A Night at National

Last week, Michelle blogged about National, a new beer hall on 17th. Her only complaint: the long tables made it difficult for single people to mingle.

I’m married and quite happy sitting at the midpoint of a long table (that’s where appetizers are most likely to be dropped off). I’m more likely to pay attention to things like food and beer. We went again last night to the National and here’s the story from the point of view from someone hitched. (Actually, it’s from my iphone’s perspective. That’s the best way to track the evidence.)

5:30 pm: We arrive for a media/VIP grand opening. The patio is sunny and packed, glorious.

We march past the patio; we’re on a mission. Our friends are inside, seated near the towers of oysters at the oyster bar. I hope my friends always have the sense to hang out near the oysters.

5:45: We’re hanging out with our friend, Brenna from Stylista. I admire the massive beer list, posted on a flip screen like an airport in the 1980s. It lists over 100 North American microbrews. I’m a speedy reader but I cannot read through to the end before it flips and I need to start again. In the end, I settle on a black pilsner dark lager from Brew Brothers Brewery. All is good.

We take a photo.

As we’re checking out the photo, I get a text from the husband. It says, “Do you have white knee-high socks?”

The girls marvel at his weirdness. So do I. I can’t even begin to explain the text. I text back, “no, I do not. I grew out of that phase long ago.”

6:15: We sit down at the middle of one of the long tables. We eat oysters, slides and corn dogs with friends. Everyone is happy (even Michelle, though she is looking to score a spot at the end of the table). Rotisserie smells very, very good.

We’re sitting with an architecture student and clothing designer and we all admire the clean open space.

Michelle texts me that she has white knee high socks and I can borrow them. I reply with, “Awesome. They are fort husband.”

I realize that I should probably get more food.

6:45: We order more pints. This time, I go with a Phillips Blue Buck, a favourite from last summer’s adventures in Victoria. I could’ve gone with any number of my favourites: Fernie Brewing Company, Village Brewery, Anchor Brewing, Granville Island. Realize that I’ve lost my own taste in beer and adopted the husband’s. Point for him.

7:00: I am introduced to a boy that seems oddly familiar. He feels the same. Michelle seems to know both of us and is giving me weird looks that I should clue in. Am wondering about past dalliances and then, I remember: he used to be one of my editors. Funny thing, freelancing. Someone can be your editor and you have no idea who they are.

7:15: There is an animal protecting the washroom hallway. I like that.

8:00: We leave. It’s a school night and there’s a long weekend followed by Stampede ahead.

Final assessment: National works for singles and marrieds.





Two New Calgary Hotspots: Cibo and National

Last Saturday, I embarked upon an eating and drinking adventure with my good friend, Melissa, who was visiting from Edmonton. We were on a mission to check out two of Calgary’s newest hotspots: Cibo, Bonterra Trattoria’s new restaurant on 17th Ave., and National Beer Hall, where Mercury used to be. We hadn’t seen each other in ages and were all smiles, all night.

Here’s the lowdown. Cibo –pronounced Chee-bo — is fantastic. Everything on the menu is meant for sharing and is very reasonably priced. (Definitely more affordable than Bonterra, which I love but save for special occasions.) We started out with three appetizers: broccolini, asparagus (with a delicious hazelnut vinaigrette. I’m sure that’s not the right word for it but, whatever it was, it was yummy) and ricotta, which we smeared on the accompanying bread crisps. So good!

We shared a delicious bottle of white wine (Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Reisling, for $35) and a speck, pineapple and arugula pizza. Everything was delicious. Our only mistake was not ordering a couple of more appetizers because, after we’d polished off every bite of pizza, we weren’t stuffed. How that’s possible, I don’t know. But if you’re two girls with healthy appetites, you may want to start with five appys instead of three.

Next, we moved on to National Beer Hall, which was busy! I loved the room — lots of windows, big communal tables and a great crowd. The beer selection is massive; blueberry beer was my ale of choice. National’s only downfall is the layout because, while the big tables are great if you’re sitting with friends, they don’t make for easy moving and mingling. We determined that, should you be single and looking to meet people, the best place to sit is at the end of a table. Makes for much easier access.

Sorry for the lack of photos! At this point, I’d forgotten all about photography duties. So, your very difficult homework is to have a beer at National and check it out yourself. I’ll see you there.