Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WURST Restaurant & Beer Hall - Calgary, AB

One of the reasons I like Calgary as a city is that, in many ways, it reminds me a lot of home. Calgary, like Ottawa, spends a great deal of time (and I’m sure money) in just beautifying the city; as a result, walking, biking, or even just a late-night drive through the city is a great experience. Similar to Ottawa, Calgary also has many little niche neighbourhoods that play host to a special little restaurant, each with a character of its own. One of the restaurants that has recently appeared on Calgary’s dining scene is WURST Restaurant & Beer Hall.

After a full day of snowboarding at Lake Louise and my companion’s impending departure back to Edmonton later that afternoon (and mine back to Middle-of-Nowhere, AB), we decided that a lunch date was in order. My companion had been to WURST a number of times before and remembered it offered a brunch menu – and who can say no to brunch! After a quick scan on Urbanspoon, I was a little hesitant on the choice of restaurant: WURST had earned a measly 60% on Urbanspoon. My companion nevertheless insisted that WURST was worth a try and we ended up at WURST at around 2PM for brunch (who was I to argue with a native Calgarian anyway?). WURST markets itself as a Bavarian-themed restaurant and beer hall, and boy does it take the theme seriously! When I first walked into the restaurant, the first thing that struck me was the long row of trees adorned with large, white lights. I thought it was absolutely charming and really was reminiscent of the biergartens I had been to during my time in Germany. I could only imagine how much prettier the lights, trees, and restaurant would look if we had dined at dinner instead of on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The staff, in keeping with the theme, were dressed in adorable German waitressing outfits (though I assure you, most German restaurants in Germany – unless themed – do not follow the same dress code as WURST anymore).
WURST Cappuccino
After a quick peek at the rather small brunch menu, we were ready to order: I ordered the Croque Madame ($16) and a cappuccino while my companion – who loves eggs Benedict – decided on Smoked Salmon & Double Cream Brie Benedict ($18) and fresh orange juice. Our drinks were served in a very timely manner. I particularly enjoyed the cappuccino, served with brown sugar: it was teaming with perfectly foamed milk and had a smooth and deep, though not overpoweringly bitter coffee taste. It tasted very similar to the cappuccinos I used to buy from European street vendors for 1€ every morning. It was the perfect cappuccino and instantly brightened my day.

Croque Madame
We were not kept waiting long before our brunch dishes were served. My Croque Madame was composed of Speck ham, Mornay sauce, and sunny-side up egg on sourdough served with potatoes and mixed green salad. The sunny-side up egg was cooked perfectly and the Mornay sauce was combined with the sunny-side up egg in a very interesting way: it seemed as if the Mornay sauce was mixed or cooked into the egg white itself! The Mornay sauce was inseparable from the egg whites and added a unique, creamy texture and taste to the sunny-side up egg that definitely prevented the egg from getting boring. The Speck ham was well-cooked, though not as flavourful as the Speck ham from the mother country. The sunny-side egg, Mornay sauce, and sourdough, mix, was nevertheless a great- and definitely unique-tasting combination. The potatoes were seasoned and fried nicely without being overly heavy or oily and the mixed green salad (with my favourite – Arugula!) was light and refreshing. A great dish with big enough proportions that I had enough left over for an amazing lunch the next day.

Smoked Salmon & Double Cream Brie Eggs Benedict
The Smoked Salmon & Double Cream Brie Benedict was topped with fried capers and Hollandaise sauce and served on a cheese and herb biscuit with potatoes and mixed green salad. The smoked salmon and brie cheese (I love brie!) was an excellent combination: the saltiness of the smoked salmon was very well complimented by the creaminess and smoothness of the brie cheese. The Hollandaise sauce was light, creamy, and flavourful without overpowering the distinct taste of smoked salmon. The only problem I had with the dish was that the cheese and herb biscuit made the entire bite much too heavy for my liking (and I already find eggs Benedict, especially with Hollandaise sauce, to be too heavy on its own). Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable dish and probably one of my favourite egg Benedict dishes I've ever had.

Overall, WURST Restaurant and Beer Hall provided an excellent dining experience: the staff were friendly (and interestingly uniformed), the restaurant was absolutely beautiful, and the food was both unique and flavourful. It has an undeservedly poor rating on Urbanspoon due to its basement beer hall (which sounds like a lawless Medieval/Viking/Pirate tavern from some of the reviews!), but the restaurant is definitely worth a try, especially if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind dining experience and a traditional German brunch! As my companion would say, definitely not the "WURST" restaurant we've been to.

Top Pick of the Day: Cappuccino and Salmon & Brie Eggs Benedict (minus the biscuit)

Rating: 4/5 Erics'

WURST Restaurant and Beer Hall on Urbanspoon

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