The tastiest tribute to the Swiss mountain guide tradition of the Rocky Mountains is the Walliser Stube restaurant at the Chateau Lake Louise. Offering a “traditional Swiss menu” centered on decadent cheese and oil fondues, and raclette, along with an array of tantalizing appetizers, salads and desserts, the Walliser Stube is ideal for dining après ski.
In fact, we recommend dining here après anything you do at Lake Louise since it is difficult to think of an inappropriate time to consume a large pot of melted cheese.
We have made the Walliser Stube a “must” on our visits to the Chateau Lake Louise. The food is certainly central to the experience, and the fine, knowledgeable servers certainly add to our enjoyment. Our perennial favorite is the traditional cheese fondue – a velvety blend of fine Emmenthal, Gruyere, and other rich cheeses served with cubed French baguette and steamed vegetables. (We have attempted to replicate or at least approximate the recipe on our own, but have never quite succeeded in sustaining the impossibly smooth texture of the Walliser Stube’s cheese fondue).
We have certainly learned that nothing pairs better with the smooth, hot, rich cheese than its complete opposite – a crisp, cold, fruity Riesling. We’ve enjoyed a number of good wines here, most recently a Canadian Riesling from Cave Spring Cellars (Niagara Peninsula). The wines are a literal “feature” of the décor stored as they are in a glass case that comprises the entire width and height of one of the dining room’s wall. The rolling, wooden loft ladders add to the charm.
In fact, there are rich wood details everywhere throughout the dining room, adding to the impression of dining in an elegant, mountain-top chalet. The walls themselves are paneled with dark wood, and the solid wooden chairs have been carved with obvious care. Inside the dining room, one’s eyes are drawn to the enormous, intricately carved cuckoo clock. (Wisely, despite the information from our server that the clock is fully operational, management had opted to let the little birdies sleep rather than heralding in the hours, allowing you to eat your cheese in peace.)
The Swiss fantasy is interrupted only by the fact that rather than the Alps, the restaurant’s large windows reveal the majestic Rockies and the dazzling glacier-edged Lake Louise. There is something supremely comforting and satisfying enjoying one’s hot, indulgent meal at the Walliser Stube while gazing at the chilly, ice-blue lake setting.
We recommend that you visit the Walliser Stube, and kindly request that if you manage to eat something other than the cheese fondue to let us know about it. We’re sure that you will enjoy it, and we are tempted each time to try something new. The descriptions alone of the seafood and meat oil fondues – Cleopatra Caesar Salad, and Traditional Swiss Raclette – never mind the sight of these decadent dishes being served and savored all around – are enough to make us second guess for just a moment the comforting choice of our favorite dish. But, alas, dreams of cheese throughout the year bring us back to the same, happy conclusion each time. Our only “departure” on this last visit was to try the Bunderteller – a gorgeous charcuterie board featuring smoked, dried meats, swiss cheeses, and sharply flavored gerkins and hot peppers.
Will we be adventurous next time? Probably not. Will we enjoy ourselves thoroughly? Absolutely.