Eating like an "Albertan"
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
What defines Albertan cuisine? In my opinion, it is largely the local ingredients that represent a food culture. Alberta’s signature foods are: beef, bison, red fife wheat, root vegetables, canola, honey, and saskatoon berries. Beef is a prominent feature of prairie food. Alberta is also known for its “cowtown” culture and for the Calgary Stampede. While the Stampede offers some delicious treats, they are often deep-fried and often contain ingredients intended for shock-value (like “scorpion pizza”). This carnival food doesn’t accurately represent our provincial cuisine. So, what exactly is it to eat like an Albertan?...
I Waited Six Months for a Steak… Was it Worth it?
Part of this exploration of good, old-fashioned prairie grub led me to try and find one of the best steaks in Alberta. Now, this isn’t to say that someone is not a true Albertan if they don’t eat a steak now and again, but it is undeniable that “Alberta Beef” is an iconic part of our provincial food identity. My research for the perfect steak led me to the Longview Steakhouse. My first reaction when attempting to book a table was shock because the next available booking was six months away! What was this exclusive dining establishment that I had only recently become acquainted with? I made our reservation and waited as patiently as I could for our meal, half a year away… Finally the day came and we made the scenic drive out to the restaurant. The drive itself was worth the trip. At this time of year, the trees had already started to turn an intense yellow, and the sun hung low on the horizon. Located approximately one hour south of Calgary, in the village of Longview, the restaurant is perched on a hill and overlooks the rolling foothills. Longview was named after the nearby Long brothers’ homestead and the picturesque “view” the village is known for. When pulling up to the restaurant, I felt like I was arriving at someone’s family home on a cattle ranch. There was even a livestock trailer parked out front. It felt very casual for somewhere with the extensive waitlist. Upon entering, the restaurant was warm and welcoming. A front waiting area with plush vintage couches ushered in guests. As we were shown to our table, we passed by an impressive wine collection display. Lush plants adorned most surfaces and the decorations had a homey vibe. Servers brought a standup chalkboard to share the daily specials with diners. The dining room featured an enclosed veranda with wall-to-wall windows showcasing the landscape. This sprawling view of the foothills gives guests something to admire while they wait for their meal. The quaint chicken coop on the front lawn, with hens and roosters pecking about, made it feel even more like you were at friendly ranch house for a comforting meal. I got the impression we were the only people dining that evening that hadn’t been there before. Everyone else seemed like a regular. There were distinctly more cowboy boots than I had seen in any one location aside from the Calgary Stampede. I felt like I was on the Yellowstone tv series set. I spoke to a couple who was celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary. They told me they’d been coming to the Longview Steakhouse every year to celebrate their anniversary for the last 15 years. They first dined at the original location, which was situated in the village itself. When I asked the couple why they kept coming back to the Longview Steakhouse, they simply said two reasons; the food and the service. Both of which made you feel as though you’d been invited over to a family member’s house for dinner. If the regulars are any testament, this steakhouse knows what they are doing.
"To say this one of the best steaks I have ever had probably sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn’t."
The food has a vintage steakhouse flair to it. The menu has retro terminology I haven’t seen since culinary school. We opted for the chateaubriand to share. Even though I’d memorized in detail the defining characteristics of this dish for cooking school exams, I had never actually eaten it. To say this one of the best steaks I have ever had probably sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. Everything about this dish was working perfectly. The cut of beef itself (sourced from local producers) was perfectly cooked as we requested. It came beautifully rare. The crust on the outside added a delicate textural contrast to the tender center. There was a spice rub on the outside too, which added a subtle flavor. If it wasn’t delicious enough on its own, the two sauces accompanying it put it over the top. The béarnaise (which is a hollandaise sauce that has tarragon and chervil added to it) was luscious, light, and incredibly velvety. The fresh herbs added a bright note to the dish. A demi-glaze sauce dressed the plate, adding a depth of flavor and richness. Classically a chateaubriand is served with a “bouquetiere of veg”, basically a medley of cooked vegetables. I really appreciated how the vegetables that accompanied the steak were not an after-thought. Alone, they were perfectly cooked. You could tell attention had been paid to the vegetables, with the savory flavor of garlic. The crispy roast potatoes were no different. Every element of this dish was prepared with great attention to detail and worked in harmony. So was it worth the six month wait? Honestly? The answer is “yes”. Lots of elements were working together to create a memorable dining experience; the food, the ambiance (including the view and the drive), and the old school service. Now I feel like a member of the club. Eating like an Albertan isn’t just about finding great “meat and potatoes”, it is also about dining with a sense of community. And community is what the Longview Steakhouse is serving up, alongside their legendary Albertan steaks. Stay tuned for more upcoming food adventures exploring Alberta’s food identity (including a horseback campfire cookout)…
This article was made possible thanks to Travel Alberta.