Some will say Calgarians got off pretty easy this winter, but most of us know that with the start of the Winter Solstice just behind us, the worst is yet to come. Fortunately, there are several ways to find little comforts in the midst of a chilly winter day with one option being tucking away in a quaint little restaurant for a warm meal. Deane House is the perfect escape for those looking to romanticise the winter season while also enjoying some high-end and local fare.
Deane House is an elegant restaurant overlooking the confluence between the Bow and Elbow River and serving some of the best seasonal cuisine in Calgary. Its façade, featuring red siding and white windows, combines the rustic aesthetic of a country home with a charming sense of antiquity.
A storied history is part of what makes Deane House one of the most special places to dine in the city. Their website (which contains an enticing account of the past ~100 years) notes that the building was first erected in 1906 to be a home to its namesake, Captain Richard Deane, a West Mounted Police Superintendent. Today, Deane House keeps its history alive through the restaurant opened in 2016 and designed by Sal Howell – founder of a similar Calgary establishment pioneering sustainable Canadian cuisine, the River Café. It is the perfect way to provide Calgarians with a thoughtfully curated menu in an environment that pays homage to the building’s heritage and the land on which it occupies.
Before getting to the entrance, visitors of Deane House must walk the winding pathway that leads from the parking area to a spacious front lawn. In the summer, verdant grass covers the yard while bushes and trees accent the house’s front portico and windows. During the winter months, however, the building is transformed into a cosy cottage amidst snow-covered evergreen trees. From inside, warm lights glow through the windows enticing visitors to step in from the cold and indulge in a meal made from some of the freshest and most elevated ingredients to be found in Canada’s winter.
Despite the building’s lengthy history, the interior is updated to reflect the sophistication of contemporary dining with a hint of rusticity. Clean, white walls are accented by black window frames, wooden tables, and hardwood flooring. But Deane House’s heritage is by no means lost. Upon walking through the entranceway, the building’s history can easily be sensed, whether it is through the antiques lining the walls or an empirical sense that a lot has happened in this building before you came to enjoy a meal here (some even argue that ghosts roam the halls amongst the diners). Regardless of whether you believe in the supernatural or just find appreciation in the building’s storied heritage and charismatic décor, the setting of Deane House is inarguably one of the most unique. And, during a cold winter night like the many ahead of us here in Calgary, there is no better place to be hunkering down than in the dining room with a warm meal.
The food at Deane House can be summarized by the seasons. In Canada, we are lucky enough to be treated to a varied range of culinary options even in the middle of winter whether it’s hearty squash or game like Elk or Rabbit. And Deane House boasts a “passion for local”, serving up only the freshest and most sustainable food in Alberta. Their fall/winter menu features a diversity of mouth-watering main courses that reflect the availability of the season. This includes a quinoa and spaghetti squash rösti, pork belly with bok choy, and local catches like Sablefish served with leek and corn succotash.
Every one of these dishes is sure to warm the heart and soul, but those searching for something a bit different should not overlook the freshly shucked P.E.I oysters served with a house-made mignonette and hot sauce. Perfectly delicate and sweet on their own, these guys are a perfect appetizer to start off a great meal at Deane House despite being just as crisp and chill as the great Canadian outdoors. The butterleaf salad, served with fresh herbs and a sweet yet tangy vinaigrette, is another great option to entice the palate without filling up too quickly – because with everything considered including the ambience and food at Deane House, you’ll definitely want to stay a while.