This Sh*t's Delicious

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Review of Indonesian Kitchen

Indonesian Kitchen is officially named Calgary Sweet House because they originally focused on Indian food and desserts. On urbs (what I call urbanspoon), there is one listing for Calgary Sweet House, and a separate listing for Indonesian Kitchen. They are, in fact, the same place.

INDONESIAN KITCHEN IS IN ALL CAPS, HOW CAN YOU MISS IT?

To make it even more confusing, when you look for this place, its main signage says Calgary Sweet House with Indonesian Kitchen printed on a smaller banner on the window underneath. The place has apparently been open for five years, but only in the past year have they started serving Indonesian food alongside Indian food (on separate menus). I am considered the Gordie Howe of urban navigation in some circles, so I didn’t have trouble finding this restaurant, but I can how some people might (ie. me –Richard).

Richard and I came for the Indonesian food. The owner is actually Indonesian, but I am sure she does a fine job with the Indian food too.

Alright, story time:

The menu picture that almost ended KentI got there first and decided to take a wide photo of the restaurant from the inside. Immediately after I took the photo, this big burly dude asks “was I in the photo?”. No smile was made, he looked pissed. I think I offended him and at that instant my testicles ascended into the depths of my body cavity. I was going to die that night.

My reply was “um, no sir”, and I sat down. I take a photo of the menu because us at TSD (This Sh*t’s Delicious) folk tend to forget names of dishes. BBD (Big Burly Dude) then asks “are you stealing food ideas for your own restaurant?”. This place is in Forest Lawn. If I were to disappear in this lawless land, no one would know! My response was “um sir, I am actually writing a review for a food blog”. Five long seconds passed before he said “oh cool” and went back to his meal.

Now to the food:

This picture makes these look better than they actually are :P

(Kent didn’t take notes and it took us 3 months to get around to writing this, so it’s all me from here! –Richard)

The first thing out was a plate of some sort of salty, southeast-asian tasting chip – it had an… interesting flavour, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it – it was rather stale and unevenly salted/spiced.  Hey, at least they were free!

We ordered a variety of things to split, as the only Indonesian food I’d ever had previously was from a food court in Singapore and I was eager to try something new.  Kiran wasn’t with us so we took the opportunity to order all meat.  Our server recommended the deep fried wontons to start, and we went with the rendang stew and satay skewers to flesh things out.

Who doesn't love the deep fryer?

The wontons were kind of floury tasting, but nice and crispy – and the dipping sauce had that complex tangy/vomit-y (not in a bad way) taste that you only seem to get with Southeast asian cuisine (tamarind-y?  My flavour vocabulary is rather limited here, sadly – if you know what causes the flavour I’m talking about though leave a comment!).  The rendang was pretty good – rich like a curry, but not spicy at all.  The satay skewers had a very unique flavour – kind of grassy, very peanutty, and with a sort of lofty bitterness that reminded me of vodka.  Also, they put fried onions on everything (or something resembling onions, as they didn’t have that strong of a taste).

We were also treated to a plate of ayam goren ibu sari – quite the mouthful!  What was this, you ask?  “Mother’s recipe”, we were told – piping hot and very tasty chicken wings!  Probably the best dish we had there, and we didn’t even order it!

Curry? Nope, just rendang!A satay that's actually peanutty - fancy that!Awesome wings, and not just because they were on the house!I only counted 27 layers... rip-off!

To top it off we got a 30-layer cake, which sounded like a real pain in the ass to make.  It smelled warm and cinammony, and it had subtle yet exotic flavours that I can’t quite describe.  You’ll have to try it yourself!  Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that the coconut juice has floaty bits in it – just like Orbitz, if anyone remembers that.

Doesn't this look like a nice summer drink? Oh yeah, that's when we were there.All in all, the food was decent, though the servings seemed kind of small given the price and the foot wasn’t all that hot (though maybe we were just eating too slow).  The Indian menu, on the other hand, seemed damn cheap from what I saw (lots of dishes under $10, which I’m pretty sure isn’t typical in Calgary!).  The service was good, but it wasn’t very busy so hard to say what it might be like on a different day.

The owner (the husband half of it, anyway) sat down for a chat with us near the end, and was quite the talkative guy – apparently he’s quite the well-traveled renaissance man.  Car importer, correctional officer, school board member, restaurant owner – oh, the stories he could tell!

Summary

The food was hit and miss (though the hits were really quite good), but the people and place were cool (there’s even a stage there where they hold speeches, weddings, and other events), so if you’re ever in the area and in the mood for something different, it’s worth checking out.

-Kent & Richard

Ranking

Richard Kent
Ambiance Interesting TBD
Service 5/6 TBD
Plating 1/2 TBD
Authenticity 5/6? Who knows TBD
Taste 4/6 TBD
Value 3.5/6 TBD
Overall 18.5/26 = 71% TBD

Indonesian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Review of Bookers BBQ Grill and Crab Shack (Big Taste Calgary)

NOTE: Due to technical difficulties (i.e., shitty iPhone pictures), this post doesn’t have any awesome photos. You will have to use your imaginations!

Bookers BBQ Grill and Crab Shack, in case you are not familiar with it, attempts to capture the old charm of New Orleans cuisine.  Slow-cooked barbeque meats and buckets full of succulent seafood – sounds like my kind of place!  Kent and I checked it out with a few friends during the Big Taste (formerly Calgary Dine-Out week), figuring that we couldn’t go wrong with what appeared to be a Calgary institution.

The exterior has all the indie cred that you could ask for – rustic brick exterior, hand-drawn signage and across the road from the Cecil to boot.  Inside, however, it takes on a trendier look with shiny benches, stools, and attractive glassware coupled together with equally attractive waitresses.  Bookers’ website suggested that crab races used to be held during Mardi Gras but I saw no evidence that would suggest that it is anything but propaganda.

Unsurprisingly, this place is pretty unaccommodating to vegetarians, so it was just as well that we checked this out while Kiran was out of town.  The menu is fairly extensive, with a variety of BBQ and seafood based appetizers, entrees, and platters.  It also happened to be All-You-Can-Eat snow crab night, but at north of $40, it was a tad expensive and we wanted to try a larger variety of foods anyway.

A cursory glance at the menu suggested that the Big Taste special – consisting of chowder, jambalaya and chocolate cake – was a good deal, until we found out that it actually consisted of half-sized portions of chowder and jambalaya.  Blasphemy!  At that rate, it ended up being $21 worth of food for the cost of $25 – clearly, arithmetic is not a strong suit at Bookers.  Given that our dinner-table discussions were revolving around how “pasta in restaurants is way too expensive because it is so cheap to cook at home,” such a scam left some of our friends quite affronted.  We ultimately settled on sharing a BBQ platter (brisket, ribs, wings, fries and biscuits), a crab platter (snow crab, king crab, crab-artichoke dip and crab cakes) and an order of jambalaya.  Sides of beans and coleslaw came standard with the platters.

Our anticipation began to build as they brought out our dipping butter and crab-eating tools, some of which I had never seen before.  Just as my appetite began to peak, the platters arrived. And what epic platters they were! While everything looked terrific (except the wings, which were amongst the smallest I’d ever seen, though there were tons of them), the food varied in quality from terrific to average.  The highlights to me were the jambalaya (the perfect mix of ingredients with just the right amount of liquid – on the edge of soupiness), brisket (smoky and tender, if somewhat unevenly sauced) king crab (succulent and almost lobster-like in its meatiness) and biscuits (dip them in butter for the ultimate artery-clogging experience!).  One casualty of the “huge-ass-pile-of-food” method of plating was the set of crostinis used for scooping up the crab dip – half of them were too soggy to use.  The wings were rather disappointing, being both small and dry, and were the only meat product that we weren’t able to finish.

One thing that there was no shortage of was butter – not only was there additional whipped butter on the side, but there was bottomless dipping butter for your crab (and biscuits, and fries…), which they refilled using coffee-pots full of liquid butter!  F*cking ingenious.

The final bill came to around $40 per person including drinks – certainly not cheap by any means, but reasonable for the level of gluttony that we partook that evening.  All-in-all, it was a good venue that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a taste of the South.  I don’t have the credentials to comment on the authenticity of the food, but I can say that if that’s how people from Louisiana eat on a regular basis, I totally understand why so many of them are morbidly obese.

Bottom line

BBQ Brisket, Biscuits, Butter, Buckets of crab – Brilliant.


-Richard


Ranking

Ambiance 5/6
Service 4/6
Taste 5/6
Plating 4.5/6
Originality 5/6
Value 4/6
Total 27.5/36 = 76.3%

Bookers BBQ Grill & Crab Shack on Urbanspoon