Lindsay, Shannon and I recently joined Michelle in Banff for a girl’s weekend to celebrate her birthday. Michelle is our fanciest friend and also a big time food and wine enthusiast, so it had to be suitably decadent! After sifting through a few reviews, we decided on La Terrazza (the Terrace) at Banff Park Lodge. We ordered a lot of beautiful dishes, so strap in – this post is a little longer than usual! (Skip to the bottom for a summary of our thoughts!)
The dining room is quite small, but filled with substantial, square tables and is located in a covered terrace lined with a jungle of potted plants and stylish table lamps. The view wasn’t necessarily the panoramic, scenic imagery that was implied on the website, but as with anywhere in Banff, looking up through the glass ceiling delivered mountain peaks (as technically promised).
The smell of roasting meats, cheese and garlic was heavy in the air, so we were already excited and ready to split a bottle of prosecco by the time we reached our seats. Our server seemed a little nervous and inexperienced (and poured my prosecco portion into the red wine glass at my place setting rather than the flute she’d just brought out with the others), but was sweet and friendly throughout the meal.
To start, we each ordered a piece of bruschetta ($3/piece), which came out as a large slice of lightly toasted baguette piled high with basil-spiked ricotta, tomatoes and a drizzle of sweet balsamic.
We had also ordered an antipasto platter to share, but our server forgot to put in the order – this was a blessing in disguise as it left us more room for wine and dessert later. None of us were exactly going to waste away without our olives, salami and cheese!
After the bruschetta, we were brought a roasted garlic ciabatta-style bread with oil, vinegar and red wine salted butter. It’s always a treat when the complimentary bread has such a fresh taste and a tender, glutinous texture.
Michelle and I both ordered the pork wellington. I know, we ordered wellington in an Italian restaurant, but the description was too tempting to resist! It came out with a small hasselback potato and some veggies, then minced mushroom mixture and crispy puff pastry were wrapped around medium well pork tenderloin* and covered in an apple cream sauce. The tender pork and flaky pastry complemented each other wonderfully and all the flavours on the plate created a lovely, warming dish. (*Don’t be scared of slightly pink pork in places like Alberta. Trichinosis-causing trichinella parasites haven’t really been a thing in domestic swine here since the 80s due to things like improved animal husbandry practices and the eradication of rats in the province. Not appetizing to discuss, but good to know! You can read about it on the Alberta Health website here, but you have to promise you won’t get mad at me if you get grossed out reading about parasites.)
Lindsay ordered veal involtini wrapped around tiger prawns and seemed very happy with her choice. She loved the dish, but thought that the veal could have been pounded more thinly to allow a more complete bite containing all the elements in each mouthful. The starch and sauce ended up being the stars of this dish with a soft, creamy polenta and a savoury red wine jus making perfect accompaniments to the protein.
Shannon’s dish was also a winner – she ordered the pansoti, a pierogi-shaped arugula pasta filled with ricotta and coated in a velvety layer of rich romesco sauce. The plump, perfectly cooked arugula pansoti was something I haven’t seen on a menu before and I’ll be keeping an eye out for it going forward! Thanks for sharing a bite, Shannon!
Time passed quickly after our dinner plates were cleared as we had polished off a few bottles of wine by that point. We had to wait at least 20 minutes before we were able to flag down our server to order dessert, but there were lots of fun options to choose from so we didn’t mind having extra time to discuss them. By then it was quite dark (and romantic) in the restaurant, so I apologize for the slightly blurry photos!
Michelle ordered an Italian take on black forest cake, Torta Foresta Nera. It was made up of creamy mousse, rich German chocolate cake and a beautiful, sweet cherry preserve. It received a resounding birthday girl seal of approval!
Lindsay had the chilled zabaglione, which is a whipped Marsala wine mousse with macerated berries. It was a chilled bowl full of cream, booze and fruit – so basically everything she was hoping for!
Shannon had the caramellata, or crème brûlée. No problems here with this classic dessert.
I ordered a cheese plate (not pictured due to me barely being able to operate a camera by the time it arrived) and this was the only point in the meal where things went at all wrong. The first two cheeses, an ash-ripened chèvre and a blue brie, were delicious and a slightly different twist on two of my favourites. The third was a hunk of parmesan, which in my opinion was much too strong and salty to be served in such a large portion. The plate came out with sliced strawberries, grapes and a few Raincoast Crisps, but several of the grapes were crushed or overripe, which was a little disappointing as I was in need of some more crisp, sweet fruit to get through that salty piece of parm.
The atmosphere here was calming and romantic, but as I mentioned earlier, the restaurant misled us about the view. Like many places in Banff, the prices seem high, but we felt it was a good value based on the quality of the ingredients and the execution of the dishes. Service was friendly, but the dining room would have benefitted from one more server as ours seemed overworked and flustered. There is obviously some room for improvement, but we all emphatically agreed that it was a delicious meal we’d love to repeat, so I do recommend La Terrazza (222 Lynx St, Banff, AB) for small groups, romantic nights out or double dates for food and wine lovers.