Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
A few weeks ago, I had the honour of being invited by the talented Chelsea Klukas to an event promoting one of her most recent clients, Tilted Grill.
It was a smaller, more intimate event than the last tasting event I'd been to, and it was great catching up with fellow Calgary food bloggers Dan and Anh, as well as meeting the girls of Club Club! Most importantly, who can turn down free eats?
Tilted Grill is owned by Paul Paterson and Brian West (the latter of Vicious Circle and Loungeburger fame) that takes over the previous spot occupied by BLVD on the corner of 18th Ave and 4th St SW. It is a large space, seating about 175 people inside, and their patio, which just opened this weekend, doubles their capacity.
The menu is inspired by the street trucks in Los Angeles, where Paul lived for many years before moving back to Calgary to realize this restaurant concept. Thus, there's lots of fusion items on the menu, with an emphasis on Asian and Mexican flavours.
We started the night off with a few caesars - the Chinook Caesar ($6.75), which is made with Alaska Distillery Smoked Salmon Vodka. Paul brought around a bottle for us to smell, and it really did smell like smoked salmon! In the caesar, it imparted a salty, smoky flavour. B.'s Pepper Caesar ($6.75) had a lighter, spicy, peppery flavour, thanks to Absolut Peppar Vodka.
Then came the food. First were the Viet Pork Skewers ($8), which came with a chili-garlic sauce and hoisin sauce for dipping.
The pork was nice and moist, but these were unfortunately too salty. Also, in the description they were oddly described as "banh mi", which is the Vietnamese word for Vietnamese subs (or more specifically, the baguette that they are made in) but there was no bread in this dish...
Next came the Gogi Sliders ($11), which were little buns with sirloin marinated with Korean BBQ sauce topped with shredded lettuce, the bane of Anh's existence. ("It's usually soggy and doesn't add any flavour or texture.") There were also clumps of shredded carrot wedged between the sliders, which we put in the sliders ourselves.
These sliders had the potential to be very interesting - the marinade imparted a salty-sweet flavour with a bit of a spicy kick, but like most of our dishes at Tilted Grill, the salt again dominated the flavours in the dish.
The Grilled Calamari Tacos ($14) are made with calamari that are soaked in a buttermilk marinade for 24 hours before being grilled and placed into warm flour tortillas along with shredded lettuce and pico de gallo, with sides of housemade salsa rayo and chipotle aioli.
I wasn't impressed with the white-on-white presentation (perhaps the pico de gallo should go on top next time?) and the tacos were very messy and soggy (granted, we did spend time chatting and taking photos). However, the salsa rayo was very lovely, with its smoky, sweet roasted tomato, and the chipotle aioli was good too.
I was really looking forward to the Smoked Mac-N-Cheese ($11), as it is one of my favourite comfort foods.
I really liked the flavour of this dish, and the smoky, crunchy bacon bits in each bite. However, the sauce was very thick and starchy - it reminded me of cheesy mashed potatoes.
While not originally on our menu, Paul treated us to some of the main platters as well. First was the Peking Crackling Chicken ($24), which is the Tilted Grill's take on 炸子雞, a *ahem* Cantonese chicken dish, which was served with a sweet soy dipping sauce.
The skin was, as promised, nice and crispy but it is obvious that the chicken has been brined for two days - my first bite was very salty! B. asked, "Is it because of the dipping sauce?" So I cut off a new piece with no sauce. "No."
The second was the Mole Chichilo Poblano ($17), chicken breast with a sweet-and-spicy mole sauce over rice.
I'm not sure how I feel about having two chicken dishes on such a short main dish menu, but of the two, I would probably choose this one. The mole sauce definitely has more interesting flavours, and the chicken was very tender.
The highlight of the night was dessert - Glazed Donut Satay ($7):
The mini, baked donuts were melt-in-your-mouth goodness, with just a hint of cinnamon. I was worried that the candied banana would be mushy, but it was nice and firm. I would recommend skipping the gritty Lindt chocolate sauce though.
Tilted Grill offers an extensive wine list (including some wines for only $7.50 per glass) as well as an impressive list of flavoured vodkas. Twitter and Urbanspoon are abuzz with lots of positive comments about their weekend brunch menu (Red Velvet Pancakes, anyone?). Their big patio in Mission is also the perfect place to people watch. There are lots of things to like about Tilted Grill, but I personally will be staying away from their savoury dishes until they have had some time to work out their initial growing pains.
1800 4 St SW
Calgary AB T2S 2S4
Underground parking available.