No. 29: Pigeonhole
306 17TH AVENUE SOUTHWEST, CALGARY, ALBERTA
Once only the realm of pre-event nibbles, shared small-plates dinners, late-night snacks and decadent Russian-service caviar, Pigeonhole is breaking open a new market designed for daylight hours.
In February, chef-owner Justin Leboe brought breakfast and brunch to his stylish, Parisian-esque restaurant, offering diners a chance to enjoy mimosas, custardy cheddar gougères and arepas-based Benedicts from Wednesday to Sunday. It’s a natural next step for the restaurant, which has been defying categorization since it opened in 2015. At first, it was a hotspot with a vegetable-forward and half-vegetarian menu, which surprised many a Calgarian. Diners would go in search of pedestrian ingredients transformed into crave-worthy dishes. Take for example Leboe’s slab of butter-braised, charcoal-charred cabbage doused in shavings of mimolette, an umami bomb so compelling that it is still on the menu today—including for breakfast. The menu continues to showcase vegetables (salty, spicy cauliflower and broccoli matched with rich Parmesan and the salty tang of preserved lemon), but unique fish and meat dishes cater to those who cannot live by greens alone.
In Fogo Island shrimp toast, charcoal-roasted trout and Wagyu beef tartare, all ingredients are allowed to shine. Like its sister restaurant, Model Milk, this place is emphatically groovy, from decor to vibe. The basic bones of its design—as well as the tabletops and an eye-catching chandelier—are holdovers from the longstanding previous tenant, Victoria. The white marble used to make the beautiful bar up front is reclaimed from another site. Settling in there for a pre-dinner cocktail or a glass of wine from the ever-updated list of unusual picks is highly advisable. It should give you enough time to narrow down what you’ll want to have next.