Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Alloy - All from the Heart

Jamesons Pinapple Maple Sour
Alloy was recently listed by Avenue Magazine Calgary as number six in their Top Ten Restaurants in Calgary for 2012. We chose Alloy on the recommendation of my girlfriend @bluebirdsy who’d been there once before and enjoyed it. The restaurant itself is located in an industrial area off McLeod Trail, in a building that used to house t-shirts (according to @blubirdsy). The building itself doesn’t look like a restaurant from the outside, but once you enter, it’s a beautifully decorated room filled with elegant white booths, cherry blossoms, and pink lit walls.

Once seated, we quickly chose some drinks, and Uri Heilik, who is one of the co-owners of Alloy greeted us. Connie DeSousa from Charcut had emailed to let him know we were coming, and he warned us that the kitchen would be sending out a few surprises throughout the night.

Lobster Tempura with Orange Ponzu
We finally got down to the task of choosing the appetizers and mains we wanted and ordered. No sooner did we order did a complimentary hummus drizzled with olive oil and pine nuts, served with naan bread arrived. The bread was fresh, soft and warm, acting as the perfect vehicle for the well-seasoned hummus, with the pine nuts adding a nice crunchy texture.

Uri returned with complimentary beverages, a non-alcoholic blood orange fizz that was well balanced, neither too tart nor too sweet, and very smooth. He also presented a pineapple maple sour made with Jamesons Irish Whiskey that was created by the manager of Alloy. This drink was part of a contest to concoct a drink for Jamesons in order to win a chance to represent them at a trade show in Ireland. It was mildly sweet without being able to detect the normally strong whisky taste, meaning it could be somewhat dangerous to drink too quickly.

Pistachio Crusted Seared Scallops
Next came more surprises in the form of curried pineapple bites which were mildly spicy, very juicy, and refreshing, with a hint of ginger at the end. We were also presented with a lobster tempura with orange ponzu sauce that had a very crispy outer shell, which gave way easily to the super smooth lobster within. The citrusy ponzu sauce complimented the lobster extremely well without over powering the delicate flavor. Even my vegetarian girlfriend @bluebirdsy couldn’t resist trying a bite.

After consuming three unexpected courses, we finally got down to eating the courses we ordered. First truffle gnocchi with field mushrooms, cream and parmesan, which was smooth and incredibly creamy. The truffle flavor was subtle and didn’t overwhelm the dish, allowing you to taste the perfectly cooked mushrooms as well. The tomato salad was coated delicately with mildly sweet white balsamic and the goat cheese croquettes were crispy on the outside but velvety soft inside with a nice tangy finish. The pistachio crusted seared scallops were plump, buttery, and perfectly cooked, hooves down the best scallops we’ve anywhere had since a trip to Chef Tom DouglasDahlia Lounge in Seattle in 2007. The pistachios added a nice crunchy contrast to the incredibly soft scallops, and the coconut sauce was very mild so it didn’t overwhelm the delicate taste.

Duck Duo
After a brief reprieve, we started in on our mains knowing we likely wouldn’t finish them all if we wanted to try dessert, considering the portions were much larger than I thought they would be. The fettuccine carbornara was served with a deep fired egg yolk a top the noodles. Cracking it open and mixing it with the noodles resulted in incredibly luscious and coated noodles with a slight peppery taste. The duck duo consisted of both a roasted breast and a confit duck leg, served with sour cherry ginger glaze and sweet potato gnocchi. The sweet potato gnocchi was incredibly fluffy and pillow light. The duck breast was cooked beautifully to a medium rare and the confit duck leg was the best I’ve tasted to date! The duck skin is incredibly thin, soft, and melts in your mouth, and the meat practically falls off the bone with a slight prod with a fork. The female human also had feeb short ribs with a mandarin bbq sauce, butternut squash puree and yam crisps. She said the short ribs were so incredibly tender that she practically didn’t have to chew it. She also said it was moist and the bbq sauce was mildly sweet, with the butternut squash puree underneath being well seasoned.

Cherry Blossoms = Awesome Decor
We decided to split dessert and ordered cholado, consisting of fresh fruit, sweet coconut reduction and a trio of sorbet. The flavors that evening were kiwi, lychee and mango, all of which tasted like real, fresh fruit, none were very sweet, but all were very refreshing. The big hit however was the chocolate ice cream sandwich. Everyone fought each other for the dark chocolate gelato that had a dark and rich chocolate taste without being sweet, meanwhile the chocolate cookie stayed crisp throughout.

The service throughout the evening was friendly, attentive and quick, the complete opposite of our experience at Anju the evening before. Before we had spent any time with the menu, the server asked for dietary restrictions or allergies so she could review the menu with us and let us know what dishes would be safe and what alterations could be made to other dishes, so we didn’t spend too much time pouring over the menu without knowing what was and wasn’t possible. She was also quick to return to the table to fold a napkin if someone left the table to go to the washroom, refill water glasses, and ensured no other drinks or requests were needed whenever she visited the table either serving or clearing. It was clear that as she was serving other tables, she was always keeping an eye on all her tables to ensure she was there if someone needed her. She was friendly without being over friendly, always sharing her favorites with us when we were unsure of a dish.
Uri and The Moo

Uri was a very friendly, talkative, and welcoming host, checking in on us several times, as well as other tables in the restaurant. He also assisted in serving and clearing tables when required throughout the restaurant. My favorite moment was when I asked if Uri would mind having his photo taken with me and he told me he was honored, as he wasn’t sure if that was allowed since he noticed that there very few photos of this Moo with humans on my blog.

We left Alloy happy, full, and with leftovers. We will definitely be revisiting them on a return visit to Calgary and they are tied with Charcut for our two favorite restaurants in Calgary. I definitely recommend checking out Alloy if you’re looking for a fine dining experience, without the pretentious atmosphere, attitude, or small portion sizes.

More photos at PhotoBucket.

Alloy Restaurant
220 42 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB  T2G 1Y4
Twitter: @AlloyRestaurant

 Alloy on Urbanspoon

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