It’s always nice to feel like you’re getting away from it all while within the city and that’s exactly what The Ranche in Fish Creek Park always felt like to me — a little getaway with great food. That’s why I was shocked to hear that Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts (CRMR) had closed The Ranche and reinvented it in the space formerly occupied by Inn on Lake Bonavista and then Newport Grill.
Newly christened as The Lake House the space is lovely. Featuring a fantastic view a roaring fireplace and new wood floors and furniture throughout the design also incorporates the rustic touches CRMR is known for like antler chandeliers.
Visiting for brunch on a Sunday morning (10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) I invite two of my girlfriends along for a little catch up. Seated at a window along the lake we order lattes and commence to scanning the menu while we chit-chat.
To start there is a selection of dishes for the table to share like the Lake House fish plank ($17/$27) or Rocky Mountain charcuterie board ($18/$28). If you want to head in a sweeter direction there’s strawberry and chocolate beignets ($10) or warm pecan cinnamon knots ($9).
As comedian Louis C.K. has pointed out it’s difficult to avoid the allure of the cinnamon bun so we go with the knots. As expected they are delicious. Topped with a decadent whipped vanilla cream cheese the soft and fluffy knots are sticky sweet with a good sprinkling of pecans. But fret not they aren’t sickly sweet — the cream cheese does a nice job of neutralizing all that sugar.
As we snack on the cinnamon knots our server takes our breakfast order and we happily continue chatting. Before we know it 45 minutes has gone by. Our lattes are done and our food still hasn’t arrived. When I inquire (politely I might add) about the wait our server’s attitude heads south. She let’s us know that there are a lot of large parties and that she’ll look into it. Fifteen minutes later our food finally arrives.
My friend has the pulled wild boar mac & cheese ($17). It’s a generous portion topped with pickled red onions and a perfect sunny-side egg. And the flavour is on point too with organic Gouda crisp buttered croutons and tender savoury boar shoulder. No complaints here.
We’re on the fence when it comes to my other friend’s smoked salmon benedict ($16). I typically love both salt and smoked salmon but this particular dish is way too salty. That and the accompanying chili cheddar cornbread is crumbly and dry. Too bad — it sounded so good. The topping of caper lemon butter is great as are the eggs and hollandaise but the overall execution lacks. I think a denser cornbread would work wonders for this dish.
I go with our server’s recommendation and try the other eggs benny on the menu the namesake Lake House Eggs Benedict ($16). Compared to the smoked salmon this version is a little more straightforward with poached eggs Applewood smoked cheddar and crisp layers of country ham on an English muffin. Drizzled with Lake House’s tasty hollandaise sauce it goes great with the rustic herb roasted potatoes served on the side.
Lake House’s menu also features desserts like huckleberry crème brûlée ($10) or the hazelnut and chocolate pot de crème ($10) but by the time we finish our food and our dishes are finally cleared it’s been two hours of brunching for a total of four dishes. We decide we don’t want to risk waiting any longer.
I doubt I’ll return to The Lake House anytime soon (although I’m sure it will be lovely in the summer). Honestly I’d rather visit the River Café for the same type of experience — only with much better service.