Ski season isn’t over – yet. There are still plenty of slopes to be had in Banff, Alberta…and gourmet fare to be consumed. For an après ski experience to remember, retreat to the Eagle’s Nest Dining Room at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge – Banff’s only “ski in, ski out” hotel in the park.
The buildings may have a 70s motif from the outside, but inside the renovated Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a trendy, upscale boutique hotel. At 7,200 ft above sea-level, staying at the lodge is a complete mountain immersion with incredible views over Lookout Mountain.
A 20-minute gondola ride whisks you from valley to village in the pristine environment of Banff National Park, populated more by wildlife than people. Despite this remote setting, fresh food is hoisted up the hill by means of heated trucks on tracks, snow cats, snowmobiles and the trusty gondola throughout the winter.
“We need to be very aware of what we have and what is temperature sensitive and get it delivered as quickly as possible,” says Chef Martin Brenner, who has been working there for the past decade.
With a contemporary Canadian focus, Chef Martin concentrates on creating bison, venison, elk and lamb dishes as well as seafood and pastas for Eagle’s Nest. “It’s great to be able to put the skis on and get a few runs in when it’s quiet,” he says. “It really helps keep you focused on why we are all here.”
Guests at the lodge are a combination of weekenders, many from nearby Calgary, and long-haul tourists from Canada, North America and Europe. Locals can also come up on Friday nights on the free evening gondola to dine at Eagle’s Nest. There are various special events scheduled throughout the winter season including a romantic Valentine’s dinner: smoked salmon mousse with cucumber salsa or bison ravioli with merlot sauce followed by Alberta beef tenderloin with peppercorn demi-glace or citrus crusted black cod with lemon grass infused rice and stir fried vegetables. And, of course, heart-shaped cookies and themed desserts.
Today’s ski consumers are generally looking for fresh and healthy options, says Chef Martin.
“They need to refuel after burning a lot of calories on the hill. We also have some great light options as well as gluten free and vegetarian options to meet the needs of any guest.”
The gluten free pizza, a difficult item to get right, is particularly good. Other favorites are the light and fluffy Crème Brule Cheesecake served warm with a crusted top and the rack of lamb. Although the ski slopes are right on the doorstep of the lodge, Eagle’s Nest is definitely not the place for clumpy ski boots.