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Guest Review by Owen

Smuggler's Inn

Smugglerís Inn is located spatially in the 6900 block of Macleod Trail South in Calgary, and temporally in 1978. I honestly thought that this particular kind of meatery had become extinct sometime in the 1980s, but this blast from the past sure set me straight. Walk in and you are immediately thrust into darkness, as you traverse the crowded and darkened dining room. For a real treat, reserve a table in the back dining room, which is actually even darker than the front dining room, and features huge fireplaces and high ceilings. Truly, this place is a steakhouse, and cannot be mistaken for anything but a place to eat red meat.

The menu, as might be expected, runs to large cuts of red meat, but is livened up by such exotica as shrimp and lobster. (I jest, the menu does stray from surf and turf, but not too far.) I had the beef Ribs for $16.99, which gave me a stack of beef ribs slow cooked until the sweet sauce becomes caramelized, with some very good baked beans, mediocre mashed potatoes, and the salad bar. Everything comes with the salad bar at this place, which seems to be the only concession to vegetables that there was, and the salad bar itself is big and well stocked, if unimaginative. I found myself coveting Harvís 16 oz prime rib, which was nice and pink, the moral of the story here is that the meat is always redder on the other side of the table.

On the booze side of the equation, the wine list is traditional verging on boring. A place charging fifteen to thirty bucks for an entrťe should not have Asti Spumante and Mateus Rose on the wine list. Nor should a Very Very dry Stoli Martini be served nearly warm, and getting warmer in an obviously not chilled glass, nor should it be so obviously adulterated with Vermouth, nor, really, should it be of such dangerous three ounce proportions in this day of drunk driving laws.

Overall, this place only gets three and a half pints of gin and tonics. It was okay, but it could have been so much better if my Martini had been cold, if the house red had been decent, if the menu had been more daring, any number of things. But the rating it gets does reflect the fact that Smugglerís is doing exactly what it sets out to do, and that is to be the ultimate embodiment of a Japanese touristís conception of what a north American steakhouse should be. Iíve had better meat, Iíve had better drinks, Iíve had better service, but this place is the last of the true 70s steakhouses in this price range. The Keg is a far cry from this place, and Cesarís is a totally different kind of place altogether. The only place that comes close is Bumperís House of Beef in Banff, but even there, the concessions made to the alpine theme make it miss the mark slightly. If you are in the mood for retro beef kitch, this is the place.

Score: Three and a Half Pints

 
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