Visitors from around the world flock to Banff National Park to experience the gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies and breathe in the pristine mountain air. There are few places on earth that equal the rugged beauty of the mountains and in the midst of it all sits the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs is, in itself, an amazing experience. The rooms are comforting and relaxing, striking a fine balance between the charm of history and modern convenience. While the weekend summer peak season at the hotel is fully booked, exploring the Fairmont Banff Springs on your own is fully encouraged and worthwhile. The “Castle in the Rockies” has been a Rocky Mountain destination for over 125 years and while most visitors come for the views and adventure, many more are pleasantly surprised when they find out that the Castle is also a notable culinary destination.
With 13 restaurants, pubs, and lounges, it’s safe to say that the Fairmont Banff Springs has a culinary experience for everyone. From fresh sushi to Charcuterie, fondue, and beyond…every appetite can be satisfied. The following are a few of the spots where you can enjoy more substantial fare after a long day of healthy mountain activity:
Samurai Sushi Bar – Walk into the Samurai Sushi Bar and be immediately greeted with a smile and a cheerful Japanese welcome, “Irasshaimase!” by Chefs Kaoru Ohsada and Masa Endo. From their stations behind the tiny sushi bar, they prepare the freshest sushi in a most traditional manner five days a week. Since the fish is flown in to the restaurant every second day, you can be sure to have an amazing culinary experience each time you visit. The menu includes standard favourites such as Tekka Maki (tuna roll) and Kappa Maki (cucumber roll) and even more unique items such as Ume Shiso Maki (pickled plum and perilla leaf roll) and Saikyoyaki (marinated and grilled sablefish). In addition to sushi and sashimi, Samurai Sushi Bar also offers several udon dishes and traditional hot pots. (Thursday to Monday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm)
Salmon/Avocado Sushi\Maki, Tuna Tataki, Chef Kaoru Ohsada, Marinated & Grilled Sablefish, Fresh Norwegian Mackerel Sushi
1888 Chop House – Ontario born and raised Chef Richard McMillan moved west and fell in love with the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. He moved to Banff in 2013 and the quality of Alberta grown and raised ingredients are a huge reason he loves working at 1888 Chop House. The restaurant is located in a quiet, cozy corner and is the perfect spot to have a special fine dining experience within the walls of Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The seasonally driven menu offers a wide range of farm fresh, locally raised, and sustainable ingredients from Bison Tenderloin and Elk Rib Eye to West Coast Sockeye Salmon. After you have settled on a Prime Cut, the sky is the limit for delicious in house made accompaniments. I definitely recommend the Brown Butter Whipped Potatoes and Braised Carrots. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert; in fact, if you don’t feel like a large meal and want to skip straight on to the sweet stuff, 1888 Chop House is the place to go! (open Tuesday-Sunday; 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm)
Stanley’s Smokehouse – You don’t have to be a guest at the Fairmont Banff Springs to enjoy golfing at the gorgeous 18 hole Stanley Thompson or 9 hole Tunnel Mountain. Walk the pristine greens and load up your fitbit because the mouthwatering menu at Stanley’s Smokehouse awaits. Home to many a post-game beer, Stanley’s offers 360 degree views out onto the Stanley Thompson course and some of the best barbecue around. Chef Craig Parkinson uses cherry wood to smoke dry rubbed whole racks of ribs, beef brisket, chickens, and pork in the enormous kitchen smoker, then finishes them with the house made Jim Beam bourbon barbecue sauce. If the barbecue doesn’t get you salivating, there are so many other items on Stanley’s menu (salads, burgers, nachos, fish and chips, steaks, wings, and grilled fish) that you’ll be sure to find a dish to suit your appetite. (Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm)
Chef Craig with a plate of Smoked Brisket & Sweet Potato Fries; Smoked Rack of Ribs, Chicken, and pulled pork; Centre Fireplace at Stanley’s Smokehouse
Waldhaus Restaurant – In what used to be the original golf course club house lies one of the most unique restaurants on the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel grounds. Leave the main hotel and follow the wandering path down to the restaurant and you immediately find yourself transported to Bavaria. The menu is filled with German favourites such as veal bratwurst and schnitzel but the most popular item is the Waldhaus Fondue experience, which is not really German in origin at all. Still, you can imagine that you are surrounded by the Swiss Alps while you dip your way through the Cheese, Beef, and Toblerone Chocolate fondues. Pick a rainy summer day and ask for a table in the sun room or visit on a gorgeous sunny day and choose the patio for the most unbelievable views. (Monday to Friday – 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday – 11:00 am to 11:00 pm)
The above are just a few of the restaurants that operate independently or in conjunction with the main kitchens located in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. They each have extensive menus that reflect the character or theme of each restaurant, while at the same time staying true to chef J.W. Foster’s (Fairmont Banff Spring’s Executive Chef) vision of a working culinary ecosystem. His vision includes highlighting the best of what Alberta can provide through agriculture, animal husbandry, and natural abundance to visitors from around the world.