Elizabeth Chorney-Booth

Elizabeth Chorney-Booth



Chorney-Booth: Lonely Mouth showcases a different take on modern Japanese food

Calgarians have plenty of opportunities to go out and enjoy Japanese cuisine. There are some excellent sushi restaurants and plenty of great ramen here and izakaya-style food is steadily gaining in popularity in the city. With that in mind, when the Concorde Group decided to add another Japanese concept to the mix, it knew it was going to have to do something different. The group’s newest restaurant Lonely Mouth hits a lot of familiar Japanese notes while doing a few fun and delicious things that the city hasn’t seen before.

6 days ago Life
From left; head chef May Ng; executive chef Tomo Mitsunno; regional manager Amanda Jansen, and manager Mai Takahashi, at Lonely Mouth Bar. Jansen and Takahashi are also sake sommeliers. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Chorney-Booth: The Curryer tells a family story through biryani and chaat

Calgary has an excellent selection of curry restaurants, but Naghma Slade found herself yearning for a restaurant version of the food that she grew up eating in her family home. Hailing from Pakistan, Slade’s mother Mubina Chaudhry (a.k.a. Ammi Jaan, which is Urdu for “mom”) raised her family on spicy biryanis and samosas that were not quite like the versions you’ll find in Calgary’s wide range of Indian restaurants.

January 14, 2022 Life
From left, chef Ali Tajdeen; general manager Conrad Sawatzky, and owner Naghma Slade inside The Curryer Pakistani Kitchen. Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Chorney-Booth: OEB's growing breakfast empire is still farm fresh

Traditionally there have been two general categories of diner-style breakfast places: the small locally owned joints and the big chain restaurants. The advantage of the local places are better and more interesting food and cool retro decor, while the bigger guys can offer consistency (even if it’s in the form of bland pancakes and frozen hash browns) from city to city and they’re usually easier to get into on a busy Sunday morning thanks to multiple locations. OEB, a locally founded restaurant that just opened its fourth location in Calgary is proving that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.

January 7, 2022 Life
French Toast Trifle at OEB Breakfast on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Chorney-Booth: Calgary's best new restaurants of 2021

This time last year when I sat down to rank the best restaurants of 2020, it was all about praising the few restaurateurs who were either brave or stubborn enough to open a new business when none of us knew if they would even be able to serve customers from one week to the next. In some ways, 2021 was no different: COVID-19 is still unpredictable and with food costs rising and staffing shortages, opening a new restaurant continues to be a risky endeavour.

December 18, 2021 Life
Crispy half chicken, tomato and brioche salad, and potato doughnuts at Major Tom, a new restaurant at the top of Stephen Avenue Place, were photographed on Thursday, July 29, 2021. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Scotland expands whisky tourism with Edinburgh's new Johnnie Walker Princes Street experience

For many spirit drinkers, the winter of 2021/2022 is the season of whisky. Canada, and Alberta in particular, has always had a strong whisky culture (we are, after all, the home of the mighty Alberta Premium) and a number of smaller local brands are releasing delicious Scotch-style whiskies this year. All of this whisky business is prompting prospective travellers to look towards Scotland, the motherland of dark spirits, for a bit of leisurely research.

December 10, 2021 Travel
Try one of many whiskies at Johnnie Walker's Glenkinchie Distllery in the Scottish Lowlands.

Chorney-Booth: Garbanzo's falafel pop-up finds a permanent home in Altadore

As with many people, the pandemic has forced Alec Fraser to re-evaluate his relationship with work. The industrious local chef has plenty of experience working in fine dining restaurants and travelling the world to follow cooking opportunities, but COVID-19 landed him back home in Calgary. He had to leave a dream job at a restaurant in Bali and it taught him that building his own grassroots food business might be the ticket to career satisfaction.

December 10, 2021 Life
Alec Fraser of Garbanzo's, a falafel pop-up diner in Calgary. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Chorney-Booth: Give local gifts for tasty holiday cheer

For many of us, 2020 was the year of going hyper-local for food, both during the holidays and otherwise. The push to support local businesses was strong with so many restaurants and retailers suffering through pandemic-related closures. Many people were laid off and some sectors created new products as side hustles. Consumers got to know locally owned food brands and sharing the local love became seen as a civic duty. Since then, supporting local has become the default for many of us — consumers are choosing to support local businesses and artisans because of convenience, quality, customer service, and simply because it’s the neighbourly thing to do.

December 4, 2021 Life
Owner Gail Norton of The Cookbook Company Co. with some of their local products in Calgary on Thursday, November 25, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Chorney-Booth: Japanese food shines at Banff's Shoku Izakaya

Both Banff and Canmore have always punched above their weight when it comes to Japanese restaurants. With so many international visitors, the Bow Valley learned how to do Japanese cuisine right early on, but with restaurants coming and going, there are always some gaps that need to be filled in Banff’s food landscape. Stephane Prevost, the man behind the very popular, globally-minded Block Kitchen + Bar in Banff always felt that in addition to its sushi and ramen options, the town could use a traditional Japanese izakaya (stay-drink-place). Taking an “if no one else is going to do it, I’ll go ahead and do it myself” approach, Prevost made his wish come true earlier this year with the opening of his Shoku Izakaya, in the middle of downtown.

November 27, 2021 Life
Oysters and assorted sushi at Shoku Izakaya. Courtesy, Shoku Izakaya

Chorney-Booth: Taqueria El Chefe takes birria to the next level

Anyone who follows food trends has seen that tacos are having a moment. The current wave of taco-mania is a worldwide phenomenon, but one that is felt particularly acutely in Calgary, a city that has spent the last five years or so making up for a historic lack of traditional taquerias. In an increasingly packed field, a new Mexican restaurant has to work hard to set itself apart, which is exactly what chef Giovanni Vazquez is doing with the creation of his new Taqueria El Chefe.

November 19, 2021 Life
Taqueria El Chefe is a new Mexican restaurant in the Grain Exchange Building. Thursday, November 11, 2021. Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Chorney-Booth: Trullo Trattoria's fresh take on Italian food comes to Oakridge

Even in a city with dozens of Italian restaurants, there’s always room for another neighbourhood spot serving standout Italian fare. The combination of rich, high-quality ingredients and simple but precise cooking methods hits the right spots for a lot of diners, which is why the owner of an Oakridge strip mall wanted to find another Italian restaurant to replace the now-shuttered Involtini (which in itself replaced the previous Italian restaurant, San Remo, a little over a decade ago). The landlord approached restaurateurs Jason Armstrong and Eric Mah, who already run the successful Purlieu Modern Bistro just a few blocks away, about taking over the space and the business partners happily started to work out their take on Italian cuisine.

November 12, 2021 Life
Trullo Trattoria on 90th Ave. S.W. in Calgary. Jim Wells/Postmedia