We officially survived being married to each other for a full year. Not that it was any different than just being together sans-marriage, because after you hit the 5-year mark, it’s all downhill from there. I’m kidding, obviously (or am I? Hah). We’re not very big on doing fancy celebrations for anniversaries, and really, my favourite way to celebrate anything is with food, so we headed out the evening before our official anniversary date for dinner at Cassis Bistro, which has now become one of our favourite restaurants in Calgary.
Word of mouth told me that Cassis has been doing some wonderful things since it opened a few years ago in the Casel Marche building at the corner of 17th Avenue and 24th Street SW. The owners and chefs all hail from France, with their cuisine reflecting the simple, fresh flavours from the owner’s childhood, using mostly local ingredients from Market 17 right next door to the bistro.
Reservations are highly recommended; it was jam-packed when we arrived at 6:30pm. In stark contrast to the dreary snow that was falling outside (because there is no such thing as Spring in Calgary), inside Cassis it was warm, lively, and felt surprisingly light-hearted. Groups of friends were gathered around sharing food, wine, and laughter, and the good energy was buzzing all around.
I don’t normally order anything other than water as a drink (I like to save all the calorie allotment and stomach room for FOOD), but since this was a special occasion, I splurged on a drink called Panache, which is a combination of Kronenbourg beer and French lemonade. Mark got a regular Kronenbourg from the tap and it might be his new favourite beer. I really enjoyed the light crispness of the beer and lemonade mix; the beer, already being quite light and fruity, paired well with the lemonade.
We started with the Spring Asparagus (free range poached egg & Morel mushroom sauce), which is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Ever. An asparagus dish, really? YES. Mark described it as “summer in my mouth”. We both adored this dish of fresh, crisp asparagus paired with bitter greens, a perfectly poached and runny egg, and whatever sorcery they pulled to make that divine mushroom sauce that tasted like all the good things of the world packed together. It was light, it was rich, it was savoury, and even a touch sweet. So many different flavours, yet it was balanced perfectly. We were mopping up as much of the sauce as possible with the bread. I would order 10 of these next time and revel in the beauty that is this dish and probably creep everyone out.
For his main, Mark went with the Plat du Jour, a French regional classic that changes daily. That night it was a pork chop in mustard cream sauce, with polenta and salad. The portion was really generous, with the pork chop being quite large and perfectly cooked. Even with my total hatred and aversion of anything mustard, I actually enjoyed the mustard sauce when I tried a bite of the pork. It’s a miracle that any dish can make me actually enjoy mustard. Like I said, they do sorcery here. The polenta was quite magical itself. I’ve never had such light, creamy polenta before. This plate was large with tons of food, but Mark ate every last bit of food on his plate. He was struggling with the polenta but remarked that it was too good not to eat it all.
I chose the Market Fish, which was a Manitoba pickerel-based dish that evening. This was my first time trying pickerel and it was a lovely experience. The fish was perfectly cooked, juicy, and simply flavoured, with a satisfyingly crispy skin. The veggie medley underneath provided a nice contrast in texture and flavour. The dish was light, refreshing, but still completely satisfying. I think pickerel might be my new favourite fish.
Throughout the evening, I kept seeing this lemon tart coming out of the kitchen and I knew instantly that I needed to have it, no matter how full I was after the meal. It’s simply too breathtaking to pass up. Mark also got a coffee, as he needs the bitterness of coffee to balance out anything sweet he eats. They also do sorcery on their coffee because it was SO delicious. How can a coffee be that good? I must know their secrets. As for the tart, WOW! So lemon! Much taste! The top was caramelized creme brulee-style, cracking to reveal a silky smooth and perfectly balanced sweet and tart lemon custard. Sometimes looks can be deceiving, but this tart was every bit as delicious as it looked. I so not regret almost exploding my stomach to get every bit of this into it.
We were both stuffed to the brim by the end of the meal, but every morsel was worth the pain of tightened pant waists and the epic caloric intake. Besides the excellent food, we had great service throughout the evening, and the owner even came by our table to ask how everything was. IT WAS SPECTACULAR!!!!!!, I wanted to yell, but there’s such a thing as social etiquette that prevents me from doing crazy things in public.
If this is what French bistro food tastes like, do I really need to go to France to experience it? I might as well just go to Cassis and get my fix on the regular.
2505 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T3C1J7
Phone: (403) 262-0036