Category Archives: Longview

My Best Road Trip Meals of 2013: Part 1

Even the hard-working cooks have fun at Pete's Breakfast House in Ventura, California

Even the hard-working cooks have fun at Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura, California

What happens when you hit a couple of hundred independent diners, cafes, coffeehouses, bakeries and breweries in the western U.S./Canada in one year? An ambulance ride to emergency? Fortunately, no. Instead, I got to discover some great places to eat and drink, run by some seriously committed, wonderful people. Here are the best of 2013, in two parts.

Best Breakfasts

My best 2013 breakfast is the day’s locovore omelette at Chow in Bend, Oregon. Perfectly prepared, it features chicken-apple sausage, caramelized onions and local chanterelle mushrooms and cheese. What puts it over the top is the choice of three bottles of house-made sauce of varying intensity, so good I buy two bottles to go.

My best 2013 breakfast is the locovore omelette at lovely Chow in Bend, Oregon

My best 2013 breakfast is the locovore omelette at lovely Chow in Bend, Oregon

Pancakes: The pancake sandwich—bacon atop buttermilk blueberry cakes and, underneath, two over-easy eggs—at Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura, California. Great vibe ups the ante.

Delicious blueberry pancakes over eggs at Pete's Breakfast House in Ventura, California

Delicious blueberry pancakes over eggs at Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura, California

Breakfast Sandwich: Sometimes, all you want for breakfast is an egg or two between two slices of a bready product. But at Tweets Cafe in tiny Edison, Washington, the breakfast sandwich is a work of art, with a mini salad on top, a slice of melon bursting with flavour and perfectly cooked eggs and ham atop a home-baked biscuit.

The breakfast sandwich in the hands of an artist at Tweet's Cafe in Edison, Washington

The breakfast sandwich in the hands of an artist at Tweet’s Cafe in Edison, Washington

Off the Radar: How about a breakfast burrito of smoked turkey, avocado, egg whites and a hash patty, chased by an invigorating iced drink of protein powder, espresso, peanut butter, banana and chocolate? It’s all on the healthy menu at D’Lish Drive Thru in Scottsdale, Arizona, along with a free dose of off-the-wall friendliness.

This excellent AZ Burro is one of many creative, healthy breakfast choices at D'Lish Drive-Thru

This excellent AZ Burro is one of many creative, healthy breakfast choices at D’Lish Drive-Thru in Scottsdale, Arizona

Best Coffee

In a year when I visit the coffee meccas of Seattle and Portland, it’s a roaster/coffeehouse in little Lethbridge, Alberta that serves my two best cups of coffee, one by Chemex, the other by Aeropress. Cupper’s Coffee & Tea‘s slightly darker roasts are so good, I’ve been ordering their shipped beans instead of just roasting my own.

Cupper's owner Al Anctil and the sophisticated roaster he helped build

Cupper’s owner Al Anctil and the sophisticated roaster he helped build in Lethbridge, Alberta

     Honourable Mentions: The espresso at Portland hole-in-the-wall Spella Caffee holds my tongue in a lingering, smoky embrace. My best coffee experiences are in Seattle’s also tiny Moore Coffee Shop—where I sink into a leather chair and savour a fine Americano served with a square of complimentary chocolate—and the funky vibe of Lux Central in Phoenix. I also have to include Nobrow Coffee Werks, in the coffee mecca of Salt Lake City (just joking) for the most sophisticated brewing machine, the Steampunk, I’ve ever seen.

Joe Evans and the very latest in custom-brewed coffee at Nobrow Coffee Works; I'd say this is high brow

Joe Evans and the very latest in custom-brewed coffee at Nobrow Coffee Works; I’d say this is high brow

Best Bakery/Café Santa Fe’s Clafoutis has a full-fledged menu, but it’s the ethereal croissants, brioche and baguettes, along with great coffee, that bring me back for more at this elegant, oh-so-French café.

A stack of baguettes amidst all the creative elements at Clafoutis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

A stack of baguettes amidst all the creative elements at Clafoutis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

      Honourable Mentions: Last year’s pick, La Baguette, in Revelstoke, B.C., keeps knocking it out of the park with things as simple but outstanding as Healthy Bread, its take on toast. San Francisco’s famed Tartine Bakery & Cafe lives up to the hype with brioche bread pudding and gorgeous gougère.

Gorgeously gooey gougere at Tartine Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco

Gorgeously gooey gougere at Tartine Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco

Best Sandwich The sandwich is a road-trip lunch staple, but it’s rarely raised to an art form like the Oxacan— shredded mole chicken, avocado, goat cheese and apple, served on lovely seed-crusted ciabatta—that I’m served at the fantastic Curious Kumquat, way out in Silver City, New Mexico.

This shredded mole chicken sandwich makes the drive to Silver City, New Mexico well worthwhile

This shredded mole chicken sandwich makes the drive to Silver City, New Mexico well worthwhile

     Honourable Mentions: My steak sandwich at Longview Steakhouse, in the ranch country of Longview, Alberta, is really a huge, superb strip loin on an overwhelmed single piece of bread, though the latter does soak up all the juices. In the heavyweight sandwich battle, my mortadella with all the fixings at Compagno’s Delicatessen, in Monterey Bay, California, reaches a sleep-inducing draw with the turkey-bacon monster at Sandwich Spot, in Palm Springs, California.

I gave half of this monster, fab $8 creation from the Sandwich Spot to a passing street person in Palm Springs, California

I gave half of this monster, fab $8 creation from the Sandwich Spot to a passing street person in Palm Springs, California. Kept us both fed for a day

Best Burger

A tie: Bobcat Bite has left its character-filled old adobe building and morphed into Santa Fe Bite, but it’s still pumping out its signature green chile cheeseburgers. Diablo Burger sources its natural, lean meats from open-range ranches near Flagstaff, Arizona. Both places offer their thick patties medium-rare.

The name and the location's changing, but there's no disguising these fantastic green chile cheeseburgers at Santa Fe Bite

This fantastic, medium-rare green chile cheeseburger, at Santa Fe Bite, is at least three inches thick

     Honourable Mentions: In the Asian fusion category, my fine wagyu burger at Bachi Burger in Las Vegas is edged by the Loco Moco—a Kobe patty over rice and Japanese mushrooms and topped with a sunny-side egg—at Carino Bistro in Calgary, Alberta.

Who needs a bun when you can have a Kobe patty atop rice and Japanese mushrooms at Carino Bistro in Calgary, Alberta

Who needs a bun when you can have a Kobe patty atop rice and Japanese mushrooms at Carino Bistro in Calgary, Alberta?

Best Vegetarian

Yes, I probably eat more burgers than salads on the road, but I’m by no means averse to vegetarian or even vegan so long as it’s tasty. It’s no surprise that in the running capital of Eugene, Oregon, healthy folks head to Morning Glory Cafe for tofu scrambles, black-bean burgers or my baked squash mounded with chanterelle mushrooms, brown rice and goat feta.

This baked squash mounded with goodies made for a healthy lunch at Morning Glory Cafe in Eugene, Oregon

This baked squash mounded with goodies makes for a healthy lunch at Morning Glory Cafe in Eugene, Oregon

Best Pizza

Among the many contenders, my top pick is Pizzeria Seven Twelve, in Orem, Utah, where the focus is on fresh and simple but creative ingredients like hand-pulled mozzarella, house-made sausage, roasted fennel and a thin, bubbly crust with a nice tangy flavour from the sourdough starter.

Simple, house-made ingredients make this sausage and fennel pie a standout at Pizzeria Seven Twelve in Orem, Utah

Simple, house-made ingredients make this sausage and fennel pie a standout at Pizzeria Seven Twelve in Orem, Utah

     Honourable Mention: At neighbourhood pub The Flying Goat, in Spokane, Washington, my Kiernan pie is layered with Italian sausage, heavy cream, an over-medium egg and some truffle-oil tossed arugula.

Italian sausage, heavy cream and truffle-oil tossed arugula add up to a winner at The Flying Goat in Spokane, Washington

Italian sausage, heavy cream and truffle-oil tossed arugula add up to a winner at The Flying Goat in Spokane, Washington

Best Salad

Salt Lake City’s gorgeous Finca creates a work-of-art beet salad, with a velvety house ricotta base, a ring of beet chunks and a middle tower of argula topped by macerated strawberries and toasted almonds.

This arranged beet salad, at Finca, is almost too pretty to eat... almost

This arranged beet salad, at Finca, is almost too pretty to eat… almost

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Long Live Longview, Alberta

Mounir Berrah and his wife run the lovely Rustic Artisan coffeehouse in Longview, Alberta

Mounir Berrah and his wife, Yasmine, run the lovely Rustic Artisan coffeehouse in Longview, Alberta

Longview, a whistle-stop community along Highway 22 southwest of Calgary, used to be known as Little New York during an oil boom of the 1930s. These days, it might well be called Little Morocco, at least from a culinary perspective.

Longview is in the heart of southwest Alberta’s cattle country, so a steakhouse makes perfect sense. But one owned and lovingly operated by a Moroccan family? It doesn’t matter. Just go. As one online reviewer notes, if it’s a choice between a popular beef chain close to his Calgary house and a one-hour drive through the gorgeous foothills to the *Longview Steakhouse, it’s a no brainer. He’s getting in his car. Yes, it’s that good.

My $16 open-face steak sandwich might be the best lunch money I’ve spent this year. The locally sourced steak is a huge strip loin—with a red wine and pepper sauce—that flops over a hapless piece of bread, whose main function is to soak up all those juices. “My God, that’s huge,” I say. “You’re a hungry guy,” replies my friendly, lanky server, Samir Belmoufid.

Massive, tender steak sandwich and amazing apple-rutabaga soup at Longview Steakhouse

Massive, tender steak sandwich and amazing apple-rutabaga soup at Longview Steakhouse

Tender and flavourful as this slab of meat is, the real highlight might be the accompanying bowl of apple-rutabaga soup. There’s some magic going on in this unusual medley of flavours and underlying stock. Well-priced sirloin burgers, a Monte Christo sandwich and a Moroccan lamb sandwich round out the day’s lunch offerings, with tenderloin and New York steaks heading the pricier evening line-up (dinner reservations recommended, especially on weekends).

The Belmoufid family brought a long culinary history when they moved from Calgary to Longview in 1995. They’ve since run this high-end steakhouse in an unpretentious ranch house-style building, though they’ll soon be moving to a new, close-by building. A couple of brothers, their parents and a cousin are involved, and it shows in the close attention to quality, food preparation and personable service. You’re not likely to find a better steakhouse in the big  city.

Longview Steakhouse
102 Morrison Road (Highway 22) Longview, Alberta. 403-558-2000 for reservations
Lunch Tuesday to Friday 11:30 am-1:30 pm, dinner Tuesday to Thursday 5 pm-8 pm, Friday-Saturday 5 pm-9 pm, Sunday 5 pm-8 pm. Closed Monday
Longview Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

The family reach in Longview doesn’t stop at the steakhouse. A short walk down the road, sister Yasmine Belmoufid and husband Mounir Berrah have taken over the old Navajo Mug and turned it into *The Rustic Artisan, a great, cozy little coffeehouse. It features Phil and Sebastian beans that, strangely, seem to taste better here than at P & S outlets in Calgary—at least the double-shot Americano (hold most of the water) that Mounir expertly prepares for me. Maybe, it’s the mountain air. While there isn’t a proper kitchen, the owners scratch make the breakfast paninis, sandwiches, chile and chicken pot pies. “My wife is a trained pastry chef, so why wouldn’t we make our own pies?” Mounir says as he slides a big slab of apple-cranberry pie into a takeout container for me.

Could you resist a slice of this apple-cranberry pie at the Rustic Artisan?

Could you resist a slice of this apple-cranberry pie at the Rustic Artisan?

The Rustic Artisan
140 Morrison Road, Longview
Opens 8:30 am Tuesday to Sunday, closes 6 pm Tuesday, 7 pm Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 8 pm Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday. Note: Closed most of December 2013 and January 2014
The Rustic Artisan Longview Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon