Tip: For your first visit to The Butternut Tree, don’t bring a guest with whom it is vital to have a meaningful conversation; the food here is an experience, and you’ll be rendered silent as you take in every layer of flavour and texture.
“Canadian” is the perfect description for the menu items, with seasonal ingredients from local suppliers, including plants foraged in Alberta by chef and owner Scott Downey himself, plus an all-Canadian drink list down to every single spirit. Even the unpretentious playlist is pure Can-Con, flowing from upbeat k-os to Shania Twain slow jams.
Every dish and drink is meant to bring you right into the forest with a fruit, vegetable, plant or flower factoring into the mix. There’s a sprig of juniper in one cocktail, a sprinkle of marigold over the halibut and Saskatoon berry sauce poured over a smooth cauliflower puree in lieu of potatoes and gravy.
Enjoy it all in the minimalist yet cozy dining room; dark reclaimed wood lines the walls and low, captain’s-style chairs make the mostly white-and-glass room approachable. With floor-to-ceiling windows around the entire restaurant, every seat has a scenic, elevated view of the river valley, the High Level Bridge and the Alberta Legislature Building. There is a tasting menu or individual entrees, and portions are hearty enough to be shared.