4.3/5 on the Foodie Foursome Index
4.6/5 on the South Scale
As I drove down south to visit Starbelly I reflected my life, my roots growing up in Airdrie, my year working in Europe, and my inability to quickly decipher between left and right… Then, after all this reflecting I realized we were only halfway there… This place is SOUTH.
David’s review does the most justice to the ambiance, and an impeccable job describing if this restaurant is right for you, the reader, so I will put my downtown quibbles aside and focus on the food.
BACON!!!! I got two orders of the house bacon and frankly… Wish I made it three. The grilled cheese was also amazing, the bread and the Brie combined to make a symphony of flavour in my mouth. Jenna and I shared a risotto, which was the only thing on the menu that I found somewhat standard (contrary to Jenna).
What the Dutch boy in me appreciated best was that we were being treated to downtown atmosphere, metropolitan courses, for a small town price. Also, I gotta admit I was super excited to play CodeNames after dinner! David and I are trying to launch a “Board Game Social Media Meet Up” in YYC and David, being a board game connoisseur keeps bringing amazing games I have never heard of!
Now I know what you are thinking, did I get highlights? Yes, yes I did. Thank you for noticing. I was super excited to meet David and Jennie as I am a huge board game lover myself who will play pretty much any game from Masterpiece to Battleship to Settlers of Catan. I was hoping that David would bring a board game to dinner too and he did not disappoint.
Starbelly is in the South. Like really South, like so far South that you almost need a snack to tide you over on the 3 hour drive over there. But fortunately it was worth the drive. The newly built strip mall had lots of pristine buildings and chains but Starbelly definitely stood out. It is a large building with gorgeous high ceilings and the interior of an upscale downtown restaurant. With its super modern feel, neat light fixtures and wooden touches it made for a good view throughout dinner.
The food I’d say was rather enjoyable. They had a good selection but everything was more on the “fancy side”. Now I am a huge fancy fan, but I was curious as to what the children on the other side of the restaurant were eating.
We shared the Chicken Liver Patte, Starbelly Grilled Cheese and Bacon (a.k.a pork belly). All the appetizers were good but the Patte was the one I liked the most. It had so much flavor and spread like whipped cream onto the baguette. The grilled cheese was pretty straight forward as it was basically a cooked Brie and the Bacon was alright but a bit fatty and it had maple in it which I don’t love so I was not blown away.
Now the risotto, that was magical. I love risotto and let me say, Starbelly did it right. It was creamy, cooked to perfection and was topped with mushrooms and pure joy. I could eat that risotto every day. If you like risotto, run, not walk there now. Seriously.
Now I have to mention one of the best parts of the night, playing CodeNames at the table after dinner. It was a simple game, simple yet hugely fun and if you get a chance to come to board game night, I strongly suggest that you request to play. It makes you try and form connections between many different words to help you partner guess the right code! Jennie and I won the first round, and then David and Mike won the second but I gave them an extra point so…just saying.
If you want something a little different than the places you normally go, you should definitely check Starbelly out. You can really make a whole evening out of it. Make a road-trip play list, see the sights of the south or just make a 5 minute drive if you already live out there.
David & Jennie’s Review:
It was with great anticipation that my wife, Jennie, and I were cruising to meet Mike and Jenna, from A couple of couples, for dinner at Starbelly. When you have 3 kids, live in the ‘burbs, and cruise in a mini-van one becomes accustomed to seeing and eating at the same dining establishments that repeat themselves from one generic strip mall to the next. And who cares about parking or valet – chances are that you can park in the nearby Home Depot or Superstore parking lot.
Starbelly, unlike many restaurants within its postal code, was a name that we did not recognize and was advertised as being an “approachable version of a downtown-style atmosphere”. An upscale, posh restaurant that is only a 5 minute drive away from the baby sitter and kids? Ask me if we were pumped – Hell’s ya we were!
Starbelly’s ambiance immediately scrubbed our suburbian smell away and teleported us directly to date night – the kind we had years ago when my children were still sparkles in my eye and when we held hands across the table. Call the sitter – we might be an hour late.
Although advertised as an “inviting dining experience for families” (and we did see some families there), I disagree. I would reword their slogan to, “an inviting dining experience for parents, but leave the rest of the family at home.” For date night we had an amazing time! The food tickled our taste buds, bouncing from one rich pallet to the next. We melted into the ambiance like their amazing “Starbelly Grilled Cheese” and were given ample time to talk, eat, and enjoy the company were were with. It was a splendid dining experience that demanded our entire evening – it is not a dinner you can simply squeeze in between soccer and piano practice.
As for the rest of the family, the menu is far too exotic. Menu items such as “Chicken Liver”, “Mussels”, and “Risotto” are not ones that resonate well with a 5 year old. For date night you may want a long dining experience laden with exotic courses that are allowed to linger while you entertain thoughts of adding an extra room for the next baby you will be having in 9 months. But for family dinner – no. We want coloring books, food that the kids recognize, and we want to be out of there before my family become a discussion point for the other neighboring tables.
The food was delicious. The Chicken Liver was amazing. I say this from a person who has lived in Paris for 2 years where copious amounts of fois gras were served. I also wake up every morning dreaming of the thick, maple bacon we had. I could go on about the food, but that is Mike and Jenna’s job. Instead – if you are looking for a great place to go for a date night that serves food and drink as rich and delicious as your life has become from all the wonders of suburbian living, then Starbelly’s would be an excellent place to do so. If you don’t live in the ‘burbs, it is worth the visit…but don’t stay too long or your fancy car may be replaced with a mini-van, and your poodle with 3 kids!