Even in a Pandemic, Banff Surprises and Delights

By Debra Smith

Banff never fails to bring the magic any time of year. Ordinarily, people from all over the world come to take it all in, but this year, it’s all ours to enjoy and support. Fortunately for food lovers, the culinary offering has expanded and evolved this year as well. Après ski or après shop, tote back some takeout to your mountain getaway. If your pod doesn’t want to dine out in person, everything from appies to cocktails are ready to go.

three bears brewery

Three Bears Brewery & Restaurant

Once upon a time in Banff there was a magical brewery where a pine tree grew indoors, up past the second floor until it almost touched the skylight. In the summer, all the windows and doors would open, along with the retractable roof, to welcome the outdoors in. Beside the shining towers of the open brewery was a life-size carving of a famous cougar named Doug, and painted park birds perched in the greenery. Classic brews flowed through the taps of the first-floor bar, and the wizardly brewmaster added an infuser to one line, creating enchanting new beers that tasted of botanicals, herbs and even tea. Three Bears is casting a spell over Banff. Its pizza dough is created by a 72-hour reverse ice water ferment; sandwiches, salads, and a kid’s menu are all ready to fly home with you.

STOCK Food and Drink

In 1762, John Montagu had a problem. A gambling problem, to be precise. Rather than leave the table, he asked to be served a piece of meat between two pieces of bread, thereby inventing the item named after his title, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. In the lobby of Banff’s own castle in the mountains, the Banff Springs Hotel, you’ll find STOCK Food and Drink. Observe how sandwiches have evolved into pinnacles of tasty goodness from their humble English beginnings. Order one and you may find it adorned with sunflower sprouts from the indoor greenhouse and proteins from Valbella Gourmet Foods in Canmore. All the breads, including gluten free loaves, and delicious pastries, are scratch-made daily in-house. The STOCK-To-Go menu offers hearty dinners like Guinness beef stew with Irish soda bread, vegetable korma and Jamaican meat patties. Open at 6:30 a.m. daily for early risers and all-night gamblers.

stock food and drink
Farm and fire chicken

Farm & Fire

If home is where the hearth is, Farm & Fire has you covered. Head Chef David Ryc favours a “simplified approach to food with clean and simple flavours that make you feel at home”. It’s an aesthetic that’s echoed in the Scandinavian influenced blonde wood and clean lines of the restaurant, designed by Frank Architecture of Calgary. The fire at the heart of the restaurant is the rotund forno oven that’s capable of reaching temperatures of 900 degrees. It gives a particularly nice char to vegetable laden pizzas, and dishes like Ryc’s favourite, roasted butternut squash with burnt white chocolate vinaigrette. In the open kitchen, roast chickens tumble in lazy, golden revolutions on a rotisserie imported from France. Thanks to an exceptionally intelligent timed app on the website, all menu items are available for takeout only when they are at their best: brunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily; flatbreads from the oven 4 to 5 p.m. weekdays and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and the complete dinner menu from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Like mom says, come and get it, dinner’s ready.

Block Kitchen + Bar

Six years of living in Japan gave Stephane Prevost, chef and managing partner of Block Kitchen + Bar a love for izakaya, tiny, collegial bars serving sake and small plates. In a space that’s just big enough to swing a Hello Kitty stuffie, guests sample shared plates with pan-Asian and global influences. The rotating lunch menu features six or more dishes daily like curry ramen noodles, miso squash broth and green tea noodles. Dinner curries with rice and naan are popular dinner items. If you’d prefer a more Zen and less cozy experience, everything is available for take-out. Following on the success of Block, Prevost opened Shoku Izakaya in December, in a space just down the street. It’s twice as large, but still intimate at 50 seats. The bar menu focuses on a larger selection of premium sake and beer, chosen by bar culture guru Jonathon Posselt. Nibble on sushi, sashimi, and kushiyaki (grilled skewers) while enjoying a creamy sake cocktail.

Block kitchen and bar
banff collective

Banff Hospitality Collective

Hard core hibernators take heed. This website was made for you. Offering deliveries from seven of Banff’s best restaurants including Park Distillery, High Rollers, The Eddie and Balkan, you’re sure to find something that exceeds expectations. Expect generous pours from the Beer and Cocktails-To-Go selection, because: a. you’re pouring, and b. someone else is doing the driving. Spirits are by Park Distillery and feature their outstanding Park Glacier rye and Park chili vodka, while the six-month barrel aged cocktails Glacier rye Manhattan and Alpine dry gin Negroni and Martinez are stand-outs. Draft to Your Door will also deliver growlers and assorted brews on tap. Deliveries to your den never tasted so good.