It’s time again for one of my favourite foodie events – Big Taste! Every year, restaurants throughout the city offer fixed price lunches and dinners to give diners a chance to explore some of their most popular menu items at a great value – $18 or $28 lunches, $28 or $40 dinners and the $65 five-course gourmet experiences as well. This year it runs from March 2 – 11, so it’s definitely not too late to book yourself a table for one of these fantastic meals. Most of the menus are posted on the Big Taste website, so it’s easy to find something new and exciting just by browsing in one place.
Now to the important stuff! Jody and I wanted a hearty lunch after a morning spent walking around the Calgary Home and Garden Show, so we made a last-minute reservation to squeeze into Market. I was last there for YYC Poutine Week with Michelle, so it was nice to come back for another visit!
Market was serving a $28 three-course lunch, which was a demonstrably good value based on the regular prices of the listed items. You could choose between their popular Market salad or French onion soup to start, then between the pulled pork sandwich, fried Lethbridge chicken sandwich or the vegetarian hand-rolled pasta of the day. Dessert was a surprise as well since they were serving up the pastry of the day.
We ordered a couple of Market sodas ($3.75), which was a fun treat. They pour their own hand-crafted pop with with syrups made in-house. My root beer and Jody’s cola were both refreshing, herbal and just sweet enough to balance the savoury dishes we signed up to try!
Jody opted for the starter salad, which turned out to be completely addictive. The paper-thin, herb-accented heirloom tomato chips and the flashy slices of watermelon radish made it super pretty to start with, but the garlicky, creamy feta herb dressing is what put this salad over the top. It had the right amount of crunch from the sunflower seeds while the sweet cranberries, refreshing bites of cucumber and crisp lettuce rounded the whole thing out. Terrific salad!
My French onion soup was distractingly tasty as well. The buttery brioche crouton coated in aged havarti in the sweet, succulent onion broth disappeared from my bowl way too quickly! I loved my soup to pieces, but this was also the first time in my life that I experienced salad envy. It was a very unsettling moment until my main came and I realized that my side salad was a mini version of Jody’s starter! Huge relief!
Neither of us could resist ordering the fried chicken sandwich. I do get nervous when I see a sandwich coming out on focaccia because it usually means I’m going to cut the corners of my mouth on toasty bread or the whole thing is going to be too soft and fall apart. Not in this case. This. Bread. Was. Perfect. Fluffy, soft and gently seasoned with Mediterranean herbs, it still held up to the crunchy, juicy chicken as only the inner layer of the bread had been toasted. The outer stratum of the bread was so soft and oven-warm that it felt a little like eating a Chinese steamed bun wrapped around tender chicken, tangy Market Mac sauce and fresh mixed lettuce. Nothing fell out of the sandwich and every bite was completely savoury and enjoyable.
Jody adored her chicken sandwich as well, though wasn’t as happy with her fries as I was with my salad – they weren’t bad, but not as nice a texture as she expected with everything else being an 11 out of 10 for flavour and quality.
For dessert, we received butterscotch pudding in an edible dark chocolate bowl! Wow factor aside, this pudding was like drinking a cloud. It tasted a lot like we were just eating a bowl of caramelly, sweet whipped cream with a spoon and I was NOT mad about it. It also had that slightly boozy taste that reminds me of when my dad breaks out the “good” vanilla. The strawberry garnish that came with was perfectly ripe and lovely for dipping into the pudding. Neither of us managed to finish eating the chocolate bowls themselves, but they were practically licked clean when the server came to collect our plates.
This was my first time eating a full meal at Market and I feel that if you’re up for the fun ambiance (they were blasting club hits for the “Bangover” brunch crowd) and don’t mind waiting a little extra time for your very fresh food to be made, this would definitely be the place for you. Just today, the friendly service, high quality meals and location made our $28 Big Taste lunches feel like an awesome value. I’ll certainly be back for more of their regular-priced meals in the future and personally can’t wait to snack on their truffle and bacon fat popcorn! I highly recommend checking out Market (718 17th Ave SW) for drinks and snacks, boozy brunch with fun-loving friends or a chill weeknight double date with some fellow food lovers.