Fairfield Calgary gets Taqueria and Beltliner

Cody Willis

Cody Willis

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CALGARY — Calgary restaurateurs Brendan Bankowski and Cody Willis
plan to open eateries in the Fairfield Inn & Suites Calgary
Downtown, which is expected to launch in late spring in a refurbished
former apartment building.

Vacant since late 2008, the
11-storey building is located at 12th Avenue and 2nd St. S.W., in
Calgary’s Beltline area, and will be completely renovated to house 124
guestrooms, including 45 suites.

Expected to open at the end
of May, according to the hotel’s general manager Brad Schlosser, this
will be the first Fairfield Inn to open in the city.

Beltliner to open ahead of the hotel

Opening
ahead of the hotel (and the first of the two eateries to open) will be
the Beltliner, slated to launch the first week of March, according to
Bankowski, who owns Calgary’s Taste restaurant.

Named after
the streetcar that serviced the area from 1909 to 1952, the Beltliner
will serve “classic diner staples elevated by modern technique and local
produce and ingredients sourced almost exclusively from Alberta and
B.C.,” said Bankowski, who will be owner and managing partner.

On
the plate, that will translate to dishes such as venison-stuffed
cabbage rolls, and mac and cheese with pork belly. Average cheque, at
dinner, will range between $35 and $40 per person, including food and
drink, said Bankowski.

In partnership with Calgary’s Fratello
coffee shop, the Beltliner will feature, near the front door, a
grab-and-go counter serving coffee (including the restaurant’s own
blend), baked goods and breakfast sandwiches.

Bankowski will
act as general manager. Handling executive chef duties will be Shawn
Greenwood, who, for four years, held a similar post at Taste and is a
partner in the Beltliner.

Located on the hotel’s ground floor,
on the west side, just off the lobby, the Beltliner will feature 70
seats (58 in the restaurant and 12 at the bar) and a look that Bankowski
describes as “modern industrial, playing off the streetcar theme.”

To
that end, the room will feature concrete floors; wood reclaimed from
old CP Rail boxcars (on cabinetry, shelving and booths); black leather
booths and banquettes; and painted white-brick walls.

Augmenting
the food will be a drinks list featuring 30 Western Canadian craft
beers (overseen by an on-site cicerone, or beer sommelier); 20 wines (10
reds and 10 whites) sourced from Canada, the U.S. and Europe; 15
cocktails, including five proprietary creations; and 50 bourbons
highlighting popular and lesser-known labels and all priced at $5 per
ounce.

Native Tongues Taqueria

As for Native
Tongues Taqueria, construction began in mid-February and the restaurant
expects to open in late May, in the east corner of the hotel’s ground
floor, according to Willis, who is partnering with Calgary-based BMeX
Restaurant Group to launch the eatery.

The menu will focus on
Mexican street food such as tacos, antojitos and tortas (sandwiches)
and, at Saturday and Sunday brunch, egg dishes (such as huevos
rancheros), cheese quesadillas and the like.

The basis of
Native Tongues’ tortillas, tamales, etc., will be masa dough made from
ancient-species corn grown by independent, smallholder farms in Mexico
and imported by New York-based company Masienda.

“Masa is the foundation of Mexican food, the bread of Mexico,” said Willis.
Including food and drink, lunch cheques will average $17 to $20; dinner cheques, $30 to $35, said Willis.

Native
Tongues’ executive chef, Willis spent 18 months developing the menu
with Ryan McNamara, who will act as sous chef. Nathaniel Krieger has
been named general manager.

Willis expects Native Tongues to
attract a primarily local clientele, but he added that the Fairfield’s
business travellers could also provide traffic.
Hewing to the menu’s
theme, the 70-seat space will feature a rustic Mexican look realized via
steel cantina tables; banquettes; and a large communal table made from
reclaimed wood. Greens, blues and tobacco browns will dominate the
palette. The room will also feature an open kitchen.

Rounding
out the menu will be a drinks list offering 20 to 25 varieties of mezcal
and about a dozen types of brandy; 10 to 12 beers (Canadian and Pacific
Northwest microbrews); 10 Latin American-themed cocktails; eight
European wines (two reds and two whites by the glass, and two reds and
whites in bottles) and two sparkling wines.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Calgary Downtown king room.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Calgary Downtown king room.

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