I had to choose a restaurant for my birthday and it was such a tough choice! I have a huge wishlist, so I prioritized based on ease of access, price, and reviews. Hayloft has received some very good kudos so far, and their prices are fair. We live in the north end of Calgary so Airdrie really isn’t that far. We stopped at Costco at Cross Iron on our way out and made the most of the evening.
Hayloft is located in a new area mixed with condos and businesses. There’s plenty of parking out front and it’s easy to find. The entrance is warm and inviting with a hearty wooden door with a cow knocker – some unexpected country charm in the new building.
The restaurant is clean looking with a great open concept and chandeliers like the one we just put into our entranceway at home – they have good taste! LOL. We were greeted with a friendly smile and the server asked us where we’d like to sit. We chose a table for 4 since we like to be comfortable when we dine out. I think we were the only customers on this Tuesday night at the end of November. I hope more people come out because we want this place to stick around!
We were offered a $35 3-course menu which looked delicious, and great value… but so many things on the menu looked so delicious too! We were served house made focaccia to start. It was good, but it would have been delicious, had it been served with a good EVOO and balsamic vinegar.
We each ordered a glass of wine for dinner. Jay wasn’t sure of the one he ordered, so our server provided him a sample to try. Since he found it too light, it was nice that he didn’t end up getting a whole glass of something he didn’t enjoy.
We decided on a number of dishes to share since we wanted to taste as many things as possible. We started with the Beef Tartare with Roast Garlic, Grainy Mustard, Mushroom Tapenade, and Parsley for $15, followed by the appy sized PEI Mussels with Chorizo Sausage, Apple Cider, House Made Sauerkraut, and Grilled Focaccia Bread for $18. The crispy homemade potato chips were awesome with the beef tartare – the light salty crisp was very complimentary to the nicely chopped mustardy beef. Yum! My only issue was the chips were too thin to really scoop the meat off the plate. But, since the chips were small enough we just ate it all with a fork.
The mussels were delicious with a light broth and a spicy chorizo sausage crumble. The grilled char on the focaccia bread added a depth to the dish. Mmmmm… we even used extra (ungrilled) focaccia to soak up all the rest of the sauce from the bowl. The house made sauerkraut added a nice texture to the plate. It really was nice to have more than just mussels in the dish!
We also chose two mains to share – the small Bison Agnolotti with White Onion Puree, Morel and Grilled Rosemary Jus and Gremolata for $16, and the small Gnocchi with Dungeness Crab, Cripsy Guanciale, Toasted Bread Crumb, Mint Oil and Garlic Puree for $16. All the pastas at Hayloft are house made, which I think is super awesome! I really dislike paying $20+ for a dish of pasta made from store-bought pasta that I can buy for $1 at the local grocery store. The bison agnolotti was served with a bit of flair – the server brought the jus in a separate container and poured it on the pasta at the table. The agnolotti had an excellent earthy flavour – it was a hearty pasta dish and would be wonderful as a full size for dinner for one on a cold winter night. We thought the pasta was a little underdone (not quite al dente), but otherwise the dish was filled with little bundles of joy and overall was mighty delicious!
The photo of the crab gnocchi doesn’t do it any justice… if you like crab, this dish is full of flavour just for you. Far from the bland jarred crab you’ll find in the local grocery store, this dish is packed with tasty, fresh, real crab. The little packets of wonderful gnocchi were perfectly cooked – not too dense or chewy – they were heaven in my mouth. I liked the crispy bacon on top, although Jay thought the bacon was too crispy. The sauce was creamy but not too rich (although, I don’t think I could eat a full-sized serving of it on my own!). We would both order this dish again, too.
Since it was my birthday, we had to have dessert even though we were both pretty full at this point. I chose the Sea Buckthorn Curd Tart with Saskatoon Marmalade, Hazelnut Praline for $10. I was hoping there’d be a good chocolate cake on the menu but there wasn’t anything quite like that. I went for the tart because I’ve never had sea buckthorn before. It was really quite nice – not too sweet, with a light fruity flavour. The candle was a nice touch – our server certainly was nice to wish me happy birthday a couple times throughout the night. She was also very nice to bring us a dessert wine with dessert (it pared perfectly!). I thought the drink was delicious so I asked to see the bottle – turns out I had a 2001 bottle of the same stuff that I had saved for years that I drank in 2015 for a special occasion. If you’re looking for a yummy dessert wine, give this one a try!
At the end of the evening we were provided a couple small Oat & Flax cookies. Ironically, they tasted just like I thought they would; I must have had something similar before. With a slight honey taste, they would be a great snack with an afternoon tea.
All in all, we were impressed with Hayloft and will definitely return. We’d like to work our way through the menu, but we’d also love to try the family style Chef’s Tasting Menu for $70 pp. Hayloft is going to be a neighbourhood gem in Airdrie and I hope Calgarians go out there to visit often and regularly!