‘FA­MIL­IAR CHI­NESE’ AT TWO PENNY

Mul­ti­cul­tural food scene ex­pands

Calgary Herald - - WEEKEND LIFE - JOHN GILCHRIST John Gilchrist can be reached at es­cu­[email protected] or at 403-2357532 or fol­low him on Twit­ter @ GilchristJohn

With the open­ing of Two Penny, Cody Wil­lis can now add Chi­nese to his bur­geon­ing col­lec­tion of mul­ti­cul­tural restau­rants. The man be­hind Thank You Hos­pi­tal­ity Man­age­ment and its restau­rants, Na­tive Tongues (Mex­i­can) and Cal­cutta Cricket Club (In­dian), has worked with a new team to de­velop Two Penny at 1213 1st St. S.W. (403-616-2711).

His part­ners in this project are gen­eral man­ager An­drea Robin­son (Teatro, River Cafe), ex­ec­u­tive chef Scott Beaton (Anju, Na­tive Tongues) and bev­er­age di­rec­tor Stephen Phipps (Bour­bon Room, Ri­cardo’s Hideaway) — all sea­soned vet­er­ans of the lo­cal restau­rant in­dus­try. Han­dling de­sign was Sarah Ward (The Nash, Bro’kin Yolk) to help con­vert a mori­bund space into a restau­rant and tea house.

The main floor of the build­ing, which was built a cen­tury ago and op­er­ated as a bak­ery for over half the years since, has been opened into a 90-seat din­ing room, a west-fac­ing wall of win­dows flood­ing light into the room. A black oak moon gate stands at the en­trance high- lighted by sea-foam-green tiles and nat­u­ral wicker. Black leather ban­quettes line the walls and a bar fills one end of the room. Huge fir beams that hold up the sec­ond floor have been ex­posed, and plants and Asian lamps have been hung from the high ceil­ings. Ward says the style is in­spired by 1920s Shang­hai, the pe­riod known as “Chi­nese Deco” for its meld­ing of Chi­nese tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture and Art Deco.

The Two Penny team de­scribe the food as “fa­mil­iar Chi­nese” with kung pao pork ($20), mus­sels in black bean sauce ($20), beef and broc­coli ($24) and steamed bar­be­cued pork buns ($12) on the menu. They’re not try­ing to repli­cate a visit to Chi­na­town. In­stead, they are draw­ing on dishes from across China and adding a West­ern flair. So the beef is Brant Lake Wagyu brisket, the steamed mus­sels come with toasted sour­dough and the kung pao in­cludes house-made bologna. Al­most ev­ery­thing is made in-house so no MSG sneaks into bot­tled sauces. The oys­ters in the smoked oyster sauce are smoked in-house, the charred cab­bage comes with soy-braised ham hock and the fried rice in­cludes bone mar­row.

An­other dif­fer­ence is the drink list, which in­cludes cre­ative cock­tails such as a gin-based gin­ger-soy sour and a pisco disco with pisco, te­quila, rose liqueur and rhubarb bit­ters. The wine list leans to­ward Ries­lings, vinho verdes and mus­cadets that work well with Chi­nese food, plus a half-dozen craft beers.

Down­stairs the gritty, 50-seat Tea­house glows red un­der Chi­nese lanterns and serves its own loungey menu. Gen­eral Tso cau­li­flower, cumin egg­plant shaob­ing and chong-ching chicken wings con­tinue the East-meets-West theme. The Tea­house will also of­fer dim sum cart ser­vice in the near fu­ture.

The Two Penny team also prom­ises a lively room and good ser­vice to add to the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence. Two Penny is open for din­ner daily and does not take reser­va­tions.

Fans of sweet treats will be happy with a cou­ple of new ven­dors at the Mar­ket on Macleod. Fol­low­ing the ar­rival of Pie Cloud a few weeks ago, Moun­tain Rhino Donuts and Red Tar­tan Short­bread have set up shop there, too.

Moun­tain Rhino, named af­ter the grace­ful de­meanour of owner Steve Fletcher-Beck (part­ner­ing with wife Ruth), fea­tures top-end dough­nuts — yeast, cake, cruller and gluten-free. They tested the waters in out­door mar­kets this sum­mer and were en­cour­aged enough to move indoors this win­ter. They say they have dozens of recipes in­clud­ing burned but­ter maple with ba­con, te­quila lime, milk choco­late s’mores and laven­der-honey dip. Sales have been brisk so far. Dough­nuts go for $3 each or $30 per dozen.

Also new to the Mar­ket on Macleod is Red Tar­tan Short­bread. Owner Pamela Hart­man uses her grand­mother’s recipes (she was a Maxwell) and has cre­ated her own gluten-free and sugar-free ver­sions, as well as the tra­di­tional full-but­ter, full-sugar clas­sics. The short­breads are also al­tered for spe­cial oc­ca­sions — or­ange-and-black sprin­kles for Hal­loween — and are pack­aged in at­trac­tive bags and boxes.

Pie Junkie is spread­ing its tasty good­ness across the city, too. For­merly known as The Pie Hole, Pie Junkie has been bak­ing pies at its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion at 8 Spruce Cen­tre S.W. for a cou­ple years. Nancy Goe­mans launched her pie shop when her daugh­ter Aya — now a high school stu­dent — con­vinced her that bak­ing would be her life­long pro­fes­sion.

Re­cently, Goe­mans and part­ner Jo-Anne Caza opened a sec­ond lo­ca­tion in Kens­ing­ton’s Lido tower at 1081 2nd Ave. N.W. Pie Junkie whips up pies of all sorts — sweet ( lemon meringue, sour cherry) and savoury (steak and mush­room, lamb) in in­di­vid­ual and full pie ver­sions, us­ing all-but­ter pas­try. There’s al­ways a quiche on the menu, too.

Pie Junkie’s pies are baked mostly for take-home con­sump­tion, but there are a few ta­bles at the Spruce Cliff lo­ca­tion and some stools and a counter in Kens­ing­ton for those in need of in­stant pie re­lief. And look for oc­ca­sional Pie Junkie pop-ups in the Gra­nary Road Mar­ket at 226034 112th St. W., De Win­ton, just a few min­utes south of the city.

AL CHAREST

Gen­eral man­ager An­drea Robin­son at the East-meets-West Two Penny restau­rant and tea­house.

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