Rockies retreat - Labour Day weekend report
Hey gang, thought you might want to know our findings from our long weekend trip to the Rockies - all comments and further recommendations are welcome :)
Saturday - Had lunch in Canmore, wanted to go to Crazyweed (since I'd heard so much about it on these boards) but we were told that it had moved locations and was under construction. In its place was a Japanese restaurant opened by the Crazyweed owners, which featured fresh handmade ramen and other Japanese dishes. Didn't try it, although it sounded interesting - dishes seemed pretty overpriced though, especially for Japanese food. Tried going to Chef's Studio Japan, but it was closed. Finally settled on Murrietta's, and had a solid striploin steak sandwich with caramelized onions and wild mushrooms, while she had a delicious lamb burger which was recommended.
At night, we ate in the dining room at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise. It's been highly regarded, and rightly so. Shared a bison carpaccio to start which was AMAZING. The bison was sliced thicker than most carpaccio, and was nicely seared and rare in the middle - perfect. Came with shaved parmeson, greens, and delicious truffle oil drizzled on it. I also had a cream of asparagus soup which was delicious, complete with green and white asparagus tips. Entrees: caribou tenderloin (which was nicely roasted and served with a berry compote) and osso bucco (nice porcini mushroom risotto included with it, and meat was tender). Wine list was, as advertised, very impressive. Great meal all around it, a bit on the pricey side but worth it I'd say (especially if you're staying at the hotel and just wander back to your room after dinner!)
Sunday - Lunch at Chaya in Banff, small Japanese family-owned place. Had the shoyu ramen and she had the miso ramen, both of which were good but not as good as it's been hyped up. The miso ramen had virtually zero meat in it and the noodles were so-so, a bit too chewy. Shoyu broth was quite nice. All in all, I vote for Shikiji for best ramen and also the original Kintaro in Vancouver of course. Shikiji is strangely amazing to me, very nice broth and noodles. Anyone tried the ramen at Wa's? I can only imagine how good it can be if the sushi and food are as good as they are.
Dinner at the Bison Mountain Bistro in Banff - very nice little place above a small market/cafe of the same company. Had a great bison onion soup and smoked bison butter leaf salad for appetizers. The soup had a very rich broth, with good amounts of cheese and lots of soft, caramelized onions. The salad was very nice, with some crispy fried shallots on and a nice tangy vinagriette. Main courses - feature Alberta roast leg of lamb (very nice) served with tomato couscous and cilantro oil, and smoked bison pizza with asparagus and fresh mozzarella and caramelized onions. Both dishes were great.
Monday - Late breakfast at Cafe Soleil in Banff. Had been there for dinner a few months back which was great - the lamb tajine was very nice as were the chicken and fig skewers. This breakfast was a HORRENDOUS experience. Very understaffed, even though the place wasn't packed. Food took FOREVER (almost a whole hour), and some of it was burnt when it came out. Waitress and owner were very unattentive during the whole time, and owner felt bad at at the end and pleaded with us to come back at dinner when the service is a lot better (gave us a 10% discount card). Very disappointed.
We passed on some of the name spots over the weekend because the prices would have wiped out significant portions of our life savings. We decided not to eat at the Post Hotel accordingly, even after a recommendation from someone cooking at Calgary's River Cafe (a lovely spot, btw). The Outpost Pub downstairs is worth keeping in mind, though. This is not great, innovative cooking or anything close to it. But it's well conceived, well prepared and it tastes good. Entrees are about $15. We ended up there on two consecutive nights. Maybe we'll return someday when the US dollar is stronger and give the Post Hotel a shot then. Not that I'm expecting such a thing anytime soon.
Bison Mountain Bistro was kind of disappointing for us. They do have great bread of their own creation. I asked if it came from the Wild Flour, which is in the same complex. They said that it used to be, but now they bake their own. Onion soup was rich and fine, but not unforgettable. A beef burger was pretty badly overcooked and my elk burger was a little too chewy. Maybe that's characteristic of elk. I don't know. It wasn't the case when I ate a melt in your mouth elk tongue terrine at the River Cafe, but that was tongue. In any case, I'd give it another try. It's a pleasant spot and we didn't try anything exciting on the menu.
Pumpkin seed muffins at the Wild Flour Bakery in Banff were really good. Their bread is pretty nice, too, though not anything extraordinary by comparison to bread in lots of places.
Check out the communitea, a cafe in Canmore. Nice ambience, friendly, helpful people, tasty coffee and hit the spot food using plenty of veggies. Some thought and care has been put into this cafe and it's a pleasure to be there.