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At Smoking Waters Coffee, diners enjoy satisfying breakfast options, such as Eggs Benedict. (Sarah Deveau photo)
Story by Sarah Deveau
INVERMERE, BRITISH COLUMBIA — A popular getaway spot for Calgarians, Invermere and the Columbia Valley provides a mountain backyard for residents of the Alberta city and an attractive vacation spot for anyone else looking for relaxation amid splendid natural surroundings that aren’t overflowing with tourists like other regions in the Rockies. The food scene has exploded in this mountain town — discover what the locals are eating and preparing for their big-city patrons.
“The regional food scene is really developing, and it’s exciting to be a part of it,” says Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, who also owns Gerry’s Gelati Cafe, Gerry’s Gelati & Mini Golf, and Stolen Church Coffee Co.“We really offer something for everyone, which include unique offerings from casual, ethnic food to upscale and resort dining.”
Ski and golf resorts are a key feature of the valley that is in eastern British Columbia, and the newest resorts have added fine-dining experiences. Elements Grill, the innovative restaurant at Copper Point Resort, is a contemporary establishment with indoor and outdoor seating. Executive chef Jeffrey Hicks creates ultra-fresh seasonal menus and exquisite desserts. At Rustica Steakhouse at Eagle Ranch Resort, perfectly prepared, thick and mouth-watering Canadian prime steaks are prepared with housemade steak seasoning and finished under a 1,500-degree broiler.
Neighbouring the Fairmont Hot Springs is From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen. This market bistro offers delicious, seasonal products with dine-in or take-home options. The wood-fired oven produces bread, pizza and forno meats, and the company has developed its own line of chutneys, sauces, vinaigrettes, spreads and more. It is a favourite spot in this town of 4,000 residents whose population swells to more than 40,000 on many summer weekends. Attractions to the area include the popular Radium Hot Springs, and activities on Windermere and Columbia lakes.
“It’s hard to choose a favourite restaurant … there are so many unique places,” says Leanne Tegart of Arrowhead Brewery. “We support the restaurants that support other local business. We typically order food on the more ethnic side of things when it’s available. We like lots of flavour to go with the flavourful craft beer.”
At Safta’s Kitchen, Middle Eastern cuisine draws locals and visitors alike. Falafel, lamb, hummus, shwarma and baklava have quickly become valley favourites. Daniel Shoemaker, owner/operator at Fubuki Sushi, has brought classical sushi to the East Kootenays, creating an authentic tatami room and mouth-watering sushi.
Local favourites for family or casual dining include the Station Neighbourhood Pub, overlooking Kinsmen Beach on Lake Windermere and Rocky River Grill with familiar favourites such as salads, juicy burgers and pastas. For more intimate dining, try upscale Birchwood.
Hipsters and locavores know to congregate at the Blue Dog Café, where the food is prepared from scratch, including the dressings, sauces and salsa. You won’t find any processed or deep-fried foods here, but you will discover plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options. “The farmers’ market is also an important part of the food culture here, with many local vendors offering specialty and artisan products,” says Taft.
The ample menu at CasaVino is reserved for its fine beverages. The wine bar serves more than 100 different wines, specialty beers and spirits. Tapas and cheese/charcuterie plates are available, but in this establishment, drink is king. They serve Arrowhead beer on tap, also available at the Arrowhead Brewery in Invermere proper.
If a coffeehouse is more your style for après-ski relaxing, Kicking Horse Coffee features a café serving fair-trade coffees from exotic destinations, fresh baking, homemade local soups, artisan bread, sandwiches and other health-conscious fare. Just down the highway in Fairmont another coffee shop, Smoking Waters Coffee Company, offers delicious gourmet meals and treats, including plenty of gluten-free options.