At many lunch counters, there’s a mix of made-to-order and ready-to-go items. The former are generally far superior because they’re fresh. The latter appeal to the efficiency crowd, who eschew waiting more than two minutes for their order to be prepared.
Which is fine if you just need a quick heating in the oven, microwave or panini press. Where things start to fall apart, from a quality perspective, is when your prospective lunch has been sitting in a warming oven for an hour or needs nuking to be returned to life. Starchy items like bread fare particularly poorly here; never let a cold croissant head for the microwave!
Pasta usually falls into my “no microwaving revival” mantra. But while perusing Sunterra Market’s chalkboard menu, at its Sirocco location in southwest Calgary, I see the words “made from scratch” beside their pasta offerings.
When I ask my server if the noodles are cooked to order, she says they are blanched beforehand and then fully cooked once ordered. Double good news: fresh pasta and only a short wait. Indeed, I spend the final minutes watching a chef bring my dish together in a hot sauté pan. It’s a heaping plate of delectable prosciutto carbonara, featuring shallots and white-wine reduction and finished with eggs, cream and parmigiano reggino.
At $9.69, including a slice of garlic bread, it’s one of five such-priced pasta dishes on the menu; a Bolognese and pesto cream are two of the others.
Sunterra is one of those markets where the groceries are fairly pricy but the hot meals a bargain, although sometimes spotty in their quality. The flatbread sandwiches are a little over $8, a burger and potatoes $9 and roast chicken on a bun a real steal at $8.59, with a choice of soup, potatoes, Caesar salad or roasted veggies on the side.
And you can’t beat the $5.89 cost of a house-made breakfast biscuit with eggs and seared Modena ham. Made to order, of course.
1851 Sirocco Drive SW and six other Calgary locations
Daily 8 am-9 pm