Friday, February 8, 2013

NOtaBLE - Calgary, AB

Since moving to the wild, wild West of Canada two years ago, I have missed a total of three flights back home. A pretty terrible statistic by anyone’s standard, considering I only fly back two to three times a year. I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping in Calgary, literally only a few hours before my evening flight that day, and had plans to meet my companion later on that afternoon for lunch. My companion arrived at Market Mall just a little after 2PM for our lunch date. As he was a native of Calgary and I was already pushing my time constraints for my 6PM flight, he suggested a lunch place “just around the corner” that he remembered from the days back when he was still living there. Unfortunately for me, my companion is a bit of a pun-maker and said the restaurant we were going to was likely to have “no tables” for our lunch. We pulled into a secret heated, underground parking lot (which I discovered while frantically calling the restaurant for a table) into a quaint little restaurant, by the name of NOtaBLE, nestled in a less than quaint neighbourhood.

NOtaBLE – a restaurant owned by Iron Chef Michael Nobles – features a modern open-kitchen concept with tall bar-style tables and stools at the front of the restaurant. Luckily, for a more traditional (and shorter!) diner like me, the restaurant had a large dining area towards the back with more traditional wooden tables and booths. We quickly perused the menu and decided on the Terriyaki-glazed salmon belly with pickled daikon, oven-roasted chicken-brie-arugula panini with Siracha mayo served with artisan greens, and their monthly burger inspiration (only after finding out that their 12-hour braised and rotisserie finished brisket sandwich was out for the afternoon) served with butternut squash soup.

Chicken, brie, and arugula panini with Siracha mayo
served with Artisan greens and Provencale dressing
As we were dining in between peak hours, the sandwich and burgers came out in fairly reasonable time after placing our order. The chicken panini had a nice crisp panini-crunch to it and the chicken and arugula flavours blended well with the Siracha mayo. Although the flavour of the sandwich dip complimented the panini nicely, it lacked any actual Siracha flavour and punch, which was quite unfortunate considering my affinity for Siracha. In fact, one of the main reasons I ordered my dish was for the Siracha mayo, which turned out much less impressive than I had imagined when ordering. In addition, the sandwich was a lot smaller than I had expected and the amount of chicken was definitely not as filling as I had hoped. The artisan greens was served with Provencale dressing and sprinkled with chopped nuts. It was a fairly standard salad for a higher-end dining establishment, but I nevertheless enjoyed it.

The burger inspiration of the month that my companion ordered consisted of a generous patty of beef, white cheddar, and head lettuce. The burger itself was quite juicy and just one bite of my companion’s burger left my hand dripping with sauce. I found the head lettuce appreciably under-ripe, which was a little underwhelming to the burger and a definite “rookie” mistake for an iron chef-owned restaurant. Overall, though the patty was quite flavourful, the burger itself was fairly standard for an $18 burger. The next two dishes were definitely my favourite of the day. My companion decided to order the butternut squash soup with his burger – one of my favourite appetizers / side dishes for a meal. On this particular occasion, however, I opted against ordering a soup as I wasn’t extremely hungry and thought the combination of a soup and sandwich would sit too heavily in my stomach for take-off back to Ontario. NOtaBLE’s version of the butternut squash was a light, yet creamy, soup with an assortment of herb-rich flavours in each spoon – simply delicious and a decision I definitely regretted later on the plane.

Burger inspiration of the month
served with butternut squash soup
We were halfway done both of sandwiches by the time we realized that our salmon appetizer had not yet arrived. We promptly informed the server and she quickly brought out our salmon teriyaki appetizer. The salmon was one of the best cooked salmon I and my companion have ever had the chance to try! The salmon was perfectly charred with a tiny bit of smoke-flavour and crisp on the outside, while being exquisitely soft, moist – but NOT undercooked or raw – on the inside. Pure, blissful magic-type of cooking and a definite must try if having lunch at NOtaBLE.

I only found out the Chef Michael Noble was an Iron Chef while writing this article. For a spontaneous “just around the corner” lunch place, NOtaBLE was pretty good with some memorable high points. Just to add a plug for the service – we did get our salmon teriyaki belly free of charge as they forgot to serve it as an appetizer. However, there were some noticeable low points, especially with the size of the chicken sandwich and lack of kick in the Siracho mayo, which were especially disappointing considering Chef Micheal Noble is an Iron Chef.

Top Pick of the Day: Teriyaki-glazed salmon belly and butternut squash soup

Rating: 4/5 Erics'

NOtaBLE on Urbanspoon

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