Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
I'd heard lots of great things about Model Milk. Led by Executive Chef Justin Leboe, formerly of Rush, this bistro-style restaurant is known for its modern versions of classic combos like Chicken & Waffles and Shrimp & Grits. Open daily until 1 AM, it's a favourite hangout for local chefs and regular foodies alike.
My perennial brunch buddy Tiffany had to cancel on some brunch plans, so we decided to reschedule for a Tuesday night dinner. The space was quiet at 6 PM, but became more lively as the night went on.
By the way, Model Milk is beautiful - I love the exposed brick, tall ceilings and the way the second level sort of spirals around the space. Modern, but cozy.
We got things started with some wine; Tiffany had a Chardonnay while I had the Noble Tree Tempranillo. I've been really liking tempranillo lately, and it was cool to see one from California instead of its native Spain. The wine was spicy but smooth, with some hints of chocolate.
The food menu (now on iteration #11) is split into "Small Plates" and "Large Plates" - the former are fairly generously sized appetizer-type dishes meant for sharing, while the "Large Plates" are mains meant for enjoying alone.
Tiffany and I decided to split four "Small Plates".
The Shrimp and Grits ($15) arrived first and it's no wonder everyone gushes about it. It was my favourite of the night. The creamy hand-ground hominy grits were infused with the smoky flavour of the chewy bits of ham hock, while perfectly cooked shrimp surrounded a fried egg with a beautiful, orange yolk.
There were an odd number of shrimp (?!?) so Tiffany let me have the last one. She's awesome.
The Hamachi Crudo ($16) was not one of our favourites. We'd forgotten what "crudo" meant ("You can't go wrong with yellowtail!") until the dish arrived.
Crudo means raw. Not that we have any problem with raw fish, but the flavours just seemed disjointed. The fresh, tender slices of hamachi just didn't seem to mix with the tart pickled apple, mustard pecan, black garlic and sprigs of dill.
The Smoked Veal on Toast ($13) did not look as we expected - a crisp crostini was topped with a layer of telaggio cheese, then a mountain of smoked veal and another pile of watercress and green apple.
It was very salty and fatty, but it went really well with my tempranillo (brought out the sweetness) so I enjoyed it.
Last but not least, was the Fried Country Pâté ($14) made with foie gras and smoked chicken, served with a dollop of mustard, a quince, grape and celery salad and five (?!?) toasts.
Tiffany and I enjoyed it - the rich flavours of the pâté matched well with the light, pickly salad and the slightly spicy mustard. However, Tiffany noted multiple times that the pâté had the texture of sausage, and if you were expecting a smooth, spreadable meat paste then you probably wouldn't like it. Since Tiffany gave me the last shrimp I gave her the last toast.
Our service was friendly, but a little strange. We had different wait staff bring us each of our dishes, with only one of them taking the time to explain the different components of the dish. Our main waitress was overly attentive - coming to our table every few minutes to ask us if everything was ok/tasted good even when we hadn't really touched anything. Still, we had a good night and it's nice to know there's a late night hangout with good, high-quality food.
308 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2S 0A8
Open Mon-Sun 5 PM-1 AM. No reservations.