It’s been just over a year since Chef Michael Noble launched his dream restaurant NOtaBLE. The fervent level of hype coming off Calgary foodies when one of the city’s most admired chefs swung open NOtaBLE’s doors was immediately warranted. Those initial excitement levels have been exceeded. Located in the relatively unheralded neighbourhood of Montgomery, the bustling eatery is ever-packed for dinner service; going for lunch is your sure bet for getting in unannounced and quick.
The rustic rotisserie and grill, which serves as the restaurant’s centrepiece, immediately puts diners in a haze. Various inviting scents of fire-roasted whole chickens, meatloaf, lamb shanks, or prime rib (depending on the chef’s weekly special) hit you when you enter the front door and make any wait for a table an excruciating exercise in gratification denial. Noble’s dedication to the unpretentious — his service staff wear simple blue T-shirts bearing NOtaBLE’s logo — and his decision to keep half the restaurant open to walk-ins makes it easy to experience comfort gourmet on any given night.
What’s the food like? Pretty damn tasty. Everything cooked at NOtaBLE is done with a casual ease. Most times, tasting something new from the menu, you’ll wonder why other places in Calgary can’t seem to cook the same dishes with remotely the same quality. For my recent evening, I started with a rich crab and shrimp bake on toasts; the attention to fresh ingredients was apparent. Swirling bubbles of aged cheddar and wilted spinach perfectly complemented the thin crisps of toast, serving as a perfect preview of things to come.
The wood-grilled salmon was perfectly cooked and the portion was neither savage nor puny — just enough to savour every last bite of the surrounding red lentil basmati broth. A decadent chocolate walnut brownie from the small dessert menu (also available: rhubarb cheesecake, spiced pumpkin crème brûlée) marked a satisfying ending to the NOtaBLE journey, along with local coffee chain Phil & Sebastian’s French-pressed drip.
Near closing time, 10 p.m. when most of the dinner crowd has cleared out, you notice how relaxing an experience NOtaBLE has been. It’s likely because the only words spoken during the meal were, “This is good.” 4611 Bowness Road N.W., 403.288.4372.
Image courtesy of NOtaBLE Restaurant.