Elbow Room Calgary

Of course we forgot take pictures on our actual anniversary, but this was taken mere days before. (Photo credit: Flytographer)

The Huz and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary earlier this month. We were in Hawaii, which was heavenly, but the big day fell the night before flying home. We lazed by the beach and had an entertaining teppanyaki dinner with Eve, but because it became a family meal (with some rowdy midwesterners at our table), plus all the packing, it didn’t feel all that romantic. So I followed my own advice and booked us a table à deux at Elbow Room Calgary, two days after our return. Here’s how it went down.


I love being out of the hustle and bustle of downtown.

Dinner was set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday. We got back from Hawaii Monday at 5 a.m., and Eve was at school that afternoon. It was then we found out she had a badminton tournament on Wednesday night. The Huz also had a conflict as his annual hockey pool suddenly also going down on Wednesday night. So we (obviously I), switched the reservation to a very unromantic 5 p.m. to ensure we had enough time.

We were going to meet at the restaurant (which I thought would be all romantic), but instead The Huz came home at 4:30 and we were off at 4:40 to Britannia Plaza. Elbow Room is just south of downtown, so still close to our house, but you don’t have to pay for parking. Then at 4:45 I get a text.

Eve: Can you pick me up from school now?

Me: What? Why?

Eve: We won our games, so the tournament is over

This, my friends, is why I appear so flaky making plans. I feel like I have zero control over my schedule because Eve’s changes so frequently. I mean her school didn’t even tell us there was a tournament until two days before.

Now we were in a predicament. Do I furiously text another parent, seeing if she can tag along and have dinner with them, and we pick her up after? That seemed pretty cheeky, plus Dan would for sure be late for the all important hockey pool.

Option #2: Take her to the restaurant with us. This was the easiest option, but then our anniversary date would turn out exactly like it did on our anniversary.

Option #3: Pick her up, drop her at home and have her fend for herself for dinner. There was some salad, a raw steak and chicken breast in the fridge.

We went with Option 3, hastily turning off Elbow onto Sifton Blvd and gunning it to her school. I called the restaurant and told them we’d be 10 minutes late. I didn’t think it would be the biggest deal. Who besides The Huz’s parents eat dinner at 5 p.m.?

Elbow Room Calgary

The restaurant was packed by the time we showed up at 5:17. I couldn’t believe it. I thought Elbow Room was a nice little neighbourhood restaurant. And it is, but it’s more than that, as evidenced by the crowd and its swish decor designed by Sarah Ward Interiors. Pale green walls and geometric patterns give Elbow Room a sophisticated, millennial feel. Most of their patrons, however, appeared to be in the 30 to 50-year range.


Climb up those steps and you’ll find three large flat screens, making Elbow Room a posh place to watch the game.

Because I was trying to make this a festive occasion, we started with with bubbles in a coup. It set the mood. Little did I know when booking, it’s half price (select bottles of) wine on Wednesdays. Score!

elbow room calgary

A little fizz always gets the party going

We got to talking about the hockey pool over wood-fired naan pita. Turns out, a few of my old University cohorts would also be in attendance and it made me so happy thinking about the good old University days. Usually I hate thinking about the past, as it makes me feel old. As I scooped up whipped Noble farms feta studded with pine nuts and an olive tapenade, I allowed my self to think about the many ways my life could’ve turned out differently.

For example, I wanted to be a spy, but they changed the requirements for the foreign service the year I was graduating, so off to Japan I went. I thought by becoming somewhat proficient in that language I’d have a better chance (I would’ve). But I also went to Japan because I had an Arts degree and what do you do with that in a recession? 

Enough about that, we were now onto an Italian rosé. Collefrisio rosé isn’t like the fruity rosés I throw back at home. It’s got more structure and really stands up to the food, in this case, a five spice tuna tataki and tomato salad with this amazing tarragon vinaigrette that looked like green goddess dressing, but tasted so much better.

elbow room calgary menu

I will be back for these meatballs!

After two rounds of appies, we were onto mains. (I really go all out on my anniversary and birthday meals.) We’re trying to avoid dairy, The Huz and I, so we were both surprised to scarf back the lamb merguez meatballs that was accompanied by this awesome  raita (Indian-inspired, minty yogurt sauce). The table next to us ordered a great looking burgers with fries. I almost regretted going so posh with our lamb meatballs and a breast of duck.

Me: Do you think because I’m so charming, if I asked that lady nicely she’d give me a few of her fries? I know she’s not going to eat them all…

The Huz: Yes! You should definitely ask her.

Me: Oh come on! Now you’re just calling my bluff.

The Huz: No, really! I think she’d love a total stranger asking if it’s OK to eat off her plate.

Me: Forget about the fries. This gnocchi would win in smack-down easily. That burger’s totally pimped out, though. What do you think about that?

The Huz: Huh?

Me: Does a quality burger really need bacon, cheese and miscellaneous sauce? (Not that the Elbow Room’s had all that. I have no idea, because I wasn’t allowed to pinch off other’s plates.)

The Huz: I do not want to get into that with you.

And that’s pretty much how our conversation went over entrées. I wish I could say we reminisced about our recent trip to Hawaii or fantasized about our next trip or even made a plan for the weekend. Nope. We bickered over burgers and data dumped after being back in the grind for three days.

Writing this up a few days later, I’m glad we went. We don’t often make the effort anymore to do date nights. We used to, before our travel schedules and Eve’s activities ramped up. It was a good reminder to put the effort in. The week after you return from vacation is often stressful, but it’s always worth taking the time to acknowledge those you love.

p.s. You also might enjoy reading:

My 12th year anniversary dilemma

One and done: What it’s like having an only child