Jaro Blue, Calgary

The first thing you notice about JAROblue is how small it is. The second thing is the ginormous photographs of horses humping. No wait, they’re playing.

Despite the name (taken from the first two letters of co-owners’ names Jared and Robin), there’s nothing blue in here. The soft silver seating and dark brown wood give off an unruffled ’40s vibe, especially with the retro light fixtures.

Like many new restaurants, JAROblue serves tapas-style plates. Its menu is split into three by price points ($7, $12, $15) and then desserts. There’s a short, but good, wine list and a handful of beers.

JAROblue, CalgaryThere’s something here for everyone, but more for people who like to share and try things with a twist. A caveat: I’ve been here only for late-night nibbles, and not a full dinner.

The steak tartare — I can’t resist this on any menu — was crazy fresh with just enough spices. Our only complaint is the full-flavour of rye bread is a tad overwhelming for the tartare.

The grilled lamb chops was a surprisingly large portion with three chops, on a nest of sweet potato fries and currant demi glaze. It was excellent. However, I must warn that the kitchen prefers to serve it rare, which I’m fine with. But one piece was rare to the point of raw, that I couldn’t even cut it with my knife.

I sent it back for a few more minutes on the grill — and the server was super nice about it. The kitchen actually re-plated my little chop, and added au jus, so I really appreciated the attention to that kind of detail.

Jaro Blue, Calgary

The duck confit and risotto croquettes did not look like what I expected: five little croquettes with bits of duck confit inside. They were quite yummy with the spicy pineapple chutney, and a lovely presentation too.

The tenderloin ravioli (three or four large pieces) was simple but homemade in a nice cream sauce.

JAROblue, CalgarySadly, they were out of the assorted mini-burgers (beef, duck, pulled pork and foie gras) which we must return to try.

We’ve also tried the cheese plate which I’m sure is supplied by Janice Beaton Fine Cheese. I remember the distinctive orange Shropshire blue cheese, a gouda and maybe a hunk of cheddar (?). The crackers were meh but the accoutrements were fab. Marinated kale and fennel gave it a nice yowza punch, and the kale was just so pretty.

I didn’t taste the chocolate dessert plate but the chocolate-lovers in the group said it was good.

Service here is excellent. And I don’t mean in that way compared to the lower standards we all seem to be resigned to these days because service is just so terrible in Calgary. I mean, professional, smart, and courteous. It’s about time Calgary got a place like this that does so many things right.

JAROblue doesn’t take reservations but they give accurate estimates of how long the wait might be, and will call your cellphone when a table is ready.

JAROblue, 1314-17th Ave. SW, (403) 237-5276. Open Sun-Thurs. 5 p.m. to midnight, Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

JAROblue, Calgary

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