Clever Name but Rather Lame: Wild Flour Bakery

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

On Sunday morning I decided to skip the conference-provided breakfast in favor of making a stop at Wild Flour Bakery, located at 211 Bear Street. I had asked Sharon for a couple of restaurant recommendations before making my way to Banff, and Wild Flour was one of the two she gave me. I think the name was probably 80% of the reason she suggested it, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway.

Wild Flour Bakery

I arrived at Wild Flour just after 8 AM. They are open every day throughout the summer months from 7 AM until 6 PM. There was a couple ordering some of Wild Flour’s artisan breads ahead of me, so I had time to look around and take some photos. The space is very modern looking, and fairly open with seating for about 40 patrons.

The menu is broken into four sections: drinks, breakfast, sweets & treats, and lunch. I decided to order a medium Organic Fair Trade Coffee ($1.75 – they serve Kicking Horse) and the Toasted Breakfast Sandwich ($5.50, also available with two slices of Valbella ham for an addition $1.50).

At this point, things started to go downhill (that didn’t take long did it?). Maybe I’ve been spoiled at Starbucks where a barista always hands you a full cup of coffee, but I thought it was odd that I was given a cup to fill on my own. At the end of the counter were three coffee butlers, two bold roast and one medium roast. I set about filling my cup with the medium, only to find that it wouldn’t stop coming out! I started to say "It’s not stopping!" and when one of the employees finally noticed, she remarked "oh no not again!" Apparently they jam open quite frequently. Anyway, when I eventually got my cup full of bold roast I nearly burned my hand! The coffee was ridiculously hot, and there were no sleeves.

I took a seat in the corner and started reading some of the free newspapers they had available. Wild Flour prides itself on cooking with organic and local ingredients, and on making everything from scratch. With that in mind, I didn’t expect my breakfast sandwich to be ready immediately, but after about fifteen minutes of waiting I started to wonder. I took my order slip (my order number was the normally lucky 88…not so lucky this time) up to the counter to inquire. I was informed that they had "lost" my order, and that they’d make it right away. At this point I thought to myself – epic fail! It’s never acceptable for a restaurant to lose an order, especially when it isn’t that busy.

My breakfast sandwich arrived about five minutes later. The menu describes it as: "Our herbed egg frittata & three year old Quebec cheddar on sourdough." Unfortunately, the description is a lot tastier than the sandwich itself. I found the egg kind of spongy and far too thick. I think there should have been more cheese too!

On the whole, my experience at Wild Flour was a negative one. Even without the coffee incident and lost order, the breakfast sandwich wasn’t worth the money and the employees were probably the least friendly of any I encountered in Banff. I could probably be persuaded to give their lunch menu a shot, but I definitely won’t be rushing back to Wild Flour the next time I’m in Banff.

Wild Flour Bakery

Inside Wild Flour Bakery

Wild Flour Bakery

Seating

Toasted Breakfast Sandwich

Toasted Breakfast Sandwich

Coffee Shop Character: Sugar Bowl

After pho, Bettina and I were on the hunt for dessert. Our first choice was Leva Capuccino Bar in the University area, but it turns out to have shut down! It’s currently being renovated under a new name.

Thus, our second choice, thankfully located nearby, was the Sugar Bowl (10922-88 Avenue). I have quite a biased opinion of this cafe, with nostalgic affection connected to my first visit there. It involved a meeting with online (yes, online) fans of Billy Boyd, just prior to his appearance at the Garneau Theatre a few years ago (and no creepy pedophiles showed up).

The Sugar Bowl could be considered a younger, edgier relative of the Blue Plate Diner. I have always loved the decor – exposed brick, aged hardwood floor, roughly sanded tables, pendant lighting. On the downside, I have never been impressed by their service, as it has consistently proved to be mercifully slow, but on most occasions, I am willing to overlook it for its cozy cultivation of conversation.

When we arrived at 8, the room was about half full. By 9:30, however, it was packed, with groups of diners even patiently awaiting a table at the bar. We also found that as the night progressed, the lights were dimmed and the music volume was increased, with the song list switching from rock in favor of more techno-flavored tunes, making the atmosphere more in line with that of a bar.

Keeping it light, I ordered a vanilla hot chocolate and a Sugar Bowl Soufflé (made with Callebeaut chocolate). The hot chocolate came with a bit of a wait, and was lukewarm, but had a creamy, smooth vanilla flavor. The soufflé, on the other hand, took ridiculously long to make. When it finally arrived, more than thirty minutes later, the waitress apologized, saying that the order was tardy because the first one “collapsed.” Seeing the final product, I wondered what the previous creation looked like. Overturned on the centre of a square plate, and dressed with a shake of powdered sugar, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I had never before had soufflé, so I was not a seasoned judge, but to me, the consistency was a cross between a pudding and a half-baked cake. The cocoa flavor was rather weak, actually, and I could have done with more tart confectioner’s sugar to supplement the dull, uninspired taste.

I can’t say I won’t be back, but it would likely be to sample their entrees instead.

Vanilla Hot Chocolate

Sugar Bowl Souffle with Callebeaut Chocolate