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Joie de Vivre

Stepping into the Vermillion Room at the Fairmont Banff Springs is a step into a glamourous past, firmly grounded in a contemporary aesthetic

Joie de Vivre

The Vermillion Room at Fairmont Banff Springs celebrates the joy of French food with an Alberta twist

Stepping into the Vermillion Room at the Fairmont Banff Springs is a step into a glamourous past, firmly grounded in a contemporary aesthetic. Soaring ceilings and sprawling wall of windows invite spectacular views into a space that marries early Parisian bistros with art deco lines and bold modern finishes.

The menu is French with an undeniably Alberta twist that highlights the world-class beef available to the chefs of the region. Find French favourites like onion soup, beef tartare and filet mignon, plus some Canadian classics like chinook salmon and east coast oysters. With a newly expanded wine list featuring more than 50 options from around the globe, plus a gorgeous cocktail menu, the Vermillion Room is a place to settle in and savour the experience. 

We began with the shrimp cocktail with four large, citrus-poached prawns with a classic cocktail sauce. This method of cooking shrimp keeps the flesh firm, fresh and delicious. The sauce has suggestions of coconut, a hint of heat and the perfect amount of zip to complement the shellfish.

Next, we enjoyed the roasted beets with orange-whipped ricotta, strawberries, fennel jam, crispy garbanzo beans, ricotta salata and a balsamic gastrique. This dish is beautiful with rich ruby and gold beets garnished with the whimsical Chioggia (candy cane) variety. The highlight of this dish is how the brightness of the strawberries and fennel jam play off the earthy beets and rich, creamy ricotta. It’s creative, surprising and elevates this salad to must-try status. 

As our main, we enjoyed the braised Alberta beef short rib with brown butter pomme puree, roasted heirloom carrots, carrot-top pistou and natural jus. This is the perfect autumn meal as the Rockies begin to morph into a winter wonderland. Braised for 12 hours, the beef is tender and flavourful. The heirloom carrots are perfectly done and really very beautiful against the creamy potatoes and rich jus that ground the plate. The bold Chateau Beaulieu cabernet sauvignon from the Napa Valley was a great pairing with the short rib, which really brought out the black fruit notes in the wine.

Choosing a dessert was too hard, so we chose two. The gateau au chocolat is a masterful take on the Black Forest cake with a rich, moist, flourless cocoa cake topped with a light and creamy vanilla creme and drizzled with sour cherries to brighten things up. The creme caramel is a delightful treat with a silky mouthfeel that is suddenly shot through with a flake of sea salt that gets your mouth watering all over again. Pair this with a Taylor Fladgate Tawny port, available in a number of vintages, to finish off your meal.

The Vermillion Room is open daily from 6 to 9 p.m. for dinner and has daily breakfast seatings as well. Brunch is served every Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.