If you ever get the chance to sit and have a chat with chef and restaurateur Stephen Deere, count yourself lucky. Not because those opportunities are rare (though he is a frighteningly busy man) but because his passion for food, wine, dining, sustainability and experience is contagious. Before you know it, you’re just as excited about the next big thing as he is. These days, that next big thing is Modern Ocean – Deere’s latest offering out of the main-floor space on the corner of 8th Avenue and Centre Street S.E.
Bringing his philosophy of fresh, local and sustainable that drives Modern Steak (which turns five this month, by the way) to seafood, Deere has set out to create Calgary’s best seafood restaurant.
Local seafood might seem like an oxymoron in landlocked Calgary, but what we lack in open water, we make up for in ingenuity. Deere is tapping into some good old fashioned Calgary innovation by partnering with suppliers like Deep Water Farms which grows fresh leafy greens and raises sea bass in a closed-loop vertical farm in the city’s southeast.
“Because of companies like this, we’re able to make seafood a lot more sustainable here in Calgary,” says Deere. “And the product is really very good.” The proof, in this case, is in the sea bass ($36.75.) Crusted in cornflakes and fried, the sea bass is topped with king crab, corn-and-bacon hash, and bearnaise.
We also stopped by for lunch one day and treated ourselves to the Nova Scotia style white seafood chowder – one of the finest bowls of soup we’ve ever had. Made with a trio of “what’s fresh in the kitchen today,” the seafood is seared á la minute and folded into a thick and creamy velouté. We lucked into sea bass, salmon and mussels and paired it with a bright and fruity Grenache Blanc Via Edetana, Terra Alta (Spain). At $14, this chowder is a steal.
Visit almost any day of the week for a special including Seafood Boil Mondays ($99 for two), Tartare Tuesday ($2 off a small or $4 off a large tuna, salmon or steak tartare), Date Night Wednesday (two entrees and a bottle of wine for $78) and Thirsty Thursday with half-price bottles of wine all day.
100 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K6