March 8, 2016
Article and photos by Jonny Bierman
At 2090 meters atop Mount Norquay sits the historic Cliffhouse Bistro – recently renovated, reopened and welcoming guests to dine and drink with some of the best views in the Rockies. This special building was first opened in ski resorts’ early days but sat vacant and boarded up until recently. Mount Norquay is a true gem of Banff National Park. Its close proximity to the town, long history (90 years!), and easy-going atmosphere makes it a unique place to spend time in both summer and winter. Many skiers dream to get some turns in under the full moon. Likewise, they also enjoy après and great food – so what better event to combine this all with than Mount Norquay’s Cliffhouse Moonlight Dinner. Get a few moonlit turns in before changing ski boots for dining shoes and poles for a welcome glass of champagne.
Upon finding a seat in the restaurant at long tables, you quickly meet your neighbours as this casual setting, yet fine dining experience offers the chance to make new friends from far and near. Although this event is popular among locals, travellers from as far as Australia made their way to this special night, coincidentally and conveniently timed with their vacation in Banff. The evening (January 31, 2016) started off with Dashi Confit Duck Rillette followed by Lobster & Wakame Gyoza before the main dish of a Bison & Wild Mushroom Broth.
Executive Chef Morne Burger is a Banff resident from South Africa who has called the Bow Valley home for almost 10 years, and has shaped Norquay’s dining experiences since he started at Norquay over two years ago. Chef Burger explained that the kitchen is a “satellite kitchen” and is not designed for food preparation. All of the prep work is done in the main lodge kitchen at the bottom of the hill and then transported up by the chairlift in special containers. The Japanese menu makes it easy to produce and transport the food, all while maintaining the elegant appeal. Having been the second winter in service since the Cliffhouse Bistro re-opened, this is also the second season for the Moonlight Dining experience. The Moonlight Dining Experiences can be found at Norquay’s events page and will start again in winter 2016-2017. For more information about this event and others, visit http://winter.banffnorquay.com/events/.