Thomsons, Calgary

To be honest, I don’t give restaurants in hotels much of a thought. I must have had an experience a long time ago that left me thinking they’re all overpriced and mediocre.

I got shaken out of that bubble when Thomsons Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency recently started holding contests on Twitter. For a chance at a free dinner, they asked people to simply retweet the promotion.

Free dinner? Sign me up.

I ended up winning (woot!) dinner for two of their spring special called Taste of Canada ($28).

The dinner was a gigantic entree. While correctly cooked to order, the 12 oz. AAA Angus ribeye tasted on the bland side, with little seasoning and almost like it was cooked on a George Foreman grill. The menu described a demi-glace sauce that was definitely missing, and would have probably upped the steak a lot. That’s it for the negative stuff.

I loved the sunnyside-up, organic, free-range egg on top of the steak for adding to the overall presentation and flavour.

The matchstick fries, made from organic potatoes from Strathmore’s Poplar Bluff Farm and the truffle-scented wild mushrooms with herbs were superb.

Thomsons, CalgaryThomsons pairs this steak-and-egg deal with a cold pint of Sleeman Honey Brown.

Dessert was divine: an impressive plate of what Thomsons calls sweet tapas ($2 each). The presentation of each mini item was gorgeous.

My favourite in order was the pot au crème in espresso flavour, lavender panna cotta and apple tatin. The blueberry orange bread pudding was too citrus-y, while the berry clafouti was OK.

Thomsons dining room was quite lovely — low light, high ceilings, and lots of space between tables.

Both the manager and our waiter, Jamie (“I don’t know what Twitter is all about yet but I spend a lot of time feeding my animals on Facebook”), were pretty excited about the contest.

I think it’s quite smart for restaurants to use Twitter as an effective — and cost-free — way of promoting themselves. A handful of Calgary eateries do it well, like The District for their daily specials, and West Restaurant & Bar which has been chatting up their opening this month with gift certificate giveaways.

Adam, the Hyatt’s marketing manager, said they’ll be doing more Twitter contests throughout the summer with swag from not only Thomsons, but also from the hotel itself, as well as the Stillwater Spa inside the Hyatt.

Thomsons Restaurant, Hyatt Regency hotel, 112 Stephen Ave. SE, Calgary, (403) 717-1234.

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