1918 is a significant number for the Royal Canadian Legion. It signifies the end of the First World War and the beginnings of the Legion. Following the end of the war, numerous groups sprang up to support veterans. Efforts were fragmented so a few years later a unified Dominion Veterans Alliance was formed. That soon transformed into The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League. Incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1926, The Royal Canadian Legion — it was granted “Royal” status by the Queen in 1960 — has been providing services to veterans for almost a century.

1918 now has an additional meaning. It’s the new address of the North Calgary Branch No. 264, known as The Kensington Legion (1918 Kensington Rd. N.W.). And it’s the name of its new public restaurant — 1918 Tap & Table (403-209-1918).

The new Kensington Legion comes courtesy of Truman Homes, who did a swap with the organization and then built a sparkling new building for them next door to the old location. It’s a four-storey structure with offices and an 80-seat membership lounge upstairs and a bright new restaurant on the ground floor.

1918 Tap & Table is a sunwashed, 140-seat space facing onto Kensington Road. Done predominantly in browns, it features a sweeping, eight-metre high ceiling, windows east, south and west and a large bar along the north side. Two tall communal tables split the room into a low-table dining room and a lounge that’s filled with higher tables. A patio spills onto the road and around the west side of the building.

In all, there are more than 300 seats at the new legion and a 40-seat deck, all of which are handled from the main floor kitchen by executive chef Chris Murphy and his crew of 16. Murphy has come over to 1918 from the Bow Valley Club where he was executive chef. A Certified Chef de Cuisine, Murphy has also cooked at Delta Calgary South, Fort Calgary and the Petroleum Club.

Murphy’s casual, contemporary menu features a roast turkey sandwich with soup, salad or fries ($15), pork schnitzel with herb spatzle with arugula and shaved fennel in a lemon vinaigrette ($16) and pea-and-toasted barley risotto with walnuts and grana padano cheese ($14). The focus is on local producers with as much made in-house as possible. There are gluten-free and vegetarian options and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. 1918 also features local craft beers and Fratello coffee.

While 1918 is open to anyone, membership here has its privileges, including a 10 per cent discount on all food and beverage and entrance into the private members lounge. Membership rates are  very reasonable and are open to almost everyone. Check out legion.ca for all the details.

New Hillhurst Market has Ethiopian flare

A few blocks away from 1918, the Hillhurst Market is now open at 221 19th St. N.W. (403-452-3938). Not to be confused with the Farmers’ Market a few blocks away, this market is a permanent fixture in the neighbourhood. At first glance it looks like a typical small, narrow deli but a few things quickly pop out. First is the bright red-and-green paint job. Then the scent of richly seasoned cooking hits your nose, the aroma emanating from a couple of soup pots on the counter.

The colour and the aroma are courtesy of owners Michael and Mimi Bogale, who also own Marathon Ethiopian at 130 10th St. N.W. The red and green are the colours of the Ethiopian flag while the soups (coconut chicken and mushroom recently)  are made at Marathon and are laced with Ethiopian spices. Soon more Ethiopian dishes will be available.

The Bogales are ably assisted by sons Endale and Nahon and have stocked their market with much more than Ethiopian fare. Hewing to the desires of the neighbourhood, they are outfitted with kombucha, organic products, gluten-free foods, soft-serve ice cream and a quick flatbread maker. This is the new generation of a family-run, neighbourhood market.

Hillhurst Market is open weekdays 8:30 a.m to 8:30 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Calgary loses popular Italian restaurateur

The restaurant industry lost a real hospitality professional recently with the passing of Michael Rea of Rea’s Italian Cucina. Rea’s family has run Rea’s for over two decades, building it into one of the most popular — and best —Italian restaurants in the city. His high level of service, his good humour and his warm personality will be greatly missed.