An image of Brazen restaurant and the staff in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Articles,  Travel Better

Brazen Restaurant Banff – Review of a New Restaurant That Pays Bold Tribute to Mavericks

Brazen restaurant Banff is the town’s newest restaurant. By definition, the word “brazen” means “bold without shame,” and that says it all. Brazen restaurant pays tribute to the mavericks who helped to build the town of Banff. It does this with a menu that has bold style and big taste. Located inside the historic Mount Royal Hotel in downtown Banff, the menu was designed to honour the spirit of mountaineers like Bill Peyto and great explorers like Mary Schäffer. The restaurant is scheduled to open on June 14, but Wander Woman Travel Magazine got a sneak preview of the menu so we could write a Brazen Restaurant review early. Overall, we’d describe the menu as fun and inventive. We love history and we enjoyed the restaurant’s efforts to incorporate a little history into Banff’s amazing restaurant scene. When it comes to food, being bold can be a good thing.

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An image of a cotton candy drink at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Brazen has created some unique drinks like this one with cotton candy that dissolves and turns the drink blue. It represents maverick explorer Mary Schäffer.

Does Brazen Restaurant in Banff Live up to its Name?

To be “bold without shame” is an interesting challenge for a restaurant to take on. Brazen restaurant Banff hints at bold choices in its menu. There are classics with unique twists – things like smoking treatments, unique spices and unusual flavours. We tasted fun menu items like golden chicken pops, smoked beef tartar, brie mac and cheese, ginger beef with shishito peppers and other dishes that were unique and hinted at the boldness that is in the name.

Related: If you’re heading to Banff, you should drive the Icefields Parkway. But before you do, read our post, From Banff to Jasper – A Complete Guide to Canada’s Most Spectacular Drive.

An image of chef Scott Hergott, executive chef of the Banff properties owned by Pursuit in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Chef Scott Hergott is the executive chef for the Banff properties owned and operated by Pursuit.

Who are the Brazen Restaurant Chefs?

Chef Scott Hergott is the executive chef for the Banff restaurants owned by Pursuit collection – this includes some of the top ranked restaurants in the area. Chef Dan Jericka is the head chef at Brazen restaurant. “Brazen pays homage to the original lounge and restaurant in the Mount Royal Hotel – The Alberta Bar. In its day, The Alberta Bar was the centre of activity and a place where all gathered to share a meal and share their stories,” says Executive Chef Scott Hergott, Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit. “Today we reimagine this classic Banff space, bringing it back to life in a contemporary way with an adventurous Albertan spirit.”

An image of Dan Jiricka, head chef of Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Chef Dan Jiricka is the new head chef at Brazen restaurant in Banff.

A Historic Hotel Chooses to Represent History in its Restaurant

The hotel we now know as the Mount Royal was originally called the Banff Hotel. It first opened its doors to the public in 1908. The hotel had 60 guest rooms, a dining room and a billiard room. The hotel was purchased by Jim Brewster in 1912 and expanded shortly thereafter. Over the years, it underwent several expansions, survived two fires and was a hangout for locals and visitors alike. The hotel has been around for more than a century and that is part of the reason the hotel’s restaurant pays homage to Banff’s colourful past and the characters who helped to make the community what it is today.

An image of a smoked old fashioned drink at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
A hand smoked old fashioned drink represents maverick Bill Peyto.

Who are the Mavericks?

Two of the indisputable mavericks in Banff were Bill Peyto and Mary Schäffer. It’s quite probable that one or both actually dined at the Banff Hotel, drank at the bar or played billiards at the historic hotel. Bill Peyto (1869 – 1943) was an English-Canadian pioneer, mountain guide, and early park warden in Banff National Park. He led several very important expeditions in the park. Mary Schäffer Warren (1861–1939) was an American-Canadian naturalist, illustrator, photographer, and writer. In 1907, Schäffer published a book titled Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies that brought many people to the Canadian Rockies. In 1908, she led a historic expedition to what is now known as Maligne Lake. She was one of the first female explorers in the Canadian Rockies.

An image of the beef tartare at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
This was a tasting size of the beef tartare. The actual size is quite large and would easily serve several diners.

Maverick Cocktails – Brazen Restaurant Banff Review

A version of an Old Fashioned cocktail represents Bill Peyto. It seems fitting that a classic cocktail invented in the late 1800s and made with whiskey was chosen to represent the great mountaineer. A version of the aviator cocktail represents Mary Schäffer. It’s a prettier cocktail that somehow seems a fitting choice for an incredible woman.

Related: Read our post, Jasper Brunch – Best Food and Coffee Restaurants.

An image of the charcuterie board at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
The charcuterie board was delicious and well presented.

What Happened to Tony Romas Restaurant in Banff?

For many years, Tony Romas restaurant occupied the space where Brazen now sits. That space has now been transformed into the new restaurant, Brazen.

An image of the fish cakes at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
I really liked the subtle flavours in this fish cake that was served with house made tartar sauce and citrus beads.

Brazen Snacks – What We Tried and What We Liked

We tried the Brazen restaurant’s charcuterie plate and enjoyed it. The charcuterie plate included prosciutto, venison salami, Bündnerfleisch (dry cured beef), house-made bread sticks, and pickled veggies. We also tried the Golden Chicken Pops. These were almost like a chicken meatball that is served on a stick with a sweet and spicy sauce on it. A chicken popsicle is a unique idea and we thought it was a fun snack option.

An image of the mac and cheese at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
The creamy brie mac-n-cheese doesn’t look fancy, but boy did it taste good.

Small Plates – Brazen Restaurant Review Banff

If you like beef tartare, Brazen restaurant in Banff has a good one. The serving size was fairly large and the presentation was fun. They infuse the dish with smoke and remove the lid tableside for a dramatic affect. My only complaint on this one is that I could have used a few more buckwheat crackers that are served with it. In fairness, I never asked for more crackers. The beef tartare is made with cognac, pickled onion and truffle oil and served with garlic aioli and buckwheat crackers. We also tried the Brie Mac & Cheese, which I really enjoyed. I love mac and cheese and I was a little worried that the brie might overpower the dish, but it didn’t. It was creamy and delicious and the fried leeks in it gave it a nice flavour.

An image of the mussels at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
The mussels at Brazen restaurant in Bann were perfectly cooked and nicely seasoned. The sauce was lovely.

Large Plates – Brazen Restaurant

We were able to try three large plates on the menu – mushroom ravioli, green tea mussels, and ginger beef. Mushroom ravioli is a good vegan option on the menu. It is made onsite and served with blister tomatoes, braised leeks and arugula. The green tea mussels were perfectly cooked and served in matcha broth with toast points. It was lovely. The ginger beef was an elevated version of the dish that was invented in Calgary. They used higher quality beef than is usually used, so it was far more tender. The beef is certified Angus beef hangar steak. It was served with shishito peppers instead of carrots and bell peppers, which are more traditional. About one in ten shishito peppers is spicy. We liked the adventure of that. Of course, we didn’t get a spicy pepper.

An image of the mushroom ravioli at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
This was a tasting size of the mushroom ravioli. It was nicely done and a good vegan choice on the menu.

Dessert Menu – Banff Brazen Restaurant Review

We did our best, but we couldn’t eat it all. We managed to try two desserts on the menu, which when you consider what we ate before was a pretty amazing feat. The first dessert we had was crème brûlée, topped with hazelnut powder, which added a new dimension to a traditional dessert. We also had the broken forest cake, which is a deconstructed Black Forest Cake. It contained smoked chocolate cake, macerated cherries, mascarpone, and chocolate sauce. Both desserts were delicious and both were a unique twist on a classic recipe.

An image of the ginger beef at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
This doesn’t look like a typical ginger beef and it isn’t. It was our favourite dish on the menu at Brazen restaurant in Banff.
An image of the deconstructed black forest cake at Brazen restaurant in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Smoked black forest cake? Yes please! It was good – even in the smaller tasting size.

Brazen Restaurant Banff – Our Overall Review

We experienced Brazen on a sneak preview given to a few media. The event was hosted by the restaurant before its official opening date. Thus, we can’t speak to the service of the restaurant and the experience of its staff. We enjoyed the food and drinks that we tried. Our favourite menu item was the ginger beef. It was a fun take on a dish that has become very popular in Alberta Chinese food restaurants. There were several fun menu items and great little twists on some classic dishes. The décor has a classic historical feel that suits the space inside a historic building. We also liked the idea of dedicating menu items to mavericks in history. Overall, we liked the food and drink selections at Brazen restaurant in Banff and we’re looking forward to returning when the restaurant officially opens. That will be the real test of its success.

Related: If you like good food and beautiful hiking trails, you’ll enjoy reading our review of Shadow Lake Lodge in Banff National Park.

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