New Restaurant: The Unicorn Superpub
The Unicorn is back on Stephen Avenue in a new location with three floors of good times.
Pork taco from the upper level of the Unicorn, which features a Tex-Mex menu.
Photos by Dan Clapson and Kelly Mandeville
Calgarians were saddened back in fall of 2014 to hear the news that The Unicorn, our city’s oldest pub, was closing its doors because its home – a heritage building on Stephen Avenue that’s being turned into a Simons – was sold. But if you know anything about unicorns, it’s that their legend always lives on.
And so it has. Earlier this month, The Libertine and Below Deck were transformed into The Unicorn Superpub, a multi-level pub that offers three separate concepts on different floors. So, let’s break it down floor-by-floor.
The lower level, formerly Below Deck, is now Kitchen Party (a well-known East Coast term for house parties). It has received slight updates to its space, and now offers more in terms of entertainment. Expect to see a lot more live music happening down here including jam sessions on Thursday nights starting at 9 p.m., full bands performing on Saturdays, the occasional DJ and more.
The Recession Buster includes a fried bologna sandwich, chips and a can of Lucky Lager for $6.
The food also remains mostly unchanged with its signature deep-fried Brothers pepperoni and classic East Coast donairs. There’s also a quirky new addition to the menu called the Recession Buster. On Mondays, for only $6 you’ll get a fried bologna sandwich, a bag of potato chips and a can of Lucky Lager. By no means a balanced meal, but when hunger strikes around midnight and you’ve had a few pints of beer, it fits the bill. Not that there needs to be any rhyme or reason to a bologna sandwich, but in case you’re wondering, the deal is a nod to the owners’ love of Robert’s Western World, a famous bar in Nashville.
No kitchen party is complete without deep-fried Brothers pepperoni.
On the main floor, you’ll find most of the old bones of The Unicorn. The pub’s outdoor signage has been moved inside along with a mix of other pub paraphernalia that anyone who frequented the establishment in its original location will quickly recognize. The keg light fixtures have been moved from the back of the room and placed along the bar, making the space feel more like a lived-in pub rather than a polished gastropub.
Artifacts of the original Unicorn, like the beer keg lights, have been integrated into the new main-floor space.
You’ll still find tasty remnants of The Libertine here by way of the elk burger with mushroom ragout, blue cheese and fig jam, and chef Mel Lafleur’s meal-in-a-bowl spin on Waldorf salad with fried goat cheese, shaved fennel, candied pecans, greens, grapes and pear slices in a dill cardamom dressing. Naturally, the beer selection remains top notch with microbrews from Alberta, B.C. and the Pacific Northwest.
The most substantial change is in the upper level of the building. Previously, it was primarily used for large-scale private events and as the ocassional overflow room. Today, it’s a full-on sports-themed room. Two huge electronic sports scoreboards hang on the west and east walls and there are plenty of television screens. It’s bound to get a little rowdy during high profile events, so if you like a side of conversation with your food and drink, I’d suggest sticking to the other two floors.
Chicken taco salad.
When it comes to the food, this cantina goes the Tex-Mex route offering dishes like chorizo quesadillas, pork tacos with salsa verde and queso fresco and beef brisket tacos with cabbage, radish and chipotle cream. And if you’re into big, baked doughy parcels of meaty, cheesy goodness then the calzone with chorizo, pickled jalapenos, cheese and corn and bell pepper relish should not be skipped over.
To keep you refreshed, there are some fun beverages like the Bulldog (lime margarita with Corona), micheladas (essentially a Mexican caesar) and more.
Now that The Unicorn is back in business and bigger than ever with three floors offerings different experiences, there’s no reason not to go here for some good times with friends on any given day of the week.
223 8 Ave. S.W., 403-265-3665, superpub.ca, @unicorncalgary