For the Love of Sandwiches: Wild Flour Bakery and Valbella Gourmet Foods

Our brief escape to the Rockies last October also involved less extravagant meals than The Bison. First up: Wild Flour Bakery, a casual café after my own heart – bright and cheery, and filled with the alluring aroma of fresh bread, it looked great at first glance. Mack had a not-so-positive experience there in the past, but was eager to see if they could make amends this time.

Their lunch menu consisted primarily of sandwiches, served on fresh house-made bread. Mack’s choice of the aged cheddar sandwich was unimpressive – he remarked that he loved the cheese and the bread, but he was expecting more from the combination. And though I enjoyed my sandwich, I thought the melted Swiss overwhelmed the delicate Valebella prosciutto.

Aged Cheddar Sandwich

 Swiss and Prosciutto Sandwich

We fared better with our choice of hot beverages. My London Fog (something I don’t have often, but the Earl Grey-milk mixture sounded good on a chilly afternoon) was good, and Mack’s Mexican hot chocolate was appropriately spiced.

Latte art!

Something we didn’t get a chance to order was dessert (though the chocolate torte looked mighty tempting) – so perhaps our next visit will concentrate only on sweets.

On the way back to Edmonton, we stopped in Canmore for a bite to eat at Valbella Gourmet Foods. I am familiar with them primarily through their bacon and sausages sold through Sunterra, but was curious to see their whole range of products.

The deli counter at Valbella

If we only had a cooler, I would have definitely stocked up

As for the small cafe that served only a handful of items, it was a revolving door of customers. They seemed to have their share of regulars from nearby construction or trades sites, very similar to the usual lunchtime crowd at The Italian Bakery or Handy Bakery. So – we ordered what everyone else ordered – the special that featured a few different types of meat.

Sandwich counter

While I typically prefer my sandwiches toasted or warmed in some way, the fresh bread, still crisp, made up for this somewhat. And the assortment of meat was a good opportunity to try a bit of everything.

Valbella special sandwich

If you’re passing through Canmore (with a cooler!) be sure to stop by for some top-quality meats. While the sandwich was good – the meat case is where it’s at.

Wild Flour Bakery
211 Bear Street, Banff, AB
(403) 760-5074
Open everyday from 8am-5pm

Valbella Gourmet Foods
104 Elk Run Boulevard, Canmore, AB
(403) 678-4109
Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, closed Sundays

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