Tubby Dog – Calgary

*Full Disclosure: Nerd Alert! Once a month, usually on a Sunday, some very fantastic people and myself get together to play some good old fashioned Dungeons and Dragons. Usually, when it’s Jobin Thievesalot’s turn to host, we go to some pretty sweet places. Last Sunday, that place was Tubby Dog.

Nestled along 17th Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Street is a wee gem of a wiener joint.

Upon entering Tubby Dog, one feels thrust into the kitchsy, arcade, diner magic of the ’80s (Tubby was actually established in ’05). Arcade games, including Mrs. Pac Man and Street Fighter line two walls, bordered by a long red counter and booth seating.

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Old country music blares from the speakers. Photos and posters of film stars bedeck the walls and cabinets, for whatever intriguing reason, packed with all variety of goods including turkey gizzards and squeeze cheese decorate two corners.

All in, it’s like walking into some nostalgic teenage hangout- including a mysterious, greasy bit of perfume.

Now, Tubby is not all about the Dogs. It’s also about Tacos (on Tuesday, obvs), and Burgers (one Wednesday). The arcade games aren’t just there for show and the odd game, as the venue also hosts Thursday Night Gaming, and chalkboards keep track of who games supreme.

While you can create your own dog, I highly recommend going with one of the carefully, and sometimes crazily crafted Tubby Dog creations. Tubby Dog is your classic chili; Sumo includes wasabi and pickled ginger; PBJ includes peanut butter and jelly, obvs. But also Cap’n Crunch which ermagherd!

But the particular dog that called to me on this day was the A-Bomb. Cheese, bacon, mayo, mustard and potato chips, yes potato chips. (I held the ketchup). Also friends, this is not just some shredded melty cheese, which on its own is awesome. This was NACHO CHEESE. If I had nacho cheese instead of blood in my veins, I would be a happy camper.

DAMN DOG! This. Was. Good.

Tubby has a pretty sweet collection of beers – or hard stuff – to go with your dog, but I washed mine down with a giant ass coca cola. Traditionalist.

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CHEZZZZZZZ! Yes, there’s a wiener in there.

Tubby also gets brownie points for serving pickled eggs, because pickled eggs are the bomb.

Atmosphere: 5
Food: 4
Service: 4

Tubby Dog Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lac Viet – Calgary

While we’ve been having a pretty mild cold season in the scheme of things, some nights there is still quite the bite in the wind so a lady needs some pho in her belly.

En route to the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Centre Christmas Market awhile back, we stopped in at Lac Viet for some Vietnamese love.

We’ve Skipped the Dishes with Lac Viet before but this was the first time inside. Your usual Vietnamese restaurant template with simple, clean lines, people coming in and out for take out, and the usual figurines including the lucky cat.

For drinks, my lady friend went with the Vietnamese Coffee and I, an ice cold Tiger beer. We started with some crispy fried won-tons and they were freaking delish.

Siddall went for the 41. Charbroiled chicken and lemon grass with spring rolls, and I went with the 11. Special beef noodle soup with medium rare, well done, tendon, tripe and beef balls, but I also asked for it spicy.

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Lac Viet is not stingy on portions and their product is always nice and fresh. Siddall inhaled her vermicelli and my soup, while not as spicy as I would of liked, was like a warm hug (this from someone not particularly fond of hugs).

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This is only the second time I’ve tried tripe in a pho. The first being un-memorable (is that a word?) Anyways, Lac Viet won me back on the tripe train as the bits of cow stomach where tender and well flavoured. The tendy was fatty and gorgeous and the beef balls little bites of love.

Lac Viet Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Imperial Dynasty – Calgary

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

At least I figured that much when we checked out Imperial Dynasty on Country Hills Blvd. for date night this week.

In the grand scheme of buffets, Imperial Dynasty is on the smaller size, while the tables weren’t necessarily buzzing, there were people constantly in and out ordering take-out and picking up.

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Our server was very pleasant, while not always prompt, but that’s the best part about a buffet, you serve yourself.

The actual buffet table was short but very sweet. The crispy chicken wings, which were hot out of the kitchen were salty, hot nuggets of lovely. The ginger beef was some of the best I’ve had … ever, though on the sweet side instead of the hot side if that’s your jam.

The hot and sour soup was more sour than hot, but excellent flavour nonetheless. And the fried rice, of which I had more than one helping was excellent. The dumplings didn’t quite make the cut however, as they were a bit pasty, but the filling was great with nice hints of pork and ginger.

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Accompanying your usual jello and fruit selection at the end of the buffet was an angel food cake with icing, almond cookies and some sort of jello marshmellow concoction – small white squares of fluffy sweetness. If you know what they are, help a sister out because they were tasty.

After dinner we headed over to the Landmark Cinema’s to recline and check out Wonder. If you have a heart you’ll cry a lot. If you don’t have a heart, you’ll still tear up. The film is a really great portrayal of the importance of being kind, so get your sappy pants on and watch it – or buy the book, because books are the bomb.

Imperial Dynasty Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Without Papers – Calgary

Sometimes a lady just needs a night out with her bestest lady friends and for me that night was last night.

Katie, Kelsey (yes, another one) and I met in Inglewood for a two-part date night.

Part 1: Without Papers

We started with dinner at Without Papers.

If you haven’t been, Without Papers is between 11th and 12th Street on Ninth Avenue in the lovely and historical community of Inglewood. It can be a bit of a sneaky blighter to find as it’s just a door and a sign, but well worth it. Up a decent sized stairway to pizza you’re welcomed by the warm, doughy smells of the joint.

Old Pink Panther episodes were playing on two walls and the chefs were buzzing around in the open concept kitchen. Lighting is at romantic capacity (hence the mediocre pics), but certainly sets the mood. And, this place is hot, like bare your shoulders in Calgary in November temperature, so FYI. I was ahead of the ladies so of course started drinking without them. Having recently fallen in love with sour beer after a trip to Annex Ale Project, I ordered the daily special, High Line Brewery’s Heartless Romantic Sour.

What a lovely little gem this was. And sour. If you like sour, you’ll love this beer. I understand sour can be an adjustment for a beverage like beer, but damn this was good. Highly recommend.

The three of us went family style and shared a salad and two pizzas. And let me tell you, the salad was a freaking revelation.

I eat a lot of food and I usually enjoy it, a lot. But Without Paper’s Roasted Beet Salad with cumin, caraway, chevre and balsamic vinaigrette is on a whole different plane. “Yeah, but it’s just a beet salad!” you might say. And I would say the difference is the cumin and the caraway. Damn girl. Just give it a go and let me know what you think, okay?

For pizzas we went with the evening special, the Salty Dog (prosciutto, olives, red onions), and Parma (tomato sauce, prosciutto, arugula, mozza, parmigiano).

The Salty Dog was indeed, salty. But in a good way, not an overwhelming way, mostly because of the olives. A tasty pizza, especially with the addition of chili oil and chili flakes. The chilis are served in two small dishes and our server recommended mixing them to create a paste – excellent decision.

The Parma is a classic. I totally dig arugula on a pizza and the chunks of parmigiano were large and in charge adding a lot of flavour.

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Dessert was an obvious cap to dinner so we ordered the chocolate tart with meringue and the Mars Bar Ice Cream. From the way the server chatted about it, it sounds like Without Papers makes their ice cream in house. The Mars Bar Ice Cream was certainly a win, and while I don’t like it as a beer, I’d love to try their IPA Ice Cream one day.

The tart was rich and chocolaty and paired delightfully with the soft, creamy meringue. My beer pairing recommendation? Big Rock Traditional.

Without Papers Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Part 2:

After dinner we went two doors east to the 4Cats Arts Studio. This place is amazing. While Kelsey and I thought we were just going in to paint a pottery owl cup, we were indeed there to build the thing from scratch. 4Cats has great deals on making your own cups – 2 for $35 – and you get three visits out of the deal. 1. Build cup. 2. Glaze cup. 3. Pick up completed cup.

The nice thing too, is your cup can be whatever you want it to be. We were there to make penguins and to be honest mine turned out looking like an owl, or an old hunter in sunglasses – hard to say.

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Phil, Calvin and David. Photo by Kelsey (the other one).

 

High Rollers – Banff

A lot of times people will go to a bowling alley and happen to eat. But it’s not that often that people will go to a bowling alley to eat, and happen to bowl.

We did just that hitting up High Rollers in Banff after Cody told us not only was the pizza tasty, it wouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. And while we did intend to bowl, we were unable to as we arrived at 9:30 pm and the next reservation was 12:30 am. I don’t know about you, but that’s way past my bedtime, so if you want to toss some balls, make a reservation.

On to the good stuff, High Rollers has an impressive pizza menu, but also gets kudos for their very impressive beer selection boasting 48 taps – in the form of a wee bowling pin of course. There are stouts and porters, ales, wheat, lagers and IPAs in pints, growlers or even flights.

Because it was on special, we shared a $10 margarita mug. This wasn’t your typical margarita though and came with the addition of Red Bull and passion fruit. I totally missed our server mentioning the Red Bull (of which I am not a fan), but the tequila and passion fruit hid it well, and it was a pretty tasty beverage.

For eats Siddall went with the Margherita (tomatoes, basil oil) and I went with The Mac n’ Cheese (Mac n’ Cheese, bacon, bread crumbs).

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High Rollers serves on more of a traditional Italian crust, so a bit thing and almost bubbly at the edges, a style I far prefer to the cardboard renditions one can get at the local dial-a-pizza joints.

The margherita was hot and fresh, and light to eat. The Mac n’ Cheese was actually a delight. Maybe a bit short on salt but a really successful bite. I find that the real win with a pizza is how it holds up as lunch the next day, and if possible, it was even better after being warmed in the oven for a bit as leftovers.

The menu isn’t strictly pizza, also offering up traditional wings, nachos, poutine and even salads.

We’ll be back, and maybe we’ll bowl this time.

Atmosphere: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Food: 3.5

Park Distillery – Banff

In case you haven’t noticed, cocktails, mostly craft cocktails, have made a roaring comeback lately (but are they still?). And where there are cocktails, there is alcohol, so it’s fitting distilleries are popping up just like a lot of craft breweries in Alberta right now.

We’ve been out to Eau Claire Distillery and loved it, obvs will have to return to share with you all on here But when in Banff awhile back we checked out one of the newer kids in town, Park Distillery.

With primo location right on Banff Avenue, the distillery has tall ceilings, dark paint and a lot of metallic flourishes. The entire back wall is a window into the actual distillery, and photos depict life around the mountain town in days gone by.

We sat at the bar because we’re cool like that, and like creeping on bartenders when their mixing. High five mixologists!

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Our first visit, was for cocktails only as we were headed to Kingsmen: The Golden Circle (It was okay, not as good as the first, but okay).

Siddall started with the CPR Sipper (Blanco tequila, triple sec, campari, strawberry puree, lemon jice and agave nectar). This was a nice, sweet sipper indeed. But my friends, let me draw your attention to the Sawback (Park Chili Vodka, triple sec, pineapple juice, lime juice and agave nectar). Sweet baby unicorns, this is probably the best cocktail I’ve ever tasted. The sweet of the pineapple is tempered by that sweet beauty that is Park’s Chili Vodka. The kick on that beast is divine. Try it. Tomorrow.

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CPR Sipper, and the exalted Sawback

Having time for one more before we hit the pictures, we shared the Mystic Peak (bourbon, peach juice reduction, agave nectar and bitters). Bourbon and peach really do have quite the love affair. This too was a winner, but definitely more a sipper than a tipper.

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Mystic Peak – and a tea light

So, the very next day in fact, a snowy, postcard day, we were seeking out some lunch and went to…Park Distillery again. We did a bit of a hodge podge of snacks sharing the Park Caesar (baby gem, cornbread crouton, bacon, parm, roasted garlic dressing), pork croquettes (BBQ pork, panko, rosemary slat, maple & rye mustard) and the fish tacos (battered red snapper, salsa verde, lime crema, radish and cilantro).

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First off, Park was not stingy on the parm, and for that I am always grateful. The baby gem leaves were a bit on the large size so I acted an uncouth dinner and went at it with my butter knife. The cornbread croutons were a brilliant idea, but a bit on the soft side. The dressing was the real winner of the salad as there was enough garlic in there to kill a dark dungeon full of vampires.

The croquettes were hot and jam packed with pork. The filling flavour was pulled pork where we had imagined a more savoury flavour but when paired with the maple and rye mustard was delish.

The winner of the day was the fish tacos. Breaded beautifully and packing a tiny punch, I would order these again before you knock someone out with my roasted garlic dressing breath. And, of course, I had to have one more Sawback before we left for home.

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Atmosphere: 3.5
Service: 4
Food: 3
Cocktails: 4.5

Park Distillery Restaurant + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato