- The Goose
- Location: 7746 Elbow Dr SW, Calgary
- Phone: 403-764-7446
- Website: thegooseyyc.ca
- Price: $10-$32
- Cuisine: Pub fare/comfort food
- Atmosphere: Equal parts posh and relaxed
- Drinks on offer: Craft beer, wine and cocktails
- Best bets: Goose poutine, beet salad, B.C. mussels, The Horny Toad (cocktail)
- Vegetarian friendly? Yes.
- Additional information: Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
With many of the city’s restaurants and bars on prime foot-traffic streets either over capacity or struggling to get people in the door, it’s not surprising to see restaurateurs moving to Calgary’s suburbs. The appeal of lower rent and a captive audience is strong and can be much less of a gamble of opening up in, say, the Beltline or otherwise crowded districts.
The Goose has done just that, plunking itself in the neighbourhood of Kingsland in a space that was defunct for quite some time with its last most recognizable inhabitant being The Horny Toad.
This concept, best described as an elevated pub, comes from co-owners Brendan Bankowski and Dean Symonds and follows somewhat in suit with their other buzzworthy spot, the eclectic and lively Gorilla Whale. This 70-seat-or-so restaurant boasts a unique interior, especially considering that it’s farther afield than its contemporaries.
Its charmingly brooding colour scheme of deep blues and black with icicle-like chandeliers is accented by an illustrated goose nearly any-which-way you might look. Printed directly on one wall or in a framed artwork collection near the bathrooms, you can be sure a goose is keeping tabs on your meal.
The issue with The Goose is that although it bills itself as a “neighbourhood hang out,” it doesn’t quite feel that way. Sure, the idea of a neighbourhood hangout is up for interpretation, but there’s nothing particularly homey about this restaurant.
It seems fair to mention that comfort can come with time, but looking at this seemingly mismatched concept for the neighbourhood, it is also hard not to think that The Goose would, in fact, feel much more at home somewhere along 17th Avenue or 1st Street SW.
The Goose and its chef, Kyle Satnik, offer a fairly concise menu that remains unchanged from lunch to dinner. Baked brie, gnocchi, poutine and deep-fried mushrooms are a few dishes that comprise their overall offerings which would, more often than not, rate quite high on the caloric scale.
The signature poutine is one of the menu’s highlights. Crisp french fries interspersed with cheese curds and confit goose meat in a (pleasantly) slightly acidic gravy, finished with crispy wisps of goose skin is an indulgent combination. If you are an avid adventurer in search of Alberta’s best poutine, it is well worth seeking out The Goose for this dish alone.
A plate of beer-battered mushrooms are also a classic pub dish that succeeds through reinvention with shimeji mushrooms and served with a tangy truffle aioli. Salty and addicting, they are certainly not an everyday dish, but perhaps one suitable for curing a hangover.
Next, a shallow bowl of mussels in an aromatic coconut-milk-based broth feels refreshing in comparison. Crisp toast points of sourdough help soak up the broth on this winter’s night while we wait for our mains to arrive.
A baseball steak is one of the main events and is cooked to a proper medium-rare alongside roasted rainbow carrots, rapini and gummy gnocchi tossed lightly in a kale and almond pesto.
The restaurant’s namesake burger is piled high with cheese curds and the same fried mushrooms that grace the appetizer section of the menu along with a red-pepper aioli and a sturdy brioche bun. Sturdy is an important attribute here, as the bun does a surprising job of maintaining its composure while being eaten. The beef patty is cooked well and there are no complaints here.
On a different visit over lunch, a cheeseburger proves somewhat lacklustre with the same sturdy bun feeling cumbersome and too dense for the usual condiments it is paired with. The accompanying kale caesar is well-dressed, but seems unnecessarily fussy with polenta croutons that are lightly toasted on the outside, but soft and tasteless inside.
Regular toasted cubes of bread would do just fine.
Beet salads always seem a dime-a-dozen these days, but here the salad is the sleeper hit of the eatery’s menu. Lightly dressed chunks of tender rainbow beets are tossed with an array of fresh shoots and crumbled goat cheese and finished with a myriad of textures: beet chips and a delicious pistachio crumb.
After being told the deep-fried ice cream was also a signature, we were a little let down when we were unable to spoon through the frozen-solid scoop of buttermilk blueberry ice cream hiding underneath a thin layer of goopy batter. Despite valiant efforts, the ice (cream) cube kept slipping off its plate with any bit of force applied. I don’t recommend ordering this.
While I sipped on my cocktail – and the cocktails are quite good – The Horny Toad (an earl-grey-infused gin sour and an homage to the location’s most memorable predecessor), I scrolled through the business’s website and social feeds. I find it interesting what quotes a restaurant uses to promote itself.
“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food” is one of the first things you’ll read on the restaurant’s website. I have a hard time believing that this quote, from the late and much-loved Anthony Bourdain, was referring to The Goose’s five-inch-tall burger layered with battered mushrooms, cheese curds and red-pepper aioli or a kale version of a Caesar with polenta croutons.
This neighbourhood spot can strive for a bit more simplicity.