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A woodsy retreat away from the bustle of Banff Avenue

The Banff Centre has always felt like a woodsy retreat within the at times bustling town.

The Banff Centre has always felt like a woodsy retreat within the at times bustling town. Nestled up on Tunnel Mountain Drive, the arts hub provides an evocative backdrop for creatives year-round, but you don’t need a scholarship to indulge in the culinary delights on offer by chef Leandro Vega.

While we are all still hotly awaiting the re-opening of the celebrated Three Ravens Restaurant and Wine Bar, Banff Centre’s Maclab Bistro presents elevated casual fare, backdropped by uninhibited views of the Bourgeau Range. Floor to ceiling windows ensure that every spot in the bright and airy dining room has an excellent view of the iconic peaks that draw people to the town from far and wide. Whether you’re a tourist looking for a little nature immersion, or a local looking for a calm spot to enjoy a delicious bite away from the throngs of banff Avenue, there’s a sophistication to Maclab that extends beyond its relaxed menu of unpretentious bites.

I had the pleasure of sampling the joyfully juicy Bison Pepper Burger from Maclab at the Made With Love Food and Cocktail festival, which really gave me a thirst for more at the restaurant itself. A fennel and apple slaw with pomegranate, brie and arugula dressing to the meat patty make for a flavour sensation that hits the right notes of rich, acidic and herbaceous, with the spicy BBQ sauce presenting a smokey base and warm finish. Sandwiched in a toasted bun, the burgers here give good old Eddie a run for his money downtown!

Fried halloumi with shishito peppers play together as the perfect and sizable sharer among sips of wine and great conversation. The curse of wanting to try literally everything on the menu struck once more when I saw fellow diners partake in a colourful plate of loaded nachos but, knowing our limits, my fellow gobbler and I opted for a mushroom and truffle oil flatbread instead which was a) sweet, earthy and decadent and b) easy enough to box up to take home as a late night snack between belted verses of the Eras Tour streamed in the living room.

I did not expect the cobb salad to be the star of the show that evening but it was eye-wideningly YUGE,  pleasingly aesthetic and impossibly fresh looking with its bright red tomatoes and perfectly ripe avocado. When it comes to restaurants, the real test is whether or not I would return to order the same thing. I can now wholeheartedly say that I would return to Maclab just for the salads alone. Oui.

It is a well understood fact that one’s pudding belly is a different stomach entirely and, regardless how full one may find themselves, there is no amount of gastronomic discomfort that could disqualify a sticky toffee pudding (or hazelnut chocolate pave!) from the running. Licking the plate of toffee sauce at the end of the meal, I fully stand by our decisions. Mmm.

Usually, I like to start my meal with a cocktail, but as the sun was setting toward the end of our meal it seemed like the perfect time to stick around for one more sip while watching the light disappear behind the mountains. Ah, what a life!

For hours, reservations and further information visit

This is the final issue of “Bites and Bevies” for the season. Thank you so much for joining me on this culinary adventure for the past 12-weeks as we gulped and guzzled our way through the Bow Valley like a basking shark! Until next time!

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