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Weekend in Banff, eating way too much mediocre food...my report

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  • Dan G Sep 8, 2010 02:41 PM
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Labour Day weekend in Banff

Friday lunch on the way at Crazyweed in Canmore. Good paninis all around. Never eaten there for anything but lunch, but probably should try it sometime.

Friday dinner at Maple Leaf Grille. Meh. Food was mediocre at best. Around the table there was salmon, elk, beef and a pork tenderloin, server mentioned at all orders but the pork that “that is cooked medium rare – is that alright” and we all said yes. All came much closer to medium well, and even the person with the pork said it was overdone. Don’t even remember apps or dessert. Do remember that server kept touching one of my friends on the shoulder and she was about to hit him if he did it again. Overall, very disappointing.

Saturday breakfast at Timbers was a disaster. Got there at 8 am, one server working a packed restaurant. Took our orders, brought coffee, and then we sat. And sat. And sat some more. Got more coffee at about 8:45, and some water. Around 9 we got cold food. Silliest part was one of our party doesn’t eat eggs so ordered a 4 sides: toast, back bacon, grilled tomato, etc. All came on separate plates, taking up a lot of space. My eggs, chorizo, polenta dish was quite good but I was the only one remotely happy. I didn’t get toast, but then again neither did the other three really – they got slightly warm bread that might have eventually become toast if someone had bothered to put it back in the toaster. The coffee there was horrible too.

Lunch at Bison, see Bison thread.

Dinner plan was for Giorgio’s because we wanted Italian, but since we were staying at the Banff Springs tried to get into Castello’s, the Italian place there. Was told Friday night that it was full, but Saturday afternoon checked again and there had been a cancellation so we got in. I think that was probably a good thing, not because Castello’s was great but I had little hope for Giorgio’s. Apps were mostly salads, that got lacklustre response, too heavily dressed and nothing special. I had calamari which tasted fine but the breading wasn’t crisp by the time it got to me. Again there was a problem with done-ness of meat: I ordered a ribeye rare, and the server told me they wouldn’t serve it less than medium rare, went into this long diatribe about marbling, ribeye vs other cuts, toughness etc. My wife made some comment to him about maybe they should get better steaks that can be served rare. I gave in and said medium rare was fine, but no more than. Well, I really should have sent it back when it came medium and tough but by this point I had enough wine in me that I just marvelled at the idiocy of the whole thing. Don’t remember the desserts, which isn’t a good sign!

Sunday breakfast buffet at Banff Springs. Very good if you like breakfast buffets crowded with hundreds of people milling about lost...old people on bus tours who can’t figure out the toaster, how to line up, etc. And if you don’t mind paying $28 for $3 worth of food. But we were spending the day at the hotel spa, getting massages and enjoying the hot tub so didn’t feel like going to town for breakfast. Had a blah sandwich and salad for lunch in the spa and a cheese and pate plate with wine in bar later in the afternoon...I never expect much from Fairmont food, so at least i wasn't disappointed with those. I got what i expected.

Dinner was at Bison, reported elsewhere and very good.

Finally, Monday morning a good breakfast at a decent price at Coyote. I love their chorizo and sundried tomato frittata and though this one might not have been as good as sometimes, it was still yummy. Companions proclaimed the French toast and pancakes to be very good also. Again, very slow though – we were there for about 90 minutes, drinking so much coffee we opted not to go for a hike because we didn’t want to be away from bathrooms!

On the drive home we stopped in Cochrane for lunch, where pretty much nothing was open and ended up at some place called Olive ‘r Twist. Crappy small town diner pretending to be upscale. My bison burger was way overdone and dry. Wife’s chicken panini was on a foccacio, which isn’t good for grilling so it just crumbled and fell apart. She ended up eating it with a knife and fork and foregoing the bread. Sweet potato fries were very good though. Then a quick stop at McKays for delicious ice cream.

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  1. Great details! Your description of the toast at Timbers made me giggle. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: anonymoose

      sounds like eating in Canmore is definitely surpassing Banff! too bad there are no spas in the town that compare to the Fairmont. You will have to come down to Fernie and try us here, we have some great little restaurants and a way more quiet summer season (lots of spas too :) )

    2. Yikes! thanks for the report as we have to head to Banff this weekend. Think we'll try the Bison for dinner. We had a pretty bad brunch there a couple of years ago but maybe we'll give them another chance.

      1. Great report. Sorta!

        Alas, the trials of shoulder season... Probably half the staff in Banff has headed for Aussie or elsewhere in the last month or so!

        One thing as that a lot of places in Alberta Banff or otherwise, just plain suck. Period.

        They get away with it because they can.

        1. I had an absolutely superb lunch in Banff a few weeks ago- at the Cascade Plaza food court. I kid not: Taste of Sri Lanka. I had a roti stuffed with an insanely hot (but delicious) combo of chicken curry and curried chickpeas, and a (totally unnecessary) side of one of the hugest chicken satays I have ever seen in my life. With a can of coconut juice it was something like $14. I could eat there every day- owner is looking to franchise in Calgary and I pray he does.

          10 Replies
          1. re: John Manzo

            the boys from dodgycurry.com gave it a good rating

            1. re: howlin

              Those guys do know their curry.

              1. re: howlin

                www.dodgycurry.ca not .com :)

                1. re: maplesugar

                  yep thats the one.you get the gold star for pointing that out.

                  1. re: howlin

                    Gee. Thanks.

                    If I had a dollar for every time someone said "the link doesn't work" be it for punctuation or .ca/.com I'd be rich. I was just trying to save someone the trouble.

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      thats why you got the gold star ,i hate dead links.

                      1. re: howlin

                        heh Ok I'll graciously accept that star then...sorry thought I detected snark in the first post my radar must be on the blink :)

                        1. re: maplesugar

                          sorry im always a little blunt but im guaranteed snark free (have the papers to prove it)lol

              2. re: John Manzo

                Yup. That place is great. Had it a few times when I go there.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  I'll be staying at the BIRS for a week later this month, and will definitely check this out (that BIRS gets old fast hehe). Thanks John!

                2. I totally agree, Timbers' bread is odd. And I have never had a drier french toast in my life.

                  Also, Bison totally rocks!

                  1. Giorgio's only good dish is that rose sauce pasta. I did notice the last time I was in Banff that they significantly reduced the number of items on their menu. They're good if you have kids though.

                    Grizzly House, Athena Pizza, Chaya, Old Spaghetti House, that sandwich place off the main strip and the food court are about the only places I eat there now.

                    Banff Springs buffet is good if you go when it's quiet, like in January during a -40 day :)

                    -----
                    The Grizzly House
                    207 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, CA

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Shazam

                      I'll second the Grizzly House recommendation, nice selection of game, at least the last time I was there. Although now that I think about it, that was probably 6 years ago.

                      -----
                      The Grizzly House
                      207 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, CA

                      1. re: Shazam

                        I really like the Grizzly House too, even though it's like 30 years out of date AND you come out smelling like a deep fryer :P It is a really fun time, though!

                        -----
                        The Grizzly House
                        207 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, CA

                      2. I only go to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Banff, food is always great, and friendly atmosphere