Michelle from Wino in the West and I have been on a run lately! Tonight we had a girls dinner at Cucina in support of Restaurants for Change. This is a cool annual event where restaurants across Canada donate all of the proceeds of their dinner service (this year it’s today, October 18!) to support community food programs. If you missed it this year, don’t stress! They’ll be back next year and hopefully with even more restaurants to choose from.
I was with Michelle, so a glass of wine was a must. We each ordered a glass of Cabernet Franc and got down to business!
To start we had the mushroom arancini. Ridiculously good! No signs of greasiness anywhere on this crispy, golden ball off goodness. The inside was sticky, creamy, cheesy and earthy with lovely pieces of mushroom in every bite. The pieces held up well to cutting too, which is always important with arancini – whose idea was it to always serve these in threes? Splitting the third ball can be messy, but not tonight!
Michelle ordered the rosemary breaded Alberta lamb chops, which came out with potatoes and a lovely salad of arugula, artichokes and olives – literally three of her favourite things, so that was a nice surprise! She briefly considered taking some of the lamb chops home for an uplifting treat at work the next day, but none of them survived the evening and for good reason!
I ordered the braised pork belly, which came out in a generous portion on a bed of soft, fresh potatoes, sweet corn and grilled fennel. It was topped with a “salsa verde” that had a definite pesto vibe as well. The pork and vegetables were prepared very simply and it wasn’t a particularly memorable dish, but it was a beautiful piece of meat that I could cut with my fork, so no complaints.
We skipped the dessert menu (for once!) but would definitely not skip another chance to come back to Cucina (515 8 Ave SW). The arancini was one of the best I’ve ever had, the portion sizes were a great value, the decor and service were lovely, plus there’s just so much left to explore on the food and drink menus. I definitely recommend checking out Cucina if you haven’t already, especially in light of their support of Restaurants for Change – though our server and hostess made no mention of the event and I think there were definitely diners there who had just come out of a love for Cucina, so in my opinion it was a missed opportunity to share some good news about what they’re doing for the community. If you didn’t get to participate this time, keep an eye out for the event next year for your chance to fight food instability in your local community simply by sharing a nice meal with family and friends!