Rendezvous Club may not have a hidden stock of cupid’s arrows, but it does have its fair share of date cards. While they may not be as whimsical as love-yielding weaponry, club founders Hillary and Chris have found they tend to be just as effective. At some chapters, Rendezvous Club's hosts hand the cards out during speed-dating parties and dinner-dating events that serve three-course meals. Using them, singles can jot down the names, characteristics, and preferred Monopoly game pieces of people they’re interested in meeting again. For those who prefer more organic dating atmospheres, Select locations feature less-structured singles parties and mix-and-mingle events that round up singles and let them converse on their own, aided by complimentary appetizers.
Modern lights shaped like upside-down martini glasses hang from Stix Sports Bar & Grill’s ceiling, casting low light on cozy leather sofas, blue-felt pool tables, and a mammoth bar. Waiters weave their way past high bar-top tables, their arms weighed down with hearty burger plates, spicy panang-curry bowls, and large pizzas loaded with italian sausage and sweet pineapple. The bar entertains patrons with popular eight-ball tournaments and broadcasts Flames, football, and Monopoly games on several large flatscreen TVs.
Bird Dog boasts an abundant stock of rare, hard-to-find, and all-around entertaining DVDs and video games, with vintage classics sharing shelf-space with high-demand new releases and sharp Blu-ray boxes. Peruse the offerings of stomach-churning foreign horror, rare animation features, cyborg-filled sci-fi, and melodious music features, or seek out a hard-to-find documentary on the history of Canada's quilt-knitting subculture. Full television series are stocked at the shop, which makes it an excellent place for two X-Files fanatics to mutually uncover the truth of a friendship turned into an awkwardly budding romance or for a Degrassi-phile to find a reason to call in sick to work for another day. New releases start at $5.25, while old stock films cost $3.50 for two nights; video games are available by the week ($7 for older games, $9 for new releases).
Hudsons Canadian Tap House serves up traditional pub grub infused with a northern point of view. Appetizers challenge hunger's oppressive rule with options including yam fries ($8) and traditional or boneless chicken wings, bathed in house sauces such as Forty Creek whisky barbecue and 4th Degree ($11 for a single order, $20 for a double). The signature steak sandwich tops a flame-grilled, 7-ounce Certified Angus Beef sirloin with sweet-onion twigs, then clutches it between toasted garlic panini ($10), and the fish 'n' chips ($15) silences any lingering stomach growls by piling hulking slabs of flaky haddock atop golden fries. Though not included in today's deal, patrons can slake their thirst and muster the courage to yodel at an attractive stranger with frosty mugs of beers across Canada, ranging from Alberta's own Alley Kat Aprikat wheat ale to Quebec's St. Ambroise oatmeal stout.
The District beams with an unconventional charisma, furnished by a rustic look, an emphasis on local and organic ingredients, and the insistence on preparing in-house plenty of meats, brews, and more. Resist the urge to mull over a menu and examine the large chalkboards adorning the walls and illuminated with the day's meal offerings, which are rotated at the chef's will. Favourite plates include the house-cured and house-smoked bucket of bacon ($7.25), an aromatic, smoky, crispy filled pail that attacks all senses with the kind of catharsis that only bacon and bags of money can give. The delectable District burger overlays a block of juicy beef in the colours of tomato confit, caramelized onions, bacon, and white cheddar ($13.75). Mains such as the chorizo-sausage and sundried-tomato mac ‘n’ cheese ($15.50) and the fresh B.C. chanterelle mushroom and squash risotto ($16.95) greet shy stomachs like a grizzly bear best friend, with a cheery and nourishing hug. Pair your palate-pleasers with one of The District's homebrewed potables such as the black pilsner ($6.25 for 20 oz.), a dark lager with medium body and a hint of coffee.
Under the graceful baton of music director and conductor Roberto Minczuk, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra delights audiences of all ages with a broad repertoire of classical and contemporary orchestral works. A series of casual Rush Hour performances hosted by the CBC’s Katherine Duncan helps patrons scrub ears clear of workaday sounds such as clicking keyboards and gossiping water coolers with mellifluous one-hour concerts. Tchaikovsky on the Edge treats cochleae to a hearty slice of the composer’s moving Symphony no. 6 ("Pathétique"); February’s The Red Violin performance drives away winter’s gray atmosphere with a quartet of colourful stringed pieces including Aaron Copland’s "Fanfare for the Common Man" and Leonard Bernstein’s "Three Dance Episodes from On the Town" bolstered by Donovan Seidle’s fleet-fingered fiddling. Ready hips and shoulders for unfettered shimmying during May’s ¡Viva España! concert featuring a trio of animated Iberian melodies including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, op. 34; Maurice Ravel’s sultry Boléro; and Manuel de Falla’s "Ritual Fire Dance" accompanied by Fred Astaire–shaped flames. To keep audience members in tune with what they’re hearing, the host and the musical director dole a bevy of interesting insights about the evening’s program.