Calgary – The Coup and Meet,

One of the perks of my job is the ability to have lots of time off during the hours when most people would be off at work.  I use this time to do many things, including have lunch with some of my friends. Yesterday I was in need of catching up with one of my closest friends, Billie Jo. We try to meet every month for either breakfast or lunch. This tradition started when she moved to Halifax and I would use my layovers in Halifax to see her 18 months ago she moved back to Calgary and we continued our girls lunches. We have tried a few different places and have been in search of our hangout.

The Coup and Meet is a small establishment located on Calgary’s trendy 17th Avenue. There were only about 11 tables in The Coup side and I am not exactly sure how the Meet side works other than you can book it for large groups. The establishment closes daily from 3-5pm and is quite busy on weekends, I am told.

I came to hear about the Coup by word of mouth. I am always looking for new eateries to try and had posted on my personal Facebook page that I was looking for a non-chain restaurant with vegetarian options, for Billie obviously as I coud never give up lamb now that I love it. Within a short period of time I had a multitude of responses touting The Coup as everyone’s favourite spot. It turns out Billie Jo had longed to go there, even tried once but never made it farther than the line up.

We decided to try to go after the lunch rush and to carpool as parking can sometimes be difficult to find in that area. Thankfully Billie drove, I am rubbish at parking. Had I driven we would still be waiting for me to try and parallel park.  We got to the restaurant and there was another group ahead of us but since they were waiting for a larger table the two of us were shown to a table right away. I could see how busy days and times would be discouraging to wait as there isn’t anywhere to wait. It reminded me very much of the English and European restaurants that use every square inch of floor space for tables as it is at such a premium. It turned out the reason why my friend had never actually eaten there before was she had tried, waited in line to get a table and a woman came up next to her when Billie was next and  the newcomer was seated at a table straight away without having to wait. This frustrated my friend and her dining companions and they left for another establishment as the wait was going to be still a long time.  A first come first served/ taking names to be sat system or more observant hostess would have remedied the situation and everyone could have left happy.

The menu at The Coup is very nice, and well explained by the staff.   Prices for an appetizer range from $6 -10 and it was around $14-15 for a Panini or salad main.   Tap water was brought to the table in glasses as well as a bottle so we can refill your own glass at our leisure   Lattes and cups of hot chocolate were just under $6 each and desserts ranged from $4.5-9. All the food is vegetarian with vegan options. Whenever possible local and organic ingredient are served.  A disclaimer is on the bottom of the menu to be patient as all food is made from scratch.   We did not wait very long for our food but if we had it would have been worth the wait.  The server was very pleasant and had an extensive knowledge of the menu. When we asked her what she liked to eat here she had a number of favourites that she quickly guided us to. I like that, nothing irks me more than going to a restaurant where the server says “oh I don’t eat here”. It make me think the food isn’t worth my time and question why I am there. By our server at Coup being a brilliant guide to the menu it made me feel like we had chosen the right place for lunch.

We both started with the soup of the day; a tomato, coconut milk and dill concoction that I sadly did not take any pictures of.  This lapse of mine was because the potage smelled so good I forgot in my anticipation of tucking in, and rightly so. The soup had a velvety texture and flavours that made me forget about my camera. I have been craving it all day today and hope it is on the menu the next time I go back. I also ordered the Faux Gras Wraps, a whipped mushroom crispy wrap with truffle oil somewhere in it. I am a sucker for anything with truffles but they were okay. I ended up taking the rest home.  I wasn’t  a big fan of them and would not get them again. I chose The Med as my main course, a salad that is sort of like a falafel without the pita wrap. I loved it and polished it off quickly, but not before snapping a quick shot of it.  An odd thing was that the salad was of a Mediterranean flavour but was served with chopsticks. Forks were on the table but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why chopsticks adorned the bowl. Maybe to test my co-ordination or to help me not wolf down the scrumptious fare?!  If it was either of those reasons, the plot backfired as I am rather adept with the asian utensil.  My friend opted for the Panini and felt that the bread was overwhelming there could have been a little bit more to fill the sandwich of less bread but she did say she enjoyed it nonetheless.  The salad accompanying her meal was quite divine.

The final course for us was of course, dessert. Billie Jo opted for the Chocolate Torte.  I was disappointed as the menu lists both the lunch and dinner sweets.  A salted caramel chocolate mouse I was salivating over caught my eye but it was only available night, luckily for my waist line.  The thought of the salted caramel kept me from ordering anything else as nothing would be able to live up to my craving after having read the scrumptious description on the menu.   It is clearly marked on the menu that it was  ‘available at night only” but my taste buds do not make a distinction nor do they read.  I tried my friend’s indulgence but I am not a fan of chickpea crusts so I am not a good person to pass judgement on the dessert.  She however enjoyed it very much.  Our portion of the cheque was about $37 each before tip, comparable to any other restaurant for lunch.

One thing I noticed as we were sitting in the restaurant was that there were very few men in there. It has a healthy menu with meat-less options and had attracted a primarily female clientele that particular afternoon.  Were I a guy looking for where lovely ladies hang out, this would be one of the places I might try. The only criticism for the decor and ambiance I have is that it was roasting with the mid-day sun amplified on the windows.  A window had been opened for a while but created a draft for some seated near it thus the heat regulation was near impossible.

I will definitely be going back to The Coup.  There was a great selection of healthy food choices, the food was delicious and it was a welcoming place.  The Coup also sells a cookbook with their recipes a great Christmas gift idea.  I think my friend throughly enjoyed it too. It just may become our favourite haunt.