Chorney-Booth: Pursuit celebrates mountain cuisine with two new restaurants in the Rockies

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Banff may have been a little slower than Calgary in embracing an “eat local” philosophy, but in recent years many chain restaurants on the main street have given way to more regional dishes. , and long-established independent restaurants are turning to creating memorable cuisine that evokes a taste of the natural environment. Along with the growing juggernaut that is the Banff Hospitality Collective and the restaurant collection of the Banff Springs Hotel, Pursuit, the global tourism company spun off from Brewsters, has led the charge when it comes to developing distinctive cuisine from Rockies.

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It’s rare for a company that specializes in glacier tours and FlyOver rides to prioritize positioning itself as a serious restaurant contender, but with two Rocky Mountain restaurants just launched, Pursuit is proving it’s is not interested in jostling tourists on well-trodden culinary paths. The company’s newest restaurant in Banff is Brazen, which takes up space at the Mount Royal Hotel that was previously occupied by an increasingly out of place Tony Roma. Brazen follows the openings of Pursuit’s Sky Bistro at the top of the Banff Gondola and Farm and Fire at the Elk and Avenue Hotel, both also overseen by Scott Hergott, the highly capable Executive Chef of the Banff and Jasper Collection at the ‘company. Like these other restaurants, the focus is on producing an excellent mountain experience for locals and tourists alike. Brazen’s theme is all about “Wild West Mavericks,” as expressed in a sleek, leather-accented dining room with a touch of Jazz Age flair.

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Brazen is located in Banff and occupies the space of the Mount Royal Hotel.  Pursuit photo.
Brazen is located in Banff and occupies the space of the Mount Royal Hotel. Pursuit photo. Photo by Chris Amat /.jpg

“Brazen pays homage to the history of the Mount Royal Hotel and its original lounge and restaurant, the Alberta Bar,” said Philip Slawsky, Senior Director of Food and drinks at Pursuit’s Banff and Jasper Collection. “It was a saloon-style bar and gathering place for locals, pioneers and trappers traveling through the area. It reflected the times and the people, who were very confident and a bit defiant.

Make no mistake – Brazen pays homage to the spirit of these colorful characters from the past, but it’s by no means a raw tavern. Hergott and the restaurant’s chef, Dan Jiricka, have created a typically beefy menu, both literally and figuratively. Menu highlights include delicious bar snacks like a mix of salted peanuts with smoked bacon and chicharrones ($9) and chicken “pops” dipped in a sweet and spicy patis glaze with a touch of foil. gold for extra glamor ($15), with the rest of the menu consisting of large and small sharing plates, including an ultra-tasty smoked beef tartare made with cognac, pickled onions and olive oil. truffle ($22), mussels bathed in matcha green tea flavored broth ($30) and a luxurious take on classic Calgary-origin ginger beef made with lightly crusted Angus beef patty flavored with a syrup of ginger ($28).

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There’s also a thoughtful cocktail program with drinks named after prominent Banff figures of yesteryear, formulated with local spirits and house-made cordials. Pursuit also ordered a signature vodka made by the Eau Claire distillery in Turner Valley and a private label wine from Ontario’s Fielding Estates Winery.

Brazen is located at the Mount Royal Hotel at 138 Banff Avenue and can be reached at 403-760-8540 or banffjaspercollection.com/dining/brazen. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Terra is a new restaurant located in Jasper's Crimson Hotel with a contemporary look and farm-to-table concept.  Courtesy, Pursuit.
Terra is a new restaurant located in Jasper’s Crimson Hotel with a contemporary look and farm-to-table concept. Courtesy, Pursuit. .jpg

Pursuit’s other new restaurant is further afield, in Jasper at the Crimson Hotel. Terra is just as well-designed as Brazen but with a lighter, more contemporary look and farm-to-table concept. Terra is designed to showcase a taste of local bounty, again a concept that’s all the rage in the city but has taken a bit longer to catch on in the Jasper market, where farm deliveries local are a trickier proposition.

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Unlike Brazen’s bold and indulgent menu, Chef Tyler Tays’ vision for Terra is all about fresh, bright ingredients and flavors. This is where you’ll find things like fried green tomatoes with farmhouse cheese and tangy ramp pistou ($12), spicy corn “ribs” shaved from juicy Taber corn cobs ($15), a whole trout caught in Alberta served on a platter to share with fern heads, wild rice and brown butter ($60) and braised duck with rosehip and red clover flower ($37). The origin of each dish is indicated on the menu so that customers know explicitly where their food comes from – in addition to the name of the restaurant which, of course, refers to the earth and the ground.

Unsurprisingly, Terra’s drinks are just as inspired as Brazen’s and also formulated to match the concept of the restaurant, with plenty of local spirits behind the bar and flavors like rhubarb, juniper berries, blackberries and fresh mint that slips into cocktails.

Terra is open daily for breakfast and dinner and is located in Jasper at 200 Connaught Drive. For more information, visit banffjaspercollection.com/dining/terra.

Elizabeth Chorney-Booth can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @elizaboothy or on Instagram at @elizabooth.

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