When I arrived in Banff I was pleasantly surprised to find that my hotel housed what is apparently the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Western Canada. This was perfect for my wife and I, as we'd been to a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants, including several two and three star spots like The French Laundry, as well as exceptional restaurants not in Michelin-reviewed regions. As such, I'm going to review this as compared to that international caliber of restaurant --not the family friendly spots that populate the rest of Banff. Overall, I'd say "very good" is appropriate for that elevated category of restaurant.
The food was very good: we dove into a four course meal--in addition to the chef's tasting menu, they offer two to four courses from appetizer-entree-cheese-dessert categories that you could select in any grouping (e.g. two appetizers, etc); we opted to go with one from each category. In a dining first for us, we were both disappointed by the amuse-bouche, which was based around a prawn. It was just dull, bland and uninspiring, which left us a little worried about the four course meal we'd signed up for! Thankfully this was an aberration. It was followed by a "tea course" that consisted of a lovely pear tea and bite-sized savory pastry selection. The breads were also good, alongside a solid selection of three butters (I leaned towards the goat butter). My first course was a foie gras dish that was as rich and flavored as it should be. I tried my companion's dill soup appetizer which impressed us both: it was served in a stemless martini glass with goat cheese at the bottom, and that glass sat on top of a bowl filled with aromatics that gave the entire dish a full sensory experience.
My main course featured sea bream that was just perfectly grilled. The flavor was wonderful, with the right charring flavor. The base had a nice foie gras based sauce with an less impressive vegetable base (it was hard to improve on the sea bream). My companion had a lamb dish that she raved about and I partially tasted: the lamb was done well, but the impressive piece were sausages made from sweetbreads, something I generally dislike, that were blended with other meats to make very palatable.
The cheese selection, from which each can pick three, is a good mix. I'm a bit of a cheese person so I avoided the ones I was familiar with and tried a mix of Canadian cheese that were all good and served attractively (though this is perhaps the least impressive course).
My dessert was called the "Chocolate Landscape" and came with a variety of tastes and flavors that satisfied this chocoholic: I was initially hesitant because the menu mentioned licorice (anise and similar flavors make me gag), but the server correctly pointed out that the flavor is only a hint, and one that blends well with the others. The dish had a selection of a coffee-flavored flan (the weakest part), along with pieces of chocolate, a sangria ice cream, a chocolate soil (mousse consistency) and a powdered chocolate that had the aforementioned licorice (without the flavor I dislike). Meanwhile my companion raved about the kulfi--but I was too enamored by my chocolate fix.
Other than the amuse-bouche, the only weak spot was cocktail mixology. Now I'm not going to take away too much for this, as the restaurant holds itself out as a wine specialist, complete with sommelier. Still, they do offer cocktails from the adjacent Larkspur bar and when I asked for a fairly well known cocktail they admitted they had to "look it up" and what came out wasn't up to snuff --still, the staff was happy to exchange it for another type that was competently mixed. I debated about not bringing this up, but the restaurant does hold itself out as being able to handle cocktails so I decided to include it.
The service was very good for this category. Due to evening engagements, we arrived just as it opened and I could sense the staff was was a mix of on top of their game to gradually revving into gear. I cannot complain about any aspect of it. The beverage server was very good about helping this cocktail connoisseur a proper drink, despite his specialty in wine (not sure if he was the actual sommelier). Our main server was also pleasant and quite conversant when we started talking about other exceptional restaurants. He became better as the meal went on, I think it's because they still were setting up aspects of the dining room when we arrived. Compared to the finest restaurants I've been to, the attention was just under the tip-top level.
The restaurant itself has commanding vistas of Mount Rundle, Cascade Mountain, and the valleys of the Banff area.
Eden is the jewel of the Rimrock hotel, where I stayed for five nights. I felt the hotel itself was barely 3.5 stars, but this restaurant met expectations and is worth visiting if you appreciate fine dining and are visiting Banff.
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