A boiling-hot bowl of soup or strong espresso usually does the deed when Calgarians need nourishment on a cold day. Still, when the weather turns truly ghastly again — and it will — you may need something more substantial to fill that icy hole temporarily left in your chest. Next time the galinstan drops below -20°C, consider grabbing one of these soul-warming dishes in Calgary.
The Lounger at Loungeburger [pictured]
The wide availability of top-notch Alberta beef in Calgary means having a “good” burger on your restaurant’s menu is not enough to get noticed. That’s why inspired creations stand out. Exhibit A, the half-pound Lounger: a triple-A and Kobe beef patty stuffed with bacon and cheddar, served on a pretzel bun and accompanied by any of Loungeburger’s six crisp cuts of fries (or a poutine). Here’s an ideal comfort meal that puts any drive-thru in the city to shame. #270 14 Ave, S.E., 403-250-2747
Franzl’s Mixed Grill at Wurst
A true bevy of Bavarian delights, Franzl’s mixed grill platter is a mountain of meat. This plate is packed with generous amounts of Kassier pork loin, homemade sausages, slices of prime rib and smoked pork hock. It’s more than just a sausage party, too, as the carnivorous feast is accompanied by fresh shredded horseradish, sauerkraut, spätzle and German fried potatoes. 2437 4 St. S.W., 403-245-2345
Veal Portafoglio at Abruzzo
A bright, tile-roofed home hidden among downtown’s massive buildings, this humble eatery makes for a wonderful cold-day refuge. How good is Abruzzo’s delectable veal portafoglio (veal stuffed with proscuitto, fresh parmesan, mozzarella and mushrooms, smothered in creamy brandy sauce)? You’ll be wishing you could rent a room in the basement. 402 8 St. S.W., 403-237-5660
Truffle Mac and Cheese with Lobster at Vintage Chophouse
Vintage is a solid spot for Canada prime strips and tenderloins, but the Chophouse’s refined take on comfort favourites makes the place shine when you need nothing more than a strong food hug. This recommended fusion of rich smoked cheddar, white truffle oil and macaroni makes the classic Canadian oven-baked dish a genuine indulgence; still, be sure to mix in the optional lobster for that extra dash — in fact, an entire extra wave — of flavour and warmth. 320 11 Ave. S.W., 403-262-7262
Fondue Experience at Laurier Lounge
It would be wrong for any list of soul-warming cuisine to not include Laurier’s three bubbling cauldrons of savour. The fondue experience is a superbly paced affair that lets diners feel (and more importantly, smell) the decadent heat for the better part of an evening. Sit down with someone special and enjoy the Swiss and Emmentaler cheese fondue to begin, followed by a seafood or 30-day aged beef main course, and end the tasty tour with a Callebaut chocolate fondue — complete with seasonal fruit and banana bread for dipping. 1111 7 St. S.W., 403-228-3771
Image courtesy of A. Lau.