Starlite Diner Car (Bowden, AB) – Diner Burgers, What Do You Expect?

Having driven QE2 back and forth for the last 5 years, Starlite Diner Car has stood out along the way. Finally, on a Saturday afternoon, we decided to drive to Bowden just for a lunch at Starlite Diner Car.

Now, before we drove, I did some research and discovered that the owner of Queen’s Diner (blog post on my visit), Scott Shaw, also owned Starlite Diner Car. I found an article online from Olds Albertan. Interestingly, despite the vintage look, the actual building is newly built.

You’ll be hard-pressed to miss the restaurant if you have ever driven on the QE2 stretch between Calgary and Red Deer. I always found the UFO amusing and have to admit that initially, I thought it was a satellite dish.

Starlite Diner Car

Inside, the restaurant is clean and decked out like Queen’s Diner.

Starlite Diner Car Interior

Starlite Diner Car - Decor

Starlite Diner Car - Decor 2

Being thirsty, my wife ordered a Small Orange Juice right away.

Starlite Diner Car - Small Orange Juice

When the Orange Juice arrived, it was indeed a “small”. Luckily, no ice was added so there was still plenty of juice present.

My wife wanted some eggs as she missed breakfast so the Gazoo Burger caught her eyes. It was described as a 6 oz beef patty topped with ham, a fried egg, and cheddar cheese. All burgers are served with a side of probes (fries), soup, or tossed salad. For an additional cost, the side can be upgraded to a caesar salad, saturn rings (onion rings), or mashed potatoes. To my surprise, my wife went with a tossed salad.

Starlite Diner Car - Gazoo Burger

The Gazoo Burger arrived open-faced with the fried egg plopped overtop. It wasn’t the prettiest sight, but we were in diner after all.
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Bazille (Calgary, AB) – A Reason to Visit Nordstrom

Having the first Nordstrom within driving distance meant we had to make a trip to Calgary. My wife wanted to see how their in-store restaurant compared to her experience in the US.

The restaurant was spacious and had plenty of natural light thanks to large windows.

Bazille Interior

My wife wanted a drink and the Mint Blackberry Ice Tea Lemonade caught her eyes.

Bazille - Mint Blackberry Ice Tea Lemonade

She loved the drink and thought it had the right touch of sweetness with a balance of tartness.

Looking over the appetizer section, my wife inquired about the Soup Du Jour which turned out to be my wife’s favorite dish in the US Nordstrom, tomato basil soup. Between cup and bowl, my wife went with the cup so she could have room for an entrée.

Bazille - Soup Du Jour

When the Soup Du Jour arrived, it was topped with a thin slice of garlic bread. The bread was very crispy and perfectly complemented the tomato basil soup. I love the contrast of crispiness with creaminess when dipping the bread in the tomato basil soup.
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The Chopped Leaf (Red Deer, AB) – Fancy Salads

My wife and I heard there was a unique franchise restaurant in Clearview Market that specialized in salads. Making the drive there, we discovered that the new kid on the block was the Chopped Leaf.

The Chopped Leaf

Beware, parking is in short supply as Browns Socialhouse is nearby.

Inside, the restaurant was clean and spacious with a modern style.

The Chopped Leaf Interior

The Chopped Leaf - Wall Decor

The Chopped Leaf - Hanging Light

The menu is styled like McDonalds, against the back wall behind the order counter. It matches the trend towards fast casual dining with fresher and better ingredients than the traditional fast food selection.

The Chopped Leaf Interior 2

The Southwest caught my eye from the list of Chef Designed Salads. The salad included romaine, cherry tomatoes, black bean corn salsa, peppers, cheddar, pita chips, and chipotle lime citrus. I added on grilled chicken.

The Chopped Leaf - Southwest

When the Southwest arrived, it looked filling and tasty. The colors were vibrant with nice carmelized colors on the grilled chicken. It would have been even better if the chicken had blacken sear marks on it as the charred flavor would have further added to the southwest theme.
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Blue Star Diner (Calgary, AB) – Refined Diner Food

We found ourselves in Calgary in the late afternoon with no lunch plans and our stomachs growling. I recalled that Avenue Calgary magazine featured Black Pig Bistro so we headed there. It was just after 3 PM when we walked through the door and was immediately informed that the kitchen was closed for the break between lunch and dinner. Disappointed, we drove around and spotted Blue Star Diner.

Blue Star Diner is located among some dashing stars such as Black Pig Bistro and Burger 320. Despite the late afternoon visit, there was a line at the door.

Blue Star Diner

Inside, the atmosphere was trendy and modern.

Blue Star Diner Interior

Blue Star Diner Interior 2

My wife ordered a Mimosa off the drink menu. She thought it tasted decent. I stuck with water.

Blue Star Diner - Mimosa

My wife, inspired by the diner that we were in, wanted a breakfast/brunch dish. Looking over the menu, she chose the Breakfast Flatbread which was described as sweet onions, asparagus, soft chevre, arugula, chopped bacon, fresh chives, and BSD hashbrown potatoes along with 2 sunny farm fresh eggs.

Blue Star Diner - Breakfast Flatbread

The Breakfast Flatbread arrived beautifully plated with deliciousness in every corner. Overall, the colors and ingredients evoke freshness.
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Sushi Maru (Red Deer, AB) – Must Have Ultra Crispy Pork Cutlet and Delicious Spicy Sashimi Bibimbab

After my wonderful experience last time, I wanted to bring my wife to try Sushi Maru and meet the nice people behind the business.

Upon entering, the owners and the other chef remembered me and greeted me warmly. I quickly introduced my wife and the owner/wife showed me to my table.

My wife wanted a sushi cone-style roll (temaki) to start and inquired about the difference between the Chopped Scallop Temaki and the Golden Scallop Temaki. The owner advised us that the golden scallop temaki had a yellow sauce (hence, “golden”). My wife decided to go with the traditional Chopped Scallop Temaki.

Sushi Maru - Chopped Scallop Temaki

Because it was a quiet night and likely due to their new presence in the area, the Chopped Scallop Temaki arrived quickly (as did the other dishes with the exception of the last one) in a commonly used Japanese Temaki holder. Our eyes were drawn to the esthetically pleasing cluster of bright red tobiki on top of the cone. I also liked how clean and temaki was rolled. It conveyed the attention to detail and care the chef put into his “work of art”. The chopped scallops appeared abundant though as we ate, we found that the scallops did not transverse all the way to the tip. Thus, do not eat the cone in two big bites or you would find the last bite to be rice and seaweed only. Taste-wise, the chopped scallop and mayonnaise mixture was well-balanced. This is a mild sushi roll and, in fact, was the second sushi that I tried after being comfortable with the California roll.
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Redstone Grill and Wine Bar (Red Deer, AB) – Great Burger, but Bone in the Wrap disappointed

I love supporting local restaurants by drawing attention to their businesses because I know that they may not have the ability to advertise themselves to the community. With that in mind, I decided to make use of one of my lunch breaks to visit Redstone Grill and Wine Bar.

Redstone Grill and Wine Bar is located at the edge of downtown Red Deer with plenty of parking. The actual front of the restaurants faces a small street instead of the nearby Gaetz Avenue.

Redstone Grill and Wine Bar

Walking inside, it projected fine dining with a cozy, dark atmosphere. Tables were nicely spaced out to ensure privacy for every table.

Redstone Grill and Wine Bar Interior

Looking over the menu, I decided to go with my burger test to see how Redstone Grill and Wine Bar stacked up against their competitors. I went with the Double Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Burger. All burgers are made with 8 oz of 100% Ground AAA Alberta beef and served with lettuce, red onion, and pickles in a pretzel bun. All burgers also come with a choice of hand-cut fries, house salad, daily soup, or caesar salad. I went with hand-cut fries.

Redstone Grill and Wine Bar - Double Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Burger

The Double Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Burger arrived open-faced which showed off the vibrant layers of the burger.
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Indian Flame and Pizza (Red Deer, AB) – Finally made it back for Pizza!

After a wonderful meal during our last visit, we returned to try the pizza menu as originally recommended by my co-worker.

I appreciated the effort in the place setting. It was a nice touch and showed that the business cared about the small details.

Indian Flame and Pizza - Utensils

We decided to order a safe bet in case we ended up disappointed with the pizzas and chose the Lamb Curry again (see last visit’s blog post). It was described as lamb cooked in traditional flavored gravy.

Indian Flame and Pizza - Lamb Curry

The Lamb Curry was hearty with a rich gravy and plentiful of lamb chunks. Like our last visit, there were no fatty parts attached. The lamb pieces were tender and paired perfectly with the curry sauce which helped mask any hints of gaminess.
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Carino Japanese Bistro (Calgary, AB) – A Refreshing Take on Japanese Cuisine

We wanted something different for lunch one day while in Calgary and found Carino Japanese Bistro. Interestingly, if you are looking for sushi, you are in the wrong place. However, in the absence of sushi, Carino Japanese Bistro is one of the 2013 Best New Restaurants for Enroute, Air Canada’s inflight Magazine.

Located in the foodie haven of Edmonton Trail, Carino Japanese competes with the likes of Diner Deluxe and OEB for the lunch crowd.

Carino Japanese Bistro

The interior of the restaurant is modern with black chandeliers and a prominent bar in the backend.

Carino Japanese Bistro Interior

Perusing the menu, the Flavored Mimosa caught my wife’s eyes. With Yuzu as an option, my wife ordered it.

Carino Japanese Bistro - Flavored Mimosa

My wife thought it tasted wonderful and already confirmed a repeat order in the future.

We were each offered a Complimentary Salad to start.

Carino Japanese Bistro - Complimentary Salad

The Complimentary Salad was tossed in a balsamic vinegrette. It was tasty and wetted our appetite.
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Thap Ba (Red Deer, AB) – Deep Fried Quail and the Usual Yummy Dishes

Is it any surprise that I am once again blogging about Thap Ba? There should be none as we are regulars.

Thap Ba Vietnamese Restaurant

We wanted our usual dishes, but my wife decided to try the Deep Fried Quail (she cares about my blog and is always patient while I spent forever photographing our meals).

Thap Ba Vietnamese Restaurant - Deep Fried Quail

The Deep Fried Quail arrived split with both sides facing up. The skin was fried golden brown. Indeed, it was as crispy as it looked. Quail meat is all dark meat though the breast area can still be a little dry. Here, the quail meat was quite juicy and moist with no hint of dryness over the thicker sides. Still, I would prefer a chicken wing over the quail as chicken wing meat is still far superior. However, if you want to try a popular dish in Asia, the deep fried quail is a relatively safe dish to attempt.
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Joey South Common (Edmonton, AB) – A Meal of Tuna Everything

While visiting Edmonton, I saw Joey South Common and a bit of nostalgia hit me. I fondly remembered my first visit to Joey’s in Coquitlam, BC where I had some awesome fries.

Joey South Common

Like their competitiors, the interior of Joey South Common was modern, cozy, and inviting. I gotta hand it to these chain restaurants for their effort in interior design.

Joey South Common Interior

My wife and I decided to start with the Ahi Tuna Tacos which were described as seared rare ahi tuna with toasted sesame, ginger coleslaw, and wasabi aioli.

Joey South Common - Ahi Tuna Tacos

The Ahi Tuna arrived upright in the ever-popular taco rack. The ratio of ahi tuna to taco was very generous. The ahi tuna tasted fresh with a nice sear all around the outer edges. The softness of the tuna contrasted well with the crunchy texture of the ginger coleslaw. Moreover, the acid in the coleslaw lightened the fatty tuna.
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