No. 42: River Café
Edged by the river and leafy trees, the magical setting of Prince’s Island Park sets this restaurant apart. So, too, does its reverence for the environment—and its consequent commitment to all-Canadian cuisine forged from local ingredients—from Driview Farms’ exceptional lamb and Broek pork to Poplar Bluff’s organic heirloom potatoes and Highwood Crossing grains and canola oil.
The rustic decor features exposed wood, stone and brick, its vintage sports equipment a nod to nearby fishing lodges and mountain resorts, even as the glass-and-steel office towers of Calgary’s business centre loom across the rushing waters of the Bow River. Chef Matthias Fong and his team create menus that straddle both these Alberta realities, with seasonal offerings rich with rural flavours (game and forage) executed with a very urban finesse. B.C. oysters are served with a bright pear and ginger mignonette.
Giant Pacific octopus is accompanied by charred eggplant, apple kimchi and a sea urchin vinaigrette. Luscious, meaty white sturgeon from Northern Divine on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast is served with carrot gnocchi and shiitake mushrooms braised in kombu. Although he’s limited by the Canadian border when it comes to acquiring ingredients—and mostly keeps to Alberta and B.C. at that—Fong is gifted with a talent for sourcing local staples, such as rice and salt, and to creating what he cannot find.
The vinaigrette for the heritage greens salad, topped with apple and bee pollen, is crafted with vinegar made from the run-off from the restaurant’s beer tap. Breads are baked in-house daily, with a sourdough starter that dates back more than 16 years. Weekend brunch is legendary—especially in summer, on the patio. And sommelier Bruce Soley’s wine list is deep, replete with obscure treasures from lesser-known producers.
Monday to Friday
11:00 AM until 10:00 PM
(11:00 PM summer)
10:00 AM until 10:00 PM
(11: PM summer)
10:00 AM until 3:00 PM
Photos by : TK