G I LC H R I ST

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

As hid­den gems go, The Rock has been a great lit­tle hole-in-the­wall in Marl­bor­ough for the past three years. Hard to find, small space, a lit­tle down at the heels — per­fect. But a few months ago, Swan­dri, the owner and chef of The Rock, closed his north­east restau­rant to move to a high­er­traf­fic lo­ca­tion. A cou­ple of real es­tate deals fell through be­fore he fi­nally landed a space and now he’s open at 1446 17th Av­enue S.W. (403-454-0242). That’s just west of the 17th Av­enue and 14th Street S.W. in­ter­sec­tion, next to Chi­anti’s.

The Rock has taken over a small cof­fee shop, a long, nar­row room that seats about 40. It still has rem­nants of the cof­fee shop, but Swan­dri has in­stalled a new kitchen and given the room a fresh coat of paint. It’s a sim­ple space; there are no frills here.

Swan­dri fo­cuses his at­ten­tion on the food. It’s a wide-reach­ing list that starts with a creamy chicken and corn chow­der ($5/$7) and a list of burg­ers. There’s a lamb burger with onion, let­tuce, tomato, may­on­naise and ap­ple wood-smoked ched­dar ($13) and a beef burger ($11), as well as shrimp, pork, chicken, and veg­gie burg­ers. (They come with soup, salad or fries.)

There are also a cou­ple of lunch pas­tas, and for din­ner, Swan­dri rolls out the big dishes — cala­mari ($10), es­car­got ($12), roasted duck breast ($27), rack of lamb ($39) and a 10-ounce Ster­ling Sil­ver Prime rib ($29). It’s a re­mark­ably up­scale list that’s seem­ingly out of place with the sim­plic­ity of the set­ting, but Swan­dri says his top sell­ers are the rack of lamb done in a rose­mary-mus­tard crust, the duck, a 10-ounce breast of Mus­covy duck served with sautéed spinach and mush­rooms in an or­ange brandy sauce, and his slow-roasted ribs ($26). All of The Rock’s main cour­ses come with two sides and make a sub­stan­tial meal. And where else can you get es­car­gots these days?

Swan­dri hails from In­done­sia — hence the sin­gle name — and learned to cook from his fa­ther, also a chef. Land­ing ho­tel jobs in In­done­sia, and later in Van­cou­ver, he learned clas­sic Con­ti­nen­tal cook­ing from French chefs. He works Asian flavours into some of his dishes, but his tech­nique is much more French than In­done­sian. That in­cludes desserts of crème brûlée, cho­co­late mousse and tiramisu.

So the new Rock con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion of a ba­sic decor with rich, flavour­ful, well-ex­e­cuted food. Just the way a hole-in-the­wall should be.

Note: The Rock is open Mon­day through Satur­day for lunch and din­ner, plus brunch on Satur­days.

Bar­be­cue fans were lined up re­cently for the re­open­ing of Big D’s Smoke­house in the Cal­gary Farm­ers’ Mar­ket at 510 77th Av­enue S.E. Big D’s had been closed for a cou­ple of months fol­low­ing the death of its owner, Derek Davis.

Show­ing re­spect for the legacy Davis built over the past three years, new own­ers Jean Char­bon­neau and Les­lie Ber­ton have kept the name, the look and the recipes in­tact, cre­at­ing a seam­less tran­si­tion.

Char­bon­neau and Ber­ton are no strangers to the restau­rant world. They brought the first Cora’s to Cal­gary (4600 130th Av­enue S.E.) in 2006 and helped spur the Que­bec-based restau­rant group’s ex­pan­sion to six south­ern Al­berta fran­chises.

A re­cent trip to Texas con­vinced Char­bon­neau and Ber­ton to broaden their hori­zons into slow-cooked meats, so when Big D’s be­came avail­able, they bought it. Big D’s is a wel­come re­turn to the Cal­gary Farm­ers’ Mar­ket.

In other Cal­gary Farm­ers’ Mar­ket (CFM) news, Lund’s Or­ganic Farm has opened a booth there, sell­ing their renowned car­rots, parsnips, pars­ley roots, pota­toes and other pre­mium veg­eta­bles.

The re­turn of Lund’s to the mar­ket is no­table be­cause Gert Lund was one of its orig­i­nal ven­dors, dat­ing from be­fore its Currie Bar­racks pe­riod back to the days of the Black­foot Farm­ers’ Mar­ket. When the CFM closed its Currie Bar­racks lo­ca­tion in 2010, Lund helped found the Kings­land Farm­ers’ Mar­ket. And while Kings­land is still do­ing well on Ma­cleod Trail, Lund has opted to open a lo­ca­tion at CFM, re­join­ing other long­time ven­dors such as In­n­is­fail Grow­ers and The Cherry Pit.

Other new ven­dors at CFM in­clude Food On Your Shirt, fea­tur­ing the tal­ented de­signs of Pierre Lamielle, Papa Cho­co­lat with the choco­lates of Bernard Calle­baut, Bee­land, a new honey and hon­eyprod­uct shop, and Sof­fritto’s Oil and Vine­gar Bar.

Note: CFM is open Mon­day, Dec. 23 and then closed un­til Jan. 9.

RESTAU­RANT GUIDE TO

Corkscrews — The es­teemed watch­maker Patek Philippe claims that you never re­ally own one of their watches, you sim­ply keep it and then pass it on to the next gen­er­a­tion. The corkscrews from the French firm Forge de Laguiole are built this way, as well; they can last a life­time and be­yond. Many of the pro­duc­ers in the French com­mune of Laguiole have moved their pro­duc­tion to China and while their prices are now a frac­tion of what they used to be, so is the qual­ity of the corkscrews. Forge de Laguiole are still hand-built in Laguiole us­ing the high­est qual­ity ma­te­ri­als avail­able and if you don’t abuse them they can in­deed last a life­time. They re­tail from about $190 to $250 each depend­ing on the fin­ish and are avail­able at a few se­lect re­tail­ers in the city.

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