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How do you like to graze?

This is what Antonio, the owner of Graze restaurant on Canmore’s main street asks once settled in. The name is fitting, as the ambience is just right to take your time here – noticing the taste of every bite and nourishing quality conversation.

And there’s plenty to talk about here. While the interior is eclectic, with turf as wall paper on one side and faux cow hide mosaics and wood panelling adorning the other, it’s safe to say there are few other décor designs like this. The metallic bull horn door handles and sparkly chandelier tie it together with a bow on top, as well as a massive beautiful painting of a grizzly bear – a piece by Bragg Creek artist David Zimmerman.

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Immediately noticeable is the ease of talking to the rest of your table. The music is pleasant, but not overpowering here – a refreshing change from the high volume and high paced tunes you’ll often find in dining joints.

We play Frank Sinatra in the morning, Adele in the afternoon, and Miles Davis at night,” says Antonio. He adapts to the energy of the day, and gives his customers what they’re in the mood for.

Antonio is personable and passionate about what he does. As he’s chatting to each table, he intuitively knows when another guest has a need, and is quick to pop over with advice, a menu, or a refill. When he’s not tending to tables, he’s outside mingling with sidewalk perusers, inviting them to come in and try his food.

“You don’t usually see that anymore, but my batting average is pretty darn high” he says of his old-school technique. The proof is in the plates – every one of them around us is empty, a sure sign that the chef has done it right.

For Canmore Uncorked, Antonio brought in his own special chef – his mother Maria. She comes out to greet us, offering a massive hug as a hello. Her festival feature menu includes spaghettini pasta with meat balls served and tiramisu for dessert – the obvious order of choice of the guests dining around us.

Although they do their classic Italian dishes right, Antonio says other favourites include the blackened salmon tacos and calamari dish. The menu is full of sandwiches, fresh salads, burgers, and breakfast items – all raved about my guests who have visited in the past.

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For a quirky, satisfying, and relaxing dining experience, look no further than Graze.

Graze's Canmore Uncorked set-price menu is available until May 13, 2018, and consists of: Italian salad with feta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and cranberries; Spaghettini pasta with meat balls served with garlic bread; and Tiramisu for dessert [priced at $25 per person].  

Kymberley Hill