It seems a shame that I only just discovered this little gem of a gluten-free friendly spot. There have been so many times that I’ve been in Banff, craving a good, hearty, healthy lunch and felt completely hopeless. Well, no more! The family and I popped in for lunch just before Christmas and left with very happy bellies.
The space is warm and inviting, with little tables set up here and there and; at the time, they had great Christmas decorations, too! Perhaps they can fit about 50 people in the restaurant? We arrived around 2pm so there wasn’t a lot of action during our visit, but the kitchen was prepping for what looked like a busy evening ahead of them.
I loved that the kitchen was completely visible to the visitors and was the center of the restaurant.
After our lovely waitress answered all of our gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free questions, we learned that practically anything on the menu could be adapted to be gluten-free, except for the cornbread, the burger, and a couple of other items that didn’t speak to me.
It was chilly outside and we’d spent most of the day walking around in the cold, so I knew exactly what I wanted – a big bowl of warmth!
Mom decided on a half southwestern club with gluten-free bread and a side of sweet potato chowder.
Dad ordered the full Italian melt sandwich with a side of triple bacon soup that was on special that day.
Christina went for the half grilled vegetarian foccacia with gluten-free bread and the same chowder as Mom.
And I ordered the half black bean chili with a full mixed green salad. It was a toss up between that and the Mexican lentil soup but our waitress said the soup was really spicy so I stayed away from it.
As usual, Christina and Dad goofed around telling inappropriate jokes while we waited for our food. I’m just surprised Christina didn’t load her sandwich up with coffee stir sticks and lids like last time.
Christina ended up ordering a camomile tea and about 20 minutes after we’d ordered everything, our meals began hitting the table.
I found the wait a bit long considering we were one of the only tables in the restaurant, but with all of the changes we made to our meals, I’m sure it took a bit of time to make sense of our orders. We did see our waitress speaking to the kitchen staff a couple of times explaining this and that. She was very good at remembering what we’d asked for!
Mom’s club sandwich looked absolutely divine. She loved it, right down to the last crumb.
Dad; bless his heart, got one heck of an unhealthy meal. Leave it to the guy to order the huge sandwich with cheese and bacon and meat and more meat.
It did look good though, I have to give him that. And he said it tasted as good as it looked.
The chowder that Christina and Mom ordered looked (and tasted) amazing. I had a little sip and thought it couldn’t have been more than just vegetable broth with pureed sweet potato and bits of corn.
And my chili… wow. I’ve had a lot of chili in my time, but there was just something about this chili that was different from all the rest. I would pay to get this recipe. I’ve tried to recreate it since out visit and have failed miserably. I’d ordered a half serving but they gave me a full by accident and I didn’t complain in the least.
The mixed green salad was great too, awesome dressing, homemade pickled onions, it was a treat!
All in all, we were happy with the quality of our meals. Great family lunch spot. We all agreed that we’d definitely visit again.
- Ambiance: great energy, cafe style, down to earth, casual feeling. It was also pretty cold that day and the door being opened (only for a second) sent a really cold draft through the place. 3/5
- Authenticity: run-of-the-mill, lacked character. The decor was Southwestern-like, but lacked originality and pizazz. 2/5
- Ease of ordering and menu readability: very easy to read and understand. Would have loved to see gluten-free information on the menu to make ease of ordering a bit easier. 4.5/5
- Health factor: we could tell that everything was made from scratch and prepared with love. There wasn’t an abundance of oils or unnecessary ingredients. Everything was natural, pure and awesome. 5/5
- Plating: clean and well plated for a deli-style lunch. 4/5
- Service: very helpful, friendly and patient with a table full of different allergies and requests. Christina’s sandwich didn’t get avocado (though she’d asked for it) and I was given a larger chili than what I’d asked for, but all in all the service was great. 4/5
- Taste: the chili surprised me as did the dressing for the salad and the homemade pickled onions. Everyone enjoyed their meals thoroughly. 5/5
- Value: it’s Banff so the prices are a bit higher than what you’d find in the city, but we were happy with the portion sizes for the cost 5/5
Total: 32.5/40 = 81%
After lunch, we walked around the Banff Springs Hotel while our Mom told us stories of her time working in the mountains. As a young adult, Mom traveled from Montreal to the Rockies every summer to work in the mountains and hike her brains out. It wasn’t long before she fell in love with it out here in Alberta and decided to leave her family in Quebec and live out west – a courageous adventure at such a young age. Very inspiring!
And of course, a trip to Banff would be right without a trip to the Christmas store and a visit to the candy shop.
I’m candied out for awhile!