With a focus on carefully chosen wine, Japanese whiskey, and eclectic gins, Blink owner and wine aficionado, Leslie Echino, has realised a long-time dream opening Bar Annabelle. It’s a stylish (but Echino insists, not trendy) 20-seat space, with oak panelling and floors; solid brass table edgings, shelves, and cutlery; and custom-made, rose-coloured plates. We love the leather dog tags price tickets too. Echino has travelled all over the world, and her small tapas menu is chosen from the best of her favourite wine bars, and we know it’s good – the food comes from Blink!Opens 3pm Mon-Sat.
109A 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, barannabelle.com

Chai Pani (“tea and water” and a small bribe in India!) is inspired by Mango Shiva. It’s a super approachable takeaway in Bridgeland, with 16 seats so you can also eat in, and savour healthy, yet serious, flavourful Indian street food. Nothing is microwaved here; Chai Pani uses a turbochef for its popular kati rolls and curry bowls, samosas, coconut prawns, and more. And there are homemade grab and go curries too. Curry in a hurry at crazy good prices, and part of all sales are donated to Educate Girls! Chai Pani is now open for lunch too! Monday-Friday now 11:00am-8:30pm, and from 4:30pm at weekends.
38 9 Street NE, Calgary, chaipani.ca

Indulge Catering’s Urban Grub, in Manchester, is open for breakfast, lunch, and takeaway meals; from 6:30am you can enjoy $9 homemade breakfasts, and $8.50-$9.50 lunches. Frozen meals are made in very small batches, so they’re always fresh. Try Beef Bourguignon Pot Pie, Butter Chicken, and meatloaf. Pick up soups, salad dressings, sauces, and gluten-dairy-nut free, and vegan dishes, from 6:30am-4pm Mon-Weds and to 7pm Thurs-Fri.
2, 5524 1A Street SW, Calgary, urbangrub.ca

Vintage Group has opened the whimsical Elwood and the Rabbit in the old Whitehall location, serving up Chef Dilan Draper’s playful take on globally inspired comfort food. A firm believer in head to tail butchery, Chef Draper’s beautiful presentation and creative menu will have you chomping at the bit. Featuring local ingredients and honest pricing Elwood is open Tuesday-Friday at 11:30am, and on Sunday for breakfast from 9:00am to 2pm. Monday-Saturday dinner from 5pm.
24 4th Street NE, Calgary, elwoodandtherabbit.com

Cleaver has opened Gringo Street next door, offering North American foods with South American flavours. Look for wing, cheeseburger, and Guinness-braised steak tacos, plus 11 more choices, and Mezcal Pork Shoulder – gluten-free options too! Street food culture rules here, with yellow shipping container walls, saddle seats, tequila, mezcal, and a great $10 cocktail list; Nacho Baby comes with a sombrero!
524 17 Avenue SW, Calgary, gringost.com

Award-winning Monogram Café has opened a warm and welcoming, third location in Britannia Plaza. Expect the same great Monogram service, quality coffee, two rotating guest coffee roasters, and exclusive to the new store – Made by Marcus Coffee Soft Serve!
800 49 Avenue SW, Calgary, monogramcoffee.com

Cilantro has now reopened, celebrating its 30th birthday with an update and refresh to the main floor, and an updated, refreshed menu featuring Rocky Mountain cuisine with elk and bison from their own game ranch. And those delicious pizzas and pastas can be gluten-free too! There are new nightly features too, such as $8 twists on classic cocktails on Tuesdays, a charcuterie board to share and two glasses of house wine for $30 on Thursdays, and your opportunity to have a glass of a rare wine on Fridays.
338 17 Avenue SW, Calgary, cilantrocalgary.com

In Edmonton, Sorrentino Group opened its second Buco Pizzeria + Vino Bar in Upper Windermere on February 19th. Second generation Rago and Saccomanno families have returned to their roots in Naples to develop the menu of sharing plates, pastas, and pizzas –also gluten-free. And they’re not stopping –Buco Epcor Tower, is scheduled to open its doors on March 13!
1249 Windermere Way SW, Edmonton, bucopizzeria.com/windermere/

This Month’s Award Winners

Congratulations to Canmore’s Bow Valley BBQ for their double World Champions win at The World Hot Sauce Awards. Blueberry Merlot Steak Sauce took World Champion Steak Sauce, Sweet Chili Corn Salsa took Speciality Salsa top spot for the second year, and Parkway Premium Caesar Works placed second for Bloody Marys.

And congratulations to our Alberta winners in Vancouver’s International Wine Festival 2018 Wine Program Excellence Awards! Yet again Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts swept the board with both Cilantro and Divino (for when it was open) taking home Platinum, The Lake House snagging a gold, and Buffalo Mountain Lodge and Deer Lodge being awarded silver. Calgary’s Vin Room aren’t far behind with both the Mission Location and the Airport location taking home Gold, and Vin Room West being awarded silver. And this year Rouge Restaurant is there too with a silver award! Way to go!

We’re all winners now the ban on BC wine imports is lifted and The British Columbia Wine Institute has confirmed their sponsorship of Downtown Calgary’s, The Big Taste™ Foodie Festival which is on now until March 11th. They’ve been a proud sponsor of the festival for many years, and as Miles Prodan, President/CEO of the Institute says, “we are thrilled to have the opportunity to once again share and celebrate BC Wine with our Alberta friends.” That goes for us too Miles!

And the Earth Group is the winner of a partnership with The Italian Centre Shop, who are continuing the legacy of founder Frank Spinelli, that started in the early days of the store, by supporting Edmontonians to help provide 100,000 meals to Edmonton people in need. It’s in support of the Break the cycle campaign, on March 16-17, when the Strathcona community are hosting a 24-hour Bikeathon to support the Earth Group and the United Nations World Food Programme. The largest school fundraiser of its kind in Canada, it’s and organized and run entirely by students in the leadership class at Strathcona High School.

On Top Chef Canada: All Stars last year, Calgary Chef Nicole Gomes walked away with the coveted title of Canada’s Top Chef. Now, Chef Jinhee Lee of Calgary’s Foreign Concept chef is competing for her chance to take top spot. She took home gold at Calgary’s Gold Medal Plates in 2016, and went on to win the Canadian Culinary Championships in 2017. Now Chef Lee battles 10 of Canada’s top culinary talents – don’t miss the season premiere on Sunday, April 8th.

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