We were overdue for a double date with our friends, Zach and Nicole, and conveniently had been invited by TopDish.ca to Little Chief, a restaurant located in the Tsuut’ina Nation-operated Grey Eagle Resort & Casino. None of us had tried them before, so away we went with no expectations and big appetites.
We had been given a credit for approximately one round of drinks, so we were quite interested to take a look at their bar menu. They had options from all over the world, of course, but I particularly loved seeing their selection of local beers like Calgary’s Wild Rose and High Line or Cochrane’s Rocky View Brewing as well as several different wines from Indigenous World and Nk’Mip Cellars, two fantastic Indigenous-owned wineries in BC. They also had a really cool Caesar menu with wild twists, like the Bombay Basil Bash and the Breakfast Club, which comes topped with a whole plate’s worth of sausage, bacon, fry bread and pickled eggs!
We were all keen to try things from the Indigenous Inspired side of the menu rather than the Hotel Classic, so we started with an order of the Heritage Bread Board ($11). Lovely wedges of fresh, fluffy fry bread and slices of grilled bannock came out with local Tsuut’ina wildflower honey, Saskatoon berry jam, Saskatoon berry soup and smoked pemmican butter. I loved this bread plate. It was a perfect few bites to share with friends. We also didn’t let our server clear the condiments just yet as we had more dipping to do. Little Chief provides complimentary popcorn, which turned out to be an excellent vector for eating more of that gorgeous honey (available by the jar at the restaurant’s entrance).
For those of you who haven’t been introduced to pemmican before, it’s like the original protein ball. Indigenous people traditionally made it by grinding dried meat into almost a powder, then mixing it with fat and berries. It was a great source of calories for long winters back in the day and its uses now include pitching in as a decadent, buttery enhancement to the bread plate at Little Chief – what a journey!
To start off our mains, Nicole went with the smoked maple pineapple and candied bacon flatbread ($16) and very kindly offered me a taste! If you had a hungry group, one of these flatbreads would also make a great starter to share as it came out sliced in six neat wedges. The maple and candied bacon weren’t overwhelmingly sweet, so they worked well with the more savoury and creamy ingredients. I love a good slab of charred pineapple and for good reason – the smokiness here made a big difference in countering the fruit’s acidity. I think even a person who doesn’t usually tolerate pineapple on pizza (ahem Matt!) would agree this flatbread was a great option!
Matt kept with the flatbread theme and ordered the Smoke Signal ($17.50), which was loaded up with smoked bison pastrami, wild boar soppressata, wagyu bresaola, cheese and chili oil. The dish had a good amount of heat, but wasn’t overwhelming to my wimpy palate. I don’t usually find myself drawn to a pizza with piles of meat and no vegetables, but the charcuterie lover in me really dug these flavours!
Zach ordered the smoked maple salmon ($27) with crispy skin and a beautiful swipe of Saskatoon berry jam. He was offered a choice of any two side dishes and wisely chose the garlic mashed potatoes and Tsuut’ina honey roasted root vegetables, which were carrots and beets that night. There were no complaints from any of us when Zach kindly offered to share a few bites. The salmon was flavourful, moist and cooked perfectly to order. Also worth noting is that Zach’s a pretty big eater and he was quite full by the end of his meal!
My dish was the irresistible wild game burger ($18) on a fry bread bun. Uh yeah, you might say I enjoyed it! There was a nice char on the burger itself and it was covered in gorgeous condiments and toppings – I loved the way the melty (and local!) Sylvan Star gouda, candied bacon, garlic aioli, Saskatoon berries and caramelized onion all worked together with the warm fry bread. I was excruciatingly full by the time I was finished, but it was the kind of meal that leaves you unwilling to leave a single bite behind! My honey-roasted root vegetables were tasty too, and in a large enough portion that Matt and I were easily able to share as a little supplement to his flatbread.
With a crisp, bright and modern space and an Indigenous menu honouring traditional ingredients and preparations, there’s lots to love about Little Chief (3779 Grey Eagle Dr). We also noted that their prices are great, especially for the hefty portions! I usually expect to pay exorbitantly for so-so food in a hotel restaurant, but this felt like a fair value even before our small discount was applied. I’m already looking forward to my next visit so I can buy a jar of Tsuut’ina honey, crack open the Caesar menu or maybe try their breakfast buffet that was recommended so highly to us by staff. See you soon, Little Chief!