Cilantro and Chive in Lacombe recently was awarded the Pub/Restaurant of Year Award at the first annual 2018 Alberta Beer Awards.
The restaurant was nominated alongside 35 other restaurants across the province that specialize in providing Alberta craft beers along with their menu.
“In our fridge we carry 135 different beers and the majority are from Alberta,” Cilantro and Chive Restaurant Manager Jason Burns said. “It keeps growing because the demand is there from our guests. There are new breweries opening up all the time that we want to support.”
Burns said winning the award was unbelievable and humbling, adding they were happy to just be nominated.
“We got into this business of hospitality to take care of people,” he said. “This is our house and we do our best to take care of people using local suppliers. The craft beer has naturally been local suppliers that we want to contribute to and support.”
Cilantro and Chive supports many different brewers, including brewers close to home like Troubled Monk in Red Deer and Blind Man Brewing in Lacombe.
“We have inadvertently become a hub for the craft beer scene here in Central Alberta,” Burns said.
Being a hub means that Burns and his team at Cilantro and Chive have been able to meet people from across the province and beyond who have stopped into Lacombe to try it out.
“It blows us away anytime we hear that and it adds fuel to the fire to be that much better,” he said. “We have a reputation to uphold and we try to always get better as the years go on. “
Getting better, according to Burns, is made easier by the burgeoning Alberta craft beer market.
“Craft beer is so diverse and even for myself, I was in the restaurant scene for a long time but didn’t understand craft beer. I really thought beer was one colour and it was pretty standard,” Burns said. “When you understand how beer was originally made hundreds of years ago, you understand that the diversity in it gives it amazing food pairings.”
Having relationships with brewers and understanding the science and history of beer has allowed Cilantro to cater their meals, too.
“The thing I love about craft beer so much is that everyone has a certain style and everybody really tries to get out of their comfort zones and try new things,” he said.
When it comes to the future of Cilantro and Chive, Burns said they are only as good as their last guest.
“We keep reinvesting into the business,” he said. “People say you should expand or get bigger, but we still want to make the environment here better. We want to become more efficient and hold ourselves up to high standards because people put us on the same level as corporate restaurants.
“We need to be at that level in every aspect.”
He added the future of Cilantro and Chive goes hand and hand with other businesses in Lacombe.
“We are so intertwined with the community and other businesses. We will go naturally with where they take us.”
He added, “It has been a whole week of good feels. We are so grateful to the Alberta craft beer scene and we will continue to be at the leading edge…hopefully.”