What often separates great from good dining is the little extras. And what could be better than something you didn’t order or pay for, at least not directly?
At Syrahs of Jasper, it’s the complimentary items the server delivers while you’re deciphering the menu. First, there’s the flavourful slice of elk sausage, with a shaving of apple and some sauce, artfully presented on a little ceramic spoon. Then there’s the melt-in-your-mouth, wee cheese and salt biscuit with soft butter. Only a couple of bites but a delightful alternative to the typical basket of bread.
Of course, the main event has to live up to the expectations created by these charming starters. And chef/owner Jason Munn—competing in the crowded world of fine dining in touristy Jasper—pulls things off nicely. I lick up every morsel of a succulent smoked bison ragout on house-made gnocchi ($18), while a vegetarian friend tears with gusto into a lentil loaf cloaked in roasted tomato gravy ($20). Of course, as the restaurant name suggests, there are half a dozen listed syrah wines to complement your dinner.
All things considered, it’s not that expensive, especially if you steer clear of high-end items like the $55 elk tenderloin (I wonder if tourists mistakenly think it’s from the same critters grazing along nearby roads). If nothing else, it’s a chance for road trippers to step up in class and celebrate a five-day backpack, without anyone looking askance at our soiled hiking pants. Because we sure didn’t have warm biscuits served on linen in the backcountry.
Syrahs of Jasper
606 Patricia Street, Jasper, Alberta
Daily 5 pm-10 pm