Feast at the Castle: Dining at the Banff Springs Hotel
Updated: Jan 3
An evening at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, one of Alberta's most iconic sights, centred around exploring the food it has to offer.
Thanks to @travelalberta, we were able to stay for a night at the iconic Banff Springs hotel, and our visit was in search of food. The hotel boasts many eating establishments: 1888 Chop House (a posh steakhouse featuring local produce) The Vermillion Room (a sleek french brasserie) Castello Italiana (upscale Italian comfort food) Grapes (a cozy charcuterie and wine bar) STOCK Food and Drink (a high-end grab-and-go market and coffee shop) Rocky Mountain Afternoon Tea (traditional tea service with a tower of treats) Waldhaus Restaurant (includes both an upscale restaurant on top and a casual pub below, both Bavarian themed)
First Stop: Bavarian Fondue With so many choices, it was hard to choose just a few places to dine at the hotel. We opted for a long-time family favourite of ours, the Waldhaus. I can't even remember how my family found out about this quaint spot, nestled at the bottom of the hotel in the converted 1927 golf clubhouse. The top floor boasts a beautiful dining room, with picturesque views of the valley, and the lower floor features a cozy Bavarian pub. We enjoyed truffle emmental & gruyere cheese fondue, served with crusty bread, green apples, and pickles. If you are feeling hungrier, you can go for their 3 course fondue dinner, which includes their chocolate fondue. Dining here feels like being in a cozy mountain chalet, all a part of our Albertan stay-cation experience.
Next Up: Charcuterie at the Castle "Grapes" is a very intimate restaurant, housed in what was formerly one of the reading rooms. It has a very customizable menu where you can select your own cheeses, meats, and pickles to create your own charcuterie board, or you can go from one of the pre-designed boards like we did. Our Chef's Medley Board featured 4 cheeses, 4 meats, and a variety of pickles. What I was most impressed with was the innovative pairings they had to individually accompany the cheeses. It is common to see some fig or quince jam accompanying cheeses, or perhaps a drizzle of honey, but this place took it a step further. See below their cheese and respective pairings:
• Le Cendré des Prés (a Quebecois, bloomy, soft-ripened cheese with an ash layer): Bourbon caramel sauce • Ashley (an ashy goat cheese from Ontario): Homemade strawberry jam • Avonlea Cheddar (bold and tangy, from Prince Edward Island): Bruleed with honey • Le Bleu D’élizabeth (another Quebecois cheese, with a bright mineral quality): Saskatoon jam You'll notice, every one of their cheeses is from Canada! #eatlocal
Another experience "steeped" in tradition (see what I did there?!). High tea is a lovely way to take a pause from our busy world. It has a set price of $55 per person for tea service and $90 for the champagne service. We opted for the tea experience and were really impressed with the variety and detail of the treats that came on the beautiful tower. There was an assortment and sweet and savoury options, intricately prepared and beautifully presented, that rotate frequently (in looking at their online menu they have already entirely changed their offerings). My favourite sweet item was the tonka bean panna cotta with fresh berry jam and my favourite savoury treat would have to have been the duck confit tartlette with rhubarb chutney and brie. All in all, we had a fantastic weekend full of excellent service and exciting meals, all in a picturesque setting, like something out of a fairy tale. A huge thank you again to @travelalberta, for sponsoring this weekend. Because of all of the dining offerings at the Banff Springs, a weekend out here could be different every time, and for those of you located in Calgary, this iconic location is only a short drive away...