A FOODIE’S OA­SIS IN WEST SPRINGS

Calgary Herald - - XXPAGELABE­LXX - JOHN GILCHRIST JOHN GILCHRIST’S NEW EAT CANADA RESTAU­RANT APP IS NOW AVAIL­ABLE FOR IPADS AND IPHONES. HE CAN BE REACHED AT [email protected] TELUS.NET OR 403-235-7532.

Look­ing across 85th Street S.W., I was con­fused. Be­hind me was Vin Room, the pop­u­lar Mis­sion wine bar. Across was Mer­cato, the busy Mis­sion Ital­ian deli and restau­rant. What’s go­ing on here?

Looks like Phoebe and Ken Fung, the own­ers of Vin Room, have taken their con­cept to West Springs with a sec­ond lo­ca­tion at 8561– 8A Av­enue S.W. (587353-8812). They’ve planted it in a new strip-mall devel­op­ment called West 85th Street, di­rectly across from Mer­cato West, the sec­ond it­er­a­tion of the Caroc­ci­olo fam­ily’s restau­rant-deli, and dubbed it Vin Room West.

They’ve taken ad­van­tage of the boom­ing devel­op­ment in West Springs and are bring­ing their food and wine combo to its res­i­dents.

The new Vin Room West is 120 seats and two lev­els cen­tred around a large, mar­ble bar that houses eight Eno­matic wine dis- pensers hold­ing 64 wines. Add in a dozen sparkling wines, a dozen sweet wines and a half-dozen bot­tles on ice and you have more than 90 wines avail­able by the glass at any time. Sam­ple very ex­pen­sive wines by the ounce or glasses or bot­tles of your favourites. (Note: Our liquor laws al­low us to take home partly drunk restau­rant bot­tles.)

Run­ning Vin Room’s kitchens is newly ar­rived se­nior ex­ec­u­tive chef Christo­pher Chabot. The na­tive of Elm­vale, Ont. and grad­u­ate of the Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Amer­ica’s New York cam­pus, was most re­cently cook­ing at Van­cou­ver’s Opus Ho­tel. He’s been work­ing with ex­ec­u­tive chef Diana Nacita to en­sure that both kitchens put out sim­ple, ta­pas-fo­cused, wine-friendly food. The pair prom­ises a new look menu for both lo­ca­tions early in the New Year.

In ad­di­tion to the Vin Room wine bar, the Fungs have opened VR Wine, a wine shop, next to the restau­rant. It features wines sold at Vin Room plus tastes from an ad­di­tional Eno­matic dis­penser. They also have Cal­gary’s first Eno­matic sparkling wine dis­penser, al­low­ing tastes of pricey cham­pagnes, that can stay bubbly for up to a month.

Although West 85th Street is a fairly small strip­mall, it holds a few other culi­nary gems. Ex­pe­ri­enced baker Se­bas­tian Jud­kovski has opened Ohh la la Patis­serie (587-353-0111) just a few doors east of the wine bar. Orig­i­nally from Ar­gentina, Jud­kovski is trained in French and Ital­ian bak­ing and was, un­til re­cently, the ex­ec­u­tive pas­try chef at Cal­gary’s Cham­ber of Com­merce. Ohh la la show­cases his tal­ent in madeleines, mac­a­roons, maple-glazed crois­sants and more.

Just east of Ohh la la, there is olive oil and bal­samic vine­gar shop Blue Door (403-978-4659). Owned by Court­ney and Bruce Gil­lis, Blue Door pours more than 50 oils and vine­gars from bulk fusti tanks into smaller bot­tles. Sourc­ing from Veron­ica Foods in Oak­land, Blue Door — like Sof­fritto in Canyon Mead­ows — of­fers the most freshly

pressed oils avail­able.

I was pleas­antly sur­prised to find some ex­cel­lent food items in In­spi­rati, the lovely linen shop at 2115 – 4 Street S.W., 403-244-4443. In ad­di­tion to all the fine fab­rics, owner Wendy Brownie has brought in Hubs Vir­ginia peanuts (a treat for goober fans), Poor­boy caramels in­fused with fleur de sel and Il Pala­gio’s ex­tra vir­gin olive oil from Sting’s es­tate near Florence.

Stu­art Gradon/cal­gary Her­ald

An­drea Robin­son, left, re­gional gen­eral man­ager, is joined by fel­low Vin Room West per­son­nel Phoebe Fung, pro­pri­etor, Erika Tocco, wine di­rec­tor, Clau­dio Bag­noti, sous chef, Tim Butcher, as­sis­tant man­ager and Christo­pher Chabot, se­nior ex­ec­u­tive chef.

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