There have been many new beer-centred restaurants opening up around the city lately. 

One of them is Vagabond, just north of the Stampede Grounds, which Calgary Eyeopener restaurant reviewer John Gilchrist visited this week.

He said it's a great place to go before a hockey game, with a style more suited than the space's former incarnation, Olives, for the stadium crowd. 

"They converted that contemporary Mediterranean look into a West Coast industrial brew pub," says Gilchrist. "It's meant to replicate brick, concrete and metal warehouses, preferably on a dock somewhere."

"It's very big in San Francisco where you've got these brick warehouses along the docks and you convert this into some kind of trendy bar and you know, you've got the hanging light bulbs and that sort of thing. Even Earl's has adopted this look."

Gilchrist says Vagabond kept the large open-style kitchen, but switched the menu to a broad assortment of brew-pub foods including tacos, pizzas, fried chicken and burgers.

"If I had this 10 minutes earlier it would have been great." - John Gilchrist

"It's a much more appropriate pre-hockey menu than Olives ever was because it's quicker, cheaper and more in tune."

Sports isn't the only theme they are going for, says Gilchrist.

"Its undoubtedly sports-oriented, with the schedules of the Flames and Stampeders on the backs on the menu. But it's also inspired, as they say, by quote, 'the heroes of the First and Second World Wars.' So it has a slight military theme that's part historical and part fashionable."

Menu choices

Although the menu may sound typical, Gilchrist says the chef knows what he's doing.

"If you look a little closer you'll find a kale Caesar salad, one of the trendy items these days. And this one has double-smoked bacon. He's got a duck confit salad with pistachios and orange segments. There's lobster dogs with house-made pickles and they've got a 16-ounce ragu beef burger topped with foie gras, duck confit, black truffle cheese and heirloom tomatoes on a brioche bun."

Gilchrist did not opt for the ragu beef burger, as it sells for $100, but says the food was mostly excellent.

"I started with Vagabond's beer and cheddar soup which was creamy ... and loaded with potatoes. A lovely soup, good size bowl for six bucks and then on to the fish and chips."

"This was generally a good fish and chips, but I got the impression it had been sitting under the heat lamp too long," says Gilchrist. "If I had this 10 minutes earlier it would have been great."

"My friend's Vagabond burger of house-ground brisket was well received. And on the beverage side, Vagabond carries a decent list of both craft and international beers," says Gilchrist.

Vagabond's own beers are being made by Brew Brothers until operations have been set up in-restaurant.

"Its a concept that makes sense and I think it's going to be busy on game nights, not so busy other times. It's going to be one of those up and down places. But I'll give Vagabond a 7.5 out of 10."

Vagabond is at 1129 Olympic Way S.E.

Gilchrist: 7.5 forks out of 10

John Gilchrist gives Sushi Me 7.5 forks out of 10. (CBC)