Name: Sky Bistro
Address: Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J3
Hours: Wednesday - Sunday: 11am-8.30pm, Monday-Tuesday: Closed
Reservation: Yes via phone/Opentable
Price Range: $$$-$$$$
What I tried:
Starters - Bread with Olive Oil & Balsamic, Honey glazed Duck wings, Seared Scallops, Banff Ave. Brewing Co. Black Pilsner Steamed Mussels, Alberta Bison Tartar, Cauliflower Fritters and Ocean to Sky Seafood Chowder.
Entrees - Lemon & Thyme Brined Chicken Supreme, Ancient Grain Risotto, Alberta Bison Tenderloin, Pan Seared Kuterra Salmon & Mussels and Sungold Farms Lamb Rack.
Drinks - Cherry Negroni & Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc.
Located on top of Sulphur mountain in Banff. The views from the restaurant are spectacular.
You get to ride a gondola up to enjoy this restaurant. As I have mentioned "You pay for the view and get to eat for free!".
When you get to the top, you will find a newly transformed summit facility, new restaurants, interactive interpretive exhibits, a multi-sensory theatre and a breathtaking 360-degree rooftop observation deck. Take it all in and enjoy the view!
All locally sourced ingredients and décor to embrace the Canadian Rockies.
Visitors can take advantage of The Sky Experience Package which includes Banff Gondola admission and your choice of appetizer and entrée from the dinner menu starting from $109 (available daily after 5:00 PM).
If you wish to dine for lunch or before 5PM, you will need to purchase a Gondola ticket which will set you back about $60 on top of your restaurant bill. Also if you did not want to go for the "Sky Experience Package", a gondola ticket will also have to be purchased to get to the restaurant. I hoped that if you had a reservation to the restaurant, your ride up and down would be complimentary.
As I have mentioned before, give the "Sky Experience Package" a try. It is well worth the price of the gondola and meal there per person.
As for the food itself, try what is seasonal and special for that day. The menu I have noticed, changes a little from week to week and from experience, the best ones are usually the "catch of the day" or what they have are making special for the day. It is fresher and the effort put into that dish is greater.
My personal favorite from the entire menu was the "Sungold Farms Lamb Rack" and the "Seared Scallops".
The service compared to the food and atmosphere was underwhelming. Here is why:
We were in a large group for this dinner and had a reservation prior to arriving. We did not have to wait long for our table which was good. Once seated however, we were waiting about 20 minutes for anyone to greet us or to take our drink orders. The time from seating to taking our drink orders to actually receiving our drinks was in the 45 minute period. For a place that was upscale and fine dining, I expected a bit more service wise. Then once we received our drinks, it was another 20-25 minute wait for our server to take our food orders. Once ordered however, the food did not take long to arrive. This was greatly appreciated as we were hungry and had only alcohol to fill us up.
Bread with Olive Oil & Balsamic (This was good, the bread was soft and fresh and was a great starter), Honey glazed Duck wings (The duck wings were a little dry in my opinion but the Saskatoon berry puree that accompanied it made the whole dish. It was delicious and tart).
Seared Scallops (This was my favorite appetizer from the whole list. Two giant scallops per serving topped off with a generous serving of Tobiko and saffron aioli. It was light, very flavorful and not to mention the cook on the scallops were perfect) , Banff Ave. Brewing Co. Black Pilsner Steamed Mussels (The mussel were good and had a strong smell of the beer that was used which was great. It was fresh and also very tasty).
Alberta Bison Tartar (I am a huge tartar kind of person so I was looking forward to this dish. It did deliver in texture and flavor. A wonderful egg yolk on top to add to the already rich dish. Simply wonderful), Cauliflower Fritters (The cauliflower fritters were underwhelming in my opinion. Nothing too special and not worth the price to be honest), Ocean to Sky Seafood Chowder (This was a great chowder. Extremely rich and heavy with generous portions of tiger prawns, mussels and mini scallops. It was definitely a hearty soup which I recommend to be shared as it is a big portion).
Lemon & Thyme Brined Chicken Supreme (This was delicious and very succulent. The chicken was cooked perfect and it came with sweet corn and a bean salad. It was pretty good), Ancient Grain Risotto (The concept for this dish was smart however having wild rice and other ancient grains to be a risotto is hard to eat. It did not have the soft texture of a classic risotto hence it was pretty hard to eat an entire serving of this),
Alberta Bison Tenderloin (This dish was to die for. I have never had a bison steak before and it did not disappoint. It came with a jus that paired perfectly with the dish. As soon as you take a bite the meat literally melted in your mouth and was as soft as butter. Extremely delicious), Pan Seared Kuterra Salmon & Mussels (This dish was pretty good. Salmon was good perfectly and the mussels were fresh. In my opinion, this dish was not worth the $35 price tag as the portion was not big), and Sungold Farms Lamb Rack (This was my favorite entrée. I ordered the lamb medium rare and it was definitely cooked to perfection. Three pieces of lamb sat on top of a bed of ancient grains which was amazing. My only wish was that it came with a jus or mint sauce as it was lacking a sauce).
The atmosphere of this restaurant is the main attraction in my opinion. The magnificent views in the 8 minute gondola ride up sets the scene of what's to come. As you take in the Rocky Mountains on the way, you can only imagine what restaurant or food awaits you at the top.
The viewing deck and observatory is something you have to see and take in before you dine. It is breathtaking and mind blowing every time.
The restaurant itself is rustic and very apt for the area and its surroundings. You will find antler chandeliers, tree trunks, wood pieces for tables and local mountain artwork.
The Sky Bistro has a very warm, cozy and chalet feel to it and if you should be so lucky to have a window seat, take in the majestic mountains as your background.
I will definitely give The Sky Bistro another chance as the food did make up for the lack of service. Hopefully your time there will be 100% and enjoyable! Thanks for a memorable night!