Ever since I worked there a couple of summers ago, Boxwood has been my go-to spot for good, consistent food in this town. Their chickpea fritter sandwich is something that I crave all of the time and those raspberry caramel brownies? Well they are so good that when I cannot make it down to have one, I simply make my own.
Despite my love affair for Boxwood, admittedly it has had it’s ups and downs. As with most places, I rarely rely on sites like Urbanspoon and Yelp for fair and unbiased opinions when deciding on restaurant options, but Boxwood has gotten a particularly bad wrap with online “critics” and it can be hard to ignore such scathing reviews. I mean, those of us who like it, we like it a LOT but that is in stark contrast to some people who have pledged never to return in their lives. Anyways, long story short, they decided to completely overhaul their menu, make it more straightforward what dishes are “appetizers” vs. “entrees” and most importantly in my books, they basically quadrupled the number of vegetarian options available. Needless to say, when I was invited to come in and check it out, I was a pretty happy camper.
Let’s start with the drinks. Or in this case, just one drink in particular, their new “Kale-Aid.” A mix of kale, celery, cucumber, apple, lemon and ginger, it’s good for you without tasting gross, if you know what I mean. Seriously though, sometimes those crazy vegetable juices can be more like drinking sewage water than something that is fit for human consumption. You don’t have to worry about that here. Mix it with some gin and you have one heck of a cocktail too!
With a good cocktail inherently comes good appetizers. My favourite bite of the night had to be the new black bean and shiitake mushroom polpettes, with lemon arugula pesto and lebneh, a thick, strained yogurt. As a vegetarian, I cannot say that I have ever found myself missing meat but these little balls of goodness were outrageously meaty for something made of beans, rice (I think?) and mushrooms. I could have had about 20 of them. We also went with the classic, red lentil hummus, a signature dish available at both Boxwood and the River Cafe, its sister restaurant. What’s new is that they topped it with a roasted pepperonata, essentially a melange of red bell peppers and seasonings. It could have used just a pinch more salt this time around but otherwise, there is clearly a reason why it is a staple menu item, especially when it is served with homemade quinoa crackers. And don’t even get me started on what a labour of love those babies are.
The hardest part about going to Boxwood was resisting the urge to order a chickpea fritter sandwich, which thankfully is still on the menu. They used to only offer their sandwiches at lunch time but lucky for you, they are now available for dinner as well. If you aren’t a veg-head, the rotisserie chicken sandwich is always a popular option. The condiments change slightly with the seasons but right now they are doing it with a piri piri aioli, cucumber and greens. I skipped the sandwiches and tried their new vegetarian entree, roasted carrots with chickpea mole instead. It was like a mole mixed with butter chicken, minus the chicken. So really what I mean is that there was no lack of delicious sauce to sop up with the homemade naan bread they along side.
And then there was dessert. My dining partner had never tried Boxwood’s brownie before so that was her ending of choice. As for me, I did not complain when it came to sharing a few bites. Served warm with Fiasco vanilla gelato, berry compote and candied almonds, it has that brownie sundae feel that you cannot help but love.
They had me before, so there was no need to convince this girl that Boxwood is a restaurant worth visiting. However, their new menu definitely solidified it as one of my favourite places to eat in all of Calgary. If you don’t believe me, I guess you better go check it out for yourself.