National Beer Hall: my Calgary staple

31 Mar

Hey, remember me?  Ya, I’m that other girl who sometimes writes here.   I’ve been touring Alberta for the past 2 months for work.  Livin’ the dream, amiright?

So whilst on this roadshow,  I’ve been eating at my fair share of pubs.  It’s a bit for the convenience (their country-wide proliferation a result of our colonial past, no doubt), a bit for the price point (can’t be chowing down free-range Albertan prime rib every night!), but mostly because after a 10 hour day all I want is a cold beer and an appropriate venue to cuss about work without getting stern stares from a maitre d’.   As such I’ve become intimately acquainted with typical pub fare (and the art of squishing into snug pants).  One of my favourites in Calgary?  National Beer Hall.

We came upon this place the first time the temperature in Calgary went above 0 C for us…and shot straight to 13 C!  Let me translate this bit o’ Canadiana for any non-Canadian readers…+13 C means we as a people are out on patios.  We wandered 17th Ave and found National’s patio to be packed, as well as the patio of neighbouring Ship & Anchor (which we’re told is a Calgary favourite).

Their disposable paper menus featured a long draught list (yay!) filled with Western Canada microbrews (double yay!).  But I was craving a Caesar, so a Caesar is what I got.

Caesar

Bonus points for sufficient garnish, use of freshly grated horseradish and a splash of IPA which mellowed the acidity.  It was a Caesar that even Brutus could love (har har har…).

Now what made this a venue worthy of a return visit is the food, which was beyond the typical quality for pub fare, yet the prices remained (Calgary) reasonable (no jacked up prices under the guise of ‘gastropub’!).  Want photographic evidence?  Let me present, Duck Nuggets ($7):

Duck Nuggets

Served with a grainy mustard and fig dipping sauce, this ain’t your Happy Meal nugget.

Another snack or appetizer, the Scotch Egg ($5)

egg1

Crispy sausage hugging a soft poached egg?  That’s some extreme skills in timing.

My entree was a short rib & oxtail ragu open-faced sandwich with caramelized onion and Quebec cheese curds, served with a side of choice ($16).

Alice, what is that next to your meat pile of a sandwich?  Is that…more meat?  Yep.  Apparently at National, if you order a caesar salad, you’re really getting a bowl of fried pork belly.  I regrettably asked for dressing on the side (an annoying habit, I fully admit) because if properly tossed, this would’ve been a beauty.  Not to take away from the amazingness of the sandwich (it was amazing – rich full-bodied ragu with shredded tender melt in your mouth oxtail/short rib combination and the squeeky melty curds accented by the sweetness of the carmelized onion), but let’s take a closer peek at my salad…

Ya.  An anchovy.  Guarded by grana padano.  This was a legit caesar salad.

If you’re nothing like me and give a crap about your health, then your options wouldn’t be limited to water and sniffing hot sauce here.  A colleague ordered the sesame salmon with kale and quinoa ($21).

He’ll be embarrased, but I need to tell you the guy isn’t a health nut; this tahini-infused salmon dish was preceded by an order of deep fried spicy hoisin wings.

With fancier fare made from fresh quality ingredients and attention to detail, National Beer Hall provides a ‘restuarant’ dinner at pub prices.  On top of that, almost every night of the week there’s a different feature: half priced entrees, discounted wings, buck-a-shuck oysters…always a reason to keep coming back.

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One Response to “National Beer Hall: my Calgary staple”

  1. Sarcastic Bystander April 2, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    It made me so happy to see your blog about this spot. I went here when I was last in Cowtown, in November, and it was amazing! I love their selection of beer (duh), and the food was too much, I simply could not finish. I like the vibe here, and it’s a nice alternative to the oh-so-hipster Ship & Anchor. Cheers!

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