Although some traditional French restaurants have been around for years — or decades — Calgary is seeing a resurgence of the casual bistro that makes classic French cuisine more approachable.
Whether you're looking for a gooey croque monsieur, a comforting cassoulet (casserole) or the full chateaubriand (thick-cut tenderloin) experience, here are a few places to get your French food fix in Calgary.
From their fromage and charcuterie to the duck confit frisée salad, French fries with hollandaise and a velouté (velvet soup) bar, the influence at Bistro Rouge is decidedly French.
This new, more casual offspring of Inglewood's Rouge Restaurant offers a variety of options for those looking to indulge in the taste of France. Order a Provençal-style roast chicken with vegetables and scalloped potatoes to go (order by 3 p.m. MT, pick up between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) or pop in for cocktails and charcuterie at 4 p.m. before their full dinner service begins at 5 p.m.
1919 Sirocco Drive S.W., 403-514-0561
In France, l'epicerie is a term used to designate a street corner grocery store that offers a variety of items like charcuterie, dry goods, produce, cheeses and other meats.
Chef Dominique Moussu has brought this tradition to Calgary, offering up authentic French sandwiches on crusty baguettes (think ham and fois), a cheesy croque monsieur, well-crafted quiche, bouchée à la reine (vol-au-vent), duck and pork cassoulet or beef bourguignon.
Find a spot at one of their few small tables or take it to go. Their other location, Le Petit Mousse, has a similar menu at the Calgary Farmers' Market.
1325 First Street S.E., 403-514-0555
Inspired by the cuisine of the south of France, Cassis on 17 Avenue at Crowchild Trail is known as one of Calgary's best French restaurants.
Their winter menu includes classics like prime striploin steak frites, beef tartare "au couteau," market fish and a proper cassoulet with Brome Lake duck confit, Alberta pork belly and hock, and white beans. Brunch offerings include house-made quiche or a warm croque madame topped with béchamel and a fried egg, served with a mixed salad.
105 2505 17 Avenue S.W., 403-262-0036
Cucina Market Bistro
Cucina Market Bistro looks like a chic French farmhouse, plunked in the middle of downtown Calgary. Their rosemary-roasted porchetta sandwich (made with slow-roasted Spragg Farms pork belly, sour apple-celery-brassica, mustard slaw and ciabatta) is one of the most popular lunch items. At dinner there’s the option of Silver Sage beef osso bucco or beef heart tartare. Brunch offerings include ricotta fritters served warm with apricot jam or a ratatouille Benedict with sautéed zucchini, peppers, squash, tomato, free-range eggs and parmigiano hollandaise.
515 Eighth Avenue S.W., 587-353-6565
La Chaumière has served old-world French cuisine in Calgary in a formal, elegant setting since 1978. There are over 800 vintages, from sparkling wines to armagnacs, in their wine cellar to complement traditional dishes like escargot, roasted duck breast and veal sweetbreads. Or order the chateaubriand bouquetiere for two, it's served with béarnaise sauce and fresh vegetables ($73).
139 17 Avenue S.W., 403-228-5690
Yellow Door Bistro
At the brand-new Yellow Door Bistro in the Hotel Arts, chef Duncan Ly and his team offer several options for authentic French fare. Try the Noble Farms duck cassoulet, made with a sous-vide duck breast, pork belly and confit leg, or go for a Provençal seafood bouillabaisse (stew) with West coast mussels, clams, wild prawns, cod and chorizo sausage in a tomato saffron broth.
119 12 Avenue S.W. (in the Hotel Arts), 403-206-9585