A tempting selection of the best restaurants in Banff & Lake Louise
One of my favourite ways to toast to success (or just survival) after a wintry ski day or summer backpacking trek is to indulge in a refreshing brew and a juicy burger. With perfectly crisp fries. And don’t forget chipotle mayo.
My go-to? Banff Avenue Brewing Co., or as locals call it, the Brew Pub.
Raising the bar for gastro-pubs everywhere, the brewery offers some favourites you might expect, but with their own unique spin and great quality.
The first thing you might notice entering the restaurant is the aroma of hops and fermenting yeast emanating from the floor below, where the brewers are busy producing their classics and seasonals.
After an active day, I steer towards the Head Smashed IPA with its powerful but well-balanced hops, or a light seasonal. A winter’s eve communing with friends, and perhaps catching the occasional live musician, calls for the smooth Brewer’s Oar Cream Ale or the Reverend Rundle Stout, which is a touch lighter than many stouts and may be a good starter for those new to the world of dark beer.
When it comes to choosing food, the menu doesn’t disappoint. Appetizers include Lobster Maki Rolls and Edamame, as well as traditional choices like the large plate of nachos, smothered in cheddar/jack cheese, tomatoes, scallions, jalapenos and olives, with salsa and sour cream – plenty for my friends and I to share during a happy hour catch-up.
Staying true to Canadian tradition, the pub offers four varieties of poutine, including a Breakfast Poutine, which is topped with poached eggs, bacon, Quebec cheese curds and beef gravy. It’s a meal for one, or a nice amount to split with a date while he tries in vain to explain the cricket match playing on one of the pub’s TVs. I still don’t understand cricket, but I’m sold on poutine.
Much more than a burger and fries joint, the restaurant features creative salads, diverse pasta and rice dishes, and full plate meat entrees. I tend to dine more casually and choose from the sandwiches, which leave me more than satisfied even when I’m ravenous from a day on the trails.
The Brew Pub Drive-in Classic burger and its burger companions, served on garlic buttered brioche buns, definitely deliver on the beef front. I have, however, never been brave enough to try The Decision, which includes “three beef patties” and “release form” in its long list of ingredients.
The rest of the sandwiches hold their own, though, and I’m a particular fan of the Turkey Club on Naan – an example of the pub’s personal twist. This is not your deli-sliced, white bread club. This is Thanksgiving turkey roasted to juicy perfection, combined with Havarti, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo, all sandwiched between warm, chewy naan bread. For a lighter meal, and as an option for vegetarians, the Poached Pear & Arugula on Sourdough is slightly sweet and features three types of cheese and Bear Hill Brewing beer jelly.
Whether you’re recovering from the outdoors or having a night out with friends, Banff Avenue Brewing Co. offers a welcoming environment, with unique, local options.
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