A few weeks ago we were out with some friends and it came up that in all his years of living here, Matt had never been to the top of the Calgary Tower or to Sky 360, its rotating restaurant. Once the skyline started to fill up with taller buildings, some people like Matt just no longer saw the point in going up to take a look. None of this sounded right to me as a Calgarian or as a person who loves to stand on top of tall things to look at other things, so when I saw Sky 360 on the list of restaurants offering lunch for Big Taste this year, I dragged him along!
A reservation at Sky 360 allows you to skip the $18 general admission to get to the top of the Calgary Tower. You are also given access to the observation deck (and see-through floor, whoa!) up to 30 minutes before your meal and/or until the tower closes for the day.
Matt was immediately impressed by the bright, naturally-lit dining room literally encircled by huge picture windows. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, unless you get motion sick like I do – in that case, make sure you’re facing in the direction the tower is moving and you’ll be just fine! Breathe in, breathe out.
The views were clear despite the cloudy day and Matt was pleasantly surprised by how the surrounding towers enhance the view rather than block it. It was cool to see massive buildings like the Bow from a new perspective! And of course we had to wave at our place each time our table rotated past that side of downtown.
I’ve had mixed experiences eating at Sky 360 in the past, and the Big Taste menu reflected my expectations. The options to start were a mixed green salad and a butternut squash bisque. I’m never one to turn down a rich, creamy bisque and we weren’t inspired by the bowls of greens we’d seen on our way to the table, so the soup was an easy decision for both of us.
The bisque contained a subtle swirl of maple cream, which we both loved, but it was fleeting. The soup itself wasn’t particularly creamy or smooth and while we could taste some butternut, there also seemed to be cauliflower or some other vegetable as a filler. It was tasty, but tasted like something we could pick up from the grocery store.
The second course choices were between a burger, pasta or pork belly tacos. We agreed that memorable tacos are less likely to come from restaurants with white cloth napkins and a wine list, so we opted for the burger and pasta thinking that was where Sky 360 would excel.
I had never tried radiatori pasta before, but was intrigued by the neat little “radiator” shapes! It’s pleasing to bite through all the little layers of each piece of pasta. The sauce was nothing exciting for a tomato-based pasta sauce, though some toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan and fresh basil were sprinkled overtop as well, which helped. Altogether a simple dish that we could easily have made at home, which is not what we had hoped for with a Big Taste meal.
The burger was the winner of the day, for sure. It came with butter leaf lettuce, fresh tomato, aged white cheddar and tobacco onions (which I Googled – so-named because they actually resemble dried tobacco). They weren’t listed on the Big Taste menu, but the burger also includes a bacon jam that added an incredible sweetness and moisture to each bite as well as a slice of Canadian bacon. The patty was cooked perfectly and was quite juicy. The fries that came out with it were crispy and lightly salted, but the burger was so filling that I barely put a dent in the fries!
Neither of us had room for dessert, so luckily the last thing to come out was gelato. We all know that eating any food that melts to liquid form is really the same as drinking a glass of water, right? This was a very rich Dark Chocolate Blacksmith born of the partnership between two Calgary staples: Fiasco Gelato [http://www.fiascogelatoshop.com/] and Village Brewery [https://www.villagebrewery.com/]. As you can see, the presentation was flat, but the locally-made gelato was a nice way to end the meal.
It’s surreal to sit in a lovely dining with white cloth napkins and soft music tinkling overhead while staring out at storm clouds rolling across the prairie. The views definitely make lunch at Sky 360 (101 9 Ave SW) more worthwhile and we enjoyed courteous service from a waiter who paid enough attention to detail that when he walked past our table halfway through our mains and noticed we had switched, he stopped in his tracks to confirm that he hadn’t inadvertently given each of us the wrong thing. I’m just greedy and force Matt to share all of his food with me – nothing to see here! I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re a foodie looking for an unforgettable meal, but it’s a great stop for a romantic dinner with a view or a fun afternoon exploring Calgary on foot. We had fun being tourists in our own city for an afternoon and Matt made sure I didn’t get sidetracked while we exited through the gift shop!