Beef is Alberta’s meat, yet old school, white plate steakhouses are a dying breed in Calgary. In their place, however, some new school up-starts are stealing the sizzle with a distinctly modern takes on the classic dish. Here, three of the finest.
Just outside Heritage Park, Selkirk Grille serves Canadiana fare with a twist. Chef Jan Hansen has transformed the filet mignon typical of 1950s CP hotel menus, substituting bison for beef, wrapping it in Valbella double-smoked bacon and adding a peppercorn demi-glace ($42). All his steaks are paired with house-made horseradish and a rich wedge of layered potato, cheese and cream. 1900 Heritage Dr. S.W., 403-268-8607.
“A steak doesn’t have to be rustic,” says chef Darby Kells. “It can be fine dining as well.” His tenderloin with spiced butternut puree and truffle polenta is a popular fixture on an evolving menu. Kells butchers and wraps the meat himself, giving it a beautiful cylindrical shape. He lightly dusts it with dehydrated mushrooms, Szechuan peppercorn and coarse sea salt ($35). 2136 10 Aspen Stone Boulevard S.W., 403-686-6692.
Dishing simple Italian fare prepared on an open grill, Mercato serves a mean, massive steak. Chef Spencer Wheaton’s bistecca, which he presents on a butcher-block platter, is a Fiorentina-style rib steak flavoured with citrus, thyme, bay leaves and sea salt. The single portion ($39) is huge; the double portion is insane. Warning: Ordering the bistecca may cause steak envy among dinner companions and neighbouring tables. 2224 Fourth St. S.W., 403-263-5535.
Image courtesy of Another Pint Please… on Flickr.