Magpie and Stump: TexMex with a Bite
Was hungry, and had a taste for something different. Stumbled upon Magpie & Stump and was pleased by what I found. Had the Chicken & Salsa Quesadilla, which had more of a bite than I'm used to, but it was good. The service was a little slow, but I wasn't in a rush, and the food was worth the wait. Seemed to be popular by the groups in the restaurant, which were business people, an older couple, students, families, and a single (me!). There were a good selection of options on the menu, and think I'd enjoy returning with others to try a few other options. ... maybe the next time I'm in Banff.
Favorite Dish: As mentioned above, I had the Chicken & Salsa Quesadilla. It was a hotter salsa than I usually eat, but the bite wasn't unwelcome. It was a good plateful, but not too much.food, and an extra dish of sour cream was required.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
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Beavertails: Ohhey gooey goodness.
Beavertails. Is there more to say about this? If you have never experienced a beavertail then you must! Picutre a round piece of dough that is stretched out and deep fried, like a doughnut or funnel cake. Then it is loaded with toppings of your choice. Cinnamon, or nutella or peanut butter or chocolate. Can't decide on one flavour- try half and half. They are fatty and will most likey give you heart burn or gut rot but my god they are so worth it.
Favorite Dish: I like the chocolate, peanut butter and reese pieces one. So gooey.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Rose and Crown: Outdoor patio on the Roof
After hiking the Sundance Canyon, we decided to stop here for a beer and something to eat.
After a couple flights of stairs you hit the patio. The patio is small but does offer a small view of the mouintains. It was a beautiful day which made the patio seem that much nicer.
Favorite Dish: I had the nacho plate. To be honest, this is the first time I every had over baked nachos. They were still edible but I was disappointed. Everyone else enjoyed their meals.
MukaMuk Restaurant and Lounge
MukaMuk (mook a mook) means "feast" in Chinook Indian, and showcases native aboriginal ingredients fused with western food. It is located in the newly renovated The Juniper, the hippest hotel in the Canadian Rockies right now. The hotel is located just outside the town of Banff, and convenient if you're heading more west as it bypasses having to drive into town and finding a parking spot.
The interior is spare modern, and has a large outdoor patio with beautiful views of the Rockies and the town of Banff. The dining room itself is an open concept, which could work badly for the kitchen staff as I could clearly hear them discussing the addition of the sweet potato fries to my halibut order. Service was swift and extremely pleasant.
Favorite Dish: May I mention the sweet potato fries again? Obviously fresh made, they were cooked to perfection with a slight crunch still apparent. The beer-battered halibut was maybe a tad overcooked (but I am extremely fussy about fish); however, the taste of ale was very apparent in the batter, and obviously not a pre-packaged mix. My husband enjoyed his bison burger; it was well made and flavorful, though it was a processed, pre-formed patty. I still maintain there is no reason to purchase pre-made burgers when they can be so easily made in a few minutes from fresh meat. The freshly-made yukon gold fries were very tasty as well.
We enjoyed the native touches such as my juniper berry and milk pod tartar sauce (tasted pretty much like tartar sauce except for a spicy bite) plus the slate and wooden dishes. If you're looking for a unique dining experience that would include native ingredients, I recommend Mukamuk.
This relatively new steakhouse in Banff is easy on the eye and on the wallet -- it's hard to find elegant dining without paying big bucks in Banff.
The room is decorated in rustic elegance, with a copper-dome fireplace being the main focal point. The service tends to be a little uneven; the last time we were there it could have been better, as my husband had to flag someone else a few times for more water and drinks after we waited patiently for our waiter to do so. It would be understandable if the place was busy, but it was a slow day during the week and this shouldn't have been a problem.
Favorite Dish: There is a variety of foods to choose from if you're not into steaks, like seared tuna or salmon. I've had both, and the tuna is perfectly paired with a flavorful lemon basil pesto. The steaks are AAA Black Angus, and actually came done as ordered -- medium rare. So often, we have ordered steaks elsewhere and they or either overdone or underdone.
If you just want to go for lunch, try the burgers; they are house-made, and are not preformed patties which makes a huge difference in taste and texture.
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Lake Agnes/Plain of Six Glacier Teahouses: teahouses are a way of life in Banff NP
Teahouses have been a part of hiking in Banff since 1927 when the park was a climbing mecca and Swiss mountaineers introduced Canada to the sport. Their influence is evident in the chalet architecture of the small mountain restaurants.
For European countries like Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, this is very much the status quo. You do not hike in major tourist areas there without having such places to take a break. I must say I would prefer a more pristine environment and they take some of the beauty away from the areas where they are built. But these are historical structures and people seem to love them. For many who have not hiked in Switzerland and such places, it may be their first exposure to being able to not carry a lunch, and even get a hot beverage or soup while out hiking.
Enjoy them if that is your thing. Walk to a more serene area otherwise. One good thing about such places is most people congregate there so if trying to avoid the crowds, just avoid the teahouses.
Favorite Dish: Their menus are simple and prices are high but you must factor in their cost in getting food and fuel to the respective teahouses as well as transporting garbage back out. I did not use the facilities but to be honest you have to be lucky to get a seat. They are that popular despite the prices. Expect to pay C$13 for soup and sandwich combos, C$5 for a piece of cake, and C$6/12 for small/large pot of tea. Of course, they only take cash.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
- Food and Dining
Tim Horton's: a Canadian Institution
Here we were in Canada for nearly a week and we had not had our Tim Horton's fix. I had introduced my wife to the Canadian institution on our first trip to Ontario together in 2003. She was anticipating a return engagement but we never saw one in Victoria or on our way to Banff coming from British Colombia. We were a bit surprised there was no Tim Horton's in Banff but were pleasantly surprised to come across one on about ten miles east of town heading towards Calgary in Canmore, Alberta. It also gave me a chance to use up some of my Canadian dollars before returning to the US.
Favorite Dish: We opted to split a few things to go with our coffees. We had a Baked Apple Dumpling, Boston Cream, and a Cheddar Cheese Scone. It came to C$7 and was a very tasty and satisfying snack, helping us to make it past Calgary and halfway to Glacier National Park in Montana.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Tommy's: Friendly Little Pub
Tommy's is downstairs below the Balkan Restaurant and both are owned by the same people. This is a friendly, unassuming little pub. They have many great beer selections on tap, including my new favorite, Rickard's White. They have a nice little menu. I'm told by our server that the burgers are "awesome". All burgers come in your choice of beef, chicken, bison, elk or veggie. That in itself is impressive.
Favorite Dish: Try the appetizer platter. A veritable feast for 2 or 3 people.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
- Road Trip
Melissa's Misteak: Fresh Food & Friendly Service
Melissa's serves one of the best breakfasts in Banff. The food is freshly prepared, nicely presented, and served piping hot. Breakfast dishes are in the $8 to $10 range, and there is a great selection of items on the menu.
They are also open for lunch and dinner. The service is fast and friendly. We had a short wait for a table, less than 10 minutes.
Favorite Dish: I ordered a deluxe omelette ($9.50) made with 3 eggs and containing an assortment of vegetables, ham and cheddar cheese. Served with multi-grain toast. The meal was cooked perfectly, hot and delicious. DH ordered a ham steak and eggs ($12) and was amazed by the meal he received. 3 eggs, hash browns, multi-grain toast and a grilled ham steak 1/4" thick served with grilled pineapple rings. Needless to say, neither of us wanted lunch that day!Related to:
Ticino Swiss-Italian Restaurant: Unsatisfactory Experience
We were quite disappointed with this restaurant. It was quite expensive (some dishes in the mid-$30s), so we ordered pasta dishes (none of which looked overly exciting…I selected the spaghetti). The portions were small and the pasta was mediocre. We had to drown it in parmesan. What’s worse is that they claim to have Italian influence, yet the waitress described penne as “tube noodles” eek!! The bread wasn’t very good either; it didn’t taste fresh. The waitress was very nice and attentive though. I highly doubt I would return to this restaurant, and if I did, I would order one of the meat dishes and hopefully have better luck with that.
Bow Valley Grill: Banff Springs Hotel
The Bow Valley Grill is one of the many dining areas located in the Banff Springs Hotel complex. The hotel can be overwhelming, but they do have staff stationed near the entrance to help out those wandering around with glazed expressions.
The Sunday Brunch here is pricey -- ranging from $37.00 - $45.00 CDN depending on if it's a holiday or not. A much better bang for your buck is the Saturday buffet lunch, which is approx $27.00 a person. It's the same buffet, without the breakfast dishes. Plus, they throw in a free tour of the hotel, make sure to inquire when you come into the restaurant. The lunch is seasonal, from May to October. Then, a buffet dinner is offered until spring.
Make your reservations well in advance for the brunch, and don't forget to request a window table, with beautiful views of the Rockies.
Favorite Dish: Even though the buffets here tend to be pricey, the quality is extremely high. Small pans of food are put out, so that the food is constantly rotated and fresh. The open kitchen environment allows for you to converse with the kitchen staff, and one even went to the fridge to get some brie cheese for me, even though it was not offered on the cheese tray that day. a must-try for dessert is the Chocolate Terrine, which is usually offered daily.
Chef's Studio Japan (Canmore): Tabemashou! (Let's Eat!)
Known by word-of-mouth to have the best sushi in the Bow Valley, we finally managed to make the trip to Canmore to see if this was indeed true.
The restaurant is located in an off-the-beaten location near the main drag, the front entrance facing a public parking lot. The interior is done up in rich brown walls with pine tables and funky wrought-iron chairs. Food is presented artfully and beautifully in the spare, modern style the Japanese are famous for. We noticed an order of sushi carted by on a length of cedar, with a branch of bright green leaves, just burst from their buds, placed just so. Other dishes are arranged on ceramics plates and raku that is made especially for the restaurant. The sushi chefs were female, which is a rarity, and it's the first time I have ever seen a female sushi chef at work behind the counter.
Be aware that many of the wait staff are Japanese and don't speak English well, so you have to speak slowly and use simple words. However, they are always smiling and the service is fast and pleasant. If you need any in-depth info, it's best to talk to the manager, who speaks English quite well.
Their menu is quite small, but whatever is listed is done impeccably. The food here is incredible.
Favorite Dish: You MUST order one of their specialties, the delicious Soft Shell Crab Tempura. Our medium sized crab arrived in a small basket on a slate tile, accompanied by shaved daikon radish and salt in a length of bamboo. The crab was cooked just until done, and I could still taste the salty brine of the sea in each tender morsel.
The sushi is indeed the best in the Bow Valley. I have never tasted sushi this good in Calgary or even Vancouver. They serve Tataki style sushi (where the fish is briefly seared, but raw in the middle) and the nigiri they make literally melts in your mouth, it is so fresh. The Toro (tuna belly) is a total must-try, buttery and delectable. The special Unagi (barbequed eel) roll is a must-try as well -- rice and seaweed rolled around deep-fried rice vermicelli, and topped with sweet-salty eel. Heavenly.
My husband also had the teriyaki AAA beef, and I had the house-made tofu teriyaki. You have to order rice separately, and both dishes come with sauteed veggies on red-hot cast iron plates. The beef teriyaki was full of flavor and came with spicy sauce (by request) and the tofu was as tender and delicate as scrambled eggs.
Fuze Finer Dining
Fuze is the new culinary darling in the Bow Valley, so we decided to give it a try one night. The room is very modern, but warm and inviting, with leather being the main theme. No, I'm not talking biker bar, but it seems everything was covered with leather, down to the table, I kid you not. A leather tablecloth was on each table (or it's naugahyde, I didn't ask).
The hostess we dealt with was a bit sniffy, but I don't know if it was from being bored (the dining room was yawningly empty) or from viewing us in our improvised layered outdoor apparel due to the cold, rainy snap that hit Banff suddenly that day. Our waiter did an excellent job and was very knowledgeable.
Favorite Dish: To tell you the truth, the empty restaurant did not really build a whole lot of confidence in Fuze, but our waiter was quick to reassure us that their busy season is more into the off-season. It seems that's when the gourmands hit Banff (usually in town for a conference), as the average tourist usually is not interested in their menu.
The fantastically prepared food really did quell our fears about the empty room. My husband had the Elk Loin with a Juniper Crust and Dauphinoise Potatoes; the elk was cooked perfectly, though the slightly gamey taste may be off-putting to people. I enjoy lamb, but I personally found the taste of the Elk not to my liking. I settled for the Wild King Salmon in a Thai Red Curry sauce that was sublime. We shared a Flourless Chocolate Cake (apparently the chef's specialty, whose wife begged for him to put it on the menu) with Toasted Almond Gelato. The gelato was the star, the taste of toasted almonds coming alive in your mouth.
We would definitely return to Fuze, and hopefully when the dining room is a little bit busier, as this would truly add to the overall ambience.
Eden: A Paradise for Serious Foodies
This restaurant is for foodies.... and foodies who have lots of cash. The Eden dining room at the Banff Rimrock Resort is for very special occaisions, or for a good splurge. Their menu is a prix fixe tasting menu of three, four, or five courses. We were there for my birthday, and for the November special, where they try out new dishes, so the tasting menu is HALF PRICE in November. A considerable deal, as the three course tasting menu usually runs $125 pp ; in November, a five-course tasting menu is $59.00 pp, plus you can add on additional courses. The restaurant has a very elegant, modern atmosphere.
The service at Eden is bordering on perfection, and it should be, considering the prices there. The extremely knowledgeable waitstaff work like a well-oiled machine, and any slight error is fixed promptly and gracefully. For example, they poured the complimentary Evian water for me instead of the San Perrigrino water I had in my glass, and the whole glass was replaced with profuse apologies while I was thinking "oh, well big deal". As soon as I put down my napkin, it was promptly whisked away and replaced with a fresh one.
There is also complimentary valet parking while you dine at Eden, and when you are nearing the end of your meal, the valet is notified and your car is brought to the front door.
Favorite Dish: Each dish was excellent, but what stuck out in my mind was the amuse bouche, a parfait of citrus, cream cheese, and wild salmon tartare in a glass cone dish that was held by a glass bowl with a Beta fish swimming around in it. That was so creative I was floored! I still wish I had my camera (yes, VT'ers do go out without their camera sometimes ;o) )
Other delights were a confit of guinea hen combined with crispy guinea hen breast, and a tiny omelette of herbs and swiss chard tied up like a purse. The highlight of the evening besides the salmon parfait, was the seared foie gras with the most delicious blood orange reduction.
The whole experience at Eden can be summed up with one word: Marvelous!!!!
Cheap Eats -- Aardvark Pizza and Subs
This is another tiny place besides Barpa Bill's that serves up good, fast food. The menu is charmingly misspelt, and most people take out as there really isn't anywhere to sit and eat. You can save a few bucks by walking to Keller's grocery (a couple of blocks away) to get your drinks while the pizza is cooking. You usually have to wait about 15-20 minutes if you are ordering one. They also sell by the slice, and have subs, chicken wings, poutine, nachos and donairs. They are open until 4 a.m., which is good for the after-bar crowd.
They also deliver if you don't feel like walking.
Favorite Dish: I've only had the pizza here; the crust is very crisp, and sometimes almost bordering on board-like, which is good, as we've walked over to take out from our hotel and walked back -- no sogginess here. They ingeniously put a small piece of dough in the middle of the pizza, which stops the box lid from crushing the toppings and cheese.
Banff National Park Hotels
Pyramid Lake Road, 5 km from Jasper, Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0, Canada
Good for: Business
Friend's of mine were visiting Alberta so we decided to splurge and share a room at the Fairmont...more
This is a fantastic place to stay if you are on a budget. The rooms are well equip with everything...more
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