While out in Banff last week I had the opportunity to dine at a landmark restaurant, the Grizzly House - Fondues and Hot Rocks, "Specializing in Alberta Beef, exotic game meats and seafood."
It was a super experience, something I had never done before.
We started with the Mushroom Fondue for Two, which came as a plate of mushroom caps, an assorment of stuffing pastes (smoked salmon, cheddar, blue cheese and crab) and a bowl of beer batter. One at a time, we would fill the mushroom cap with a filling of choice, dip in the beer batter, then into the hot oil pot on the table. A minute or two later and a super-delicious (but extremely hot!) mushroom was ready. We ended up getting four forks going between the two of us, and would just get one cooked when we finished eating the last one. It was like a battered mushroom assembly line!
Figuring we had enough hot oil for a while, we switched to a hot rock for the main course. The idea here is they kitchen heats up a slab of stone (600°F for three hours we were told on asking) which is brought out to your table, and slathered with garlic butter. You then take pieces of raw meat and grill them on the stone until your preferred "doneness", and eat them with a selection of five different dipping sauces
Being adventurous, we opted for a selection of game... caribou, elk, buffalo and venison (the last which I ate a fair bit of while living in northern Ontario). My favorite was the caribou - simply delicious!. Still hungry and still daring, we followed those up with alligator and ostrich. The alligator was chewy but somewhat bland and the ostrich kind of tasted like duck (wild duck, that is, not domestic). Oddly enough, the ostrich was classed as a red meat in the cooking instructions they kindly provided, which suprised me!
Unfortunately, we had no room for dessert - a chocolate fondue of melted Toblerone with fruit...but it did look tempting.