I’m so excited about Calgary’s newest foodie festival, Summer Feast! Running August 11 – 20, Summer Feast 2017 includes prix fixe menus at 13 of Calgary’s coolest restaurants.
I’ve been itching to try Pigeonhole for a while and it’s always buzzing when I walk by, so I was excited to get a table on a busy Friday night. The concept here is small, shared plates intended for everyone at the table to try a bit of everything.
For $35 per person, we had to choose between a tomato or scallop appetizer, a steak or cabbage main and a strawberry or apricot dessert. Despite Matt’s reservations about splitting a plate of cabbage, we went with our server’s suggestion of ordering one of each dish along with a round of ricotta dumplings ($16) since the whole menu is designed for sharing.
Because it was a steaming hot evening, we also ordered a bottle of 2016 Domaine de la Noblaie Cabernet Franc ($50), a refreshing French rosé that went down like water! Their wine list was very appealing in general and our server explained that they try to highlight wines from smaller producers around the world – such a nice thing to see!
The heirloom tomatoes with peaches, shiso and sesame came out first. This dish was just as described, a simple plate of fresh, soft, ripe tomatoes with delicately mottled skins and ripe, firm peaches. The dark flecks in the photo are leaves of shiso, a Japanese variety of mint. The very mild flavour from the shiso and sesame let the tomatoes and peaches do the talking in this super refreshing start to the meal.
I felt bad for the tomatoes and peaches as they had to compete with extremely delicious charcoal-grilled scallops with celery, sweet, but tangy dried tomato and a light, citrusy lemon cream. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the crunchy, warm celery and tomato added a lot of texture and interest! We savoured these scallops so hard and split the three of them carefully to make sure no one felt cheated out of a single bite.
Next came the hanger steak with a little salad of pine nuts, arugula and parmesan. The beef was beautifully rare with a salty, charred crust. It absolutely melted in our mouths. Honestly, each bite made me kind of sad because it was over too quickly. The arugula and pine nuts helped keep things feeling fresh under the generous pile of shaved parmesan.
The ricotta dumplings were tasty and came out under an heirloom tomato purée. They reminded us of a nice ravioli or similar stuffed pasta. Delicious, but I probably wouldn’t order again with all of the other creative dishes on the menu (which I was told changes constantly!)
The show-stopper of the night was the charred cabbage smothered in a huge pile of smoky, grated mimolette cheese on a bed of tangy jalapeno cream. Cabbage has a surprisingly high sugar content and it caramelized wonderfully. The sweet, charred black edges reminded me of a deliciously scorched marshmallow. This was a delightful surprise that I’m looking forward to experiencing again soon. Even Matt, confirmed carnivore, admitted that it blew the delicious morsels of hanger steak out of the water.
I could have ended the meal on that note, but the desserts were still coming! We shared a generous portion of cheesecake covered in fresh strawberries and lime granita as well as a bowl of yuzu custard with sliced apricots and significant chunks of white chocolate.
The cheesecake was tasty and not too sweet. The icy cold granita balanced out the richness of the creamy base.
The yuzu and apricot dish seemed to be all about balancing sweet and sour. The tart fruit helped cut the custard’s sweetness. The contrasting slices of apricots and pieces of white chocolate were also sprinkled with a green syrup that had both a grassy and citrusy flavour – possibly kaffir lime, though I’ve been wrong before!
This venue is adorable, by the way. Bright wallpaper, exposed brick and white ceilings made the space feel open and bright. Music was coming from an actual record player tucked into an adorable nook in the dining room. Lots of natural light filtered into the dining room through open patio doors.
I highly recommend you check out Pigeonhole (306 17 Ave SW) and not just for Summer Feast. This would be perfect for a large group, double dates, dinner with parents or really with anyone so you can try more dishes. Because the plates are so small and the wine list is so nice, I definitely see myself coming in for just a taste and a glass of wine at the beginning (or end) of a night out.
Summer Feast runs until August 20, so hurry and reserve a table today!