It’s been a few years since I’ve been to The Living Room on 17th Avenue SW. No big reason really, I just never think about it. So when an old friend was in town recently, we ended up there for dinner because someone had recommended it to him.
It is a lovely place and has, without a doubt, the most elegant and comfortable patio in the city. A large fireplace and ample heat lamps keep the evening chill away on summer nights. Alas, it was a cold spring night so we grabbed a table inside by the window.
I had two N.B. oysters ($3.50 each) on the shell to start. They were decent. I liked the fresh horseradish on the side; the mini bottle of Tabasco looked for show, since nothing came out no matter how hard we shook it.
The guys had beer, and I had a glass of red wine. It’s just as well that I didn’t write down any details. It was warm and slightly off, with quite a bit of sediment. However, I will admit I didn’t send it back or tell the server because I was busy catching up and chatting.
I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of food and the price points on the menu. My lamb shank ($26) — from Australia, and not local — was massive, with tender meat falling off the bone. I was equally impressed by the heaping side of herb de Provence buttered spinach fettuccini, and some crisp asparagus and broccolini so I don’t get scurvy.
I whined Greg out of ordering the same thing as me (that’s what 17+ years of friendship will get ya), so that I could sample more than just my dinner. There was plenty of his confit magrét duck leg ($25) to go around. It was moist and meaty with a cabernet and chanterelle jus, on top of truffle pomme puree (fancy mashed potatoes really) and a side spinach salad.
Zach had the vegetarian ravioli off the day’s specials, but I had only just met him, and so didn’t feel comfortable stealing bites off his plate. I do have some semblance of decorum, after all. It must have been good since he cleared his plate.
The Living Room likes to hype its concept of “contemporary interactive cuisine,” which as far as I can tell means certain appetizers and entrees designed to be shared by two (ie, fondues, whole roasted chicken, double-cut rib eye). Frankly, the kitchen is so strong here that I’m puzzled why it needs to sell any kind of gimmick.
We had a good dinner with solid service. I’ve made a mental note to add The Living Room to my summer dining rotation especially in patio weather.
The Living Room, 514-17th Ave. SW, Calgary, (403) 228-9830. Open for lunch weekdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Open for dinner Monday to Sunday 5 p.m.-midnight.