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No. 29: River Café

25 PRINCE’S ISLAND PARK, CALGARY, ALBERTA
RIVER-CAFE.COM
403-261-7670

SET ON AN ISLAND IN THE RUSHING BOW RIVER, RIVER CAFÉ HAS AN UNUSUAL LOCATION THAT SETS IT APART FROM MOST RESTAURANTS.

So does its 25-year devotion to innovative, all-Canadian cuisine. In the shadows of the glass-and-steel monoliths of Calgary’s downtown core, the place offers an escape from urban bustle without leaving the city. The decor, with its vintage sports equipment, is a nod to a fishing lodge or mountain resort, and the seasonal menu from chef and Calgary native Matthias Fong shares this rustic feel. Fong is a 10-year vet of the River, having spent four years as sous under Andrew Winfield, who ran the kitchen as executive chef starting in 2001. Winfield moved to teaching last year, leaving Fong to imbue the venerable menu with his own seasonally guided strokes. Dishes still focus on game meats, fresh fish (all Ocean Wise-approved) and produce, raised locally and sustainably, and Fong is fiercely loyal to the River ethos.

But he demonstrates particular reverence for the vegetable, the more hyper-local the better. Witness slow-roasted celery root—a main course—with Skookum grapes, pine mushrooms, red Fife wheat and bourbon porter vinegar. Or an appetizer of Canadian rice porridge with Swiss chard and sugar pumpkin. Breads are baked in-house daily, and the sourdough culture has been maintained for more than 15 years. Weekend brunch is legendary, with house-made preserves and house-churned butter achieving star status. The wine list is overseen by cellar manager and sommelier Bruce Soley, who emphasizes obscure treasures from small global producers.

HOURS

Monday to Friday
11:00 AM until 10:00 PM
(11:00 PM summer)

Saturday, Sunday
10:00 AM until 10:00 PM
(11: PM summer)

Brunch
Saturday, Sunday
10:00 AM until 3:00 PM

River Café
River Café
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY Julya Hajnoczky

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