One of the great things about dining in Banff is the local chefs’ passion for expressing their vision for “Canadian cuisine.” While that can certainly be difficult to define given the vastness and cultural diversity of our country, one factor is a constant – we produce some of the finest ingredients in the world to work with. Executive Chef Scott Hergott at the new Farm & Fire restaurant in Banff’s Elk and Avenue Hotel brings those ingredients front and centre with a wholesome, delicious and accessible menu that celebrates local farms and traditional, fire-based cooking techniques.
An open kitchen gives guests a front-row seat to the action as the culinary team executes a good-sized menu that has something for everyone.
Opened in June 2020, Farm & Fire is part of the Pursuit Group’s offering (Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen, Sky Bistro, The View, The Pines.) The new space is bright, airy and feels like a farmhouse kitchen – with a Rocky Mountain view. An open kitchen gives guests a front-row seat to the action as the culinary team executes a good-sized menu that has something for everyone. But we’ll get to that. First, the cocktails.
Colette Marshall, food and beverage manager for Farm & Fire has created a brilliant cocktail menu that shines the light on local distilleries and breweries in true Farm & Fire fashion. You will find Eau Claire, Wildlife and Park distilleries on the cocktail menu plus Banff Ave, Campio, Last Best, Canmore, Village and Fernie breweries’ beer offerings.
For something summery and refreshing, we loved the Wild Rose Spritz made with Cocchi Americano Rosa, Evolve Pink Effervescence, rose petals, rosewater and soda. For something a little bolder, the smoky and spicy Buzzed, was incredible. Made with Mezcal Creyente, lime, fresh honey and ginger beer with a sweet and spicy rim. The Black Lemonade is Instagram-perfect and the boozy Park Observation Peak comes with a smoked cedar square that feels like sitting around a campfire just after the rain.
The boozy Park Observation Peak comes with a smoked cedar square that feels like sitting around a campfire just after the rain.
Once our thirst was quenched, we headed for the dining room which was socially distanced and immaculate. The menu is an excellent offering of elevated comfort food that offers plenty of creative twists on traditional favourites. For example, the Poutine Croquette is a breaded and fried ball of mashed potatoes with tempura-style cheese curds drizzled in house gravy. Delicious. BBQ Marinated Pig Wings (they can fly!) are meaty, saucy and ethically sourced from Bear and Flower Farms. The Brassicas with beet hummus and crispy chickpeas was a gorgeous celebration of crunchy veg with roasted broccolini and tri-coloured cauliflower plated with the brilliant magenta beet hummus.
The highlight for us was the Chicken Rillette which marries traditional French food, farm-table preserves and indigenous traditions in one oh-so-Canadian small plate.
The highlight for us was the Chicken Rillette which marries traditional French food, farm-table preserves and indigenous traditions in one oh-so-Canadian small plate that is packed with flavour. Accompanied by Saskatoon-berry preserve and bannock, the rillette was packed with herbs (from the garden just outside the window) so flavourful, and perfectly paired with sweet preserves and crispy fry bread.
For the main course, we shared the Porchetta with lemon gremolata and were delighted by the juicy and tender pork, balanced beautifully with the citrus high notes of the lemon and parsley mix. We were so full by this time, we had to come back to sample dessert after a walk up Banff Ave., which is conspicuously absent of tourists in the summer of 2020, but you’ll probably run into someone you know as Calgarians are out en force.
For dessert, we ordered cappuccinos with the Baked Alberta featuring maple and walnut gelato, meringue and overproof rum flambé. We were on the patio and our flambé flamboozled with a gust of wind, but we learned that overproof rum actually goes pretty well with maple and walnut gelato. Who knew? We also had the grilled pears which played with sweet and savoury as well as with textures by pairing the pears with sweetened balsamic reduction and honey-whipped ricotta.
You won’t leave Farm & Fire hungry, and you’ll probably want to go back to try more of the menu.
You won’t leave Farm & Fire hungry, and you’ll probably want to go back to try more of the menu. We’re intrigued by the wood-fired pizza which we’re told is phenomenal. You’ll find something for the pickiest of eaters and the most refined palates in your party, so this is a great place to bring the family or a group of friends.
Farm & Fire hosted Savour Calgary, but did not approve this story.