The name Cilantro might throw you for a loop if you’ve never heard of them before. I’m sure most people would guess Vietnamese or something Asian right? WRONG. Not even close! Cilantro is higher end restaurant that fall under something like contemporary, modern fusion food. Located on trendy 17th Ave, you can’t miss it as it’s near Anju and right next door to one of it’s sister restaurant’s, Bar C. It actually makes sense to me now why you can see into Bar C’s patio from one of Cilantro’s kitchen windows. The CRMR group owns them along with Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro and the Lake House.

We reserved a table online last minute (literally 30 minutes beforehand just in case) but it wasn’t even necessary. Everyone was sitting out on the patio. The rest of the restaurant inside was empty save for a table or two. It worked in our favour as my sister wanted to stay inside. FYI, they do have blankets for people that get cold easily (genius!). Our waitress for the evening was great, very knowledgeable and entertaining. Lots of witty banter.

The menu is small and made up mostly of pizza, pasta, panini’s and meat entrees. They have a separate menu that had quite a few daily specials to choose from but we stuck to the main one.

Apple cider brut tender ($35.00)
Made from 20 types of different apples. The description is hilarious. “You like apples, drink this.” Straight to the point. It would have been nice to know which apples were used. The cider was tasty, it tasted exactly like apples.

Cheese plater ($12.00)
You have the option of choosing from 5 different types of cheese. We went with three (skipped out on the other two which were blue cheeses) but it’s nice they give you the option of loading up on more of a certain type. Mahón, chèvre and triple cream brie. My favourite was the brie – smooth, creamy richness, it disappeared in the blink of an eye. The fig jam was also delicious. Not too sweet. It went well with a couple pieces of soft brown bread.

Smoked salmon ($15.00)
Vanilla-citrus cream, pickled onions and pumpernickel crostini’s. The smoked salmon was also quite good. The vanilla-citrus cream was refreshingly light (someone thought they detected hints of dill) while the smoked salmon contrasted nicely with a slightly salty finish to it. The crostini’s were really crunchy, I would have preferred them to be less so.

Lemon conchigliette ($24.00)
Chorizo, scallops, lobster, snap peas, poblano in a basil-chevre parmesan cream sauce. This was my entrée for the night. The conchigliette, shaped like tiny conch shells, were cooked al dente and had a good variety of seafood to it. I definitely got bites of chorizo and scallops but I don’t recall eating any lobster. The sauce was rich and creamy without having that heaviness to it.

Chilean sea bass ($40.00)
Cornmeal tamale, grilled peppers and a citrus ancho chili sauce. My sis ordered the sea bass and loved it. I had a bite and the fish was super tender and bursting with flavour. The accompanying beans were perfectly cooked.

Lasagna ($23.00)
Chicken pepper sausage, smoked gouda, poblano peppers, feta, spinach in a smokey tomato sauce. This lasagna is a little different than the norm. Much more tomato sauce based over being stuffed with a ton of meat. Not that that’s a bad thing. The flavours were nicely balanced and our friend thought it was really delicious.

Chocolate peanut butter pie ($9.00)
The chocolate peanut butter pie was heavenly. With a graham cracker crust and Grand Marnier whipped cream, we gobbled this up. It tasted a bit like a fancy reese’s piece. Definitely leave room for dessert!

Flourless chocolate quinoa cake ($9.00)
Our second dessert was a bust. Flourless chocolate quinoa cake, coconut jelly and dulce de leche. I tasted a bite – the texture of the coconut jelly was unpleasant. Just not good at all. The flourless chocolate cake was a little better but pretty dry and tasteless. Even our waitress agreed it shouldn’t be on the menu…

With so many options to choose from on 17th Ave, Cilantro was a pleasant find. There’s a reason why they’ve been open for over 20 years. Food prepared with care, excellent service and a relaxing vibe, just don’t be in a rush and you’ll enjoy yourself. We were there for over two hours and weren’t hurried out even though we were the last table there. The meat entrees are expensive but you can stick to the pizza/pastas which are more reasonably priced.

338 17 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 229-1177

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