I saw that on Facebook, Yellow Door Bistro offers a $29 two course meal with a glass of wine and complimentary parking for Flames customers. I quickly wrangled up two girlfriends, Jen and Brenda, to check it out.
The tables around us were filled with dates, a group of business women celebrating their successful careers (I was eavesdropping), and men enjoying an after work drink. By the bar, there was the usual sea of blue and black suits. Brenda was impressed with the interior design of the restaurant, while Jen really dug the energetic music.
A sweet surprise was having Chef Duncan Ly drop by our table. Ly is the executive chef of the Hotel Arts restaurants: Yellow Door Bistro; Raw Bar; and Chef’s Table at Kensington Riverside Inn. It was a treat to chat with Ly about his new fall menu, as well learning more about the reopening of Raw Bar, which features his take on modern Vietnamese cuisine. The food will have some elements of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, with the emphasis on shared plates. As well, Raw Bar will be open late, a refreshing alternative to current options in Calgary.
We didn’t order the fix price meal as planned, instead, we ate our way through the new fall menu. Ly surprised us with a sample of his new fall pasta, Carrot & Ricotta Gnocchi. This was decadent dish – we particularly enjoyed the texture of the black trumpet mushrooms and toasted pine nuts. The spiced carrot sauce was spicy, creamy and sweet.
Our first course was a delightfully different take on a Cobb Salad ($14.00). I find that normally the combination of egg yolk, blue cheese and bacon make for a dry salad. This was not the case with Ly’s interpretation. The bacon chunks were lean, soft and flavourful. When I broke into the lardon egg, the bright orange yolk spilled over the iceberg wedge and into the buttermilk dressing. Other notable ingredients: a crunchy pickled red onion, soft slices of avocado, roasted tomatoes and fresh dill in the salad dressing.
Our favourite dish of the night was the grilled hanger steak and pommes frites ($17.00). The steak was topped with a curry butter and fresh watercress. We all received our steak cooked as requested, medium rare. The steak was so tender, chewing was mandatory. The mountain of pommes frites were crispy and well seasoned. Mixed with the red wine jus, this was fries on ecstasy. I can honestly say, this was the best fries I’ve eaten.
For dessert, we had a Chocolate Parfait Stuffed Crème Brûlée with Strawberry Sorbet. The crust in the parfait tasted like peanut brittle. Layered with crème brûlée, chocolate parfait and a chocolate casing, it tasted like a gourmet version of a Twix bar. Brenda was really impressed with the strawberry sorbet, which she found tasted strongly of fresh strawberries. When Ly came out to see if we enjoyed the food, we pounded on the table and shouted, “Duncan! Duncan! Duncan!”. He looked bewildered and embarrassed. Sorry Duncan, we don’t get out much. Besides, it was hockey night and no one thought twice about our cheering for your food hat-trick.
I’m afraid Brenda, Jen and I were spoiled by Chef Ly. They raved about the obvious pride he takes in his menu and restaurants, the taste and presentation of the food, as well as his well-spoken and adorable demeanor. They wanted to know when Duncan is working at Yellow Door. Other than stalking him, I told them to give the restaurant a call to see if he was in.