Ever since SAIT opened their culinary campus in downtown Calgary’s Scotia Centre last September, it has been my go-to place for a quick lunch whenever I don’t have anything planned. I like that their menu changes daily so I can actually go there almost every day and still end up with something different and interesting for lunch. The SAIT Culinary Campus is a market style venue with four stations – Rotisserie, Braise, Sauté and Boulangerie/Patisserie and typically there are at least two choices for each station. The Market is open on weekdays from 8 am to 4pm with hot lunch service available from 11am to 1pm. All the food and pastries are prepared by the Professional Chef students.
On my first visit, I tried the Prime Rib Sandwich ($8.50) from the Rotisserie station. I was really impressed at how tender and flavourful the shaved beef was. The sandwich was simply dressed with some greens along with salt & pepper and horseradish to really let the flavour of the beef shine.
Walking by the Boulangerie/Patisserie section, I couldn’t help but pick up a few items to try. Since I love all things mango, I was automatically sold on the Coconut Mango Lime Scone ($1.50). The scone was tasty and well-priced for the quality. I also tried one of the Brioche ($1), which again was well-executed.
On my second visit, I had the Coq Au Vin ($8.50) from the Braise station. It was served with a choice of either rice of roasted potatoes and came with two sides – roasted beets and carrots as well as steamed cauliflower and green beans. I couldn’t believe how good the Coq Au Vin tasted. I loved the sauce in the Coq Au Vin so much that I was tempted to lick every drop of it. And I was impressed that the vegetables were cooked to a perfect al dente. I know the presentation looks more like a TV dinner, but the flavours and execution were totally of fine dining calibre.
For dessert, I tried a Chocolate Croissant ($2). It was tasty though I wouldn’t say that it’s the most memorable one that I’ve ever had. It was well executed nonetheless.
On my third visit, I tried the Wild Mushroom Risotto ($8) from the Saute station. The flavours were amazing though the cooking technique could use a bit of improvement. On this occasion, the risotto could have used another minute or two of cooking as it was still a bit soupy and the rice hadn’t been cooked all the way through. Since this visit, I’ve had the risotto again on a couple of other occasions and the results vary greatly depending on which student chef is doing the cooking. I still like the flavours in this dish a lot so I keep on ordering it hoping that I’d be lucky one of these times and it will get cooked perfectly.
My friend and I decided to pick up some bread to have with the risotto. I choose the Cheese Bun ($0.75) while my friend had the Butter Bun ($0.50). The bread is always fresh and delicious. I actually prefer the Butter Bun over the Cheese Bun. When it comes to cheese buns, my favourite is still the ones from Glamorgan Bakery.
On my fourth visit, I shared a Pulled Pork Sandwich ($8.50) with my friend. Personally, I prefer the Prime Rib Sandwich over the Pulled Pork one as I prefer to taste the flavour of the meat itself and don’t prefer my meat drenched in sauce.
My friend tried the Pumpkin Spice Cookie ($1) and really enjoyed it. I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin spice myself so this isn’t something I would normally get.
I picked the Raspberry White Chocolate Pistachio Scone ($1.50). I’ve tried quite a few of the pastries and baked goods from the Boulangerie/Patisserie counter at the SAIT Culinary Campus downtown and this scone is by far my favourite. Though all the items are prepared by aspiring Professional Chef students, I would say most of their baked goods is on par with the gourmet bakeries around town. The one item which totally impressed me was this Raspberry White Chocolate Pistachio Scone. The texture of this scone was spot on. It was flaky, soft, and not too sweet. What really gave it the wow factor was the layer of pistachio paste in between. This was easily one of the most memorable scones I’ve ever had. It was definitely better than the scones I’ve tried from other bakeries around town. I was so impressed after the first bite that I went back to get a bunch more to have as a snack later. Sadly though, it’s been months since I’ve had this scone and I’ve never seen them again at the Boulangerie/Patisserie counter. The selection of baked goods changes daily. I’m hoping to find these scones there again one of these days.
Overall, I’m really impressed with the quality of the food at SAIT Culinary Campus. The prices are very reasonable and they always use fresh and high quality ingredients in their hot meals as well as their baked goods. Since their opening last fall, they has definitely become one of my favourite lunch destinations.
SAIT Culinary Campus (Downtown)
226, 230 – 8 Ave SW