“ Address: 207 Banff Avenue / PO Box 1481 / Banff / Alberta / T1L 1B4 / Canada „
We visited Grizzly House restaurant in Banff, Alberta after reading good reviews in the Lonely Planet. The restaurant is situated at the heart of Banff Avenue and seems to have a lot of character inside. It is a wooden building so it feels dark inside. We opted to sit outside in the terrace area overlooking Banff Avenue.
Essentially, this restaurant is different to most. It is famed for its fondue and actually has a very Alpine feel about it. The Lonely Planet said that the Entrees were reasonably priced but we had to disagree.
Our meal came to $100 and for that we had:
- 6oz steak and potato rosti
- 4 oz Caribou
- 4oz Buffalo
- 1oz Shark meat
Let me tell you...that isn't a lot of meat! My husband was still starving by the end of the meal. The potato rosti wasn't particularly delicious and the meat itself was of average quality. The caribou and buffalo tasted like very tough steak and the shark meat tasted like fishy chicken (which was quite nice actually). I did like the fact you could go there to try different meats and cook it yourself in the fondue style either in hot oil or on a hot stone (over 600 degrees celcius). Rattlesnake was also on the menu but I was too wimpish to try that!
We opted for a hot stone to cook the food on which was a novelty but if you want a good value, satisfying and filling meal, try McDonalds. Seriously, the Buffalo/Caribou and Shark came with NOTHING, not even a small salad, it was literally just meat.
The service was average, we were landed with a server who seemed quite sarcastic and uninterested in her role. Overall I would not go back to this restaurant, no matter how diverse the meat available. For over $100 dollars for 2 people, it was a disgrace.
I heard about the Grizzly House in Banff long before I went there. Mr Tart, who had been there before, raved about the place so when we booked a skiing holiday to Banff this Grizzly was high on our list of restaurants to visit. The Grizzly started life as a disco but is now a fondue restaurant.
You will probably be able to smell the Grizzly long before you spot the restaurant - but this is not a bad thing! The smell of meat filters down Banff Avenue. A friend of mine who was working in Banff and came with us to the restaurant said you could always tell who'd been to the Grizzly because you could smell the meat on them as soon as they walked into the shop! The restaurant is located at 207 Banff Avenue, which is the main road through Banff. It is immediately obvious as it looks very different from the outside from the other buildings on the Avenue.
We booked our table and I would recommend this as it was really busy and this was a Thursday. You can book by phoning or just walking in. The restaurant is decorated a bit like a ranch or hunting lodge. The walls and ceilings are all bare wood and there are lots of trophy animal heads on the walls. If you are sensitive about hunting or a strict vegetarian I would say this isn't the place for you. Having said that, my friend who came was a veggie and she loved it!
We were shown to our table at the back of the restaurant. The first thing we noticed was the placemats which can be coloured in if you have kids with you. They have a picture of the Grizzly House along with lots of historical quotes, with my favourite being "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse" by Charles V of France. Despite speaking German I liked it because it meant I could tease Mr Tart about his German ex!
Our waiter was fantastic. The service was quick and he was really helpful. My friend, being Veggie, had quite a few questions about the food but he explained everything and put her mind at ease.
To eat we all opted for the four course fondue. There has to be at least two people having this, but you don't all have to have the same thing. To start there is a choice between soup or salad. We all went for the salad as we wanted to have room for all the food to follow. The salad was simple but quite tasty. The second course is a choice between a cheese or a vegetable fondue. We went for the cheese and it was delicious. They give you lots of bread and some roasted garlic to dip in (so make sure you're not planning on chatting anyone up later in the evening!).
Then comes the main event. If you are veggie they give you a vegetable fondue for the main course. While it might sound unexciting my friend said it tasted really good. As for the meat lovers among you, there are 6 choices: beef and chicken; beef and lobster; buffalo, wild boar and venison; beef and prawn; beef and scallop and the 'exotic' fondue. The exotic fondue consists of shark, alligator, rattlesnake, ostrich, frogs legs, buffalo and venison. I personally wouldn't have touched this one as the idea of eating snake makes me feel faintly sick. Mr Tart did have it on his last visit, however, and really enjoyed it so it's great if you're feeling adventurous! I went for the beef and chicken and Mr Tart for the beef and lobster, so that I could have some lobster and vice versa. We were given a hot rock to cook our food (but it's your choice if you prefer a pot of oil). We were also given a plate with a variety of dips around them to dip our meat in to. The meat was really scrumptious. There was just the right amount of it, although some might think it's not very much for the amount you pay. It was a long time since I had fondue and I think people over here think it's a bit kitsch but it can be a really fun meal and so tasty! The last course is a chocolate fondue of melted Toblerone with fruit. We did have to get them to reheat our chocolate as it was a little cold. The fruit with the chocolate was gorgeous but I could have done with more strawberries and less bananas which I hate!
In general though, the food was completely delicious and the experience of the meal was something special. Other menu items included, for appetizers: steak tartar, wild game sausage and French onion soup. For mains there was a choice of fondues, steaks and side orders (which include rattlesnake!!).
The prices are not that cheap. The four course fondue ranges from between $43 per person for the beef and chicken to $64 for the exotic fondue. A 10oz steak is $40. The drinks were fairly averagely priced. The restaurant has a big selection of wines to choose from which Mr Tart like browsing through!
There are few other quirks with the Grizzly. Each table has a phone on it. You get a table plan with numbers on so you can phone the other tables (not entirely sure why you'd want to) and you can also phone the reception and a taxi firm. The phones were left over from the restaurant's time as a club and I suppose they're quite a fun relic. We did find that the music got really loud at one point. We asked our waiter if it could be turned down as it was disrupting our conversation and it was turned down. The waiter said the volume was linked to the level of noise in the restaurant which seems stupid to me as the louder the music, the louder people talk and it's vicious circle!
If you like meat and are visiting Banff then you simply have to visit the Grizzly House. I absolutely loved it! The food was completely delicious and it was just so much fun cooking our own food on the hot rock. While it is one of the more expensive restaurants I would say it's definitely worth it for the experience.
After a hard day on the slopes, come and relax over a savoury Fondue.