We spent a snowy weekend in Banff, relaxing, snowboarding and soaking in the hot springs - oh, and eating. The weather was snowy and windy, so we had a terrific powder day at Sunshine, but it wasn't as nice for walking around. I didn't notice any big changes in restaurants since our last visit (summer 2011), so we ended up going to a few places we know we like.
We didn't take a camera to the hill with us (our little one died in Cambodia) so I'll just have to describe lunch at the pub: a pitcher of beer and a poutine for two with a ridiculous amount of gravy. So bad for you, but so good. It's our favourite snowboarding lunch.
We also didn't take the camera when we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. I know, I know...but it's kind-of a little Banff tradition of ours. We both order the spaghetti a la Homer - browned butter with a generous heap of mizithra cheese (we both add a very generous sprinkle of pepper). Try it, it's different, but so good.
First up, Sushi Bistro - a little place we discovered on our last visit. After you're seated you get a menu and laminated card for marking what/how much you want - a pretty good idea I think other sushi places could adopt! We each ordered a bowl of miso and a variety of rolls. All the regular maki come in orders of 6, and the giant maki come in orders of 4. First up was the miso - we both agreed it tasted more like chicken soup than what we're used to (it also had slices of carrot and cooked onion, rather than green onion).
The salmon & avocado rolls were tasty, as was the spicy tuna. The kamikaze roll had crunchy bits of tempura with spicy mayo and avocado - it was okay, but I probably wouldn't order that one again. We also got an order of the spicy scallop rolls, with tempura battered scallop and spicy mayo - this one was awesome, the scallop was sweet and tasty (and rare in the middle, which I like) and the mayo definitely added some heat.
All of the maki were well prepared, I liked that there wasn't too much rice so that we could enjoy the flavours inside and the fish tasted good and seemed fresh. It's a simple restaurant, but we had good service and enjoyed our meal. Oh, and I love their place settings - they use a little gummy cola bottle as a chopstick rest :)
After dinner we strolled the streets for a bit, but the wind was biting cold, so that didn't last for long. Even though it was cold we made sure to stop in at Mountain Chocolates to pick up some dessert to take back to our hotel with us. The shop smells AH-MAZE-ING! If ever you've strolled the streets of Banff, I'm sure you would agree...the aroma of freshly made fudge or caramel popcorn perfumes the air and gets your sweet tooth fired-up. When we were in the shop a fresh batch of chocolate-amaretto fudge was sitting on the marble slab - I was so tempted to dip a finger in!
We picked up a few pieces of fudge and this other giant treat that included soft caramel, cashews and chocolate - it was fantastic, and seriously, the size of my hand.
I took this photo of Mountain Chocolates the next morning - except it was even colder then!
On Sunday morning we headed to the Wild Flour Bakery Cafe for Breakfast. It's a cozy little place a block off of the main street (which is nice). It was also relatively quiet when we were there, a rarity in Banff. I ordered the whole wheat flax seed waffles with berry compote. The waffles had crispy exteriors and I liked the flavour that the whole wheat flour and flax added. The berry compote was awesome, I think it had blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. It all tasted really good, but I had a few minor quibbles: the berry compote served on top of the waffles was cold, which meant that my waffles cooled off in a hurry, so quickly in fact that the cold butter served on the side wouldn't melt on them.
Trev ordered the breakfast sandwich, which was listed as herb & egg fritatta with aged cheddar on sourdough bread. Sounds good right? Wrong...it was bland and tasteless. You could see bits of herb in the egg, but they added no flavour whatsoever. This brings me to the other thing that kind-of irked me: there were extra charges for absolutely everything. I understand a charge for bacon on the breakfast sandwich (+$1), but I thought that charging $1 for syrup for my waffles or $0.50 for hot sauce to liven up the bland sandwich was a bit much. When you're already paying $6.50 for a sandwich, is it too much to ask to fork over a bit of free hot sauce? uugh...sorry for the mini-rant. Ok, so quibbles and irks aside, the Wild Flour is still an okay place to go, it just has some room for improvement. I enjoyed my americano in peace, away from the hustle & bustle of Banff Ave.
Last stop of the weekend: the Eddie Burger.
By coincidence, we arrived on the first day of Baconfest. Yup, bacon everything: bacon pops, bacon-topped ice cream sundae, peanut butter-jam-bacon milkshake (weird, right?). I wasn't convinced to try anything from the Baconfest menu, but Trev decided to try the bacon burger - chopped up bacon in the patty plus all the regular fixings on top (plus more bacon). It was so enormous that he couldn't finish all his sweet potato fries. I ordered the Kiwi burger - a lamb patty topped with gouda cheese, lettuce, garlic mayo and cranberry dijon on a whole wheat bun. It was really good, I loved the garlic mayo the the tangy cranberry dijon. It was such a good combo with the flavourful lamb. I had home-fries on the side, and they came out hot and crisp. How could I not finish them all? It was jam-packed in there, but the server was friendly and it didn't take too long to get our food (probably about 20 minutes). Once again, the Eddie Burger did not disappoint, and I'm sure we'll be back next time too!