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Outdoor patios done right can be a wonderful experience, and during the summer Calgarians flock to award-winning outdoor patios to enjoy great food and sunshine. But there’s a lot of training involved behind the service you are receiving, and there’s a good chance your hostess, server, or chef graduated from SAIT.
Bonterra is a quiet little gem just off of 8 Street and 10 Avenue SW. What looks to be small on the outside is actually a very large open space, with two dining areas and an outdoor patio that makes you feel as if you have escaped to a summer garden in Venice, Italy.
Mikenna Gallinger has been working at Bonterra as a hostess since March 2016. She is also new to the SAIT alumni family, graduating from the Baking and Pastry Arts program this past June.
“My favourite part of the menu is the dessert menu, of course — that’s where all the fun baked stuff is,” she says. “One of the most popular items right now is the pistachio cake, made with lemon curd, rhubarb and fresh strawberries. It’s very flavourful and bright summer dish that draws a lot of attention.”
Tucked away under a canape of trees on Prince’s Island is the River Café. Their outdoor patio is on the south end of the building along the river, with a beautiful view of the Island and surrounding office buildings.
“The uniqueness of this place is that you’re literally on an island in the middle of a big city,” says Tracie Zahavich (Baking and Pastry Arts ’11), a sous chef with the restaurant since August 2016.
“We have a massive garden around us that produces so much throughout the year. Our final harvest or what’s left at the end of the year, is dehydrated and preserved for winter.”
Alongside the Bow River in the East Village Charbar has rooted itself into the local community. The view from the roof-top patio is what makes their outdoor dining experience so exceptional. Whether it’s the atmosphere along the river, people watching along the bike path or just hanging out, Charbar’s patio is a must visit.
“We have been playing with the menu since we opened and the rooftop is seasonal, so we like to switch things up — it’s really special,” says Jessica Pelland, executive chef at Charbar and 2008 graduate of SAIT’s Cook Apprentice program.
“We specialize in dry aging beef and family-style sharing is a big part of our restaurant,” Pelland says. “We have a wood-fire grill on the upstairs patio from Argentina. It’s called a Parilla and it’s my prize possession.”
The next time you’re looking to enjoy a nice meal on a summer patio, why not make a reservation at one of these amazing restaurants — or any of the other fine restaurants in Calgary? You never know, you might even run into a fellow SAIT grad.
These restaurants have been listed on OpenTable’s “100 Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining in Canada” in 2017 and 2018. Read their blog for the complete 2018 list.
Written and photographed by David Morales