St. James’ Gate – Banff’s Best Pint
Every Irish pub in Canada seems to share one thing – the waitresses all wear Scottish style tartan skirts. It is an oddity and I have no idea where or why it started. As I sat in St. James’ Gate Pub in Banff, I quickly realized that there was something a bit different about this place. Sure, they were wearing the usual Scottish get up but this place really felt like an authentic Irish bar. One of the friendly staff pointed out that there is a valid reason for my inquisition as this bar was actually built and manufactured in Dublin in 1996. This is just one of the reason why this is one of the more unique choices for a pint in the Canadian Rockies.
Even from the outside, there is something warm and homely about this place. This feeling is only multiplied when the hostess greets you kindly at the door. There are plenty of little nooks and crannies where you can sit and enjoy a quiet pint yet there is also a huge area for when you want to gather a big crowd and soak in the Irish music. The Guinness test is always one of the biggest tests of an Irish bar. Will they do the double pour? Will they wait long enough before the fill up? Will it be thick and creamy enough? At the St. James’ all tests passed with flying colours. It is truly hard to find a good pint of Guinness outside its homeland but surprisingly Banff joins that select list.
Feeling in good spirits from the free flowing stout, I decided to order a salmon burger. I was expecting the typical pub grub but what came out was really impressive. A lot of effort was clearly put into the creation. In fact, so much effort was put in that I almost felt guilty as I devoured it in a few quick bites. Almost! A friend had the Raleigh’s Shepherds Pie which, matched with a good portion of salad, looked equally delicious.
It seemed a shame to have to walk back out into the cold snow of Wolf Street in Banff but there are only so many Guinness’s you can drink before feeling like you have eaten a large mammal. There are plenty of great options for dining and drinking in Banff and though many may be cheaper, St. James’ Gate has got to be one of my favourites in the Canadian Rockies.