DESPITE THE HYPE THAT SWIRLED AROUND ITS OFT-POSTPONED LAUNCH, Major Tom looked on paper like just another steak house — and in a town that’s seen a few. But when it finally opened in early July after a year of Covid delays, it was immediately clear that this place was far greater than the sum of its parts. Stunning décor, a fabulous view, a well-curated playlist, excellent food and a sensational wine list are a fine start by any standard, but Major Tom is more than all that.
For Calgarians and visitors alike, it has somehow skyrocketed to top of mind for everyone thinking of where to go for a great lunch, a celebratory dinner — or just a perfectly executed Icy Martini (pre-bottled and kept in the freezer before poured from a miniature bottle tableside) for so-called Golden Hour when the sun sets.
The reason is that Major Tom gets most everything right. And at least part of the way they got there was by making an asset of — or, at least, finding opportunity in — the pandemic. While established restaurants were crippled by the unpredictable stops and starts resulting from evolving public health guidelines, Major Tom capitalized on downtime to fine-tune what they got right at the start — and reconfigure what they hadn’t.
“[Covid] allowed us to pe into the vision of the menu and make it all more cohesive,” notes Garrett Martin, Concorde Entertainment Group’s culinary director. “The way it comes together now is more fluid, tying [in] with the music and the room and the service style.”
It’s an old-meets-new approach with a vintage vibe to the room and music, as well as a menu that nods to steak-house staples but with contemporary touches. Yes, there’s Alberta prime rib and wagyu beef from Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture alongside cheese toast and Caesar salad, but where the Major Tom menu shines is in the details and off-script items, from the crispy hen’s egg topped with pepperoni jam to the citrus salad that’s nicely balanced with bitter radicchio.
“We said it was going to celebrate the classics, nothing out of the ordinary but with a vein of creativity that ran through everything,” Martin says. “When people are booking three months in advance, there’s a responsibility to knock it out of the park.”
They do, and then some.
Photos by (Major Tom) Julya Hajnoczky, (Interior) Christopher Amat