Dinner at Cucina

J and I were celebrating K‘s Birthday last weekend at Cucina.  I have been here numerous times for their grab & go sandwiches and desserts but have never dined at the restaurant b/c it gets really packed at lunch, and they don’t take reservations outside of dinner time.  I have always wanted to though, and was very happy when K chose this restaurant to celebrate.  I also recently learned that it is opened by Teatro, so I am assured that the food quality here would have a certain standard.

Here’s what we shared tonight:

Cucina - Chicken Liver Parfait

Sunworks Farm Chicken Liver Parfait – $14

sour cherry-balsamic cipollini jam, ciabatta crostini

I’ve had chicken liver pate at another establishment before and found it horribly salty, so I had reserves about this one but to my surprise this was quite mild and pleasant.  I am a fan of pork pate so naturally I am comparing to that.  Of course, since this is a parfait it was more lighter, more airy and more smooth, but it still tasted somewhat like a pate.  The jam complemented it perfectly and you really had to eat both of the ingredients together.

Cucina - Chicken Liver Parfait cu

Close up of the liver parfait.

Cucina - Beef Tartare

Beef Heart Tartare – $15

silver sage beef, balsamic cipollini, free run yolk, brassica mustard, capers, house chips

J loves her steak, and she also loves her tartare.  The bits of beef were chopped up to small chunks but it retained a good bite to them – the meat tasted fresh and didn’t have a strong raw taste to it.  The mustard gave it a bit of a kick and I liked it a lot.  The house made chips were pretty tame – nothing extraordinary about them but decent.  I ate the tartare with the chips and with K’s crostini.

Cucina - Vitello Tonnato

Vitello Tonnato – $14

sous vide milk fed veal striploin, tuna confit emulsion, fried caper, arugula

I had to look up what this dish was before arriving at the restaurant b/c I had no idea what it was.  But sous vide veal + tuna flavored mayo? May as well try it! The veal was very soft and tender – so smooth that it can probably slide down my throat without much effort.   The capers were not as sharp in taste since they have been fried but I really liked eating them with the veal and tuna mayo.  Hmmmmm.

Cucina - Beef Osso Bucco

Beef Osso Bucco – $26

silver sage beef shank, soft polenta parmigiano, red pepper gremolata

I must’ve been thinking braised short rib or something b/c this wasn’t really what I thought, though it wasn’t my order anyway.  It’s interesting that the osso bucco here is from a cow rather than the usual veal.  The meat was soft in some parts and a bit tough in other areas (I sampled it twice from K) but the star was definitely the bone marrow.  I didn’t try that but K definitely didn’t stop gloating about it! The polenta was so soft and creamy that it resembled mashed potatoes (a good thing).  The sauce was light and flavorful and brought all components quite well together.

Cucina - Ribeye Steak

Alberta Rib Eye – $29

12 oz., crisy potato, pan-roasted broccolini, smoked paprika aioli, caramelized onion-grainy dijon jus

J’s to go dish.  This rib eye was ultra tender and I’m envious that I didn’t order it myself.  It was cooked perfectly to her liking and the beef was just melt in your mouth soft, with great beef flavors.  The broccolini were cooked perfectly with a nice crisp – I didn’t try the mushrooms.  J looked like she really enjoyed this dish.

Cucina - Rabbit & Veal Pappardelle

Spragg Farms Pork & Rabbit Meatball Pappardelle – $24

fresh pasta, red pepper, tomato, espelette, fried basil

I always try to go for something exotic… and hence, I chose rabbit! I don’t know what the proportions of rabbit and pork are in the meatballs but I didn’t get the game taste of the usual rabbit.  Yet it didn’t taste completely like pork either.  It was a good, lean meatball and I actually liked it more than beef meatballs.  The pappardelle was incredibly soft and smooth and K and I were wondering if it was housemade.  The tomato mixture was a teeny bit spicy with the espelette but it was a great sauce.  I would eat this again in a heart beat.

Cucina - Tiramisu (2)

Tiramisu – $9

K had always wanted to try this – I’ve had it numerous times from their grab & go section.  What was funny is that I always thought it was comparable to Teatro’s! This was before I found out that Cucina was opened by them… I’ve already done a review on it here and it remains as one of my favorite tiramisu here in Calgary.

Cucina - Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake – $9

Paired with banana gelato.  The chocolate cake wasn’t too sweet and the gelato helped toned it down a bit.  I really enjoyed the honeycomb bits – they reminded me of my childhood favorite candy bar – Crunchie.

Cucina - Passionfruit Mousse

Passionfruit Mousse – $9

We were quite stuffed but we could never skip dessert, so I got this as I thought mousse would be nice and light.  The citrusy flavor of the passionfruit was more sour than sweet, and J said that it would be good to open up our appetites.  Lol… not at this point! The mousse was a bit more dense than I prefer.  I quite liked the jelly though!

Service was very attentive and professional.  Our server was knowledged with beers and recommended a great one to J and K that complemented their dishes.  The atmosphere of the restaurant is quite relaxing with a lively ambiance.  I’m so glad I finally had a chance to dine at the restaurant and I would love to come back again soon! I will also continue to check out their sandwiches and desserts at the grab and go part.

I also have to share with you my new favorite sandwich at Cucina:

Cucina - Prosciutto di Parma e Bocconcini

Prosciutto di Parma e Bocconcini – $9

I bought this yesterday for lunch and I immediately fell in love.  There was a good amount of prosiutto on there and it tasted very fresh.  It wasn’t overly salty like you would sometimes get from the packaged stuff. The bocconcini was soft and creamy but what brought everything together was the pesto (?) spread.  The flavors altogether was so rich and it spoiled my palettes forever.  The baguette was soft and chewy and never broke apart too! I’m not sure if this is a regular sandwich on their grab and go menu but if I see this again the next time I go… I will have to get it! I loved it so much that I almost wanted to buy another one so I can eat it for dinner (but I didn’t).  I also finished off with their panna cotta (another favorite of mine) and got a lemon tart for my coworker.

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