A new take on steak in Calgary

A little over a month ago, Sharon and I were invited to join a group of bloggers in Calgary for the YYC Steak Tour. Tourism Calgary wanted to showcase local restaurants that have “a new take on steak” – something more than traditional meat and potatoes! We ate at five restaurants: Ox & Angela, Anju, Raw Bar, CHARCUT, and Rouge. Sharon has already done a very thorough job of reviewing the meal at each, so be sure to check out her posts.

On the way into Calgary, we stopped off at CrossIron Mills to have lunch at South St. Burger Co. While I liked the burger assembly line (similar to Subway) the patty itself was underwhelming. The texture and taste reminded me too much of a frozen burger. Sharon did enjoy the onion rings, however.

South St. Burger

We usually stay at Hotel Le Germain when we visit Calgary, but as our accommodations this trip were being covered by Tourism Calgary, we were more than happy to stay at the Kensington Riverside Inn. It was very comfortable, and you really can’t beat the location! We took advantage of it, walking around Kensington and along the river.

Kensington Riverside Inn

We made sure to stop at Higher Ground, a popular coffee shop in Kensington. It turned out that Dan Clapson, the manager of Higher Ground and also a food blogger, was on our tour! It was great to chat with Dan about the popular meeting spot. He really knows his customer base, and doesn’t pretend to compete against Phil & Sebastian, instead recognizing that people visit Higher Ground for more than artisan coffee.

Higher Ground

We took advantage of the proximity of our hotel to the river, and walked along Memorial Drive. We spent some time checking out the Peace Bridge, the controversial new bridge that connects downtown and the community of Sunnyside. I think it’s very interesting to look at, but I can see how it wasn’t welcomed by all Calgarians. With a total cost of about $24 million, it wasn’t cheap either! The bridge officially opened on March 24.

Peace Bridge
Peace Bridge

Our first stop on the YYC Steak Tour was Ox & Angela. We had a tapas style meal, with many small plates which turned out to be a great way to meet all of the other folks on the tour. The Spring Creek Ranch flat iron steak was quite tasty, but the “fierce potatoes” definitely stole the show. They were delicious! I also ate more than my share of the churros for dessert.

Ox & Angela
Patatas bravas at Ox & Angela

Our next stop was Anju. We were quite excited to meet Chef Roy Oh, a former Edmontonian who moved to Calgary nearly a decade ago. To start, we got to try soju – the Korean equivalent of vodka, distilled from rice instead of wheat. Though there was Sprite on hand to mix it with, I actually preferred it straight. Very tasty. My favorite dish was the malpec oysters, served with kimchi for a bit of heat. Also memorable were the chicken wings, something the Calgarians were raving about. They were, in a word, hot. I swear I couldn’t feel my lips for hours after we ate them!

Anju
Malpec oysters with a kimchi mignonette at Anju

The last scheduled stop was Raw Bar, but as we had to leave Calgary early enough to get back to Edmonton on Sunday night, we visited the restaurant for lunch without the rest of the group. We sampled the cocktails and even though we were on the steak tour, I simply could not resist trying the mushroom and bacon poutine. It probably could have used a bit more gravy and cheese, but it was delicious nonetheless.

Raw Bar
Mushroom and bacon poutine at Raw Bar

Next up on the tour was CHARCUT, the only restaurant we had eaten at previously. We’re big Top Chef nerds, so Sharon and I couldn’t believe that we were actually with Connie DeSousa! We started by visiting the prep kitchen upstairs where Connie and John showed us how they make blood sausage (which they later cooked and served to us). It was pretty awesome to get a peek behind the curtain!

Charcut
The kitchen at CHARCUT

Of course, no trip to CHARCUT is complete without eating the signature poutine. Potatoes fried in duck fat, cheese curds, and chicken fat gravy. How can you go wrong? I could have eaten it all night long.

Charcut
Duck fat poutine at CHARCUT

Probably my least favorite stop on the tour was Rouge. Compared to the rest of the dishes we ate, Rouge definitely featured the most formal and refined menu. My favorite dish was the lab two ways – a cut of sirloin and braised lamb mixed with lentils. The bee pollen macaron with lemon cream to end was also pretty tasty!

Rouge
Lamb two ways at Rouge

It seems that whenever we visit Calgary we do so primarily to eat! It was great to have the opportunity to try something new at some of Calgary’s hottest restaurants. Thanks again to Tourism Calgary for hosting us – it was a great trip!

Again, be sure to check out Sharon’s much more thorough reviews of the restaurants we visited.

Recap: Blink Edmonton, Pedway Pop-up

A month ago we held Blink, a pop-up restaurant that Sharon and I organized. On February 26, sixty people filled the pedway that connects Commerce Place and Scotia Place across 101 Street for a six-course meal. We sold out just twelve hours after tickets went on sale, and had a number of people on the waiting list. There’s certainly a hunger for unique experiences in Edmonton!

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

We had only minor glitches throughout the evening, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The food that Chef Tony Le and his team created was delicious, and I love that they were able to do something different. As Century Hospitality’s VP Culinary Paul Shufelt wrote in the Edmonton Sun:

Yearning for any opportunity to express our creativity. #Blinkyeg was just the opportunity we needed, a chance to create with far less limited boundaries.

Because of the space constraints of the venue, we needed to limit the tickets to 60 people. This allowed us to play with ingredients and techniques that were a little more obscure, and seen far less often on the everyday menu.

So with that in mind, we set out to assemble a menu that would allow us to express a different side of our creativity.

Sharon did a great job capturing the dishes and other details about the restaurant, so check out her recap for more.

We really wanted to hold Blink in a pedway because it fulfilled our desire to utilize a forgotten or under-appreciated space. Usually I speak against pedways, because I’d rather see people on the street than indoors, but they’re an important part of the overall pedestrian system downtown. And even if we succeed at making the streets more attractive, welcoming, and filled with shops and other reasons for people to use the sidewalks, the pedways aren’t going anywhere. So we might as well make the most of them!

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

As I mentioned in my post announcing Blink, the first hurdle was to figure out who owned the pedway and who we needed to get permission from. Fortunately the Downtown Business Association’s Jim Taylor was extremely helpful in that regard! He was able to track down the information and make the necessary introductions. As a member of the pedway committee, he was already working on gathering that information and they’ve made significant progress in the last year.

Last week, the Downtown Pedway Committee submitted its annual report to Executive Committee. Established in 2010, the pedway committee exists to examine and address the challenges & opportunities related to the downtown pedway network. While much of the committee’s initial work was focused simply on finding ownership, maintenance, history, and other information about the pedways (which culminated in the creation of a database), they are now starting to make some positive changes. By the end of Q2 this year, the committee hopes to have the existing maps updated throughout the system (with help from Edmonton Transit). And next on the list is an integrated way-finding signage system. The signs throughout the system are dated, some are incorrect, and they’re very inconsistent. Refreshing them also provides an opportunity to look ahead, by incorporating digital-friendly way-finding solutions (that was my initial feedback to the committee). All of those improvements will help make navigating downtown easier. And who knows, maybe we’ll see more exciting events take place in pedways!

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

Thanks again to everyone who had a hand in making Blink happen, especially the Downtown Business Association, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, GWL Realty Advisors, Morguard, and of course, Century Hospitality and everyone at Lux.

And thank you to everyone who bought tickets to Blink – you made it a success! Check out Sharon’s recap here, and you can see my photos here. We are in the process of planning another Blink, so stay tuned for updates!

Blink: Pedway Pop-up in Downtown Edmonton

blink edmontonOn Sunday, February 26, 2012 we are transforming the pedway across 101 Street that connects Commerce Place and Scotia Place into a sixty seat pop-up restaurant called Blink. The single-night-only restaurant will feature a delicious six-course meal prepared by chefs Paul Shufelt and Tony Le of Century Hospitality/Lux. Sharon and I have been working on this for quite a while, so we’re very happy to announce that tickets are on sale now!

Pop-up restaurants are all the rage in major cities like New York and London and they’ve started to become popular elsewhere too. The term “pop-up restaurant” is used to mean various things, but I think about three main categories of pop-ups: kitchen takeovers (a chef takes over an existing restaurant’s kitchen and space to create something new), temporary dining spaces (there may not be a kitchen on-site, but some sort of space has been transformed into a dining room), and full-on temporary restaurants (empty spaces completely transformed into restaurants outfitted with kitchens for a short period of time). We’ve had some kitchen takeovers here in Edmonton, but Blink is the first temporary dining space (we’ll have to wait for our first full-on temporary restaurant, an undertaking which requires considerable expense).

When we started discussing the idea for Blink, Sharon was immediately drawn to a pedway. We both love the idea of utilizing forgotten or neglected spaces, so a pedway seemed perfect. When was the last time you stopped in a pedway to look out the window? We walked through the pedways downtown, looking for power outlets, measuring dimensions, etc. We had a few candidate bridges, but decided that we needed a chef on board with the idea first. Knowing that Lux was conveniently located in Commerce Place, we approached Tony and thankfully he agreed to take part in our project right away! That made narrowing the pedway choice down to the one connecting Commerce Place and Scotia Place much easier.

Pedway between Commerce Place & Scotia Place

Next we worked on getting the necessary approvals in place. Jim Taylor, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, was incredibly helpful in that regard. He introduced us to the building managers, and helped us track down the owner of the pedway (we discovered as part of this process that ownership is uncertain for many parts of the pedway system). Everyone really liked the idea, so we quickly started working out the logistics. Thank you to the DBA, GWL Reality Advisors (on behalf of Commerce Place), Morguard Investments (on behalf of Scotia Place), and DECL for helping us make this pop-up restaurant happen!

Pedway between Commerce Place & Scotia Place

We’ve got some work to do still, but our goal is for Blink to look and feel as much like a real restaurant as possible. We have decided to go with a communal table for seating, to enhance the experience of eating in a unique space with other Edmontonians. The menu makes my mouth water every time I read it, with dishes like confit rabbit pot pie and Alberta pickerel – where possible it features local ingredients. Tickets are $65, which I think is a great deal for six courses, and a cash bar will be available as well. The restaurant will open at 5pm for cocktails, with dinner service beginning at 6pm.

We hope to see you on February 26 at Blink in the pedway!

You can read Sharon’s post on Blink here.

Love that Menu: Valentine’s Day 2011 in Edmonton

Sharon and I decided to collaborate on this post. Enjoy!

Mack:

Last year, Sharon and I collaborated on a Valentine’s Day post. We decided it would be fun to compare the special and regular menus at a variety of local restaurants in order to find out which one offered the best deal on Valentine’s Day. It was a nice mix of my penchant for stats and Sharon’s knowledge of the local food scene. This year, we wanted to do something different.

Sharon:

Eater nicknames Valentine’s Day “Black Monday” for a reason – restaurants pull out all the stops, hoping to woo diners with their prix fixe menus. Though I’m sure most of them are well intentioned (and Mack and I have certainly indulged in many Hallmark holiday dinners), some seem to be really over the top.

After perusing over a dozen Valentine’s Day menus, we’ve collected some observations. Here are our tongue-in-cheek picks for the best and worst of what the city’s restaurants have to offer this weekend.

  • This Dish Gets Around
    • Aside from fondue, which is a Valentine’s Day staple, Chicken Supreme was the most common dish on the menus we examined. It is featured at Homefire Grill, Vic’s Steakhouse, Sorrentino’s Downtown, and even Hardware Grill. Those chickens really get around, don’t they?
  • Most Appealing Menu
    • Last year we picked Hardware Grill as the tastiest-sounding menu, but this year the honor goes to Madison’s Grill. Five courses with two choices each (plus a dessert course) means there’s a good chance both you and your date will find something to enjoy. Pan seared scallops, pulled pork crepe, and grilled Spring Creek Ranch beef tenderloin are just a few of the delicious sounding options!
  • Best Bang for Your Buck
    • At $45 per person, The Manor might not be the cheapest option, but with three courses (which include a choice of three entrees, with nary a chicken supreme in sight), we’re confident that between the food and their cozy rooms, couples will be well taken care of, and for a price less than a third of the most expensive meal in the city.
  • Big Spender
    • That brings us to the five course prix fixe at Red Ox Inn. If you’re on a budget, this one isn’t for you – it will set you back $160 a person (which includes food, gratuity and tax). Each course is paired with a wine though, and given the meal has been at the same price point at least two years in a row, it has likely continued for a good reason.
  • Best Dish Name
    • With images of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in our heads, Zinc’s “Cheek to Cheek” entrée is hard to beat. Comprised of a Spring Creek Rank beef cheek and a butter-poached halibut cheek, it also probably tastes as good as it sounds. We used Zinc’s photo above.
  • Worst Dish Name
    • Maybe we need to get out of the city more, but there’s nothing particularly romantic to us about two slabs of meat. That’s what you’ll get at Teddy’s with “Lovers’ Steaks” – an 8oz New York and a 6oz Fillet Mignon. The dish comes with prawns, Caesar salad, and three cheese mashed potatoes for $49.
  • Say Cheese
    • We really thought restaurants would be more forthcoming with the extras they would shower on you and your date, but no dice. So almost by default, The Melting Pot wins this category. You have the option of “enhancing” your meal with different feature packages, such as “The Cupid’s Arrow”, which includes one dozen roses in a vase, rose petals on your table, a bottle of sparkling wine, two champagne flutes to keep, and a framed photo of you and your Valentine. The price tag? $225, which also covers a four course dinner for two.
  • What’s the Point Prix Fixe
    • With a Valentine’s Day menu that is so similar to the regular menu, we have to wonder why Chop even bothered! All of the entrees and most of the appetizer platter can be found on the regular menu. Only the dessert, Dark Chocolate Pecan Banana Cake, is new. If you’re superstitious you might like this option, however – the three course meal is priced at $88 per couple.
  • No Date Required
    • Who says you need a table for two on February 14? Take a look at the menu from Bistro La Persaud and tell us you’re not seduced (braised boar bacon? poached lobster?). Best of all, it’s priced per person! Ooh la laa!

Mack:

However you choose to spend Valentine’s Day, we hope it is filled with love!

Christmas Charity Auction Dinner at Ric’s Grill

When Graham Hicks asked if I wanted to be involved in the Edmonton Sun’s annual Christmas Charity Auction back in October, I was flattered. And to honest, a little worried. I would host one of the “media dinners” – local media personalities paired up with a restaurant. With well-known local celebs like Global TV’s Gord Steinke and Lynda Steele (who went for $2255), who would bid on me, I wondered? What if no one bid on me?! Still, I relished the opportunity to represent Edmonton’s social media community, not to mention partake in two of my favorite things: meeting new people, and food.

It turns out there were 16 bids on my media dinner, with the final bid going for $140. Not bad! The auction supports the Edmonton Christmas Bureau, Sign of Hope, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the United Way. A total of $240,000 was raised last year, down from the $350,000 raised in 2008 but still quite good. Since 2003, the charity auction has raised an impressive $1.3 million!

Last Wednesday, Sharon and I were joined by winning bidder Terri Lynn and her friends Kelly, Sue, and Ginette, at Ric’s Grill downtown. The foursome had participated in the auction in years past, winning a very enjoyable dinner with CBC’s Ron Wilson and Peter Brown (with Gurvinder Bhatia at Bistecca). An evening with those guys is pretty hard to top, but I thought our dinner went really well!

After introductions (and thanks to Terri Lynn for bidding on me) our conversation shifted to food and local restaurants, given that all of us are such fans. Terri Lynn shared that she reads Sharon’s blog every morning, something that I think an increasing number of Edmontonians do! We talked a little about memorable blogging moments, given that the Alberta budget website thing had just happened, and of course about how Sharon and I got into blogging.

Dinner was great too – I especially enjoyed the almond goat cheese crostini starter. Sharon wrote more about the dinner here.

Thanks again to Terri Lynn, Kelly, Sue, and Ginette, as well as Ric’s Grill, for a great evening, and congratulations to Graham Hicks and the Edmonton Sun for another successful auction!

Valentine’s Day in Edmonton: Deal or No Deal?

Sharon and I decided to collaborate on this post. Enjoy!

Sharon:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a holiday where consuming chocolate is the national norm, and for an occasion that is marked with an indulgent feast. And though I realize that Valentine’s Day has been escalating in its commercial nature over the past two decades (and one that that Mack and I embraced wholeheartedly last year), a gander at one too many pre-fixe restaurant menus sent me over the edge this time around.

Of course, restaurants shouldn’t be blamed for feeding a consumer-driven hunger for extravagance, excess, and unbridled expense on February 14. No doubt, some meals, and the ultimate experience of spending time with your sweetheart could be worth every penny. Also, some restaurants do offer embellishments – providing a rose to the lady, employing a musician to set the ambiance, offering a treat at meal’s end – but could it really be worth the heightened price tag? How much more are patrons charged on Valentine’s Day, compared with any other day? With Mack’s penchant for statistics and graphs, we set to find out.

Mack:

Coming up with the data was harder than we thought! Finding the set price of the Valentine’s Day menu was easy, but finding something to compare it to was not. We decided to generate a comparable figure using the closest dishes we could find on the regular menu. Definitely not scientific, but fairly representative.

We started by finding as many restaurants with Valentine’s Day menus as we could, and then narrowed it down to those which also had regular menus online. We ended up with 12 restaurants:

The average Valentine’s Day menu price was $71.08 per person, with prices ranging from $35 per person at The Dish to $160 per person at Red Ox Inn. The average regular menu price was surprisingly similar at $69.65 per person. On average, Valentine’s Day menus featured 4 courses.

So what’s the best deal? By far, Madison’s Grill. Their 6 course Valentine’s Day menu is just $85 per person – the regular menu would cost roughly $116 per person. Of course, we’re not sure about portion sizes, but based on our recent Farmers’ Market Dinner experience, we expect they will not be small. The worst deal? Hardware Grill – you pay $31 more for the Valentine’s Day menu than you would on a regular day.

I wouldn’t cite any of this data in an academic paper, and the numbers don’t take into account ambiance, food quality, freedom of choice and service, but it was fun to generate just the same. I was surprised to discover that the Valentine’s Day menus aren’t that much more expensive after all!

Sharon:

So numbers aside, after scrutinizing more than a dozen pre-fixe menus, I can tell you that considering the menu options only, both Mack and I agree that Hardware Grill wins, hands down. We were salivating as we read through each course (butternut squash-mascarpone tortelloni with truffle butter cream sauce and fresh chanterelles? Porcini crusted sea bass, lobster-truffled potato crêpes, white corn-arugula & gulf prawns? Where do we sign up?).

While I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend any one restaurant (personal choice being that last intangible), based on our experience, Madison’s Grill and The Dish would top our list. If you’re looking for innovative, creative food that celebrates local producers, there would be no better choice than Blair Lebsack’s dining room in the Union Bank Inn. However, if you desire something more casual and comforting, The Dish is a great choice with its consistent kitchen and friendly service.

Mack:

You could, of course, avoid restaurants altogether and cook that special someone a tasty meal at home! Because as Sharon pointed out, Valentine’s Day is about spending time with your sweetheart, not spending lots of money. If you do go the restaurant route, keep in mind that there are more to choose from than the dozen we mentioned here.

We hope you enjoyed this light-hearted look at “Black Sunday” (a la Eater) in Edmonton, and we wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day!

Vancouver Trip Recap

My original intention was to blog notes at the end of each day of our trip like I normally do, but that obviously didn’t happen. Instead, here are some notes for me to look back on. Day 1 notes are here, and the wedding notes are here.

Sunday:

  • Sunday was spent eating and sleeping! We slept in a bit then made our way to Starbucks for coffee, and we also tried one of their breakfast sandwiches. I’d rank it a distant third behind McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s.
  • After that we headed over to Granville Island for a few hours. Sunday was wet and gray, but that didn’t stop us. We walked around the market, visited a bunch of shops, and ate lunch at Bridges. Sharon once again had the margherita pizza, and found it different but not necessary worse than last time. I had the fish and chips, which was excellent.
  • For dinner we walked up Granville Street to Vij’s. Arriving about 15 minutes before it opened, we found ourselves roughly 20th in line. We were seated right away, and were immediately impressed with the service – they were incredibly efficient! Sharon and I both really enjoyed the meal, though we were absolutely stuffed.
  • Before heading back to Triumf House, we stopped at Blenz for some tea and wifi. Well, wifi for me – Sharon read the Georgia Straight.

Starbucks Breakfast SandwichGranville Island Public MarketHalibut Fish & ChipsMack at Granville IslandVij'sSharon reading

Monday:

  • Woke up early to check out of the hotel, and then set off for Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe. I’m a sucker for diners, and Sophie’s definitely did not disappoint. The food arrived quickly and was quite tasty, our coffee was refilled often, and the decor was incredible – the walls are covered with memorabilia! Very cool…probably my favorite food stop on the trip.
  • Because Sophie’s was so darn fast, we had a bit of time to kill after breakfast, so we walked around the neighborhood, checking out a bunch of neat little shops. Kind of reminded me of Whyte Avenue.
  • Our next stop was Gastown for a free walking tour. Sharon and I were, not surprisingly, the youngest on the tour. It was very interesting, but the tour definitely stayed in the tourist-friendly parts of Gastown. We saw some of the less friendly parts on our own though, as we made our way to and from the bus stop. It’s amazing how different things look just two blocks apart.
  • Our final stop before heading to the airport was WorkSpace, a shared work environment in Gastown. I’ve read lots about it, so it was great to check it out in person. I’ll be writing more about it soon.

Sophie'sPancetta & EggSharon outside Sophie'sGastownGastownWorkSpace

It was a fun trip, but like all vacations, ended too soon. Sharon and I agreed that we’d like to explore more of Gastown next time. I also need to schedule some appointments with people – there are so many friends and colleagues that I didn’t get to visit!

My photos from the trip are here.

Food Glorious Food! In Calgary!

I stole the first part of the title from my sister – she uses it for pictures of food she makes and I like the way it sounds. I love food! So much so that Sharon and I went down to Calgary this past weekend for Dine Out week. It was also a good excuse for a short break away from everything.

Montreal Smoked Meat Omelette

Sharon is a great writer, and she summarized our trip very well on her blog – Part 1 and Part 2. Instead of repeating what she’s already written, I’ll just share a few highlights:

  • We ate at the following restaurants: blink and Galaxie Diner. Both were awesome! The photo above is the Montreal Smoked Meat Omelette from Galaxie. It’s a great little diner, with Coke memorabilia everywhere!
  • We stayed at the Westin Calgary, which is a really nice hotel. It even has a Starbucks in the lobby. We were upgraded to the business tower, which included free Internet!
  • We checked out the new glass floor at the Calgary Tower – it was mostly underwhelming (apparently that’s not a real word?).
  • We also checked out the Calgary Farmer’s Market, which was pretty cool! Lots of stuff to see, including Phil & Sebastian, where we tried coffee made using the Clover.
  • I got to use my iPod touch with open wireless to find directions using the Maps application!
  • It snowed like crazy on Saturday night in Calgary. I was hoping we’d escape the snow, but I guess we weren’t so lucky. I did get a few good pictures though.
  • We walked through Chinook Centre, but I only bought two shirts from Old Navy (not a big shopper, what can I say).
  • We stopped in Red Deer on the way back to see Tom & Bry. We had dinner at BP’s, and our waitress was pretty terrible. Either really new, or really dumb.
  • We didn’t go to Starbucks once, though we did drink lots of coffee. Crazy isn’t it?!
  • My photos of the trip are here.

It was fun! Dine Out Calgary will happen again next year, from March 9th to March 16th. Edmonton has one too.

burgoo – food for comfort

Last night after the conference, Megan and I met up with Kelsey for some dinner and drinks. I think the girls were hoping for sushi, but I put the kibosh on those plans! Not such a fan of the raw fish. So we asked Kelsey what kinds of restaurants were nearby, and she suggested burgoo bistro.

Mac and Cheese - $8

As you can tell from the picture above, I had to use the flash. That’s because like most little bistros, burgoo is really dark, with a single candle on each table providing most of the light. It was also quite small, with maybe a dozen tables and a tiny bar. We only had to wait about ten minutes for a table, however.

They more than make up for their lack of physical size with the menu! Even their harvest takeout menu is really impressive. Burgoo offers a wide range of dishes, from Mac and Cheese (which is what I had, for $8) to Ratatouille and Laksah and Pacific Chowder. Megan had a really hard time deciding what to order, eventually deciding on the Kentucky Burgoo for $14 (slow cooked meats with lima beans, corn, tomatoes, cabbage and okra served over garlic mashed potatoes).

We had White Sangria to drink. The $16 pitcher was impressively gigantic, though it did include quite a bit of ice. Kelsey enjoyed the oversized spoon they gave us for stirring!

When the waitress brought my Mac and Cheese out I was both surprised and a little worried. Surprised because I really liked the presentation – tiny white pot on a wooden plate – and worried because it didn’t look very big. It turned out to be quite filling though, so my worry was thankfully unnecessary!

It may not be the fanciest restaurant in the world, but I really liked burgoo. It would take you quite a while to get bored with the menu, and with the reasonable prices you wouldn’t break the bank trying everything either. Give it a shot if you’re in the area!

Zagat Survey up for sale

Post Image During my trip to New York in December, I became quite familiar with Zagat. As a foodie, Sharon assured me that Zagat was the final word on restaurants in NYC. And walking around certainly convinced me – tons of restaurants proudly display their Zagat rating or review in the window. If I had to guess, I’d say Zagat makes quite a bit of money, so I was surprised to see this in today’s Times:

Zagat Survey, the guide empire that started as a hobby for Tim and Nina Zagat in 1979 as a two-page typed list of New York restaurants compiled from reviews from friends, has been put up for sale, according to people briefed on the decision.

It is unclear how large a price Zagat will attract. While the company is a worldwide brand, its actual business is much smaller. People briefed on the company’s finances suggest the company could be valued at more than $200 million, which would still be a drop in the bucket for an Internet company or a wealthy executive.

The article hints that the reason for the sale is getting to the next level. Despite tons of success over the last three decades, more capital is necessary to move beyond organic growth. Potential suitors (as mentioned in the article) include just about every company with some cash, including IAC/InterActiveCorp, News Corporation, American Express, AT&T, and others. Heck, why not Facebook? The two companies have a partnership apparently.

I had no idea that Zagat had so many tech investors. The extremely well known Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers is one, as are former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold and Nicholas Negroponte, director of the media laboratory at MIT.

It depends who the buyer is, but I suspect the Zagat brand will lose some clout after a sale goes through.

Read: NYTimes.com