Saturday, March 23, 2013

Yellow Door Bistro - Calgary, AB

After spending a month in a town of 2000 people without so much as a Tim Hortons or McDonalds, I was practically salivating by the time I returned to Calgary. Luckily I have friends who are always as eager to eat as I am, so on a recent Friday we headed down to Yellow Door Bistro, the new restaurant at Hotel Arts.
As we stepped into the restaurant, we were blown away by the décor. It was like stepping into Alice’s Wonderland. A giant horse statue greeted us at the entrance, and the other elements of the room worked to create an equally whimsical vibe, from the domed swivel chairs fit for an evil genius, to the rustic shutters adorning the walls, to the modern artwork that hung above our table. Everything about Yellow Door Bistro screams trendy, and the wine list is even brought on an iPad.
Yellow Door Bistro serves up bistro-inspired cuisine with a contemporary flair. Perhaps because we were so enamoured with the décor, we had a hard time deciding what to order. We debated between three appetizers and a flatbread before settling on the French onion soup and the beef tenderloin tartare to start. I didn’t have a chance to sample the soup, but my friend was quite pleased with it, though she mentioned she couldn’t taste the oxtail described on the menu.

My introduction to tartare was in a sketchy café in Paris with Nhi. What came to the table looked exactly like the raw ground beef I buy at Superstore, and had about as much flavor. As the waiter plopped down jars of Worcestershire sauce and mustard, we looked at each other in confusion until the waiter came back to demonstrate that you had to season the beef yourself. But even with the seasoning, the tartare was absolutely disgusting. Scarred from that experience, I usually stay away from tartare. But I am glad I tried Yellow Door Bistro's version, because it was amazing. It was seasoned with mustard, capers, cornichon, and shallots, and topped with a raw egg yolk. Each bite was a burst of perfectly balanced flavors.
For my main, I ordered the Noble Farms duck cassoulet consisting of sous-vide duck breast, pork belly, and confit leg served on top of a white bean mixture. Sous-vide involves cooking meat inside of an airtight bag placed in a water bath, and is meant to seal in juices and prevent the meat from becoming overdone. The duck was moist, flavorful, and perfectly cooked. Likewise, the pork belly was seasoned really well and melt-in-your-mouth tender, but I actually had a difficult time finishing my plate. The bean mixture had pieces of duck mixed in, which tied the dish together but really pushed it over the top (not in a good way). There was just too much richness with no contrasting element to break it up. It may have been personal preference though, because the sole complaint from my friend who ordered the same dish was that there wasn't enough pork belly!
Another friend ordered the seafood bouillabaise with mussels, clams, and prawns served in a tomato saffron broth. The broth was complex and flavorful, but she was not impressed by the seafood itself, finding the shrimp chewy.
After dinner, we asked if we could have our dessert on the couches lining one wall because they just looked so comfortable. We chose to split the classic lemon curd tart with lavender meringue and raspberry sorbet. It was beautiful to look at, topped with a piece of chocolate adorned with the Yellow Door Bistro logo. I thought the tart could have used more meringue though, and none of us could taste even a hint of lavender. Our waiter also brought complementary glasses of the house sparkling wine, which was a nice way to end the evening.
Although I wasn't blown away by the food, I would definitely come back to Yellow Door Bistro, perhaps for lunch (the PEI lobster roll and the pork belly BLT look particularly tasty). Where Yellow Door Bistro excels is in presentation. Each dish is exquisitely plated, and the decor has so many interesting features that when you step through that yellow door you feel like you are in a whole other world. I'd also recommend taking a look around the equally trendy Hotel Arts, where we found two more paintings of horses (sensing a theme here...). All in all, I had a lovely evening at the Yellow Door Bistro.
Top Pick of the Night: Beef Tenderloin Tartare


 4/5 Erics

Yellow Door Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Eric. Great review. The ipad menus you mentioned at the YELLOW DOOR are located in Vancouver British Columbia! Thanks Eric. Tammy-Lynn McNabb

  2. Excellent examine. The actual ipad tablet menus people mentioned with the YELLOW DOOR positioned in Vancouver British isles Columbia! Many thanks.For more info Best ipad menus