A couple of months ago, Mark and I had one of those traditional “Dinner & A Movie” dates because even after several years together, it’s always important to keep “dating” each other. Romance and all, ya know? The movie of choice that evening was Interstellar, but before hitting the theatre, we hit a restaurant within another type of theatre, Workshop Kitchen + Culture. Located in the Theatre Junction Grand, a building I have passed numerous times but never stepped foot in, it’s got a casual, modern vibe in an otherwise old building – exposed brick walls, funky lighting, an open concept kitchen, large communal tables in the middle of the space, and dark accents throughout.
Restaurant dining is an interesting challenge for low-carbers and most of the time we prefer eating at home, but Workshop had a few items on the menu that looked low-carb friendly. Sometimes it’s a bit of a gamble – you never know if there’s something hidden within a sauce or an ingredient they might not have listed on the menu, but I figure, we don’t go out often and accidentally eating something that isn’t entirely low-carb isn’t the end of the world. We try our best to avoid the obvious as much as possible and leave the rest to chance.
To prove that it is indeed a small world, our server that evening was the server we had at our recent dinner at Charcut. Ain’t that fancy?
To start, we ordered the Ancho and Sasparilla Glazed Pork Belly with Jicama, Lime and Peanuts. Anything pork belly is a winner in my books. Workshop’s version was braised until tender and seasoned well with the glaze (I later discovered that sasparilla is a type of soda – oops – no wonder it tasted really sweet; live and learn). The jicama and lime were fresh and cut through the richness of the pork belly, while the peanuts provided a crunchy textural contrast.
Next we had the Charcoal Dry Aged Beef Tenderloin. It originally came with cheddar and leek mashed potato, but we asked if it was possible to sub in a vegetable instead. They kindly substituted in grilled asparagus, which was really awesome of them. It also came with some charred shishito peppers. The beef was so incredibly tender and the temperature was just perfect (medium). It was well seasoned and we enjoyed the grilled asparagus as well. The peppers weren’t overly hot, which was good for my fragile palate.
Lastly, we ordered the Workshop Cioppino (sans grilled sourdough), Fish and Shellfish in Broth with Pickled Fennel Aioli. I think the aioli was meant for the sourdough but we were given the option to stir it in for added richness. We love ourselves a good cioppino and Workshop’s version was an excellent rendition. The broth was bright with a distinct seafood flavour, and all the fish and shellfish was cooked perfectly.
I do admit the portions at Workshop are a bit smaller than I’m used to, but it certainly didn’t detract from the evening. We felt we had a good amount of food to fill us without over-stuffing our stomachs and getting that dreaded food coma, which would’ve been a disaster considering we had to stay awake to watch a 3-hour movie afterwards. We received excellent service throughout the evening, the tempo of the dishes worked well, and the relaxed, casual vibe was enjoyable. Definite bonus points for willing to make a substitution for us – I know we can be a pain in the ass so it’s always appreciated when a restaurant can be accommodating, and in the end this makes us fast fans of new places.
Workshop Kitchen + Culture
608 1st St SW
Calgary, AB T2P 1M6
Phone: (403) 266-7062