As they say in real estate, “location, location, location!” The restaurant equivalent would be “consistency, consistency, consistency!” I mean, for a restaurant to be deemed “good” it obviously needs to taste good but ultimately, this taste needs to be dependable in order to garner the favor of repeat clientele. Especially as food lovers, it’s the biggest let down when our friends depend on our feedback to check out restaurants only to be disappointed once they get there due to a lack of quality control. Sad to say, we’ve ousted Teatro from it’s #2 position after the last couple of visits. We recently took family and the outcome was average at best. The Caesar Salad and Sablefish were savory and delicious but the Peking Duck filled dumpling soup was salty and lacked depth, the Calamari was nothing to write about (pretty much Earl’s or Joey’s calibre), the risotto was drowned in cheese (and not in a positive way) the smell was harshly overpowering and the prime rib, in all honesty, N’s Prime Rib is significantly better. All the dishes looked great but tasted ~ average. But before we let our inner critics loose, we thought it would only be fair to give it another try…I do have to say that the Sablefish was excellent and if you do happen to dine here, that would be my pick for the entree.
We dined at Teatro for a second time within the month and it started off well. We were served an amuse bouche of salmon tartar this time. The amuse bouche is meant to be a bonus dish however I find it strange that it is served only on select occasions…just like the food, I prefer service to be consistent as well. You’re right, now that I think of it, we weren’t given an amuse bouche last time! Their revolving menu had changed since the last visit, which is one change I wholeheartedly welcome, I appreciate establishments that serve only the freshest on the market. I ordered the duck which was thinly sliced and served with a pesto-like polenta and caramelized onions and figs. Yummy!
We also ordered the beef carpaccio which was thicker than what we are used to and quite fleshy. Perhaps this is a preference but I didn’t enjoy the overtly raw taste of meat accompanied by a generous dollop of avocado mash which was not a symbiotic pairing. The carpaccio definitely lacked flavour and I agree that the pairing was odd as it was a mix of two bland ingredients which resulted in a bland dish overall. Our friends have come to love the risotto but upon ordering it this time, they too were not pleased with the change in recipe, citing that it was extremely cheesy (in an unsettling way). I ordered the risotto last time I was here and I’m not joking, I threw up the risotto that night but I think it was a combination of not feeling well coupled with the pungent flavour. This time, J ordered a strip loin steak, medium-rare of course. It came out looking great, the thick portion promised juicy and tender bites. However, upon cutting into it, it was clearly overcooked and it hadn’t “sat” for long enough as the juices were pouring out as soon as it was cut. The steak came out somewhere in between medium-well and well-done. That’s a HUGE difference for someone who enjoys their steak medium-rare. The server agreed that it was not medium-rare and arranged for a new dish. They took the well-done steak back to show the chef and soon the manager came by and apologized which was great. They offered us a complimentary caesar salad, it was not the same portion but was just as good as our last visit. To our surprise, the second steak came out extremely fast (within 3 minutes) but regrettably it was just the same, brown and tough. At this point, we became skeptical of the cooking process and J settled on eating the side dishes; at least the buttered beans were cooked to perfection and the wasabi-flavored mashed potatoes were tasty. The manager came by and noticed that it was again over-cooked; after taking it off the bill, he insisted that they’d give it another try. At this point, the rest of us had finished our meals but considering that both boys were left with empty stomachs, we decided to give it one last go. Third time’s the charm, right?
Wrong. This time, the steak came out seared on the outside, rare on the inside (pictured below), reminiscent of our thick carpaccio slices! At this point, the manager was annoyed (seemingly at us and our displeasure?!) we couldn’t help but laugh about it and J ended up eating the outside layers and leaving the rest as evidence. We are by no means picky eaters but we have come to expect a certain level of quality when it comes to fine dining establishments and that includes being able to cook a steak medium-rare (the most popular way to cook it!). Perhaps the range cook was having a bad day, maybe he/she was new, either way, if a dish has to be served three times, someone should take over and set things right. Just to let you know how raw this piece of meat was, when I cut into it, there was no blood AT ALL. I basically cut into a raw piece of meat. I’ll let the picture do the talking (below). I only wish I took a picture of the first two steaks to show the stark contrast between the two overcooked steaks and this last one.
Negative reviews are not pleasant to write nor experience but we want to share the good and the bad. Teatro is still a beautiful establishment (a wonderful venue for an intimate wedding or rehearsal dinner even) and we’ve had some great experiences in the past but ultimately, inconsistency is a major deterrent that will keep us away for the time being. I used to really like Teatro and I hope that they can work out the kinks to be a top restaurant in Calgary again. At least this will free us up to try out some exciting new venues in town. Look out for updates on our top 10 list in the near future.