The One Wherein I Went To The Great White North...
With the much heralded return of Bob and Doug McKenzie and a trip to Banff/Emerald Lake in Canada, I thought a quick post on my journey there may be warranted, eh?
Starting in Calgary, one thinks that Canada is all plains and rolling grassland, but 50 km west of the city, the mountains, as well as my hunger starts to rise. It's tough in a new area, and without proper cell signal, to find something food to eat, but thanks to some on-the-plane research, the decision was made to stop in Canmore, Alberta. A neat little town of locals, that was holding a farmers market on the main street, seemed to be a perfect stop.
First stop, right along the farmers market path, was The Range. A quaint little counter service place with a great patio. The sunshine, mountain air, and menu seemed just right. A Chicken Pot Pie entree (6/10), a Baked Eggplant Sandwich (7/10), and a salad (6/10) had our eyes set and tasty buds tingling, but the beer drove it all home. Filled up, on our way we went.
After we arrived at the Emerald Lake Lodge, in British Columbia, we settled into our suitably rustic room (read that as "no cell signal, no wifi"), and checked out the historic Lodge for dinner. The dinner was marginal, save for the Skuna Bay Salmon dish, but the view and service was extraordinary. One can look past "vegetable carpaccio" when treated to mountain vistas of awe inspiring beauty. I will say that the Maple Pie was probably the highlight of the meal.
The next day was supposed to be fun-filled with an exciting white water rafting trip down the Kicking Horse River (including riverside BBQ post-trip), but excessive rain and snow melt meant the trip was cancelled. The good news? It was all about The Big Bend Cafe. I am a breakfast person. I love pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns, everything that makes a breakfast great. This was simply one of the best I've ever had. The right locale, the right menu, the right food, the right people. Everything was right. It takes only one picture to explain, and that is the one of the Lumberjack Breakfast. Oaty pancakes, ham, bacon, sausage, eggs and pan fries. It was perfect.
If breakfast wasn't enough, I had to go truly Canadian for lunch, and that means poutine. Luckily for me, The Station Restaurant in Lake Louise had what I was looking for. Pulled Pork Poutine, over crispy fries, with gravy and cheese curds. The ultimate comfort food. I'm convinced that this is how Canadians stay warm in the winter: piping hot poutine, and a roaring fire.
A trip was made for dinner to the town of Field, Alberta, population 169, for dinner at Truffle Pigs Bistro. This was, what we figured, the only restaurant in town, and being a Friday night, it was suitably busy. We managed to get a table and were looking forward to the food, as it came highly recommended. Needless to say, the service and the food were what you'd expect where you're the only game in town: subpar because you can be. I'll just leave it at that.
Disappointment with dinner aside, we did get a good recommendation from the Australian waitress at Truffle Pigs. "Head to Banff", she said, "and give Saltlik Steakhouse a try for lunch. You won't be sorry." Ever the intrepid explorers, we headed out the next day for an early lunch/brunch meal on the patio of Saltlik. The day was gorgeous outside, and I couldn't resist a menu item called "Royale with Cheese", for obvious reasons. Boy, were we happy. A huge 1/2 pound Certified Alberta Beef burger with cheese, bacon, and all the fixin's, and a second entree of Duck Wonton Tacos, we were definitely on a Rocky Mountain high. The wok-fried calamari app hit the spot with it's slightly different spin on the classic and blistered serrano peppers. This was without a doubt, the best lunch we had the whole trip.
After our last night at the Lodge, we headed back towards Calgary, and made a stop again in Canmore for breakfast. Striving to hit an out of the way, locals places, we went to the outskirts of the city and hit up The Summit Cafe. Even with the line outside, and the small interior, we got a table (and a triceratops table marker) and enjoyed a great breakfast burrito and this dish of Tuscan Sausage, Eggs, Pan Fries and Toast. The sausage was chicken with sun dried tomato and spicy and had a great snap and juiciness to it. The weather cooperated and a great time was had. Time to head to Calgary, and back home.
Tuscan Sausage and Eggs
This was only my second trip to Canada, the first being to Toronto, and I gotta say, I love it here. The people are friendly, the place is absolutely spotless, the American dollar is strong, and the food is great. Some minor missteps, but I'd definitely come back to many of these places. We tried to stay off the beaten path, away from the tourists, and while not always successful, the places were great.
Take my advice: Go to Canada, explore the outdoors, meet the locals, eat the food. You'll be better off for it. I know I am.
List of Places Mentioned in the Post:
Saltlik Steakhouse, Banff, AB, Canada: http://www.saltlik.com/banff/
Truffle Pigs Bistro, Field, BC, Canada: http://www.trufflepigs.com/bistro/
Emerald Lake Lodge, BC, Canada: https://crmr.com/emerald/
The Range, Canmore, AB, Canada: https://www.therangecanmore.com/
The Station Restaurant, Lake Louise, AB, Canada: http://www.lakelouisestation.com/
The Big Bend Cafe, Golden, BC, Canada: http://www.bigbendcafe.ca/
The Summit Cafe, Canmore, AB, Canada: http://www.the-summit-cafe.com/