Vin Room, Calgary

With wine bars opening left and right all over Cowtown (FARM and Winebar Kensington, for two), it seems Calgary has fallen in love with the vine. At least for the time being, there’s a lucrative market for tastings and tapas places, and Vin Room is the latest to capitalize on the trend. Taking over the former Mission Cycle space, Vin Room is aiming to make its mark with an intimate atmosphere, a gourmet small plates menu, and more vintages than Goodwill.

The market for these kinds of places is quickly becoming oversaturated (over-fermented?), but you have to hand it to Vin Room for pushing the concept to its extreme. You don’t know how disappointing it is to go to a place touting itself as a wine bar only to find that their selection hardly exceeds what you’d find at your local liquor store or wine rack. VR’s range goes above and beyond. There are 64 wines available by the taste and over 180 by the bottle, more than enough for even the most dedicated oenophile or most pathetic wino.

For those who feel up to the task, there is a free option to become a member of the Vin Club. Once you’re a member, you can track your purchases online, learn some details on each wine, find out where to purchase it, write reviews of individual vintages, and create a customized “wish list” of wines you want to try. There are also discounts and event invitations for those who try enough bottles (400 to 1000).

That may seem like a bit of a daunting task, but Vin Room makes it easy on you. Yes, you can order by the bottle, but you can also order a thirteen ounce half bottle, a six ounce glass, or a two ounce flight. Stick with the smaller options and you’ll be on your way to Platinum status in no time (although, is your proficiency in drinking really something to commemorate?).

Of course, no matter how sophisticated your drinking habits are, drinking on an empty stomach is never a good plan. Vin Room’s got you covered there too. The menu comes courtesy of Chef Kai Salimaki (formerly of Eight, Catch, and Tangerine Supper Club) and has a large focus on regional style cooking and local purveyors. Most often, the food veers towards small plates built for sharing.

Cold Bites like Smoked Duck and Asparagus Terrine ($15) sit alongside Hot Bites like Oyster Rockefeller ($18) and Japanese Eggplant Chips ($9). There are also a number of slightly larger plates like Seared Scallops ($18), Foie Gras ($18), and Pork Belly (with fried quail’s egg, cherry tomato and wilted Spinach, $16). At lunch, there are a few more entrée-sized dishes like Short Rib Shepards Pie ($22) and a AAA Striploin ($24).

Dining is mostly confined to the main floor, while upstairs is a more upbeat, funky lounge. Designed by Sally Healy (formerly of Capo), the furniture is eclectic and custom made, the décor is colourful and bright, and the seating is intimate (read: a bit cramped). Like an older gentleman’s study, the atmosphere is meant to be sophisticated and cozy (there are fireplaces on both floors), but with touches of the contemporary. All in all it’s not a bad environment for drinking your weight in wine.

Address: 2310-4th Street SW, Calgary, AB
Contact: 403 457 5522
Venue: Wine Bar
Hours: Mon. to Wed.: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Thu.: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Fri. to Sat.: 11:30 am – 1:00 am
Price Range: $$$ (Within Reach)

Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express

Courtesy of

Visit to find the best restaurants, clubs, bars, theatre and art galleries in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Miami and New York City.