Paint Nite @ The Station

In my opinion, every neighbourhood needs a solid neighbourhood bar – I think I alluded to this in my first real post, about my work neighbourhood bar. You know what I mean, a casual little bar that you don’t need to dress up to fit in at, that has solid greasy pub food and that is stumbling distance from your house. My neighbourhood has an absolutely rad pub that ticks all these boxes, The Riverbend Station. The Station is a pub that my dad used to hangout at with his friends in the 90s, but it recently came into new ownership, a renovation and began hosting what is, in my opinion, the very best new activity to do while drinking… Paint Nite!

Paint Nite events, taking place at bars across North America, are an event designed to elevate the typical night out and help patrons access their creativity. In Calgary, Paint Nite events take place at a range of bars across all four quadrants and you must buy tickets ahead of time from their website for the date, painting and bar that you love. All of the paintings are originally created by professional artists and the excellent Paint Nite team consists of fun, spunky and talented visual artists who walk you through the process of creating each painting in an easy and accessible way. You are always free to follow their instructions to the T or exercise your own creativity to take your canvas in your own direction. I have been to four Paint Nite events and was crazy impressed by the art I did each time.

My brother’s girlfriend, Darci, and I have been looking for a Paint Nite that we could attend since before Christmas and when a painting featuring a cute little owl popped up at my neighbourhood bar, we jumped all over that. We also brought along her boyfriend/my brother, Bryan, for a little extra colour.

The event started at 7 pm, but, always the anxiety filled perfectionist, I showed up just before 6pm to scope out the best possible table to paint at. (And you know that as soon as we were allowed to reserve our spots, I was all over that!) While waiting for Bryan and Darci to arrive – and pretending I wasn’t just going to jump on reserving spots – I enjoyed a pint of Kokanee Gold, which was on special on Mondays, and a few chapters of Judy Greer’s memoir I Don’t Know What You Know Me From. I love nothing more than a fun memoir when I know I’ll only be able to sneak in a tiny bit of reading. (My mom gave me her old Kobo a year ago and it is the best ever when you’re on the go.)

Beer And Book

I also snuck a look at the menu, but pizza was on special ($10 for a ten inch, $15 for a fifteen inch) so, really, our mind was already made up.

The Station - Menu

Right as Darci and Bryan arrived, our Event Host, Kenzie, popped up a canvas telling us to grab a canvas to reserve a seat… so I sent Bryan over to set up our canvases at the ideal table I had already picked out (close to the host stand, but not right at the front of the room and in the corner enough that I hoped our fourth seat wouldn’t be filled)… isn’t that what brothers are for!?

Save a spot! That's what brothers are for

That’s why we invited him, yo.

We dove on the menu and created the perfect pizza for $15 – ham, chorizo and bacon. When the pizza’s on special, you’ve got to double down on the meats! And in case that wasn’t quite enough for to quench our hunger while in an artistic frenzy, we also added on an order of cod bites. It may not have seemed this way to most, but our food arrived in perfect timing – right as we finished up on the first layer of the painting which meant we could snack while we waited for it to dry!

The First Step
(That hourglass outline will become an owl. Seriously. It’s like paint-by-numbers but more fun and more beautiful.)

Bryan and Darci
Bryan and Darci relaxing with some pizza.

Our pizza's on a chair!
Our server was crazy resourceful and found us an extra bar chair to set our pizza on while we painted away. It seems counter-intuitive to review the pizza that we created ourselves but, trust, it was delicious… lots of toppings, perfectly melty cheese and a great crust that could hold up to all the tops but was also perfectly light.

Cod Bites aka pure deliciousness
This is a terrible representation of the Cod Bites, because we had to tuck them between all our canvases to fit them on the table, but they were definitely the highlight of the night. Lightly breaded with a sriracha-infused coating, they were just crispy and spicy enough to add some kick.

I won’t go too deep into describing the process of creating our paintings – just know that the two hours of instructional time flew by in a haze of mixing colours, dabbing the perfect amount of paint here and there, and jokes from Kenzie. She was also crazy on point when it came to settling our painting insecurities and helping us fix any perceived imperfections. I will share a few of my work in progress pictures, though, along with the final project…

Step Two Step Three

Final Product

Isn’t amazing how even though we were working on the same basic picture, our individual personalities came through anyway!?

If you are looking for a fun night out, I could not more strongly recommend doing a Paint Nite. I am sometimes even tempted to do one alone! (Note that there are almost always discount codes available so you can buy your event tickets for $25. If you are having trouble, email me… and, hey, maybe I’ll just join you! I’ll always take any excuse to paint…)

Moose McGuire’s – My Workplace Neighbourhood Bar

I would love to start off this blog by pretending to be a really classy lady and chat about a very trendy new hot spot or a Calgary institution for my first “real” blog post. But I have to be real about my life and “classy lady” is really only true about 60% of the time.

30% of the time.

In any event, I work across 16th Avenue from a Keg and a Redwater Grill and, before the recent tragic fire, Billingsgate Fish Market, a Cobs bread, a pretty decent Vietnamese place… and where do I end up with co-workers 90% of the time?

Moose McGuire’s.

Full Table
Full Table

Just a hop, skip and a jump from both the Foothills Hospital (and thus the Cumming School of Medicine campus) and the University of Calgary main campus, Moose McGuire’s Beanery & BarRoom (or Moose’s) has a bit of a reputation as a college bar. I would argue that this is an unfounded reputation, as I’ve only ever been there with co-workers or mature students working on a professional designation, so don’t let the fear of rowdy 18-year-olds celebrating their ability to legally buy beer scare you off. (That’s what The Den over on main campus is for!)

Moose’s is really a great place to pop over for a quick lunch or after work drink, if you’re looking for something casual, laidback and exactly what you expect from a neighbourhood pub. We can always get in and out in under an hour over lunch and they have great daily specials starting at 4 pm. (Including 35 cent wings on Tuesdays, if you just can’t wait until Wednesday Wing Day at your favourite watering hole.) The menu is simple and pub-y, but well curated and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ordered off it.

Spicy Chicken Wrap and Sweet Potato Fries
Spicy Chicken Wrap and Sweet Potato Fries

On my most recent visit with co-workers, I decided to pretend I was doing something good for myself and ordered the Spicy Chicken Wrap with Sweet Potato Fries. Hey, what can I say, there were an awful lot of vegetables in the wrap… that’s healthy, right!? (Well, maybe not with the liberal amount of bleu cheese dip I chose to drizzle on there…) I think next time I have my eye on the fish and chips that one of my co-workers ordered… it looked delightfully crispy and I can never turn down a good fish and chips!

Moose’s hosts a decent beer list with most of the beers you’d expect to see at a Calgary pub (Rickard’s White, Shocktop, etc etc) but the best thing from my perspective?

Wine
Wine

They pour you a wine like they’re pouring for their friends.

And sometimes after a long week at work, all you really need is a big glass of wine and some comforting pub food.