Taken from My Favourite Restaurants
in Calgary & Banff, 6th Edition
By John Gilchrist, CBC Radio Restaurant Critic
It takes a lot of moxie to name your restaurant Divine. But
moxie is what Darren Nixon and Lareina Wayne have in spades.
When they opened their Okotoks restaurant a few years back,
they softened the name a bit by calling it cafe Divine. But
they've since shortened it to Divine, and they splash the
name in red ink on black business cards. No subtlety here.
Which is appropriate for the food at Divine. At first glance,
the Victorian-style building appears to be a quaint tea house
or light lunch cafe. But a look at the dinner menu reveals
slow-braised lamb shank in a tomato, red-wine, and garlic
ragout ($23.25) and a Portuguese half-chicken ($22.75). These
are big plates with big flavours. So there's no subtlety in
the food either. The flavours are forceful yet not over the
top. But there is sophistication. Creations such as a roasted
beet and sun-dried tomato and with a blue-cheese cream ginger
soup are inspired. The bite of ginger leaves a distinct tingle
on the tongue, a pleasant and lingering memory of the soup.
(Caution: Don't wear anything white while eating this though.)
For the more delicate diner, there is a fillet of halibut
crusted in cornmeal and served with a tasty, organic black-bean
salad ($23.25). Actually, in contrast with the many other
big flavours on the menu, the crust on the halibut could use
a little more depth of flavour.
Divine satisfies the Okotoks’ lunch crowd with a great
lamb burger topped with chili-mint cucumbers and a spicy mango
mayonnaise ($10.50), a free-range turkey salad with roasted
hazelnuts and dried cranberries on a croissant ($10.25), salads,
noodle bowls, and more. Desserts are likewise big on size
and taste, with oven-warmed brownies topped with ice cream
and fruit sauce and a sour cherry crème brulee topped
with a perfect caramelized-sugar crust.
Divine showcases local products and growers not only in their
dishes, but also on their shelves. You can do a little shopping
while here-pick up a few hothouse tomatoes and squeeze-bottles
of organic honey or go international with kosher salt and
smoked Spanish paprika.
Decor at Divine is homespun, casual, and friendly, as are
the staff. They’re an earnest bunch, bent on keeping
the water glasses filled and ensuring the plates are delivered
hot from the kitchen.
So Divine it is. I like the attitude. And l like the food.