For my second and final reservation for Calgary’s Big Taste Festival, my friends and I headed down to Cucina Market Bistro located on Stephen Ave. Our first impression was that the atmosphere was really nice, and we also loved their open kitchen concept. The service wasn’t overly impressive, but it was nice of them to accommodate us when we were a bit late for our reservation. Now to get down on the yummy details!
Course 1: As per usual, we made sure we got each of the menu items that were offered. For appetizers, we had a choice of Chorizo Arancini or Butternut Squash Bisque. I personally love arancini (deep fried risotto balls), and Cucina’s was not a disappointment. The arancini was really simple and did not have too much flavor, but the aioli and parmesan definitely made up for it! The bisque was also tasty, but I couldn’t taste much of the squash. It just tasted like coconut curry – which I personally loved because it reminded me of Malaysia.
Course 2: For the main course, there was a choice of Chicken Pesto Penne and Braised Pork Belly. First off, the serving size was a lot bigger than Model Milk’s. BUT, I also could not find it on their regular menu which leads me to believe these were just dishes made for Big Taste (thoughts?!). The Penne was flavorful and really creamy – we concluded it would be something we could have again if we were craving a creamy penne. I chose the Braised Pork Belly, but it’s probably something I wouldn’t order again. The pork belly was cooked really well, the skin was crispy while the meat was tender. It was also plated with polenta with mushrooms and tomato ragu. Everything on the plate went really well together, except the taste closely reminded me of a Filipino dish called Menudo!
Course 3: Finally, for the best part of any meal, the dessert! This time we had a choice of Moelleux au Chocolat and Tiramisu. I had the Chocolat which was also gluten free, the manager ran our desserts and noted I should have a bite of the cake, creme fraiche and raspberry coulis together. I did, and it was delicious! Usually, I’m not a fan of raspberry coulis on my cakes because a lot of places overdo it and it takes away from the cake. But for this, it was such a perfect balance. The Tiramisu is also a recipe from the owners great grandmother! I was too focused on my dessert to have a few more bites of Tiramisu, but it was great!
Overall, I came in with no expectations for Cucina and it turned out to be really enjoyable. The proportions were really reasonable for Big Taste, as well as how much it would normally cost on their menu. The food was tasty, and I would definitely want to come back to try other items on their regular menu as well!