on top of some veggies and came with a baked potato. There were fried onions alongside like you would see at Outback but nothing like their blooming onion.
Milestones Grill + Bar on Urbanspoon

 

 

A little Cajun in Elbow Valley

Cajun Burger

Cajun Burger

If you want to burn your mouth off then you have to try the new Cajun burger at the Elbow Springs Golf Clubhouse. Actually, it wasn’t that hot but I have to admit, it was scary when they served it to me. The first thing to see is all the jalapeno pepper slices on top and very little of anything else.

The menu at the clubhouse has changed for the better. There are more items on the menu and there is a clear distinction between lunch items and dinner items. Gone is the steak sandwich served over garlic bread and replaced with 3 new steak dinners in the $25 to $30 range.

From the new menu, the Cajun burger is worth trying. It is 100% Alberta beef and is served with a good dose of homemade chili and topped with fresh jalapeno peppers (as pictured). Instead of the usual relish, they use guacamole on the bottom side of the bun. This makes it really messy to eat but then, that’s what you expect from a burger of this size.

With the burger, you get a choice of sides that range from soup of the day to yam fries. I recommend the soup, salad or regular fries but for the yam fries, I think they slice it too thin. I felt like chewing into cardboard for some reason.

I hope you get a chance to play here and try out the new menu. Even if you don’t play golf, come out and try this burger. If you like spicy then it is worth the drive here.

 

Italian Cafeteria

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

To all Via Cibo fans, sorry about the title of my post but I mean it in a good way because I think the owners of it has it right. The pasta is delicious and fast. Who says good food has to take a long time to prepare?

At Via Cibo, join the line at the front door and choose from a menu up high. There are pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizza, salads, drinks and gelato.

I wanted something extra spicy so I ordered the Broccolini and Sausage pasta. There is a milder version but if you want some heat, make sure you ask for ‘extra spice’. You get a choice of penne or linguini so I chose the linguini. The broccolini was chopped up into small pieces, almost unrecognizable small. I forgot for a moment what the green stuff was and thought they were green onions. The sausage was firm and was told it was homemade.

The pizza looked good and authentic. It is like Wolfgang Puck’s pizza, flat and crusty. There’s also a kid’s menu which are smaller versions of the big adult’s menu. The kid sized pizza is a little larger than a DVD and the adult size is more like a frisbee.

Pasta is served with a slice of bread and if you ask, they will accompany your meal with a free glass of iced water. They also serve still and mineral water if you wish.
Via Cibo on Urbanspoon

Lucky in May

Golf Courses Opened?

Golf Courses Opened?

Here’s something to be envied about. I received an email from the SilverRock Resort in La Quinta, CA informing me that the green fees in April will be reduced by 35%. If you have played there before then you would know that this is quite a saving because the regular green fees are $185 per person. It’s a nice course to play on and it has some history too. Back when Bob Hope was around, SilverRock was home to the Bob Hope Invitational golf tournament. After Bob Hope passed away, the tournament was renamed to the Humana Golf Challenge and the tournament was moved to PGA West and the La Quinta Resort courses.

I am envious that SilverRock can afford to reduce the rates when our local golf courses haven’t even opened yet. If we are lucky, driving ranges will be open in April but I have a sneaky feeling that the courses won’t open until after the long weekend in May. By then, SilverRock would reduce the rates further to 50% off.

Disney Out? Disney In

Jack Singer Hall

Jack Singer Hall

The quickest way to get some culture in you is to attend a concert at the Jack Singer Hall. Last week, I got free tickets to see Disney in Concert performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (or CPO). I would have easily skipped the event because after living in Anaheim for a year and going to Disneyland almost every other week, you can say I was Disney’d out.

The tickets I received were pretty good. It was dead centre and in the orchestra section in Row O. From where I was sitting, I had a commanding view of the entire orchestra and stage. I felt sorry for the people in Row A and B because they were too close to the stage. If it was Celine Dion then they would have had an advantage over me but for the Disney Concert, I think I had the best seats in the house.

There’s something magical about the Jack Singer Hall. First of, it’s cozy and intimate versus the Jubilee Auditorium which is too large for this kind of venue. Second, the sound is incredible in the Jack Singer Hall. Everything sounds so natural and real. You could hear every instrument in its clarity and tone. And that’s why the CPO plays here and not at the Jubilee.

When the concert started, I was amazed at myself. I was actually enjoying the tunes and singing along too. They played all the favourites including Colour of the Wind from Pocahontas, Circle of Life from Lion King and A Whole New World from Aladdin. Along with the CPO, there were four vocalists that sung their hearts out. And they were good too.

The vocalists were Candice Nicole, Whitney Kaufman, Aaron Phillips and Andrew Johnson. One of them used to work for Disney and I can tell you, she played the part of Belle in the Beauty and the Beast and Ariel in the Little Mermaid very well.

Lemon Garden, next to OK

Cantonese Chow Mein

Cantonese Chow Mein

When the leaves begin to turn and the winds start to blow, it is time to bring your vehicle in for a winter changeover. I have been bringing my tires to OK Tires on Richmond Road for a few years and continue to like their service. They are honest and upfront with you which is very important in my opinion.

On this occasion, I was getting my rear brakes done so it was going to take a few hours.  I decided to walk out and have an early lunch. To my right and across the street was an interesting place called Teaspoon. I yelped it and found that it served Persian food. That would had been my first choice but unfortunately, they weren’t open yet. Something told me to come back and try again.

To my left and down the block slightly is Lemon Garden, a Chinese and Western restaurant. Their menu was extensive with both Chinese dishes and Western dishes. They open at 10:00am for breakfast or early lunch. I wanted to try their Chow Mein to see if it was any good. Scanning the menu, I noticed they have Singapore Fried Noodles and Shanghai style thick noodles which is a good sign for a noodle house. They also have won ton and wor won ton which is something to try next time I visit.

I ordered the Cantonese Chow Mein because it has tidbits of everything ranging from BBQ Pork to shrimp. It’s usually the safe bet when it comes to ordering chow mein. After a short wait, the waitress brought it over along with hot sauce and chili oil. The dish was quite large (for one) and I think it was meant to be shared.

On taste, I would give it a rating of 3.5 out of 5. I was expecting the noodles to be crispy rather than soggy but it was reasonably cooked well. Would I return? Probably in the spring when I change over my tires.

Lemon Garden on Urbanspoon