The True, North, Strong, and Free (Range)


Alberta is well known for it’s beef.


Alberta beef


(And even moreso lately, for devastating reasons, thanks to a tainted meat crisis at a local meat packing plant. Shut down near the end of September, it hit Canadians hard, as it represented one third of the entire country’s capacity.)

BisonPoisoned meat crisis aside, we found ourselves eating less beef anyways on this visit home. It seems to us that there are just so many other delicious red meat options, whereas we don’t remember them being as plentiful in the past.

Bison PizzaWe’ve had moose sausage, moose pepperoni, elk steak and butter poached bison, all of these just in the homes of friends and family. When we’ve ventured out we’ve found a surprising amount of game products on menus, including such delicious things as a smoked bison pizza, and such cheeky things as a ‘Blonde Bison’ martini (no actual meat included, I hope).

Game meat is all the rage, so it seems. And becoming a hallmark of any ‘Canadian’ menu.

At The Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge in Banff, we skipped past the likes of the beef rib-eye and New York steak – we went straight for the bison tenderloin and the Chef’s creation for the day, elk fillet.


Served on a bed of mashed potatoes, and fresh brocollini and carrots, the elk was bacon-wrapped and seared to perfection. Elk has a much stronger, ‘gamier’ taste than beef, and is extremely lean in comparison.

Elk - main course


The bison tenderloin, also bacon-wrapped, was served with Benedictine blue cream cheese, and a side of potato gratin. Few things in the world make me happier than a rare cooked tenderloin and strong cheese, this one was no exception. While bison does not have as ‘game-y’ a taste as elk, it is finely marbled, full of flavour, and also much healthier than a beef alternative.

Bison - main course


I challenge anyone to try bison or elk and declare that their preference is still non-poisoned beef.

(Or, even if you do decide you like beef better, I really don’t care. I’ll just eat your leftovers.)



Many thanks to Banff National Park tourism for their assistance on this trip and for this incredible dinner at the Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge. As always, all opinions (and admissions of gluttony), are our own.



27 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own

  • October 26 2012

    It always amuses me when I tell people about eating game in canada. But each province has different regulations on selling game – Ontario is very strict and most restaurants cannot sell game since they are wild game – at least where I live. But it is always great when my dad comes home from hunting and has a moose or deer!
    Chrystal McKay recently posted..An Ending in Manila

    • October 27 2012

      There are some things I’m not a fan of – like moose steak (it’s far too game-y for me) – but most of it I REALLY enjoy. So flavorful.

  • October 26 2012

    Bison/buffalo and elk are both DELICIOUS! Mmm. I definitely prefer them over beef!
    Amanda recently posted..New York City: All in the Details

    • October 27 2012

      They really are much better.

  • October 26 2012

    Amazing what people can eat. I have not eaten beef let alone bison meat. Do you have any good vegetarian restaurants in Alberta.?
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Bhang, India’s holy marijuana

    • October 27 2012

      Oh yes Shalu, there are lots. I can’t say I search them out, but I’ve been to one or two that were very good.

    • October 31 2012

      Not sure about Calgary or the rest of Alberta, but in Edmonton there are a couple of really good vegetarian restaurants like The Clever Rabbit, Noorish (a completely raw and vegan restaurant), Padmanadi, and Veggie Garden.
      Alouise recently posted..Denver and Warped Perceptions

  • October 26 2012

    My Argie hubby would be in heaven!

    • October 27 2012

      I LOVE ARGENTINIAN BEEF. Better than Albertan, although I think I would still take a good bison steak in comparison. :)

  • October 27 2012

    I’m not a huge red meat fan, but I tried bison and caribou this year for the first time. I should probably give elk a try, right?
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..Quirky Attraction: The Ava Gardner Museum

    • October 27 2012

      I really, really, like Elk. It has so much flavour. Haven’t tried caribou yet though!

  • October 27 2012

    Not a post for me! I am pure vegetarian. I always think that even if the knife touches us we feel sensations, poor animals who are killed…
    Arti recently posted..Japanese People – Helpfulness and Friendliness

    • October 27 2012

      Good for you Arti! (Sorry that this post wasn’t for you!)

  • October 28 2012

    I’ve never had bison. Quite fond of water buffalo, surprisingly, and also liked reindeer meat in Finland (I think that’s the same species as your elk).

    Another thing to ad to my carnivore fest.

    • October 28 2012

      I want to try Reindeer! But it would be a tough thing to consider chewing on Rudolph!

  • October 28 2012

    I like game, and trying out different things, but I’d be interested to know if this meat is being hunted in a sustainable manner. Otherwise the risk is run that we just take it because it’s there, and then one day it’s not there any more.
    Laurence recently posted..#TravelPinspiration: Sunsets

    • October 28 2012

      There is a strict hunting license practice in place, so I know that the meat I tried with our family and friends was hunted by the book (and I believe one even taken with a bow and arrow, which is pretty damn cool). There are also farms for Elk and Bison (which is where the restaurants would get it from), but as far as I know they are all free range and not like cattle shoved into small spaces. It’s all good!

  • October 28 2012

    I had my first bison steak on Catalina Island and I was surprised at how much I liked it! Now when I see ground bison at the store, I buy that instead of ground beef.

    And I do really like game meat. I grew up eating it as my dad is a hunter and I’m always thrilled to see various game meats on menus.
    Jennifer recently posted..Eat, Drink, and Climb the Castle Tower in Soave

    • October 28 2012

      Oh good! Because bison really is so much leaner and better for you than beef. :)

  • October 29 2012

    what about moose? :)

    • October 30 2012

      Moose sausage is delicious! :)

  • October 31 2012

    My dad goes hunting so I grew up on wild game. I think it can seem weird to people, but if you already eat beef, then bison and elk are a nice transition. I’ll have to remember that restaurant the next time I’m in Banff.
    Alouise recently posted..Denver and Warped Perceptions

  • EVERYTHING is good wrapped in bacon 😉

  • November 5 2012

    YUMMY! My favorite wild Canadian game is elk sausage which I used to buy at the Healthy Butcher in Toronto. Sooo good!

    • November 6 2012

      Yum!! I wish I had some of that handy right now.

  • November 12 2012

    There was a burger place around the corner from me in the US that did bison burgers. I quite miss them. Germans don’t do beef much either. And I have the feeling when they do, it gets dried out much more than I am used to from the US. Bison, though, is too far out of the norm for me to expect to see here any time soon.
    Andrew recently posted..My First E-Book : a Technical E-Book for Non-Geeks

    • November 14 2012

      And if they dry out the beef, then they’d probably have a tougher time with bison as it gets dry quite easily!

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