Palliser's first new restaurant concept in 60 years

David Woodward, director of marketing and sales, Fairmont Palliser.

David Woodward, director of marketing and sales, Fairmont Palliser.

CALGARY — It's been a long time since the venerable Fairmont Palliser hotel launched a new restaurant concept, but the Hawthorn Dining Room and Bar, which opens in early April, will be worth the wait. David Woodward, director of sales and marketing for the hotel, describes the decor as “modern vintage,” featuring a revival of the hotel lobby bar.

Hawthorn will take the place of the former Rimrock Dining Room and Oak Room Lounge, ushering in a new era of dining for the Palliser.  

“We're very excited as it will be very iconic for our hotel and our city,” Woodward told CLN. “We've been talking about it for about four or five years. Now, we are within a couple of month of the opening date. We're hiring for key positions — a restaurant chef and general manager. I had a hardhat tour the other day and it is absolutely stunning.”

Since opening its doors in June of 1914, the Fairmont Palliser has become a cherished Calgary landmark rich with history. The hotel’s restaurants have played a significant role in this history, and have evolved over the years as a reflection of diner’s habits. Most recently, the Palliser was home to the formal Rimrock Dining Room as well as the Oak Room Lounge. Hawthorn is a far departure from both concepts, as it has been over 60 years since a new outlet has been added to the hotel.

The 105-year-old hotel's lobby had so much charm, that it was hard to alter tradition. But the renovation features a revival of the hotel lobby bar. The bar from the much-loved Oak Room was moved into the lobby. 

The Oak Room Lounge will be reimagined as a destination for private dining and events. Available for weddings, private parties, and business meetings, the new Oak Room Lounge is set to open in April 2019 as well.

Hawthorn Dining Room and Bar pays homage to the past while looking forward to the future, showcasing modern design with a touch of heritage. The restaurant takes its name from the flowering tree species in Calgary – a nod to florists that existed in the railway and the hotel’s namesake, Captain John Palliser, whose expedition sought to describe flora and fauna of the region.  

Designed by Calgary-based FRANK Architecture and Interiors, the setting has both a modern and vintage feel, elegant but casual — “a fun and inviting place for our guests,” said Woodward. “It will be a meeting place for Calgarians — a destination restaurant rather than a hotel dining room. Calgarians who haven't experienced the hotel for a long time will be invited back.”

Hints of the hotel’s beginnings as the central station, such as Charles Beil’s 1962 mural, the Heraldic Badge, and much-loved fireplace, continue to be a central focus of the space. These features are now accompanied by rich, vintage-inspired details intended to give patrons a feeling of approachable luxury and comfort.

There will be 85 seats including 20 at the bar in the lobby area, and 90 seats in what was previously The Rimrock Dining Room.

Hawthorn Dining Room will serve a selection of regionally inspired and locally sourced fare. Sociable plates, such as Alberta Beef Tartare, are the focus of the menu, with a family style format options available as well.

“There's a new era of dining at hotels,” Woodward said. “Dining in Calgary has evolved and diversified. It's no longer just beef and steak houses; the city has an elevated dining scene and we're glad to be part of it. It's a very exciting change that is long overdue.”

Executive chef Eraj Jayawickreme will continue to oversee food and beverage at the hotel. 

“Food and mixology in our city has matured and the advent of Hawthorn Dining Room and Bar will re-define the Calgary culinary experience, in a comfortable modern vintage setting,” said Jayawickreme. 

Executive chef Eraj Jayawickreme. Photo: Hanafoto.

Executive chef Eraj Jayawickreme. Photo: Hanafoto.

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