Selkirk Grille

Heritage Park is not so historical these days. With their recent expansion into the tree nursery, and the creation of Gasoline Alley, which portrays the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, comes the Selkirk Grille.

The Selkirk Grille is named after the Selkirk class engine, and in honour of Engine 5931 sitting on the corner of 14th Street and Heritage Drive SW in Calgary, Alberta at Heritage Park. I could write pages about steam engines. Love them. But this a blog about food (I say that to remind myself).

The Selkirk Grille is located in a beautiful building. It has oldie-worldy charm in its appearance, but has all the modern accoutrement. You do not need to enter the Park, thus avoiding the entry fee to dine here.

We were greeted at the door, by chance, by the very man we came to find. Gaston Langlois.

We know Gaston from the 90’s when we frequented his restaurant, Gaston’s on 4th Ave in Calgary. We had many, many, many good nights there, and wanted to see our old friend.

Gaston has been given “the keys” to the Selkirk Grille, is the maître d’ and is making the place work. Gaston has the charisma, charm and cutting wit that keeps his clients coming back, especially the  Ladies who Lunch from the hobnob neighbourhoods surrounding the Park. He knows how to manage a room, and manage it well. We asked him if he still tosses forks across the room (as he did back in 1990 something when Michael once noted a fork was a bit water stained). Gaston laughed and said, “But of course”.

We were served by Enzo (as in Ferrari), another great man, who is formerly of the Owl’s Nest.

Here he is uncorking our scrumptious bottle of a 2006 Chateau Ste Michelle merlot.

We chatted quite a bit with Enzo and Gaston throughout the evening, and I decided then and there, that a night out is not just about the food. Of course, we go to eat, and want good food. But what truly makes an evening an enjoyable one, is your front of house staff. And this, people, is what is lacking today.

Sure, gone are the nights of Steak Diane, crepes suzette, and Spanish coffees, but there is no need to lose the charm, the conversation, the interaction with the staff. But there’s a craft behind it.

Michael and I once went to The Keg in Edmonton, and were horrified when the waiter squatted by our table and barged into our conversation and did the “Hey, how ya guys doing” schtick as if we were long lost friends, and our bar waitress looked like she stepped out of Hooters – and quite frankly I don’t want those things bouncing around my food and drink – keep it for stag nights. It’s a formula, we understand, but there are better ways to do it, and any restaurant owner would do themselves a favour by modeling their staff after the grace and finesse that Gaston and Enzo have mastered over the years.

Now, I want you all to go to the Selkirk Grille to meet Gaston and Enzo, but you will also be interested in their food and wine. The menu is available on their website, so you can see it all, but I will concentrate on what Michael and I had.

We started with duck spring rolls, which have become our favourite spring roll ever.

For our main course, Michael and I were muttering over the menu and thinking we would try the elk and the bison. When Enzo came to our table to take our order, we asked what he recommended, and he said, “The elk and the bison”. Not so sure if he overheard us somehow, or if it was a coincidence. I lean towards he overheard us, but he would just grin when I quizzed him about his telepathy.

The bison was exquisite. I was looking for lean, and I got lean, but was not giving up taste and texture. Mind you, my bison filet was wrapped with two slices of sumptuous bacon! Yeeee-um!!!

Michael had the elk medallions. I was indifferent, but Michael seemed to enjoy it. He was more enamored with his potatoes though- which were thinly sliced and baked, with a layer of truffle.

Nearly forgot our wine. So yummy.

For dessert, I am for once in my life avoiding sweets, so we opted for the cheese board.

It was very nice, and a great way to end the meal. In the little pot you see on the cheese board, was a fig confiture. It was very sweet, but with a bit of savoury cheese and crisp cracker, it was perfection!

Heritage Park may house many treasures, but their most priceless one is our Gaston. Cheers Gaston, cheers, Enzo. Thank you both for creating such a fabulous night out for us. It’s another memory we’ll cherish forever.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes, grace and finesse are rare commodities these days. I haven't been to The Keg in years because I can't stand those frat boy waiters. I always want to tell them to F*** Off! (I guess my grace and finesse are not what they used to be, either . . . .)

  2. What a lovely post. It sounds like you had a fantastic day. I think it is very cool that you are in the "loop" in Calgary and have your favourite servers.I like informal service, but not to the extent as you described. A nice mix of informal and classy is always nice.

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