Discovering Banff


If you find yourself in Calgary, be sure to take a side trip to Banff. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Alberta, year round, and it’s just a 90 minute drive from the city.

When we got there, it was already snowing. Squee! I’ve heard this place is gorgeous in summer, but I was here to see a winter wonderland (in October). The first thing we did was head straight to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for lunch with a view.

The view of Lake Louise from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. It was like looking out from the inside a snow globe.
Jessie, all bundled up and with a large coffee. Are we cold or what? You can wander around the lake area without being a hotel guest.

Get a seat at the Lakeview Lounge, and go early or at an off hour so you can get a seat as close to the window as possible. 

My only poutine this trip! It’s a $3 upgrade from regular fries, but so worth it. The fries are smothered in that special beefy gravy (now we know why it
tastes so much better in Canada) and topped with their special cheese curds. You can’t get this poutine flavor in America. I had the rocky cheesesteak ($26),
which is a simple sandwich of Alberta prime rib, smoked cheddar, caramelized onion, mushrooms, and jalapeño aïoli. Jessie had the Canadian Club ($22),
which was actually a tasty step above other club sandwiches we’d had. 

Lakeview Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
111 Lake Louise Drive 
Lake Louise 
Alberta, Canada 
T0L 1E0 

From there, we did a little sightseeing. We had to cover a lot of ground quickly since we were only there for the day. You can stop in downtown Banff, but it’s really geared toward tourists, so you might as well take in the more scenic, historic sights that won’t cost you anything to see.

The iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The place has a view! But it also has some amazing ghost stories.
You don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit the Banff Springs Hotel. Go to see the historic interior and iconic photo ops.
There’s a lot of wildlife in Banff, like these elk. Can you tell how huge they are in this photo? These idiot tourists got out of their cars to approach them,
which is always dangerous, but more so in October because it’s mating season and the males are out trying to show their dominance. These people were
lucky the bull elk didn’t try to charge them!

For a real taste of Alberta beef, we went to Chuck’s Steak House (no relation to the Chuck’s Steak House in Waikiki). Owner Mike Mendelman explained that the big difference between Canadian and American beef is the feed: Americans use corn because it’s cheap, whereas Canadians use high-quality barley. In some cases, the ranchers might use a high-quality, homemade blend to take that beefy flavor to a new level. You can read more about Alberta beef, here.

I’d recommend going to Chuck’s for an early dinner, while it’s still light out, so you can still catch a little bit of view. Here are some of the items that we had; while you will be here for the steak, the salmon was also very good. Go hungry, because the portions are pretty big. Mahalo to Mike for dinner!

Oysters Rockefeller ($16) with chimichurri sauce, spinach, cream, shallots, and bread crumbs. Every restaurant has their own little twist! I like it!
Wagyu dumplings ($16) done shumai style with shrimp, beef, pine nuts, sake, and demiglaze. 
Chuck’s own version of steak tartare ($19), mixed with bone marrow, poached egg yolk, mint gremolata, potato chips, and grilled bread. Warning, this is 
pretty rich, so grab a glass of chablis to cut the fattiness a little.
The main event was the brontosaurus-sized porterhouse, cooked to perfection and sprinkled with maldron salt.I don’t think I need to describe it to you, so 
I’ll tell you about the sides. See the bowl behind the bone? Tha’ts a corn creme brulee. What a brilliant idea! I wonder why no one in Hawaii makes that.
Also, note the Hollandaise sauce for the meat, in case you need to make an awesome steak even better. The definitely do steaks right, here.
This is not the actual size of the ud Pie bomb, but our waitress (above) insisted we had to at least try a sliver before we left. Oh, all right!
You’ll find oreo crust, pecans, espresso, and ice cream in this chocolate lover’s pie.

Chuck’s Steak House
101 Banff Avenue, Box 1356, 
Banff, Alberta T1L 1B3

The next day, we headed to downtown Banff just to see it and grab some coffee for the ride home. It’s still very picturesque, even with all the buildings!

If you get a chance, try a “beaver tail” at one of the doughnut shops that sell it. It’s an iconic treat!
Banff has a snazzy new sign!

I took way more photos than I could show here in my blog. If you go to Banff, be sure to clear space on your camera’s SD card or on your phone, because you will be taking a lot of photos and video. To see all of my photos from this trip, click here.

Just two more blog posts to go: An exquisite hidden restaurant, the big Italian market, and one last modern hotspot! (Jessie had us on a rigorous eating schedule.)