Chophouse’s relocation a nod to building’s heritage
The century-old Burns Building is one of Calgary’s most elegant historic structures. Clad in glazed ceramic and built in the Chicago style of architecture popular in the early 20th century, it was a tribute to the success of Patrick Burns. Arriving in Calgary in 1890 from Manitoba, Burns quickly became a magnate of ranching, meat packing, and retailing, one of the richest people in the city and a member of the Big Four.
Burns’ office tower thrived for years but was almost demolished in 1980 to make way for the Calgary Centre for Performing Arts (now the Epcor Centre). Since then, its main floor has seen a number of businesses — mostly restaurants — come and go. As a location, it’s a challenge. It’s a touch too far from the business core of the city; the main market is City Hall with staffers who typically have tighter expense accounts than their business cohorts. And in the evening, it needs to meet the demands of the theatres surrounding it. So what will work there? It seems logical that a beefy steak house might work in Burns’ old office and market. And when the Chicago Chophouse had to move from its old location on the corner of 5th Street and 8th Avenue S.W. due to demolition, owners Adam Dalsin and Victoria Harris thought so too. So they packed up the restaurant, lock, stock and bull sculpture and headed east to 237 — 8 Avenue S.E. (403-265-3000).
Dalsin and Harris renovated the bright, high-ceilinged space, re-doing it in sleek black and white. Champagne-toned booths line the east wall and a tall-table area by the bar denotes the lounge. A wine room at the back seats up to 55 and a small deli at the front answers the fast sandwich-and-coffee needs of Olympic Plaza visitors and customers on the run. The huge bull sculpture hangs over the entrance and a large (Styrofoam) pumpjack sits beside the deli.
Since the move, Harris and Dalsin have brought chef de cuisine Chris Lorenz over from Charcut to run their kitchen. Supervising the food side of things at the Chophouse as well as at Harris’s and Dalsin’s soon-toopen Starbelly is chef JP Pedhirney, recently of Muse.
The chefs use the all-natural, well-aged Heritage Angus beef and Brant Lake Wagyu beef provided by Community Foods. They round out the menu with Driview lamb and Maple Hill chicken, and chef Lorenz promises to increase the Chophouse’s inventory of house-made charcuterie.
The Chophouse has also part- nered with the CPO to create pre-concert options and special tasting events for ticket holders. That will be a welcome addition to concertgoers looking for a quick bite before the show and a great fit for the refreshed Burns Building.
It’s a bit out of my usual range but I’ve been impressed lately with Stockmen’s Chophouse in Camrose (6404 — 48 Avenue, 780-672-7872). (My parents are in long-term care in the Rose city so I make regular trips up there.) Camrose’s dining scene has been a bit mundane but the opening of Stockmen’s a few months ago has raised the bar immensely.
Stockmen’s is owned by NAIT grad Jesse Chambers and service professional Jennifer Routhier who met while working at North- ern Bear Golf Club near Edmonton a few years ago. Together they’ve developed a concept they call “a rare place to meat” and are serving some very good food.
The room is casual, decorated in meaty, dark browns with a number of booths and banquettes. A big semi-open kitchen occupies one area where the chefs grill 28-day aged, Certified Angus Beef over super-hot hickory.
Chambers grinds brisket inhouse for burgers so he can offer them cooked to the temperature you like and he’s paired a solid wine list to go with the food.
The kitchen shows a great deal of sophistication; the fresh tomato-fennel soup is not overpowered by the fennel, the ribs are seriously good and saucy and the dessert list has seven items, only one of which is chocolate. It’s nice to see this creativity.
So Stockmen’s Chophouse is worth a visit if you’re in the Camrose area.
Chicago Chophouse owners, Adam Dalsin and Victoria Harris have renovated their new downtown location in sleek black and white, with champagne-toned booths.
Chef de cuisine Chris Lorenz runs the kitchen at Chicago Chophouse.