In late July I was trying to secure a reservation for some friends and I for a lunch date. When I put a call out for restaurant suggestions, Major Tom was at the top of everyone’s list. That didn’t happen. First of all, they’re only open for dinner. Second of all, Major Tom was newly open, coveted, and booked solid.
I did, however, happen to see an opening that would accommodate Paul and I for a date night, so I booked us a dinner reservation, almost six weeks out.
In these pandemic times and staying home, it was something to look forward to.
A couple of hours prior to our reservation I received a text from the restaurant serving up gentle reminders regarding time and attire (sharp, on both counts), and directions to their new fine dining space.
As we entered Stephen Avenue Place (formerly Scotia Centre) it was easy to spot Major Tom’s signage. We followed the branding breadcrumbs, one sign leading us to the next, guiding our way. We could feel our anticipation rising (it may also have been the high-speed elevator) all the way up to the 40th floor.
The lobby is dark and glossy with a “light at the end of the tunnel” vibe guiding you to the hostess stand. We were greeted warmly and shown right to our table.
The restaurant is elegant and sophisticated while still being inviting. It has a sexy moodiness to it with a balanced mixture of darkness and warmth. Each surface is countered elsewhere in the decor by its opposite, ebony to natural wood, dark metal to antique brass, black leather to caramel leather, stone surfaces to tweed. The scene is an absolute feast for the eyes.
While the restaurant is gorgeous, the design was obviously thoughtful; all the furniture and fixtures have a low profile as to not obstruct the vast windows framing the sweeping and spectacular views of Calgary and the Rocky Mountains.
The room felt alive and active, the eye can see a long way so you can’t help but absorb energy from the other tables; But I would say most of the ambiance and vibe came from the staff. They were not stereotypical to a fine dining establishment like this, the servers were dressed in comfortable separates, black on black, and sneakers, for the most part. They were fun and personable instead of overly reserved. They appeared to be enjoying themselves, so we did too. The service was excellent.
The cocktails were divine. The wine list extensive. Take a moment to read the cheeky descriptions of each wine on the list; I was entertained. Paul was impressed by the bar and the selection of spirits; he had a tough time choosing which bourbon to try.
My first drink selection was the Butterfly’s Elbows (I wish I had asked the origin of the name.) Gin, Elderflower liqueur, lemon, honey, cava, and garnished with baby’s breath. My first impression was that it looked beautiful. My second impression was that it tasted beautiful. It wasn’t too sweet, it wasn’t too gin-ny. I couldn’t pick out one flavour except that It was perfectly mixed. It tasted like sweet, crisp summer. I loved it.
Paul settled on an ounce of the George T. Stagg bourbon. He ordered it neat because he didn’t want a $25 ounce of bourbon to be diluted in any way. He ended up adding a couple drops of water to calm the burn and was quite pleased with his choice. (I imagine it’ll be added to our home bar sometime soon.)
My second cocktail was also gin based. (Who even am I?) The Bramble is gin, citrus vanilla liqueur, white balsamic vinegar, lemon, and garnished with blackberry leather and basil air. This beverage was less successful than the first. It tasted absolutely wonderful with its sweet and superbly acidic notes. It was in the effort to drink it that left it lacking for me. We all want to stir an ice-forward drink, right? The paper straws didn’t hold up to the required rotation, and there were two. They disintegrated on the bottom which made suction impossible. And that pebble ice isn’t conducive to taking a lip sip, as it would avalanche down the glass and hit you in the face. No, thanks. The fruit leather was cute but too tough to enjoy, and the basil air must have disappeared in a breeze. I would try it again if they promised a different straw maybe?
We ordered one dish from the hors d’oeuvres menu and one from the appetizer menu mistakenly assuming the dishes would arrive one after the other. We were hoping for a slow dining experience and expected, incorrectly, that they would be separate courses.
The crab and shrimp roll was a little too polite for our liking, it was just,… fine. It tasted exactly how one would expect a crab and shrimp roll to taste, it was missing something to elevate it; perhaps it was supposed to be the lime leaf butter; sadly, the flavour wasn’t discernable.
Peppery is the word I would use to describe the beef tartare, as was promised in the menu. As pepper is one of my least favourite accoutrements to a dish I was pleasantly surprised with it in the forefront. It was slightly one note however, I could see the gherkins but couldn’t taste them, the dish was missing the acidity. The toasts were hefty enough to bear the weight of the tartare, and I loved that the ratios were correct. One doesn’t want to run out of toast points.
While the intros were slightly underwhelming, the entrees were spectacular.
Every aspect of the slow-roasted duck dish was impeccable. The slices of duck breast were juicy and perfectly roasted pink, the skin was crispy and full of flavour. Surprisingly there was a leg and more dark meat; the portion was impressive (we ended up taking some home.) The cauliflower was lovely, the apricots (I think they were apricots) added a delectable layer of sweetness to the rich dish. The pistachio puree paired perfectly with every ingredient on the plate while the whole pistachios gave the dish a welcome change in texture. I can confidently say this is the most delicious meal of duck I have ever had.
Paul ordered the halibut and we were absolutely thrilled with that dish too. The plating was beyond lovely, the analogous colour palette looked like the perfect introduction to autumn while still feeling summery and fresh. The crust on the fish was what food dreams are made of, flawlessly seared to give your fork a little tension and your mouth a big smile. The tomatoes and basil delivered sweetness under the meaty fish and everything on the plate was complemented by the luscious red pesto base. We loved everything on this plate.
There was no question I had to conclude this dinner with a selection from the dessert menu. Paul rarely indulges in the final course because of an intolerance to dairy (although, he’s likely to nibble on what I order.) I chose the roasted peach melba because it felt like the most seasonal selection. The peaches, caramel, chamomile cream, and raspberry sorbet were all lovely, but as individual components. As a whole, the dessert didn’t come together, the flavours and textures didn’t match. The cakey pieces that topped this dessert were the worst bite of the entire meal. They didn’t add anything to the dish and sadly resembled and tasted like a torn up, slightly stale, sugar-coated grocery store doughnut.
Overall we loved the evening at Major Tom. It felt like we were on a vacation, like we were dining in a sophisticated restaurant in New York or London. This is an expensive restaurant and I believe it was worth said expense. We were wooed by the ambiance, I was inspired by the decor, the view is unmatched. The presentation of the entrées was exceptional especially following the understated romancing on the menu. A heightened experience, indeed.
Restaurant Family: Concord Entertainment Group. Siblings with Bridgette Bar, Lulu Bar, Model Milk, Pigeonhole, and more.
Diners: Paul and I
Date: Thursday, 02 September 2021
Rating: 4.3 / 5
Price: Non beef Entrées $26 – $42 (average $36). Beef starts at $57
Open: Tuesday – Sunday. 5:00 – 11:00
Return and Recommend: Yes. Absolutely. I want to try everything else on the menu. I want to work my way through the entire cocktail menu. The view. I will dine here again.