BANFF – Tucked away in a 100-year-old hotel on Banff’s Main Street, Den and Meadow doorway sits looking to welcome guests with its siren song that celebrates Canadiana.
The restaurant's owner Blaine Armstrong said he was inspired to launch the new restaurant because of the unique culture in Banff.
“I love the people that come to this town from all over the world who want to experience it,” Armstrong said.
“It’s experiential cocktails, cuisine and dining.”
Armstrong said he first began looking for a space to bring his vision to life two years ago and was able to secure the space formally occupied by Toque Canadian Pub.
They have worked hard to transform the space into a warm, welcoming atmosphere that celebrates aspects of what makes Canadian culture great, he said.
Den and Meadow may be the first restaurant Armstrong has owned, but he has drawn on the experience he gained owning the speakeasy-style cocktail bar Betty Lou’s Library in Calgary.
The restaurant had its soft open on Dec. 16 and plans to have a full grand opening sometime in mid to late February.
“We want to announce ourselves,” Armstrong said, explaining that the restaurant is striving to drum up word-of-mouth in the town.
Describing Den and Meadow as a Yukon style gastropub, Armstrong said guests will enjoy the feel of the club that is littered with exciting decorations that range from an eight-foot-tall stuffed grizzly bear, rustic lounge trails by a massive fireplace and relics of Canada’s fur-trading past paired with unique “elevated food.”
General manager Sean Barringer said the restaurant has embraced the culture of Canadiana and is working to create a memorable experience for tourists who visit the beautiful mountain town.
“We want them to come down and work their way through the history of the fur trade on the way in and enter into a warm inviting room that serves up braised meats in a sharing form and create charcuterie boards,” Barringer said.
“With delicious cocktails as well.”
Looking to elevate the magic of visiting the restaurant, Barringer said Den and Meadow will be hosting the Calgary based Cougar Cabaret on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to midnight. The burlesque group has designed a show for the restaurant that is reminiscent of the famous cancan girls of the old west.
“The cancan show is amazing – it’s a little Moulin Rouge meets wild, wild west,” Armstrong exclaimed.
“They come out dressed as little beavers in one of their dances.”
Armstrong said he wanted to bring a new experience to Banff because he felt that tourists visiting the town were looking for quality, local food in a locally owned restaurant that could immerse visitors in the best of Canadian culture.
“Being in the Rocky Mountains, I wanted to give people that are flying from all over the world the opportunity to meet a grizzly bear and see an old west cancan show, have some bison,” Armstrong said.
“We want people to be talking about our place as much as they talked about skiing in the mountains or hiking in the mountains.”
The restaurant has been able to find its “niche” in the community, he added, because Den and Meadow offers the experience of gastro dining in a casual fun atmosphere.
Armstrong added that they offer hearty meals that he describes to guests as “upscale comfort food.”
Looking into the future, Barringer said the restaurant hopes to introduce a Sunday roast paired with live jazz and eventually grow to include live entertainment every day of the week within the year.
“Banff is such an incredible community to be a part of,” Barringer said.
“It’s fun to be able to put something into town that is complementary to what a lot of other really, really great establishments are doing we’re excited to be a part of the community and grow from there.”