Mark and I went out with another couple last night to Model Milk for a special treat.  We’d all been wanting to get into Model Milk for ages and it really felt like it took us ages to get in – they were on their 21st iteration of the menu! I briefly mentioned that I’d been wanting to try Model Milk for a while now.  They’re concept is actually quite unique (and marketing GENIUS).  The menu changes frequently, which is a good way to get people in as much as possible for an item that might be gone on the next cut.  I kept hearing about their magical shrimp & grits, but alas, that was too many iterations ago and is no longer available.

Either way, we were glad to be able to make a reservation, too – they’d just started taking them, which was a relief as we were guaranteed a table on a super busy Saturday evening.

The exterior of Model Milk is pretty unassuming.  If you weren’t paying attention, you’d probably miss it (I know that I missed it many times driving by).  It’s at the quieter end of 17th Avenue, which is probably a good thing – you don’t have to be fighting a ton of other people for parking spots and there weren’t any crowds of drunken people dressed in green (it was St. Paddy’s day, after all).

I actually quite like how the interior is designed.  Near the entrance, it appears to be the waiting area and a few tables by the window.  The hostess table is located just up a few stairs into the main dining area (omg beautiful exposed brick!), which leads up to the open-concept kitchen and an upstairs dining space.  It was only 6pm when we got there and it was already pretty full.  We got seated in the middle of the main floor in between groups of diners who were already well into their meal.

As mentioned above, they’re on the 21st iteration of the menu.  So, you know I have a weird thing about frou-frou food.  I didn’t find the food to be too much on the frou-frou side, but there were definitely some items that I would not try (no go on sweet breads or foie gras).  We decided to get a couple of appetizers to share – the calamari and the white tuna crudo.

I will be the first to admit that I have no idea what a fricassee is.  I think we were all expecting what is generally known as calamari (crispy-fried rings) so when it came to the table, we all took a moment to take it in – “oh, this is in fact NOT the crispy-fried rings”.  Alas, it didn’t matter.  This had to be the most tender calamari I’ve ever had – it was literally melt in the mouth. I think the sauce is made primarily of sun-dried tomatoes – it had that deep, unmistakable earthy rich flavour.  Paired with the crispy croutons and edamame beans, it was a really nice combination.  Oh, and there was super thick-cut bacon pieces.  I mean, you just can’t go wrong with bacon.  Period.

The white tuna crudo was on the opposite end of the flavour spectrum – really light and refreshing.  The black crumbly bits on top are squid-ink croutons.  Who knew?  It looks fantastic against the lighter elements of the plate.  I would never have thought that ham hock could make such fantastic vinaigrette, but now I know.

For the entrees, our dining companions got the duck and the risotto.

I can’t personally comment on how they tasted, but our dining companions said they were amazing.

Mark got the Pig.  It must change as often as the menu because I remember it being described as something entirely different on earlier reviews.  Since the menu is kind of nondescript, my best guess is that it’s a pork sausage topped with a grainy mustard, served with cauliflower…something (can’t recall what the server called it).  While delicious, the pork sausage was a bit too salty for our tastes.  I’m a huge cauliflower fan so I loved the cauliflower part.

As for me, I decided on the Sablefish.  I was torn between this and the burger.  Ultimately the Sablefish won since I’m sure the burger will always be on the menu and I wanted something on the lighter side.  Plus, I was intrigued that it came with cashews and what they described as cornbread puree (which I’m guessing is their term for grits or polenta?).  I don’t really know how to describe the flavour – the menu is SO nondescript – the best I can do is to liken it to a mulligatawny soup.  Really beautiful curry flavour, with crunchy spiced cashews, stewed tomatoes, and mushrooms.  It was rich and earthy, and the fish was cooked perfectly.

And now… for dessert.  When I first saw the carrot cake on the menu I thought, hmmmm, carrot cake?  But it’s just so… simple.  Then I read the description.  It said it came with some kind of cinnamon cream and hazelnut praline.  Well, this is different.  Sure, I’ll try it and see what happens.

Well… as the title pretty much says… it was seriously THE BEST CARROT CAKE OF MY LIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE.

This cinnamon cream they spoke of?  It was actually cinnamon ice cream.  DIVINE.  SO HEAVENLY.  OMG.  It was sitting atop this super crunchy crumbled hazelnut praline which was AWESOME.  Omg that cinnamon ice cream was just so perfect – not too sweet, unmistakable cinnamon flavour, and when combined with the praline – MAGIC.  Now… the carrot cake.  It looks like ordinary carrot cake, but I assure you it is FAR from ordinary.  First off, I find that most carrot cakes can tend to taste greasy and there’s waaaay too much sickly-sweet cream cheese frosting.  This was moist, but not greasy at all.  And the frosting… OMG… not too sweet and super creamy.  Definitely not cream-cheese-based.  WOW.  I can’t tell you how much I loved this carrot cake.  All I can tell you is that even Mark loved it and that’s huge – he doesn’t like desserts and especially doesn’t like anything sweet, so the fact that he was raving about the carrot cake is proof that it is indeed magical.  I hope they never take it off the menu because I’m totally going back for more.

Model Milk
308 17th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
Phone: (403) 265-7343
http://modelmilk.ca

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