Chef Justin Leboe’s first solo restaurant occupies a 1930s dairy in what is now the centre of Calgary’s trendiest restaurant row.
Along wth the original name, it retains the old exposed brick walls, concrete floor and massive, cargo-transporting steel beams that have been ingeniously adapted to accommodate slideable table-tops. These can be moved together or apart for a changing seating plan. The modernised industrial look, combined with the multi-level seating, twin bars and vinyl for spinning, make for a highly energetic setting ideally suited to Leboe’s restlessly imaginative cooking.
Chef travels extensively, and invariably returns home with pockets full of good culinary ideas that he then makes unmistakably his own. Influences are myriad and on the menu, dish description can appear confusingly multi-cultural—but those ideas invariably translate on the plate into something delightfully coherent. Technique is less showy and more accomplished than ever before. A recent pekin duckling, for example, was roasted on and then stripped from its crown, delivering an improbably perfect combination of sublimely crisp skin, thoroughly rendered fat and pink, succulent flesh. Stacked baked disks of sweet potato came bathed in deeply flavoured mole. And there was falafel, too. Cocktails are smart and modern.
Creative and delicious. – VIKRAM VIJ
Justin Leboe’s Puffed Gouda cheezies—great comfort food. – DINO RENAERTS