Calgary Eyeopener restaurant reviewer John Gilchrist tried some French cuisine at Chef's Table located inside Kensington's Riverside Inn, which has just become a Relais and Chateau property.
He says it is a great designation to receive.
"The Kensington Riverside Inn has just gained it to be only the 13th hotel in Canada to receive that designation. It's mostly for smaller boutique hotels that have a really high standard of comfort and service and it's a marker that people of means, shall we say, use to figure out where they're going to travel," said Gilchrist.
"It's all about the details and they do them so well." - John Gilchrist
Gilchrist says he has had good experiences there before.
"Last summer when I was putting together my latest restaurant guide we dropped in there for a bite just to see how things were going [and] had one of the best meals of the year there," he said.
Gilchrist decided to take in brunch at the inn located on Memorial Drive northwest.
"I thought it was just outstanding, but you know, I'd never been for brunch ... so brunch it was," he said.
Gilchrist says the Chef's Table restaurant has terrific service.
"The service is exceptional here. It's in keeping with that Relais-Chateau standard. It's friendly, it's professional, from end to end they just can't do enough for you but they aren't clingy about it. It doesn't feel oppressive or intimidating."
The setting is elegant but not over the top, according to Gilchrist.
"Don't feel like you have to be dressy here," he said.
When it came time to order, Gilchrist opted for a croque-madame.
"A favourite from the French petit déjeuner collection of dishes. Basically, a ham and cheese sandwich that has been amped up to a great degree.... You add a Mornay sauce, that's a béchamel that’s had emmenthal cheese added to it. You top that with an egg or two, then more emmenthal, then a bit of hollandaise sauce and a poached organic egg on top."
Gilchrist's wife tried the pain perdu, which he says is sometimes served as dessert.
"This one uses day-old bread, it's typically baguette with the crust cut off. They dip in egg and cook, this is french toast done the real French way."
"At Chef's Table they use brioche. They soak it with orange zest and cinnamon as well as the egg and then they toss in a bit of sugar just to crust it when it's cooking. Then on top of that [is] fruit compote, crème fraiche and maple syrup— think that's sweet enough?"
"It's all about the details and they do them so well," says Gilchrist. "I'm going to give Chef's Table a nine out of 10."