Last night we decided to check out a new restaurant in Banff; “The Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar”. We’d been waiting with quiet anticipation while it was under construction, and finally this weekend we had a chance to go inside! The Park Distillery is one part distillery (serving home brewed spirits), and one part restaurant (campfire inspired cuisine), boasting 2 bars and plenty of space!
Before I get to the food, I feel like I should give the decor some credit. For this restaurant, its appearance and vibe is definitely part of the experience. Stepping inside feels like walking into a modern cabin, with axes and antlers adorning the walls and an enormous brass distillery taking pride of place on the ground floor (if you want a boozy dinner, this place has a huge drinks menu and lots of beers on tap!). Fingers crossed that the food matched the quality of the interior!
Between Nov 12th and 22nd this year, Banff plays host to the “Bon appetit” festival; a chance for visitors to sample 3 course menus for between $27 and $47 (depending on the day). What is normally around $15 for an appetizer and between $30 and $40 for a main, suddenly became pretty reasonably priced at $27 for 3 courses!
To start, we tried the beef ribs with coleslaw, and the cornflake pulled pork fingers with maple syrup and bacon sauce. The beef ribs were actually a pretty big starter, and my pulled pork fingers felt pretty small in comparison. The ribs were nice and tender, and delicious with their accompanying slaw. They came with a very weak sweet chili sauce that I’m not sure added much to the dish.
On the other hand, the pulled pork fingers absolutely needed their delicious maple whiskey and bacon dippin’ sauce. Compared to normal pulled pork, these fingers were pretty bland, so they really needed the flavour boost that the sauce gave them. They worked pretty well together, but the sauce was pretty much all I could taste. No real complaints though – as I said, the sauce was pretty tasty!
For the mains, we ordered the prime rib, and the 1/4 chicken with 1/4 rack of ribs.
The prime rib came with mash, carrots, green beans, gravy and horseradish, and was pretty delicious as far as prime ribs go. I absolutely loved the tender beef and the horseradish and would definitely have that again.
The chicken and ribs also looked and tasted fantastic. Again, the chicken came with gravy and was incredibly tender, while the ribs were very smokey and came with a little baster brush to paint on the bbq brush. We all thought this was a great feature and the main was utterly delicious. Overall I think all of us agreed that the chicken and ribs were the better of the two, but we loved both dishes. A huge improvement on the starters!
For dessert, we order a pumpkin cheesecake and a pecan pie.
Again, the bourbon pecan pie was absolutely delicious (although it felt like you needed a pneumatic drill to cut it), and I would happily order that again.
The pumpkin pie was an interesting experience! It came in a sealed jar, and looked kind of like a biological experiment. When we opened it, a waft of smoke came out that smelled like a campfire! We thought that was really awesome, but unfortunately the actual pumpkin cheesecake seemed to come up a bit short. A typical cheesecake might have a pie base to add another flavour/texture, but this was a jar full of cheesecake filling, and it kind of felt like eating a jar of baby food! The taste was very tangy and we only had a few small bites before we gave up on it.
We asked the waitress for her recommendations for desserts, and she recommended 2 of the 3 desserts on the small menu. The pumpkin cheesecake wasn’t one of those and now we understand why.
Overall, our experience at the Park Distillery was fantastic, and a few minor qualms with the food certainly didn’t affect our experience too negatively. If I was paying full price then perhaps I’d have been a little more disappointed with some of the food. The restaurant really is like a breath of fresh air after having been to so many of the same old Banff restaurants so many times over the years. If you feel like checking out something modern and exciting and are looking for a good evening then this place might be for you. Especially as they have a distillery in-house!
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