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When I was home in Calgary over the break, my parents took me to this small French restaurant called Cassis. Now, I’ve been around the block once or twice re The French Restaurant (most notably, in actual France), and so I was only sort of looking forward to this place. When I heard it was located inside a grocery store, I became decidedly less excited. Even when I was there, reading the menu, I was rolling my eyes and all of my attention was absorbed in trying to adjust the waistband of my skirt…ie, not on the menu. The decor certainly didn’t look French (white, almost stark walls, with black and white films being projected on the back wall), and the menu itself was quite short. But I put on my game face and between my parents and I, appetizers and mains, we ordered almost half of the menu. I started off with a drink (my dad tried to convince me to go in with a bottle of wine but I’ve noticed lately that half a glass of red makes me feel like I’ve had a whole bottle to myself), and this is where my opinion started to change. My drink was great – refreshing and different and creative. I don’t even remember what it was, but it was certainly a harbinger of things to come.
Our apps came fairly speedily; the waiter seemed to remember my parents from their previous visits, and was quite friendly and chatty. My parents split the lobster ravioli (my mum never could pass up a good lobster), and I had a salad with apple and chicken liver. Mind. Blown.
To be honest, I don’t even know why I would think to order this; it sounds completely incongruous and in this day and age, you don’t hear a lot of people saying, “oh yeah hey, my most favourite thing to eat in the whole wide world is LIVER! I just love it’s ferric-y tang!” But, I like to be different and sometimes it’s fun to gross my dad out (Fergus Henderson’s restaurant was not for him: see here), so there we go. Basically this was the best salad ever. I know I say that a lot (I think I must really like lettuce or something; maybe I was a rabbit in a previous life? Something to ponder during the inevitable nights of existentialist crisis), but this was truly excellent. The crisp apple, the hot, barely seared liver (yes, leaking delicious bloody juices all over the plate…can you believe I used to be a vegetarian? Madness), and the nice frisée leaves, which I have to say have been my favourite lettuce ever since I appropriated my first cookbook from my father, Emeril’s New New Orleans Cooking, and I read all about this strange and wonderful new item called frisée. And they give you a lot of liver! Almost enough for this to be a main course salad, in fact. I didn’t even try the ravioli (pasta is so yesterday), but my mum said they were lovely.
For the mains, my dad had the cassolette, a seafood-y, lobster bisque-y sort of affair:
My mum had the veal blanquette (I think that’s what it was; I’m fairly certain it was the special of the day, since there’s nothing remotely close to that on the menu), and I opted for the charcuterie plate (what? I like pâté, okay).
The charcuterie plate was huge, and I really enjoyed everything on it. Some of the items were made in-house, like the pate; although the menu says French ham, to me it seemed more like a Southern country ham (I’m not exactly sure the difference here between the two). Either way it was very tasty; it would have been perfect on a sandwich, or better yet, a biscuit! I found the bread that came with it both a bit too crunchy, and a bit too limited in quantity – let them eat bread, after all!
All in all, I came away from Cassis extremely satisfied, and actually feeling like I may have just eaten somewhere in France. The decor now seemed charming, and the attached grocery store, quaint. My belly was full, my mind was happy, and I was thoroughly satisfied. What more can you want from a holiday dinner?
Cassis is located at 2505 17th Ave SW in Calgary; they take online reservations, have a special Valentine’s Day dinner, and, even better, do brunch. I love brunch. I love French brunch!
A bientôt, mes beaux amis! Vous restez délicieux!
[Disclaimer: in no way do I speak French]