Bon Appétit Banff @ Sleeping Buffalo Lounge
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Disclaimer: I received a free meal for myself and a guest (in this case, B.) from Banff Lake Louise Tourism to try the Bon Appétit Banff festival menu at Sleeping Buffalo Lounge. I also received a free night’s stay at Buffalo Mountain Lodge. I was not obligated to write this post and opinions are 100% my own, unless I say they’re B.’s. Then they’re his.
The Bon Appétit Banff festival is currently on until Sunday, November 24. Thirty restaurants in the Banff and Lake Louise area are offering prix-fixe three-course dinner menus for $25, $35 or $45. I was generously invited by Banff Lake Louise Tourism to try the menu offered at Sleeping Buffalo Lounge, then stay overnight in the adjoining Buffalo Mountain Lodge.
Buffalo Mountain Lodge is a cluster of rustic townhouses located just outside the Tunnel Mountain campgrounds owned by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, who also own Bar C, Cilantro, Divino and The Ranche here in Calgary, just to name a few. Buffalo Mountain Lodge’s year-round restaurant, Sleeping Buffalo Lounge, is in the cozy main cabin (there is also a Cilantro that is open in the summer), and is everything you’d expect from a mountain chalet – plush chairs, a roaring fireplace, and lots of warm, wooden accents.
The lounge has an impressive wine selection, but B. and I were not up for an entire bottle of wine, so we settled for a glass each – Malbec for him and a Carmenère-Cab Sauv for me. The $35 festival menu offered three choices for each course, so B. and I decided to divide and conquer, each ordering something different.
To start, I chose the squash ravioli, while he had the venison goulash soup.
The ravioli was delicate, with a smooth and sweet squash filling, topped with both shaved fennel and padano cheese. It was fun figuring out which pieces were the crunchy, licorice-y fennel and which were the salty padano.
The venison goulash soup definitely hit the spot what with the cold weather we’d been having – the meat was super-tender, in a rich broth filled with root vegetables, spiced with just a hint of cinnamon. Perfect with the thick, hearty slices of bread that we got at the start of the meal. This item is on the regular menu and I could definitely see myself making the drive just for this.
We both went for meaty entrées – Angus flank steak for him, and a seared duck breast for me.
B.’s flank steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, but what intrigued us the most were actually the sides. He loved the tiny chunks of bread in the garlicky roasted vegetable panzanella that soaked up the “salsa verde”, which was really more of a chimichurri-like sauce with parsley, basil, mint and cilantro.
My seared duck breast was served in a savoury saskatoon berry glaze. Although at first glance the fall squash ragout looked very similar to B.’s panzanella, it was actually quite different, combining the crispness of summer squash with the earthy sweetness of winter squash and tart grape tomatoes.
B. and I both thought the meat in our entrées could’ve been a little more tender, but otherwise really enjoyed our dishes and licked our plates clean.
The only miss of the night (aside from the fact I was missing the memory card from my camera, so you all have to suffer my cellphone pics – sorry!) was B.’s sticky pumpkin ginger cake for dessert.
There was nothing “sticky” about this cake, which was dry and didn’t have the warm, gingery spice that we were looking for. B. said it looked like a “Starbucks muffin turned upside down.” However, the caramelized pear and espresso ice cream were quite good and we had no problem eating them up.
My dark chocolate cheesecake more than made up for B.’s dessert.
Rich and decadent, but tempered by the tartness of the cream cheese. The fresh citrusy flavours of the blood orange sorbet and the raspberry compote provided excellent contrast.
While the portions were definitely smaller than the tables next to us who ordered à la carte, for $35, B. and I both left very satisfied. We were pleased with the professional yet friendly service and were impressed by how busy it started getting as the night went on (and we started eating at 7!) We are already planning our next escape, if only to try out the in-room wood fireplace. (We went for a post-dinner dip in the hotel’s outdoor hot tub instead, but if your hotel doesn’t have a hot tub the Banff Upper Hot Springs are open late!)
Sleeping Buffalo Lounge
700 Tunnel Mountain Rd
Open daily for breakfast 7 AM-11:30 AM; open daily for lunch 12 PM-3 PM; open for dinner Sun-Thu 5:30-9 PM, Fri-Sat 5:30-10 PM; lounge open daily 3-9 PM. Free parking available.