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Dining in Banff

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sarabara1983 Dec 11, 2008 01:30 PM

I am going to stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs for a week over New Years. My boyfriend and I are currently trying to figure out restaurants and I was hoping for some advice in narrowing down our options.

We are looking for two different types of dining; fine dining and casual hole in the walls sort of thing- pub like. I am more focused on figuring out which fine dining spots we should check out. My boyfriend really likes game food and so we definitely want restaurants with that on the menu. Here are the restaurants we are considering: Banffshire Club, Fuze Dining, Post Hotel, Bison Mountain Bistro, Sleeping Buffalo and Maple Leaf. These are the ones I have come across thus far, but am definitely open to any suggestions!

Any other secrets about the area would be great as well!

Thanks!!

  1. Allan Jenkins Dec 6, 2009 09:26 AM

    I had a fine dinner at Bison a few weeks ago. Good meat and game menu (I had bison tenderloin, excellent), lightly prepared sides, good wine list.

    My quibble, and it's one I have about many North American restaurants: the portions are far bigger than they need be. Bison's list of starters was imaginative and appealing, but I could see, looking at other tables, that I'd be hard pressed to get through two starters, or one main course, much less a starter and a main.

    But I would give Bison a firm recommendation. (Incidentally, reading the local paper the day after eating there, I saw an article where many of Banff's chefs recommended Bison as their favorite "night off" eatery.)

    Avoid, for dining anyway, Wild Bill's. Our conference arranged a dinner there, so I had no choice but be advised: the ribs bring a new definition to "chewy" (this is after you rid them of a cloying, slightly metallic "sauce"), and the steaks are grilled kevlar.

    For breakfast (if you like traditional diner fare)t: Melissa's. Strong, steaming coffee, eggs any way you want (I ordered "off menu" three days and never got a raised eyebrow), all sorts of bacon and sausage, and whole-grain bread that I could be made to believe is made onsite.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Allan Jenkins
      b
      Bob Mac Dec 6, 2009 09:51 AM

      "...and the steaks are grilled kevlar."

      LOL...good one Allan

    2. eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife Dec 22, 2008 11:50 AM

      If you are hankering after a burger, Saltlik's is a great choice - I know it's a local chain but not much beats their Alberta beef sirloin burger with gruyere and the skinny fries. I haven't done much high end dining in Banff but can offer a few recommendations for lower end stuff. Also, as I prefer to have a few bevvies w/my dinner, all my picks are in and around Banff Ave, no need to drive or cab it:

      Magpie and Stump - Name is british, food is Mexican. Kind of obscure to have Mexican in the rockies but the dinners are great, cozy pub atmosphere and they make a WICKED traditional margarita.

      Silver Dragon - had great Chinese take out for our hotel room party ;)

      Sushi - can't think of the name but it's across from the Mount Royal Hotel. Float-by sushi bar (charge by plate) and suprisingly fresh.

      Breakfast - can't beat Phil's. Go early tho! http://www.phils.ca/banff.htm

      Dessert - I don't have dessert when I dine in Banff - I save all my calories for the FUDGERY! Fresh hand made melt in your mouth chocolates, made in store while you watch from the street window and drool.

      2 Replies
      1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife
        Office Broccoli Jan 26, 2009 02:14 PM

        My boyfriend and I went to the Sleeping Buffalo for dinner on the weekend. We had the Rocky Mountain Game Platter for our first course. It was definitely superb. The flavors of the meats worked very well with the sweet relish that was served alongside. He had the Grilled Veal Tenderloin for his second course. The veal was tender and I enjoyed sampling the citrus sauce that came with it. I had the Braised Elk Osso Bucco. The meat was just a tad dry in some places, but the balsamic toffee sauce fixed that. For dessert he had the cheese plate and I had the Coffee Creme Brulee with a couple of fried sweet potato fritters with cream. Those two items went really well together. And no need for dessert coffee. A couple of missteps with the service, such as forgetting to bring the bread and forgetting to put the duck on the platter with the rest of the appetizer. But the food is really good.

        Here's a link to the menu.

        http://www.crmr.com/pdf/sleeping-buff...

        We also visited last year and the food quality is still there. Definitely recommended, if you like wild game.

        And to echo an earlier poster, Eden is well worth it if you have no qualms about the price. Went there for New Years and the food and service were impeccable.

        1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife
          b
          Blueicus Jan 26, 2009 08:08 PM

          The place is called Sushi House, but locals usually just call it the "Sushi Train". It makes me very happy that the quality of mid-cheap priced sushi out here is superior to the stuff they serve in Ontario. Most of the food is good but you can ask for pretty good uni at a decent price and I think their strong point is their nigiri.

        2. z
          zastrazzi Dec 20, 2008 09:52 AM

          I'd definitely second The Grizzly House, phenomenal experience. Excellent food, great service and a very unique and comfortable atmosphere. You really haven't enjoyed Banff until you've been there, it's a veritable institution ;)

          1. s
            sarabara1983 Dec 16, 2008 12:50 PM

            I have one more, perhaps slightly random question.

            Are there wineries to visit in the Banff area?

            Thanks!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sarabara1983
              d
              Dan G Dec 16, 2008 01:52 PM

              no, wrong side of the mountains - you have to get into interior bc for wineries

              1. re: Dan G
                s
                sirdinealot Dec 19, 2008 11:41 AM

                Cafe Soleil is no longer. Windows are papered up and 'for lease' sign is now up.

            2. c
              cowtownfoodie Dec 15, 2008 10:33 AM

              I highly recommend The Bison. Great, well thought-out food, with local ingredients, in a lovely room. I was very dissapointed when I went to Fuze. Mediocre food, and terrible service.

              1. m
                marcopolo Dec 15, 2008 09:48 AM

                we stayed at the banff springs for an extended weekend not too long ago. for the most part, we didn't even leave the hotel... Everything is a bit (if not more than a bit) over priced, but it was worth it for us to just stay cozy and warm and not have to go too far for anything, but we did duck out one morning to grab pastries for breakfast from the wild flour bakery, which is also highly recommended.

                anyways, at the banff springs, castello's food was decent, but we had some issues with the service. But the lounge down the hall has the same menu and a more homey feel, and the bartender there was great. the waldhaus is a decent little pub as well. we watched the grey cup there on a very small tv, had some pints and a huge and tasty schnitzel sandwich. I highly recommend high tea at the rundle lounge also.

                On previous visits, we've had a great lunch/brunch at cafe soleil and the banff park lodge (buffet), and great dinners at the maple leaf, and at the pub at the Post hotel. We also had one of the best meals of our lives at eden at the rimrock, and concur with sarahbean's comments.

                1. s
                  Strider Dec 12, 2008 02:34 PM

                  ["casual hole in the walls sort of thing- pub like"]

                  The Elk and Oarsman is exactly this kind of place.
                  http://www.elkandoarsman.com/

                  I had the Elk burger there, and the gf had the bison burger. Both very good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Strider
                    s
                    sarahbean007 Dec 15, 2008 08:26 AM

                    I'd recommend Eden at the Rimrock hotel. If price is not an issue, go for the chef's menu with wine pairings. My husband and I did this about 2 years ago, and although it was muy pricey, it was hands down the best meal I've EVER had. And we got to have and discover so many wines that we otherwise wouldn't have tried. Beautiful surroundings and excellent service.

                    Sarah

                  2. t
                    true mc Dec 12, 2008 02:09 PM

                    Banff Springs for a week hey, very nice. Cafe Soleil is a tapas place that has excellent food. I beleive they also have regular size plates as well (if you are not into tapas) the tenderloin with gorgonzola sauce is so good.

                    1. s
                      sarabara1983 Dec 12, 2008 11:49 AM

                      Thank you for the help so far!! In regards to Banffshire Club in the Fairmont-- does anyone know anything about the restaurant? Is it overpriced but good, or maybe just overpriced? I like dining in the hotel I am staying at, however, don't want to waste a night on an overpriced and not good meal.

                      For our day at Lake Louise- should we have lunch at the Post Hotel or at the Fairmont for the view? Or do both places have a view of the lake.

                      Thanks!! Sara

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sarabara1983
                        s
                        sirdinealot Dec 12, 2008 12:46 PM

                        Sara, the Banffshire is just reopening after being closed for I believe, a few months. I too would be interested in hearing if anyone has been there post-reopening. It's previously life it was in my opinion way overpriced and so-so food. Ah, the price to pay to eat in a castle.

                        No lake view at the Post Hotel. If the day is nice, my choice would be the Chateau. A nice walk along the lake path on a nice winter day is priceless.

                        1. re: sirdinealot
                          sweeterpea Dec 12, 2008 03:58 PM

                          If view is important to you, then for sure the Chateau. Afternoon Tea at the Chateau is wonderful. Bring your skates as you can skate on the lake.

                          The Post also has afternoon tea with a nice mountain view as well in their lobby/lounge. It's not formal english tea, but desserts and coffee/tea, I believe from 2-5 pm. Perfect if you want to do lunch at the Chateau, then burn some calories by walking around the lake, skating and doing some shopping, then a snack at the Post before you head back to Banff.

                      2. sweeterpea Dec 11, 2008 07:12 PM

                        We've always had excellent meals at the Post Hotel; the pub food comes from the same kitchen and we love the food there as well (highly recommended the Beef Goulash with Spaetzle). The pub is a good choice if you don't feel like spending the money in the main dining room.

                        Fuze I would rate as excellent as well; out of all those choices I would put the Maple Leaf near the bottom, we've tried it a few times and there's just something missing to their food. We had a disappointing brunch at the Bison Mountain Bistro this past weekend, but I would be willing to try it again. Mr. S had a very dry Bison burger and I had Eggs benny that had too much vinegar in the poaching water that I sent back.

                        Ticino has reopened and their fondue is sublime. Highly recommended is their chicken breast with goat cheese and hazelnut crust.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: sweeterpea
                          s
                          sirdinealot Dec 11, 2008 07:51 PM

                          I agree with sweeterpea. Recently had dinner at Maple Leaf. The composition of the plate seemed out of sorts. One dish had a risotto "puck" that the server commented that was not too popular with many diners. He was right.

                          I would recommend Fuze. Boyfriend will love their Elk soup with truffle oil and covered in a puff pastry crust. Yum. Hopefully it is still on the menu.

                          1. re: sirdinealot
                            a
                            armicho Oct 3, 2009 02:01 PM

                            Unfortunately I just called Fuze the other day to make a reso and they are closing their doors. Very unfortunate - I aslo understand that Cafe Soliel is closed .... Let's hope this economic downturn comes to a halt soon...

                            -----
                            Fuze Finer Dining
                            2nd Floor, 110 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB T1L 1C9, CA

                            1. re: armicho
                              d
                              Dan G Oct 3, 2009 05:31 PM

                              F@%&. That's all I have to say about that. Huge loss. Can't say I'm surprised, because I always marvelled at how empty it was but I hoped there was something keeping them going.

                              I see on their website they might end up in Calgary; I really hope so.

                              1. re: Dan G
                                b
                                Bob Mac Oct 3, 2009 06:59 PM

                                I agree with your comments Dan G,...maybe chef will come back to Edmonton...not everyone loved it as much as I did, but I thought the NY Steak with the Indian spicing rather than strictly green or black peppercorns was outstanding

                                1. re: Bob Mac
                                  d
                                  Dan G Oct 3, 2009 09:34 PM

                                  Yes, steak was great, so where the indian spice lamb chops, and also had great black cod there. but highlight, oddly for someone who generally doesn't care about desserts, was one time (out of the 10 times I was there - maybe have eaten there more than any other 'fine dining' establishment except Blue Pear) they had a pineapple raviolli - mascarpone cheese between 2 micro-thin slices of pineapple, with a mango cardomom sauce...a dish I will never forget and never have anything like it again.

                                  1. re: Bob Mac
                                    Foie Gras Lover Oct 13, 2009 05:54 PM

                                    I agree with you, the NY steak with Indian spices was outstanding. It's a sad news. If they end up in Calgary, I'll make a stop to their place next time I'm in the city.

                          2. d
                            Dan G Dec 11, 2008 02:00 PM

                            Best bet for game: Maple Leaf.
                            Best bet for really great 'comfort' food: Bison.
                            Best fine dining experience: Fuze

                            I was in Banff for about 10 days in the fall, and ate at each of these places twice. I think Bison wins out as the best, but Fuze is very good too. Haven't been to Post Hotel or Sleeping Buffalo. Banffshire...i don't think that most Fairmont restaurants are worth the price.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Dan G
                              s
                              seemac70 Dec 11, 2008 06:14 PM

                              I second the above Maple Leaf recco.

                              One trip only (so far) out of many Banff trips...

                              But Maple Leaf was very good.

                              http://www.banffmapleleaf.com/

                              1. re: seemac70
                                o
                                overseastar Apr 14, 2009 07:24 PM

                                What's the price range for Maple Leaf?

                                1. re: seemac70
                                  maplesugar Apr 14, 2009 11:12 PM

                                  OT but I just went to Maple Leaf's site, I didn't know til now they were part of the same group as Mercato. Interesting.

                              2. anonymoose Dec 11, 2008 01:57 PM

                                If you want game you'll probably want to check out The Grizzly House for game plus fondue: www.banffgrizzlyhouse.com.

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