Hawthorn Dining Room & Bar has finally arrived in Calgary. To accommodate the new restaurant, the Fairmont Palliser revamped the old Rimrock Dining Room and gutted the Oak Room. Locals had suffered without two stalwart YYC hotel staples for months. But the word stalwart has me thinking.
It was lovely to be included in the exclusive VIP media launch, but en route to the event, I was worried. It was years ago, but I’m still traumatized by the re-do of the Hotel Bel Air bar in LA, which lost its clubby library feel in a modern makeover, with an overly generous side of Wolfgang Puck. The grand dame of Calgary hotels is one of my favorite places in town — in fact, Blue Besos features a photo of yours truly at the Palliser, on the top right of the home page.
When arrived, I was immediately soothed by the prospect of finally being able to get a drink in the lobby. Before the arrival of Hawthorn you had to walk at least 20 steps further for a cocktail.
The lobby lounge leads to an intimate bar, already a hit for both diners and drinkers.
Comfy booths come with classic marble-topped tables. The gold art deco-style lights may be the teeniest bit phallic, but they come in handy for reading a menu — overall, the lighting in the space was a wee bit dim when I was there.
Epic ceilings give the new room that grand hotel feel. They were always there, but hidden by a false ceiling during the Rimrock days.
The old fireplace survived the renovation, and is now matched with gorgeous new chairs. You know this nook is going to be a favorite destination on Calgary’s copious chilly days.
Even the bathrooms make a massive statement with bold florals. I predict many a Saturday night selfie taken in the ladies’ loo.
Charlie Beil’s 1962 mural from the original restaurant is still here. With CBC’s David Gray in front of it. Hi David! But what about the food you ask?
Try the amazing Albacore Tuna to start. The orange slices make it extra summery and light. And you’ll have saved calories for…
… the skinniest frites in Calgary! A perfect pairing…
… with a steak served perfectly rare.
The desserts at Hawthorn are art forms. Tuck into a smooth, creamy Lemon Verbena Panna Cotta with sweet nut praline.
Who says you can’t have cake for breakfast? Not the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Mille Crepe dessert. And good to know: many of the menu items at Hawthorn ring in at less than usual high-end hotel prices.
Wondering what happened to the old Oak Room bar? It’s now an event room. I had some good times there, and I’ll miss those old polo photos, but the new Hawthorn, and its lack of TV screens, is much more my scene.
I do believe I’ve found my new Calgary go-to. Well done, Fairmont Palliser. Well done.