Calgary/Banff/Revelstoke visit report
Returned from 10 days in the area and thought I'd provide an update of our experiences. Many rec's from local CHers. Thanks!
The best of the lot: River Cafe - hands down winner here. I might plan a trip to Calgary just to go back :-) Location, food, service and wine list all excellent. The perogies were to die for - best I have EVER had (Willie's Guinea Fowl with mustard and creme fraiche the night I was there!!! Can't believe how great they were). All 4 diners loved their meals.
Divino - Wine list was pretty good. Service was good. Food was so so. I had the corbina (fish) special. When I asked what it was like (I had never had this type of fish before), I was told it was like tuna. It was more like a meaty white fish and nothing at all like tuna. Also, it was served cold on a huge pile of what can best be described as antipasto. It was weird, just plain weird. In fact, all 4 of us got tepid/cold food on unwarmed plates. Not sure what was up there. The wild mushroom soup as an app was good, not great. Dessert was good, not great. Enough said. I wouldn't be running back. I'd save my $$ and go to River Cafe again :-)
Crazyweed (Canmore) - interesting space but what's up with the palm trees inside? They totally distract from the modern, open interior and seemed really odd. I had the onion bajii onion rings as an app - a nice east-meets west take on the baaji. I really enjoyed it. The waitress was completely clueless. I asked for a rec for wine by the glass for the duck in red wine sauce and she shrugged and said "I dunno, something white maybe". Not really what I was looking for. The pinot noir I ended up choosing was decent, but I expected a bit more food/wine pairing knowledge from the server. Maybe the chef should consider suggesting a wine by the glass match for each of the main dishes on the menu so the servers can't mess it up? Our service was sketchy at best overall - never had our water glasses filled until we begged etc etc. Oh well. Food was good. The comments I read on CH re service were correct though......too bad, b/c minus the palm trees and the bad service, I might be pursuaded to go from very good to excellent on my overall view. Just not quite there for the cost.....
Now for a really pleasant surprise, we were in Revelstoke, BC for a few days and ate at Woolsey's - what a find! Terrific food, friendly and competent service, and nice, relaxed atmosphere. A great price point too. They have a pretty varied menu, which worried me a little at first. I stuck to the table d'hote for $35 and it was great - borscht followed by an excellent piece of halibut on lentils with lovely crisp julliened veggies. Nice. Flourless chocolate cake to finish. Just great. Can't wait to get back there. Oh yeah, and if you are there, get the sweet potato fries at the ski resort lodge - YUM!!!
And, last but not least, I just have to comment on my horrific lunch at the Fairmont Banff Springs Spa. I spent the day at the spa and the lunch menu, though typically over-priced, looked enticing. I ordered the Vegetarian Rice Roll bento which was really a Western take on the Bento, but promised to contain an assortment of crudites, a bocconchini/tomato salad etc and looked like just the thing. To make a long story short, the rolls were frozen (yup, actaully icy, crunchy frozen), the tomatoes were mushy (as in in the fridge sliced with the cheese on top for >24 hrs), the sliced basil brown and limp. ICK!! For >$25????? Who are they kidding? Anyway, hopefully someone there will read this and shape up the spa menu. Really, it can't be that hard.
Anyway, we loved the trip and still think fondly of the places we enjoyed. As always, you learn a lot trying out new spots.
So funny to see a place like Revelstoke, BC mentioned in the same thread as the other two better known spots in Alberta. :) Thanks for yet another interesting piece of feedback on Crazyweed - I am set to visit for the first time next week myself. Sorry to hear about your horrific 'westernized' take on a Japanese bento. I find that reverse fushion-thing if you will, never works. :)
re: John Manzo
Johnny, guess I meant to suggest that as far as restaurant choices go, one does not usually associate that trio of cities/town together - for all I know of Revelstoke is the big descent into the valley where the city lies and the gas stations to fill up at, on the way to better known places like Kelowna or Kamloops in the BC interior. Hence my smiley. :) Plus its a good 3 hour drive from even Banff to get there.
We went to check out Revelstoke Mountain Resort and visit some friends and I could not resist tipping my hat to the folks at Woolsey's. I'd have given them the same rave review if they were here in Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised and they deserved some kudos :-)
PS - Revelstoke is beautiful if you've never made the trek across Roger's pass!!