By: Kaitlyn Forde
Photography: Jack Newton
It’s summertime in the mountains, and one of my favourite ways to enjoy the good weather is outdoors with a beer in hand. Recently, I found the perfect place to do just that: The Drake Pub. Sitting right at the end of Canmore’s Main Street, its patio offers views of the Three Sisters and Ha Ling Peak. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sip a beer on my first visit to the restaurant, as it was on my lunch hour. Nevertheless, it was a great place to avoid the busy lunch buzz, and the service was efficient enough to get back to work in time. You can finish with time to spare, but I don’t know if you’ll want to. Our lunch was meant to be a quick business meeting with my editor, publisher, and myself, but its laidback atmosphere kept us there longer than intended.
The Drake Pub was voted the best pub in the Canadian Rockies by Skier Magazine, and it’s easy to see why. They have a selection of rotating taps for beer aficionados, as well as wines by the bottle and glass. Their décor is simple, but reminiscent of a timeless English pub, right down to the stained glass accents along the top of their bar. The large restaurant has three conjoining rooms and a patio, perfect for accommodating their steady schedule of live entertainment.
A quiet restaurant during the day, the pub turns into the hotspot for locals at night. “It’s the only place in Canmore that has live entertainment almost every night,” our server told me after our meal. If it isn’t karaoke on Mondays, it’s trivia night on Tuesdays, or DJs and other live music throughout the rest of the week. They remove the tables and seating area at night to transform the restaurant into a concert venue.
The inquisitive writers that we are, we had a lot of questions for our server during our meal, and she was attentive to all of them. She easily accommodated my dietary restrictions, informed us about their daily specials and encouraged us to indulge in the complimentary soup bar. With every lunch meal, you’re welcome to a bottomless bowl of the soup du jour and crackers! But we asked everything: from asking for steak flatbreads without steak, to portion sizes, to the semantics of their soup station, she graciously answered everything. So, when I learned later that they were previously voted best service by a local publication I understood why.
I was the inconvenient diner who ordered the blue cheese and steak flatbread, sans steak. But without any hesitation they were able to double the vegetables and cheese, and it was the perfect alternative. I didn’t feel like I was asking for the world as sometimes it does when asking for special modifications. Instead it felt like it wasn’t even a concern. And although this is a biased opinion: the mushroom, caramelized onion and blue cheese was a simple and delicious combination without any meat.
My editor, Keili, got the two-piece fish and chip plate. It was a traditional plate clad with coleslaw, fries and lemon. She wasn’t able to finish the two large cuts of Atlantic haddock, but it still got the seal of approval from the East Coaster. And that’s saying something!
Jack, our publisher, had the smoked meat sandwich, and noted their unique twist on the classic pub fare. Instead of the traditional smoked meat sandwich to be dressed with mustard (and maybe pickles) on grilled rye bread, this one included sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. A combination Jack was surprised by, but appreciated the innovation. And his appreciation for their creativity didn’t stop there: he couldn’t get enough of their house salad. It wasn’t your traditional tomatoes, cucumber and balsamic vinaigrette. The raspberry vinaigrette side salad that accompanied the sandwich had grated cheddar, tomato, and his favourite “tasty surprise” – the dried cherries. Anything but conventional.
Upon my first encounter with the Drake Pub, I’m already planning to spend my next day off on their sun-drenched patio. And now that I’ve learned more, it looks like I’ll have to let my afternoon extend into an evening and enjoy Canmore nightlife’s place to be.