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Jul 21, 2009 08:00 AM

Jasper, Banff, Yoho

I'm going to the Canadian Rockies for my honeymoon in 2 weeks and am looking for some great places to eat. We're open to all cuisines. Preferably places that are nice but not super expensive, although I could use suggestions for 1 or 2 splurge nights.

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  1. The single most beautiful dining location in all of Canada is the Edith Cavell room in the JPL (Jasper Park Lodge for the newbies). It is stunningly lovely and terribly romantic, especially at night. The kitchen is good too - the lamb was amazing. Of course, it is expensive. But perfect for a honeymoom splurge.

    I think so highly of this experience that three different times I have given dinner there as my wedding presents to couples I knew were honeymooning in Jasper.

    Be warned, there is a dress code --- no shorts or flip flops.

    1. Another honeymoon splurge would be the Post Hotel dining room in Lake Louise. Fantastic food, plus they've won numerous Wine Spectator Awards. The hotel is consistenly voted one of the top hotels in North America in Travel and Leisure magazine. If you haven't decided where to stay, I would definitely look into booking one of their cabins on the river for the ultimate honeymoon treat.

      Others have recommended Eden at the Rimrock hotel in Banff, but in my opinion the food is not as good since they've acquired a new chef, we were disappointed recently.

      If you're into sushi, the best sushi in the Bow Valley is Chef's Studio Japan in Canmore. The prices are a tad high, but the food is consistently excellent. Overall, you'll find prices in the national parks higher.

      1. If you're looking for an inexpensive meal in Jasper and like pizza, I would recommend Jasper Pizza. They cook their pizzas in a wood burning oven. Sometimes you get to listen to the cooks sing too. One day, Dwayne Roloson (NHL goalie) came in with his family, while we were there. But nonetheless, it is a very popular place with locals and tourists alike in Jasper. I always get pizza, so I can't say what their other food is like. The wings were not bad though.

        In Banff, if you're looking to splurge, I would recommend the Sleeping Buffalo at Buffalo Mountain Lodge. Reservations are recommended. They have an amazing assortment of game. The caribou medallions were incredible. I wouldn't recommend the elk osso bucco though, as I thought there was a lot of fat on it.

        For a not-so-expensive evening in Banff, the Elk & Oarsman pub is a good choice for lunch or dinner. For breakfast, Melissa's is a top choice with locals and tourists. Get there early, otherwise prepare for a wait.

        Hope this helps!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Tuppence

          Sorry Tuppence, but I think Melissa's breakfast is awful. From my experience, it is cold toast, cold hash browns, low quality ham, cheap sausages...can't figure out why people go there. Far better breakfast can be had around hte corner at Coyote Grille (chorizo frittata...that's what I'll be having this weekend...)

          Sweeterpea - I'm tryhing Rimrock tomorrow night, will report back next week. Obviously won't be able to compare to a previous chef, but will still give my opinion (have a food weekend booked: Rimrock Friday, Fuze Saturday and Bison Sunday!!!!!!!)

          1. re: Dan G

            Will be waiting for your report, Dan. We recently went to the Bison for brunch and were disappointed. My eggs benedict were sourish from too much vinegar in the poaching liquid. Overall, we thought it was ok. We're always willing to give a second chance unless the experience was terrible.

            Forgot to mention The Trough in Canmore for consistently excellent food and service. If they still have it, the tenderloin pizza with carmelized onions was amazing. Also Sunday Brunch at the Chateau Lake Louise is extremely romantic. Pricey, but worth every penny.

            1. re: Dan G

              Melissa's is totally hit and miss. I've had good meals there, horrible meals there, good service and terrible service.

          2. I think Banff is a better bet, in general, than Canmore. Though I have had excellent meals at Crazy Weed and Tapas.

            Chef's Studio Japan is fine, and has a snazzier interior than the other sushi places in the Bow Valley, but I am partial to Sukiyaki House in Banff. Miki is now running a sushi special, which is a great deal at $25, and they have a nice selection of sake. Eden used to have an off-season special which provided me with two of the best meals I've ever had. Sorry to hear that it may have slipped. The Bison is excellent (both the bistro and the restaurant). Muk-a-muk at the Juniper has good food and the best views in town.

            A great value for casual lunch is Chaya, a tiny place in Banff, with very nicely prepared udon and rice bowls. Excellent and inexpensive Sunday brunch at the Banff Park Lodge, a lovely way to spend a couple of lazy hours on Sunday morning. The bread and pastries at the Wild Flour bakery are excellent. Wild Flour is the the best local cafe to hang out in, since it's one street removed from Banff Ave. And their coffee is actually quite good since they ditched the over-roasted Kicking Horse label.

            1 Reply
            1. re: khandha

              I can't comment about Eden 'slipping' but I ate there on Friday night for the first time, and it was spectacular. Can't really criticize anything about the evening, except maybe the price! Food was amazing, wine was amazing, service was beyond perfect, view is spectacular. But for $600+ for 2 people, I expect nothing less.

              Tiny comments: 1) I'm not really a huge fan of the over-the-top crazy presentation. I want my food to look nice, but adding dots - and i mean really small almost pin-size dots - of something that doesn't add to flavour...sure it looks good but not necessary, and paying someone to do it adds up... Most of what was on the plates was in enough quanity to be necessary - some great beet/port paint, for example - but a few of the plates were a bit cluttered.
              2) wine prices...we had a 4 course meal and paid $80 for accompanying wine pairing. Not huge pours, and wines that were...well, they were good, but we paid the equivalent of $160/bottle and I've had better wines for far less. I'm a fan of good wines, but I also like value. And I know that one of the wines my wife had has been something I've had at other restaurants on a far less inexepensive tasting. Add to that that the apertif wine cart, not included, was ultra-expensive. I didn't ask...and when bill came they were $30 each!

              But, you don't go to Eden for value.You go for impeccable food, excellent service, and a great view. It's all a you don't do regularly but should be done.

              Rest of my weekend: Fuze was great as usual...5 courses with wine for $125/person. One of my favorite restaurants anywhere, combines good food with good value.

              Bison for both breakfast and dinner...venison omellete was great. Dinner, as usual, was also great. Overall, 3 great restaurants over the weekend, each very different, and I would say all equally good at what they are attempting to do. I get to Fuze and Bison every few months - we make seasonal trips to Banf just for that reason - and will continue to do so. Will I return to Eden...maybe some day but not for a while.

            2. Check
              La Fiesta in Jasper.
              Truffle Pigs Bistro in Field, Cilantro and Mount Burgess Dining Room at Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho National Park

              4 Replies
              1. re: felix the hound

                Definitely seconding Truffle Pigs if you're near Yoho. It's a little gem.

                1. re: Leibowitz

                  Truffle Pigs is a little gem indeed

                  We were at Emerald Lake Lodge this August long weekend. Our plan was to start our stay in the area with dinner at Truffle Pigs on Saturday night, but we arrived to the restaurant just after the power had gone out (thanks to BC Hydro) causing the kitchen to close early.

                  We drove back to the Emerald Lake Lodge and had dinner at Cilantro. The food at Cilantro was mostly good. I enjoyed the baked prawns with corn bread and salsa appetizer, and the crab ravioli as a main was good as well. My wife enjoyed her Caesar salad but her trout main was served on risotto which had been reheated with lots of cream to the point that was inedible (should remember not to order anything with risotto at a place that obviously would not prepare it fresh.) .Her trout filet was also full of sharp little bones (is it unrealistic to expect bone free trout filet at $28?).

                  They serve excellent and unusual iced tea and lemonades but ¾ of the tall, thin glasses were filled with ice leaving little room for the liquid. Service was eager but chaotic. While the room does not look half as good as it does in the website picture, they have a beautiful patio by the lake, which unfortunately that day was closed due to the same weather that had caused the power outage in Field.

                  On Sunday morning I went back to Truffle Pigs for breakfast but the power was still out. They had prepared some breakfast sandwiches for their guests (Truffle Pigs is now housed in the Kicking Horse Lodge, which they bought and operate). I was allowed to buy one and it was the best “breakfast sandwich” I ever remember having: an egg omelet with fresh mozzarella, layered with ham, butter lettuce, and heirloom tomatoes on a freshly baked ciabbata bun.

                  To make a long story short , we kept going back to Truffle Pigs at meal times until our perseverance paid off (and the power was restored) on Monday at lunch time, on our way out of town. My wife had the vegetable burger, a sandwich which was pure genius. It was not the usual attempt to imitate the taste of ground meat hamburger with a vegetable concoction, but truly a burger of vegetables, including yams, beets, carrots, nuts, garlic, etc. It was delicious. My smoked pork chop with maple baked beans was also excellent, accompanied by a cold GIB lager. We finished our meal with cappuccinos that could have passed as being made by Café Artigiano. As we were eating in the patio we saw the Valbella delivery truck arriving to replenish their pantry.

                  We had one more dinner at the Lodge, this time in the main dining room (Burgess). The room décor is more lounge than higher end dining room. The food we had was good (although I was puzzled why a menu with mains in the $30 -40 range would include farmed Atlantic salmon), but the service was not as expected of a restaurant at this level. The servers, although friendly, did not know much about the food on the menu (we had two different servers because we changed tables before we ordered), had to be asked for the specials, showed up with a bread basket after we finished our appetizers, and had to be asked three times for the second glass of wine I had paired with my main. The wine eventually came 10 minutes after my main had been served.

                  The Burgess dining room has a view which is comparable to the Edith Cavell room at JPL, but the comparison ends there. The staff at JPL is head and shoulders above that of the EML, both in their restaurants and reception areas. The insufficient training of the EML staff is evident. The best service we received was from the staff that ran the shuttles and carried the luggage.

                  A couple more things. A restaurant called “Cherchez La Vache” opened in the old Truffle Pigs location (across from the Kicking Horse Lodge) and while we could not eat there because it was also affected by the power outage, the food looked very good. I hope somebody will give us a report soon.

                  On our way out to Emerald Lake we could not find our way into downtown Cochrane to check the Chowhound recommended spots so we ended up having lunch/brunch in Canmore, at Quarry. The food was good, and they bake their own bread, including Challah, which they use in their French toast and Montecristo sandwiches. Their wine selection looked good for variety and value

                  The room at the lodge was comfortable and had a fireplace and a small balcony with a lake view. Emerald Lake is lovely. Tekakkaw Falls are magnificent indeed. The hiking trails are memorable. The fossils at Burgess Shale are extraordinary. And tiny Field has two noteworthy eateries. Overall we had a great long weekend.

                  1. re: felix the hound

                    I've been promoting the excellence that is Truffle Pigs for about 8 years... glad to hear others are picking up what has been laid down. I've never been disappointed there in my 8 years, whether breakfast, lunch, dinner or their truly phenomenal New Year's Eve food extravaganzas that I've managed to hit 4 out of the past 6 years.

                    I am very curious about Cherchez la Vache and will likely have to go to Field this weekend... it's been too long away.

                2. re: felix the hound

                  We were in Jasper last night and dined at La Fiesta and loved it. It is definitely not a fancy restaurant but the staff are young and extremely friendly. I had the mahi mahi on the recommendation of the bartender and it was excellent. They also serve the best mojito that I've ever had. I'm not sure if they take reservations but I would recommend going around 7 because they were turning away people around 8.