Today was P’s last day at our office as his contract ended. A group of nine of us decided to take him out for lunch. I picked One18 Empire in part because of bloggers Le Petite Shar and KimmyW/Journey of Wellness posts, the close proximity of the restaurant to my office, and the $15 two course/$20 three course meal.
Props to our server Vanessa (I hope I got her name right, my apologies if I did not). She managed our table efficiently, politely reminding latecomers to order sooner rather than later, so that everyone could eat at the same time. She explained the menu’s concept of 2 dishes for $15 or three for $19 and then described the special sandwich several times for those in our group in la la land. Vanessa went the extra mile to split up our tab and dividing P’s tab on our bills all in a remarkably short time. I appreciated this greatly as I had a meeting immediately after lunch with no time to dawdle.
We couldn’t partake in a cocktail as our work place has a strict no drinking policy. Instead, we gasped at the list of special treat bottles and dared each other to buy a bottle. The most expensive bottle was a 1969 Glenrothes Vintage Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($11,450). My budget allows for more modest tastes. If I didn’t have to work that afternoon, I would have tried some of the Japanese whisky.
One18 Empire offers good value for lunch, much like Charcut across the street. Though the two restaurants share a similarly priced lunch set special, both offer something different.
One18 is quieter and roomier than Charcut, making it more ideal for customers seeking some privacy. One18 is more conducive for bigger groups because its not as busy as Charcut and it has larger sized tables. On the other hand, if you want to experience Calgary or show the city off to an out-of-towner, I would go to Charcut for the wow factor.
Charcut has superior soups than One18. However, the sandwiches at One18 are very tasty and much more filling than Charcut’s lunch sandwich. Charcut promises to get you in and out within 45 minutes, which I did not see on One18’s menu. Charcut also has a larger lunch menu whereas One18 Empire menu is more limited in selection.
Everyone enjoyed the main component of their lunch – a huge mushroom omelette, grilled cheese, roasted chicken on a pretzel bun and the special of the day, lamb sandwich with brie on sourdough bread. The lamb was cooked medium rare, tender and a generous amount of meat. The combination of the toppings – sweet tomato sauce, rich aioli and brie made this a deliciously saucy sandwich to eat.
My co-workers that ordered the salads enjoyed it. Caesar with jumbo croutons, Kale and Farro and the Roasted Salad with bacon. The best looking salad was the Kale and Farro. You can see from the photo how vibrant the kale looks.
The only minor disappointment of the meal were the soups. P’s garlic and spinach soup was a bit bland and tasted more of spinach than garlic. My tomato soup was not warm and while it was not bad, it was not good either. However, two out of three components were tasty and the price was right.
When our server Vanessa found out we were taking P out for lunch for a special occasion, she brought out a slice of cake from him. This dessert was a winner. Soft, luscious and chocolate heavy. We all really enjoyed the bag of Bourbon Yorkshire pudding to go. The bag it was enclosed in had the recipe on the back. These little babies reminded me of French toast. I’ll definitely make this at home.
Overall, the food was pretty darn tasty. One18 offers complimentary sparkling water, free Bourbon Yorkshire pudding and a great value lunch that should get you in and out within an hour. Service was awesome and the venue was very nice with its modern fixtures and clean colours.
One18 Empire is a nice addition to the Stephen Avenue food scene. Based on the other blog posts, I’ll have to return for dinner to try the stuffed calamari and perhaps some Japanese whisky. Another reason to check out One18 Empire is happy hour from 3:30pm to 6:00pm.