At first I thought, the only night that really works is Thursday, and that will be a bit of a zoom to drive out to Banff, eat, think about how much wine I've drunk, think about how long the meal is taking, then drive back to Calgary, and go into the office the next morning. Bleah.
Then I thought, what am I thinking? Play hookey from the office for one day. Book a hotel room, drive out after work, WALK to the restaurant, have a third glass of wine if that happens, WALK back to the hotel, then spend some of Friday in Banff doing the tourist thing, since I haven't seen Banff in a great many years. Plus, a buddy of mine lives there now, and I hadn't seen her in about 5 years or so.
So we did. The expensive part of the free meal was the hotel, which offered free wi-fi in the room, please note Toronto Airport Hotel! Plus foregone wages for a day off work, but it was only a part of the day off, since I worked a bit extra the rest of the week. Plus half a tank of gas. A trifling cost for one of the best mini-vacations ever.
We strolled around town, and what do you know? In the middle of Banff Ave, I'm thinking that woman looks awfully familiar. It turned out to be Lee, in town for a pipeline safety conference. I worked her with at IMS and Talisman. It was a perfect evening, warm and sunny. The strollers were out in force. I don't often stroll, but I did then.
Once we got to the restaurant, there wasn't any debate. We didn't even see a menu. There is a Chef's Surprise, and that's what Colleen ordered for us. The only debate was if we wanted the paired wines or not. Turns out there is a paired wine for every course. It's not often I drink 6 glasses of wine in an evening, so I was thinking about that, but then figured our hotel was just across the road, and this is why we walked.
Are we ever glad we did that. The pairings were perfect, and complimented the food in a way I don't often experience. Here's the main course. It was all melt in your mouth. You can read what it is on the menu below.
Dessert. The little spun sugar confection on top of the ice cream was actually springy. I was so eager to eat I forgot to take photos of the other courses.
Read the menu and drool. It wasn't just good. It wasn't just excellent. It was superb! Everything was perfectly done. We got this after the dinner, so each course was a surprise. The owner came out and chatted with us. The waiter was perfect, telling us about each course and the wine, and why they were paired. Service was attentive and unobtrusive. It was just the right amount of food, spread out just right.
Turns out 4 of the wines are full size, and the two dessert wines were half size. All were excellent! So five glasses of excellent wine, on top of just the right amount of excellent food. I might, maybe, have passed the police breath test, but there is no way I would have attempted driving. I'm not a big fan of port, but after that one, I might have to start.
It was a delightful evening chatting and savouring the amazing food. We were there for 3 hours, slowly watching dusk fall over the mountains. Watching people from the second story dining room. Pity it had to end. All I can say is that before you die, you have to eat here, and that's if you like nice meals. If you're a fan of French or Continental cooking, you MUST plan to eat here. We took the scenic route back to the hotel. What am I saying? ALL the routes in Banff are scenic. As you'll see. There are very few people who regret visiting Banff.
Next morning we met up again at Melissa's for breakfast. Other than ordinary coffee the rest of breakfast was excellent! Best French Toast ever! We strolled around town a bit more. Another perfect day.
I had never been up the Tunnel mountain road, so we did that. This is just one of the views.
Then we went out to Lake Minnewanka. I have lived in Calgary 30 some years, and I've never been there. Ever. Here's the view from the top of the boat launch. It was a long way down. The lake is very low right now.
You can see the normal water line on the rocks off to the right. Yes, that's snow. It was snowing there last week.
Here's another view of the lake. It isn't quite as green as Emerald Lake, but almost.
We strolled up the path to a bridge over one of the creeks feeding the lake.
On the way back to town there was a small herd of bighorn sheep strolling down the road. They had not the least fear of us, and one even posed.
Back in town we strolled the path along the river. There is a new pedestrian bridge going in. It's very graceful.
Last photo, arguably the most famous, most photographed building in all of Canada.
After the stroll we met up with my buddy Amanda to get caught up on our lives. So much has changed for her. Hope we see her again before her baby boy is driving. I had a Grumpy Grizzly Honey Brown which was very nice, along with a donair pizza. They brought out some honey and chili oil to go with the pizza, and that was excellent too. An easy drive home via Bragg Creek to avoid Friday rush hour traffic and we are off to an excellent start for the weekend.