On an unassuming corner in the snowy ski town of Banff, Alberta is a grille and lounge called The Maple Leaf; a fitting name for it’s country location. Upon entering the restaurant doesn’t seem very large, but upon a trip up the stairs and around the bar a sprawling dining room with a view of the city appears.
We were tired after a long day of walking around Lake Louise, Banff and a disappointing lunch. The five of us were seated near a window where we were soon greeted by a friendly waitor, who took our wine order and promptly brought us a bottle of a British Columbia white. We sipped our wine as we perused the impressive one-page menu, featuring items such as a 3-tier seafood platter, bison stroganoff and Okanagan wine country salad.
We were brought a large basket of fluffy herbed focaccia, which tasted fresh from the oven. It didn’t take long to agree on a Wild Game platter to share as an appetizer; and it did not disappoint.
Bison sausage, elk salami, country game pate, smoked duck and bison jerky, with crisp bread, artisan cheese and a selection of fruits, vegetables and mustard pickles. The smoked duck was flavored perfectly, with a beautiful smokey flavor that complemented, but did not overpower the gamey flavor of the duck. The bison sausage had a unique flavor that was reminiscent of fennel, and it was seasoned well- not too salty as I find many sausages to be. The pate had a unique flavor I couldn’t get enough of and the elk salami? Better than any salami I have ever had.
I chose the Wild B.C. Salmon, figuring we were closer to the West coast than we were in Toronto and I had a good chance of eating a fresh piece of fish. Covered in a maple dijon glaze, topped with three little prawns, atop a pillowy mound of chive mashed potatoes and perfectly sauteed vegetables, this was, by far, one of the best meals I have ever eaten. The salmon was cooked to perfection. It fell apart with a touch of the fork and melted in my mouth like butter. The maple glaze was a beautiful complement to the rich salmon, and the tanginess from the dijon brought it all together. I ate the chive mashed potatoes with fervor, though I have never been a big fan of potatoes- there was just something about them.
Everyone else enjoyed their meals thoroughly. Nick chose a large 18-ounce prime New York tenderloin with beer battered onion rings and a red wine reduction. I’m not a huge steak fan myself, but this one looked divine.
Nick’s dad also ordered fish, a decadent looking fillet of red snapper over a white bean sausage cassoulet.
Kevin, Nick’s sister’s boyfriend, ordered a melt-in-your-mouth ribeye I had to steal a couple bites of; and Emily ordered a brie, pear and walnut pie in fresh puff pastry.
And then came dessert. I was far too stuffed to order my own selection, but I did manage to snag a couple bites of the creme brulee trio. I’m not overly fond of custard, so creme brulee is not all that appealing to me, but after tasting these, I would order them again in a heartbeat. The white chocolate raspberry was nice, with more of a raspberry taste than white chocolate, but it was the espresso and maple flavors that stood out. Both were rich in flavor, had a perfectly hard crust and a thick, lucious custard center. The kind of dessert that exemplifies the phrase, “to die for”.
Overall we had an amazing experience at The Maple Leaf. I think all of us agreed we enjoyed our dinners thoroughly, the service was attentive, the bread fresh, the wine chilled and the atmosphere comfortable. What more can you ask for?
[The Maple Leaf is located at 137 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB]
What is the last meal you can remember that was great overall, from the service to the food? This one takes the cake for the best in a long, long while for me. What made it so great?