Food and Travels12 Apr 2010 07:36 am

After a long day of skiing, Mike, Connor and I were ravenous. Unable to get an earlier reservation, we had to wait until 8pm to eat at Walliser Stube, the Swiss restaurant in Chateau Lake Louise. By then, I could barely stop myself from gnawing off my own arm.

Ominous looking Chateau Lake Louise

The bar in Walliser Stube

In recent years Lake Louise has become one of my favourite areas to visit in the Rockies, mostly due to the lower concentration of people in the back country and the huge selection of activities one can try. Lake Louise has deep roots in the Canada’s mountaineering community, and is more than just a tourist trap. If you’ve ever walked around Lake Louise, you’ve seen the rock climbers at the back of the lake. This place is legit.

There were many Swiss guides that worked in the area after they were hired by Canadian Pacific (the original owners of the Chateau Lake Louise) to guide people following a mountaineering accident many years ago. Hence, Walliser Stube exists to pay tribute to them and the influence they had on the area.

The menu is in gothic text and it feels a bit cheesy, but the view of Lake Louise from the dining room is unbeatable and the food is outstanding. There were many couples availing themselves of the romantic atmosphere.

Many of the selections are cheese-based (the best kind of restaurant, in my opinion) but there are more traditional European favourites like schnitzel.

We received a basket of breads: pumpernickel, rye, ciabatta and the table favourite: pretzel bread.

I got a Victorian Alpine Glow cocktail. It seemed out of place on the cocktail menu – it was slightly savoury and came with red peppers and chives.

The staff came out as the sun fell out of the sky and set up the equipment we needed for our meal. I ordered a fondue, and the boys got raclette. Raclette (rack-let) is a soft Swiss cheese that is heated, and then you scrape off the melted top onto bread, meat, and vegetables. It’s a bit unwieldy as the machine required a lot of room on the table, but very delicious.

There is an entire page of fondues on the menu. I got the traditional, with Gruyere, Appenzeller and Emmentaler cheeses in a wine wine and kirsch bath. There was an avalanche of pepper on it, and a a burner underneath heats the pot until the cheese bubbles. The anticipation of waiting for the cheese to bubble and the raclette to melt was brutal, but well worth it.

In addition to cubed bread, I also received a plate of vegetables to dip into the cheese. The only thing that completely baffled me was the asparagus. It was super thin and hard to dip in the cheese. I just ate it plain.

The restaurant also offers more substantial fondues with beef, bison or seafood. They come with a tower of dipping sauces.

Raclette scraping. The raclette came with an impressive spread of charcuterie from Valbella as well as vegetables. When the meat ran out, Connor asked for a bit more, and a whole other plate was brought out. The service was consistent and quite good, actually.

Cheese dipping. I had tonnes of left over bread after the cheese was gone. I think my favourite part of the fondue was when the cheese started to get a bit crispy and brown as it thinned out.

The heater was kept under a napkin drape, and it was as bright as the sun when it was lifted, illuminating all the other poor couples trying to be romantic in the dining room.

It was a great time, and a wonderful reward after a day of skiing. I can only say try to save room for dessert. Their menu looks wonderful, and goes beyond chocolate fondue.

Afterwards we walked around the Chateau. It’s a beautiful old school resort hotel.

In one of the display cabinets for a gift shop they had what appeared to be “Canadian food.” The usual suspects were there: maple syrup and maple cream cookies, salmon, various jams and preserves and… wait, what? Bottled water?

Yes, that’s right. Bottled water. It’s Canadian!

Walliser Stube
at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Alberta
Open for dinner nightly, 6pm-9:30pm

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