Calgary restaurateurs are doing a better job than ever simply making their places look good, but kol3 has most beat. Sunny, cheerful and cleanly laid out, the room features clustered silver lamps, origami photo-art and pink designer chairs. While fun interior décor doesn’t make the food taste good — which it does — but it certainly elevates the dining experience.
Today I’m lunching at kol3 with Slop colleague Ev. From the restaurant’s very concise menu, he’s trying the bacon cheeseburger banh xeo ($12.50) or sizzling crepe, and I’m having the Athena ($12.50). Not on the menu, we’re also trying the kol3 roll ($4.50), a deep-fried Vietnamese spring roll wrapped inside a salad roll.
The roll is served with a small dipping bowl of Hoisin-based peanut sauce with a shot of chili sauce on top. Both of us like the simplicity of the appetizer. The roll remains crisp despite the surrounding salad roll contents — lettuce and cold vermicelli in rice wrap. Ev says it brings to mind a classic chip butty sandwich concept. Though, of course, it tastes nothing like French fries and white bread.
I’ve eaten and enjoyed the bacon cheeseburger banh xeo and Ev does likewise. All the crepes are served with vinaigrette side salad and fish sauce for dipping or dousing. The filling is a de facto deconstructed hamburger that includes loose ground beef, bacon, cheese, onion, mushroom, tomato and pickle slices.
I like it quite a bit, but it’s perhaps a little on the greasy side,” says Ev. “I suppose being a cheeseburger that’s expected! The bacon is nice and crispy and the pickles good and crunchy. The crepe itself is thicker than I expected (last one I had elsewhere was almost paper thin), but holds the contents well.
"It’s tasty with fish sauce, but better with a mix of both fish sauce and ketchup. A hint of mustard would have been good, too, but I forgot to ask for it.”
Like its cheeseburger cousin, the Athena shouldn’t work but does. This Greek-Vietnamese dish is a whole other taste sensation. Filled with chicken, onions, mushrooms, feta cheese and spinach, the crepe remains crisp against the steamy greens. Dipping it in the fish sauce tempers the distinct feta taste.
This attractive little place has great atmosphere and its menu concept is first-rate. Other Vietnamese restaurants may serve crepes, but kol3 very smartly elevates the dish.
24 12 Street N.W.