Review: Aida’s

My wife and I had a double date with another couple at Aida’s Bistro (2208 4 Street Southwest, Calgary, AB) in the neighbourhood of Mission on New Year’s Eve.

I had never gone to the quaint bistro before but my wife had a number of years ago with her uncle and aunt. This is a beautiful little bistro with about fifteen tables and enough seating for anywhere between 30-50 people. It serves Lebanese cuisine and open at 5pm for dinner (I don’t recall if they were open for lunch).

Aida’s is a hidden little restaurant on the main strip on 4th as it is wedged between two fairly large restaurants and is difficult to find as you are driving by. The signage is hard to see and the restaurant is so small, that you would miss it if you glanced by it. So park your car and walk down the street to find it!

Regarding Middle Eastern food, I am not a fan of hummus and my wife knew that as she was planning our dinner date and was worried that I would not enjoy the meal, but I have to report that I absolutely loved our dining experience at Aida’s.

When my wife had called the restaurant, they recommended that we have a reservation for 5pm as the restaurant typically fills up very fast. We did not get that impression initially as we arrived at 5pm for seating as we were the only couple in the restaurant. But true to their word, within half an hour, the little bistro was bustling with people from the local neighbourhood and several other groups who came for the food.

My wife and I chose the “The Original” Mezza for Two platter which came with a number of items as well as two lamb kabobs. Our friend Jon ordered the Yogurt Lamb Chop and his girlfriend ordered the Lamb Couscous.

I think all of our meals were very good, but Jon was still hungry after his meal – so a word to those of you who are lovers of big meals and meat… the entrees are not necessarily filling.

My wife and I shared a mixed variety of falafels, mixed rice wrapped in grape leaves, a number of wrapped meats and pita bread with three different dipping sauces. I had my reservations about the hummus, particularly because I have not had hummus that I have liked. However, Aida’s hummus had  a nice hint of sweetness to it as well as a blend of herbs and spices that masked the fact that the dipping sauce was puréed chick peas; it was superb!

We had a number of “wrapped items” that were on our platter as well and were absolutely delightful. They consisted of either minced beef (sfeeha) or spinach wrapped in a nice blanket of baked dough (fatayer). I did not really enjoy the grape leaves because the natural sour and lime-ness of the grape leaves overpowered the texture and flavour of the mixed rice inside (honestly… what guy actually enjoys the taste of sourness?). The falafels were delectable as they had a nice crunchiness to them and again, the fact that they were made of ground chick peas was non-existent. The spice and herb combinations as well as the tzatziki sauce that covered it was a splendid combination.

The meal for my wife and I was about $45 and we felt fairly filled with the combination of chick peas, pitas and baked goods that we ate.

I would recommend going to Aida’s for their food and ambience and just because it’s such a neat little bistro in the heart of a changing food district in Calgary.

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