Il Sogno  - upscale Italian in Bridgeland, Calgary
By By By By Bitchy Cook
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 3:15:53 PM

We were there for a special occassion - my business partner and I, together with our star employee, there to celebrate her 2nd year of employment (no small feat around this place).

The location is great - in Bridgeland, close to downtown, close to Deerfoot...a little chique; a little unique - at least for those of us who live in suburbia and are equally used to carrying grocery bags as we are poop bags.

We opted for the 4 course chef's tasting - which is typically, in my estimation, the best meal to get you excited about the restaurant, and to get the chef excited about your presence in it.  At $85 per person, everyone at the table needs to buy in to the experience - I assume to ensure that your timing of the food isn't completely off and everyone is eating the same amount of food, at the same time. 

So, that $85 x 3, plus the prerequisite pre dinner drink, and then of course, since it's a nice fancy dinner - a bottle of wine, and then without question, the extravagant tip - it works out to be one ridiculously priced evening.  However, it's an event - an experience, that you're paying for.  Dinner at one of the chain restaurants might've taken us an hour and 15 minutes, and I doubt I'd be writing about it.  This dinner was 2 and a half hours, and in effect qualified as my evening entertainment.  The fact that it's given me something worthy of bitching about is even more of a bonus - so all in all, I can justify the cost.

I don't think that I can give you a terrific play by play of all that we had, but some of the highlights: 

a) duck liver pate amuse bouche: not bad - a little heavy on the liver for me - started nicely, but had a gamey finish that I'm not overly fond of,

1) arugula salad with fresh beets and pears, procuitto and goat's cheese mouse with a balsamic vinaigrette: this was a big hit, lots of terrific, fresh flavours that came together really nicely. A little heavy handed on the goat cheese mousse

2) Ricotta gnocchi: honestly, I was a little disappointed in this one.  Was expecting them to look more rustic/handmade, and to have them melt in my mouth and leave me in a glorious puddle. Not the case. They were ok - but the accompanying sauce and garnish was really great.  Don't get me wrong - I totally ate the whole thing - it just wasn't my highlight.

b) sorbet: always a nice touch - refreshing/lovely.

3) Beef duo - short rib and a flat iron steak, celery root, pan sauce reduction, roasted brussel sprout: I'm not much of a fan of the 'duos'.  It suggests to me that you're needing to use something up that was leftover from some other main dish.  On a tasting, it implies to me that the chef couldn't make up his mind, and wasn't really sure which one was better.  In this case, it's the shortrib - succulent; decadent - to die for.  The flat iron steak was good also, but it complicated things - and made for quite a heavy entree.  (My business partner starting crapping out on me here - and had to start having things packed up).  

4) chocolate cheescake with carmelized banana:  Not my favourite honestly.  It was well executed but a little boring, and nothing to make me weak in the knees.  The cheesecake had more of a mousse-like consistency, and really - bananas are more of a breakfast food, or snack on the run for me, not an ingredient in a 5 star dessert. 

c) cool minty chocolates to finish up: the perfect finish. 

In terms of the price, it was well worth it, (although I'm not sure I'd be back if I was expected to pick up the entire bill for more than 2 people). 

I did feel a little shortchanged that not all of the dishes were chef specials - the duck liver and the gnocchi are both available in some fashionon the standard menu - I really did want to be made to feel that the chef was really going to the wall for the tasting menu, and I just...didn't. Chef Rob Fedosoff is a native Calgarian who does well to use local, organic ingredients.  We very much appreciated the care taken in the assembly of each dish. 

The restaurant is located in a terrific, historic building in Bridgeland - but sadly, the restaurant just hasn't done what it needs to do to keep up appearances.  What was once a grand room, appear dated - with heavy, somewhat shabby curtains, peeling paint - old curtain rods, etc.  I can't even think when they might've last tried to update the place. 

Small, intimate, quiet.  It could be romantic, depending on your company.  The service is excellent - although I've just not been able to wrap my head around finishing up a classy meal with a hand held credit card machine in hand with an expectant waiter at my side.  It's just not right. 

It was a good meal; and a good experience for a fair price that I would, indeed recommend.  I'm glad I went - however, now I've been there, done that...AND I scored my 1,000 points from Open Table!


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