There has been a significant level of buzz regarding the opening of a certain new restaurant in the Beltline since it’s first post on social media back in June 2017. Well wait no more fellow foodies, that time is now! Enter Donna Mac, where the food is a non-traditional take on grandma’s comfort food paired with a deliberately crafted wine list. The restaurant, named after the grandmother of Amy Turner, Operations Director and Co-Owner (and former General Manger at Anju), values resourcefulness and the community, which will ultimately lead to frequent menu changes to focus on what’s fresh and local at the time.
Joining Amy is Justin Longpre (who worked under Justin Leboe at Model Milk), Jeff Jamieson and Jesse Willis (founders of Vine Arts & Proof). Given the pedigree of this group, which equates to more than 50 years of experience in the local food and beverage industry, you can see why people are pretty excited that Donna Mac has now opened its doors.
The restaurant is tucked away on the corner of 10th Avenue and 9th Street SW, on the ground level of the newly opened Versus building and is currently open for both lunch and dinner (with brunch on the way). They are also featuring a daily Happy Hour from 3:00 – 5:00 PM which will offer $5 glasses of wine and beer along with a $10 Cocktail du Jour and bar snacks. Being on the ground floor of a condo building and wanting to build off their values, Donna Mac has started a Good Neighbour Program, where they will sell you almost any item they carry whether it’s a cup of sugar to a bag coffee or even a loaf of freshly baked sourdough. The warm and inviting space features designs from Sarah Ward Interiors (Home & Away, Proof, The Nash) and offers a simple design with light woods and a high well-lit ceiling.
A partnership with Vine Arts allows the restaurant to offer an amazing beverage menu, which features a rotating list of unique and eclectic wines along with cocktails, beers and even some mocktails. You can enjoy everything from carefully curated cocktails like Let’s Ketchup Later, a delightfully playful drink that emulates the taste of a tomato, to a collaboration brew with Big Rock named Cigarettes at Caplansky’s Smoked Rye. They are even serving local favorites from Calgary Heritage Roasting Company and Annex Ale. Along with the cocktails, there is a snacking menu that offers items like grilled sourdough served with sumac butter, and a vegan cashew cheese and fried cauliflower with pimento cheese.
On the dinner menu, you will find a wide variety of playful dishes all served family style. Every dish packs a ton of flavour and will leave you wanting more. A simple grilled endive is served with a charred onion soubise (think a white sauce with onions) and dill, this dish almost got me to lick the bowl! And then there is the comfort food, like their fresh made tagliatelle served with a pork ragu and parmesan, which is what I expect an Italian grandmother would served at a Sunday supper. The braised beef cheek, which shreds away with the use of only a fork, is served over jalapeno mashed potatoes and is another dish that proves comfort food doesn’t have to be rich and deep fried in order to be tasty.
When a group with such deep local roots open up their own space, you know it’s going to be an experience unlike any other, and they’ve definitely delivered. I will definitely be visiting them again to make my way through more tasty bites off of their menu!
Location: 1002 – 9 Street SW