As Calgarians, we haven’t always been particularly good when it comes to honouring our history. While we have a few restaurant landmarks (shoutouts to Caesar’s and the Silver Dragon) that endure, most restaurant-goers prefer to chase down whatever is shiny and new. Smugglers Inn, the glorious, old school nugget on Macleod Trail, has managed to survive by carefully balancing the old with the new.
The restaurant initially opened in 1967 as Bar X Steakhouse, but became Smuggler’s Inn in the early ’70s under the ownership of Frank Krowicki, who was part of the original owners’ group, buying out his partners so that he could mould Smuggler’s to meet his own vision. The restaurant became an undisputed hot spot, but as times changed, Smuggler’s management knew that it had to evolve as well. While the original Smuggler’s has always maintained its distinct personality and a menu dominated by steak and prime rib, the rest of the building has rolled along with the times, expanding to make room for different lounges and dining rooms. The current configuration includes the Bolero Brazilian steakhouse and Open Sesame, a pan-Asian stir-fry concept.
For the past eight years, the fourth spot in the Smuggler’s compound has been occupied by Tango Bistro, a tapas-style restaurant that was well-reviewed, but ultimately seen by customers as more of a “special occasion” restaurant than a place to drop in for a casual meal. Recognizing that Tango had run its course, the Smuggler’s team closed it down late this summer and last month relaunched the space as Frank’s on Macleod, named after Krowicki, who passed away six years ago.
“We were thinking about what to call it,” says general manager Tim Warman. “And when I looked at the values that we were trying to espouse — local, interesting, good quality at a reasonable price and a little bit eccentric and a little bit quirky — all of those values were embodied by Frank’s history and character.”
To transform the restaurant into the kind of place where groups of friends can convene over unfussy food any day of the week, executive chef Trevor Hopper went for a “modern diner” approach, with a selection of comfort foods that can easily be shared. The menu is broken up into sections like salads, meatballs, bowls, toasts, poutines and sandwiches and sliders The idea is that everything is approachable and affordable, with a few interesting surprises: you’ve got items like jerk pork belly meatballs with tamarind soy and mango salsa ($9.50), a selection of different toasts topped with your choice of items like wild mushrooms and roasted garlic, beet with whipped goat cheese, or turkey with pesto (three for $9), or curried lamb sliders with hummus and roasted tomato ($9.95).
Keeping with the times, there are also healthier dishes, like a Buddah Bowl with quinoa, brown rice and piles of vegetables ($11.50) and a wide range of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Frank’s also offers the ultimate comfort food: an all-day breakfast for anyone who craves eggs benny ($10.50) or stuffed French toast ($7.50).
Frank’s on Macleod is located at 6920 Macleod Trail and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant can be reached at 403-252-4365 or franksonmacleod.com.
After a couple of delays so that owner Duncan Ly could tend to other projects, the Beltline location of Takori is now open. Located in the former lounge section of Ly’s Foreign Concept restaurant (1011 1st St. S.W.) the new Takori is much like the location in Avenida Food Hall. There’s a focus on Asian fusion tacos, with a few additional menu items, and perhaps more importantly, a liquor licence. Pop in for an order of those irresistible honey butter chips and, if you’re feeling spicy, a kimchi michelada. For more information, visit takori.ca.
A few months back, popular sports bar and restaurant Home and Away announced it was shuttering its 17th Avenue S.W. location, but promised to return in a new spot soon. That promise is now materializing: the new Home and Away is scheduled to open on Nov. 21 at 1207 1st St. S.W. in Victoria Park in the space most recently occupied by Parm. The opening weekend also happens to coincide with Grey Cup weekend in Calgary, so be prepared for a full slate of festivities. For updates, check homeandawayyyc.com.
Finally, coffee lovers take note: local musician Ellen Doty is once again teaming up with Monogram Coffee for her annual charity fundraiser. Doty has written and recorded a song as part of the campaign — this time it’s a collaboration with soul artist Kate Stevens called “Next to the Fire.” Monogram developed a coffee roast with the same name. Buy a bag from now until Dec. 31 and $5 will go towards The Mustard Seed. For more information and to hear the song, visit ellendoty.com.
Elizabeth Chorney-Booth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @elizaboothy or Instagram at @elizabooth.