Sitting in the sky at 7,400ft, Sophie Ritchie shares why Sky Bistro in Banff, Canada is a mountain top restaurant providing elegant dining with serious elevation
Most restaurants require a little step to get over the threshold. Occasionally, a flight of stairs. But an 8-minute gondola, to an elevation of 7,400 feet? Well, that’s a little bit more unusual.
Sky Bistro in Banff requires such a journey. Unless you can fly or climb extraordinarily fast, guests are required to hop onto swinging green gondolas for an exhilarating upwards journey with incredible views across Banff every second of the way. And once you’ve reached the summit, the skylines only continue.
Part of the town’s Banff Gondola experience, Sky Bistro is perched at the very top of Sulphur Mountain (luckily, there’s no accompanying smell) offering panoramic views across the stretch of voluptuous mountain beauty.
Walk in, and you’re met with the sight of floor-to-ceiling windows, contemporary wooden tables, antler-esque chandeliers and walls covered in portraits of famous local figures.
Once we’ve sat down and finally finished with admiring the lush mountain tops around us (this could take a while) it’s time to settle in with a mixologist-made drink.
Guests can enjoy a range of both classic and contemporary cocktails. We particularly like the Mountain Mule, made with Wild Life Vodka and Rosemary and Larch Syrup, topped up with Canmore ginger beer.
There’s a range of ciders to try too, alongside a wide selection of spirits.
The Food & Drink
Sky Bistro take great pride in sourcing their ingredients, particularly their pork, as locally as possible, as the waitress explains. Along with reducing their carbon footprint, flavour comes first – with a menu specialising in hearty Canadian cuisine.
A concise but creative list of starters includes a signature Duck with thyme and citrus confit wings, as well as a tender seared Pacific Halibut creek.
We start with the Lentil, a delicate plate of Alberta Prarie Fritters, complimented with cashew crème fraîche, a scattering of fresh greens and a drizzle of green-hued olive oil.
The six crunchy mouthfuls are perfectly crisp, with a little extra zest from the lemon garnish.
Mains also offer a mix of meats and ingredients. There’s a little something of everything – from a hefty 10oz sirloin to a house-made beet gnocchi.
All of it looks delicious – the tables around me are full of diners digging into different textures.
Some, however seem to be sticking to just the sipping – Sky Bistro seems like a popular haunt for those just looking to enjoy a tipple in the sky too.
Following our waitress’ recommendation, I order the cauliflower steak. It arrives as an enormous, partially charred dish surrounded with a wave of roasted summer vegetables. The tomatoes bring tang to the chunky cauliflower – it’s a juicy, filling bite.
Don’t presume you’ll be left famished by going vegan – it’s a whopper, and I’m left content once the plate is clear.
We’ve hiked in Banff’s beautiful surrounds all day, so dessert is definitely on the cards, and before long, our table.
We try the Chocolate, which consists of a thick dark chocolate paté, boozy cherries and pistachio brittle. If you like your desserts with the indulgence turned up, you’ll love it.
A promise of “just one bite” soon turns into an empty plate, and before we know it, it’s time to head home. One long queue and a swift gondola ride back down the mountain and we’re firmly back on planet earth.
The Wordrobe Verdict
If you’re looking to try something special when visiting Banff this summer, bring your appetite and get ready to drink in the incredible surroundings at Sky Bistro.
Make it happen
Where: 2.5km from Banff town centre, Alberta. More details here.
How: Banff Gondola offers a number of Sky Bistro packages and a la carte options. To find out more and make a booking, click here.
Photo credit: Sky Bistro by Pursuit.