Chorney-Sales space: Smuggler’s Inn reopens with one eye on nostalgia and the opposite on the longer term

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Some issues are simply not meant to vary. Take, for instance, the wood barrel-shaped signal on the entrance of Smuggler’s Inn, that also reads “purveyors of prime ribs and potable spirits,” one thing we are able to all hope will likely be ceaselessly preserved as a touchstone of Calgary restaurant tradition. The identical goes for Smuggler’s cavernous mid-century eating room filled with crimson throne-like chairs so heavy they’ve been placed on castors so company can slide into their seats.

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These particulars are the form of nostalgic gold no sensible restaurateur would ever wish to mess with. However, even probably the most venerable of eating places have to steadiness historical past with modernization with the intention to thrive. After three years of being shuttered by pandemic closures after which renovations, a lot concerning the newly reopened Smuggler’s Inn has modified, which Calgarians ought to embrace as an excellent factor.

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The famous heavy red chairs remain at the updated and modernized Smugglers Inn on Macleod Trail. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
The well-known heavy crimson chairs stay on the up to date and modernized Smugglers Inn on Macleod Path. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photograph by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

One of many metropolis’s most storied eating places, the Macleod Path establishment opened because the Bar X Steakhouse in 1967, hitting its stride as Smuggler’s Inn in 1974. The restaurant and the remainder of its constructing (which at present additionally homes the Brazilian steakhouse Bolero and a more moderen pan-Asian place referred to as Monsoon in adjoining models) was bought by businessman Tim Down in 2020, who instantly set to creating some much-needed
renovations. In early 2022, a roof hearth and subsequent water injury led to much more building. Down used that break to herald a brand new chef and administration crew to breathe some contemporary air into the Smuggler’s idea.

Whereas the look of the gloriously retro primary eating room has been retained, Down made upgrades to the flooring and different elements of the constructing. The kitchen has additionally been utterly rebuilt right into a gleaming fashionable culinary workspace. Smuggler’s additionally annexed the previous Frank’s area as a lounge space, making for a complete of 330 seats throughout the whole restaurant, with the addition of an expanded 200-seat patio.

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New basic supervisor Martin Carrion got here on a bit over a yr in the past, attractive his good friend Michel Nop to step in as government chef. Nop beforehand labored with Carrion at Buffo and can also be well-known for his time working at Overseas Idea earlier than that. Initially, Nop refused the job provide, however with the brand new kitchen and licence to overtake the menu, he finally determined to tackle the problem.

“In the event that they needed to do the very same factor as earlier than, they didn’t want me,” Nop says. “But when they needed to modernize Smuggler’s, I used to be going to be their man.”

The Steamed Mussels dish.
Steamed Mussels in a lemongrass and coconut milk broth. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photograph by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

Nop and Carrion knew that whereas many longstanding Smuggler’s regulars had been wanting ahead to consuming the very same meals that they had for many years, no restaurant can efficiently stand as a time capsule. Methods, tastes, meals prices, and substances have modified during the last 50 years. Retaining meals waste and price issues in thoughts, the brand new crew determined to interchange the all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar with a uncooked seafood bar, admittedly inflicting appreciable controversy and even some outrage on social media.

As soon as that storm passes, Nop and Carrion consider even outdated regulars will settle for the brand new menu and will even come to favor it. Prime rib remains to be king ($41 for a 9 oz. lower, $51 for 12 oz. or $79 for 18 oz., all with Yorkshire pudding and a selection of potato), although Nop has switched to licensed Angus beef for higher high quality and flavour, whereas working in some new strategies.

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The Famous Smugglers C.A.B. Prime Rib .
A lot concerning the restaurant modified however the proprietor knew the well-known prime rib should keep on the menu at Smugglers Inn. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photograph by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

“With out the prime rib, it’s simply not Smuggler’s anymore,” Nop says. “Our strategy is to maintain that staple right here, however to improve it. We purchased a greater oven, we use new strategies, we purchase higher meat, we cook dinner it in a single day. We take the time to do it proper.”

Past that, Nop has reworked the remainder of the menu, searching for out sustainable seafood and introducing a variety of flavours in his non-prime rib entrees. The uncooked bar makes for a variety of seafood starters together with a scallop ceviche in a wasabi-citrus marinade ($19) and gochujang-spiked salmon tartar ($18). For the mains, Nop took a world “spice route” strategy, with standouts like tamarind-maple roasted salmon ($32) and steamed mussels in a lemongrass and coconut milk broth with yam fries ($25) to raised converse to evolving Canadian palates.

Is it the identical Smuggler’s that served as a scorching spot within the ’70s and ’80s? Not solely, however Calgary has advanced and so shall its eating places.

Smuggler’s Inn is positioned at 6920 Macleod Path S., simply because it has been for nearly 50 years. The restaurant might be contacted at 403-253-5355 or by way of

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In different restaurant information, Bridgette Bar’s sister restaurant in Canmore opened final month, permitting guests and residents of the Bow Valley to get a style of what’s most likely the Concorde Leisure Group’s hottest upscale restaurant. This western outpost options all of the Bridgette Bar favourites, with the mountains looming above. Weekend brunch can also be obtainable at this location, as is a weekday joyful hour. Discover it at 1030 Spring Creek Drive in Canmore, with extra data at

Elizabeth Chorney-Sales space might be reached at Observe her on Instagram at @elizabooth.

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