Calling The Lodge at Aurora Village a hidden gem is the best way I can describe it. This restaurant is literally across a washboard road, down a winding highway and then up more washboard road. It is as hidden away as it can get within the Yellowknife area but that doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing.
The Lodge as pictured below, is the main building within the well known Aurora tourism operation Aurora Village. Every fall and winter, thousands of tourist, mostly Japanese, come to view the aurora and experience the NWT at this place. The giant dinning hall, several teepees, viewing chairs and snow slide all make a visitors trip worth while.
Since 2013 The Lodge has been opening for dinner and the occasional brunch (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) by reservation. With a staff of only three the operation is fairly small and headed up by none other than Chef Pierre, who quickly stepped into the role as Chef and lodge General Manager after closing down all his own businesses.
While it is a 20 minute drive from Yellowknife, it is well worth it. The Lodge is a large log cabin style building with tons of space inside and a bar at one end. Outside a large deck stretches the entire length of the building, which over looks the small lake the village is situated on.
During my visit we sat outside. It was a warm Saturday evening around 7pm. The smoke from the nearby forest fires had dissipated and the bugs were nowhere to be seen. It was a delightful, relaxing, with no pressure. One thing is for sure you will most likely never feel rushed at The Lodge, since you might be one of the only tables seated while there.
On top of the awesome seating arrangement we had at The Lodge, I have nothing but good things to say about our service. As I mentioned there is only a staff of about three people and one of those people is Dom. Dom is a big, burly, former military man with the greatest moustache you will ever see. He worked the front of the house as the bar keep and server and is quick to great conversation. Off the top of his head he knew the menu, what to recommend and was always there to answer any questions.
Oh the food. It’s not often food brings a tear to my eyes, but this was one of those time. I may also be obsessing about food a little too much, but it was honestly that good and averaged what you might pay at the Wildcat Cafe or Bullocks Bistro.
Our evening started off with a couple appetizers and salads. We shared Smoked Duck Bread Capriccio and Sea Salt Smoked Reindeer Dry Ribs. Both in their own rights are absolutely gorgeous and had amazing flavours. The duck with the fresh parmesan made for a very powerful combination, while the dry ribs were balancing right at that good spot between too dry and too moist. With the added sea salt I had memories flooding back of dry meat shared in the Inuit communities of the north. A wonderful sensation and great tribute to a northern dish.
My main course meal was the pan seared Reindeer Striplion with a Saskatoon berry, birch syrup infusion and my goodness it was something else. I pride myself on the steaks I cook and often don’t find them appetizing while eating out, but this was delightful and just melted away in my mouth. The meat so tender and juicy with the hint of the bitter-sweet birch syrup.
As with most of Chef Pierre’s dishes, where a traditionally northern dish is made modern, dessert was no different. Placed in front of me was a Cranberry Bannock Pudding with Yukon Jack sauce. While somewhat plain in appearance the taste didn’t disappoint. The dense bannock and bitter cranberry taste was made sweet with the glaze. Each eat bite was soft and chewy just the way you’d want it to be.
Dinner was without a doubt one of the best I have ever had in Yellowknife, not just the food aspect but the entire experience. The location, the view, the service, the drinks and the food.
Speaking of drinks, while I’m not a connoisseur of any drink, I’m told that the wine list is quite impressive for Yellowknife. Pierre prided himself on trying to bring in only Canadian produced wines.
If you have guests in town or would like to go out for a special evening The Lodge at Aurora Village definitely provides the right atmosphere to have a wonderful experience.
Disclaimer: I was invited out to The Lodge at Aurora Village by Chef Pierre to create this profile. My meal was covered by The Lodge but my words are true, it was truly fantastic and a foodies dream.