2010 Whistler, Canada Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

NOTE: We always share our meals. Typically we order one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because ALE doesn’t eat as much as DM. We just ask for an extra plate and ALE takes what she thinks she should eat. Additionally, since the last financial meltdown, we have been looking for wonderful meals on a frugality chic budget. We’ve found some in Whistler.

(Exchange rate US$1 = C$.97)

1. Our Favorites for Dinner

1.1            The Wildflower, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, 4599, Chateau Blvd., Whistler, BC, tel. 604-938-8000, web: www.fairmont.com. We went the first time because The Wildflower was having a daily special “$20.10 Dinner & Dessert” between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in August 2010. The room is very nice. One night we sat inside, next to the window. Another night it was delightful to sit on the patio, by the little waterfall and the garden.  
Audre and Dimitri enjoying The Wildflower's patio, garden and waterfall

The first night our server was Audrey, who had worked at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for 20 years (and at The Wildflower for 10). She is professional, warm and friendly. The second night our server was Philip J and he was less attentive and a bit hassled. The Wildflower is a casually elegant restaurant and our meals were lovely there. The restaurant did not mind us sharing one $20.10 meal at our table. We went on a Tuesday night for the “BBQ Baby Back Ribs” for the main and “Warm Chocolate Brownie and Ice Cream” for dessert. The ribs were served with coleslaw and mashed potatoes; one dinner was enough for the two of us. The ribs weren’t the best we’ve ever had and needed extra sauce but were still good. DM liked the ice cream and ALE liked the brownies (but couldn’t finish them so took 3 of the 4 pieces home). The second night we went was a Wednesday when the meal was “Cedar Wrapped Wild Salmon” with red onion marmalade. We had asked for the salmon rare but it was overcooked and a little dry (which ALE thought had something to do with the recipe itself). The marmalade was delicious and we were given the recipe for it (and the salmon). The accompaniments were also quite good. 
The Wildflower's Cedar Wrapped Salmon on Wednesday night for $20.10

For dessert that night we were served apple crumble and ice cream. We remembered to ask for the ice cream in a separate dish and so the warm (and yummy) apple crumble didn’t melt the ice cream. This $20.10 meal must be the best value in Whistler. We didn’t have wine on our first three visits because the cheapest wine by the glass (a Wayne Gretsky special) was over $11. That’s way too expensive for a glass of wine in our opinion.

On a third visit, we sat in the room that is made to look like a library and had a gas fire going; the large room looked cozy. Our server, Warren C., was professional, efficient and pleasant. We went for the “$30 Sunday Seafood Feast (with lobster, crab, mussels and prawn)”. It came with baguette and Caesar salad. The seafood was good and one order was enough for the two of us. The broth was surprisingly tasteless, however—like dishwater, actually. Jeff Saunders, the Assistant F & B Outlet’s Manager stopped by to make sure that all was well. We appreciated that. It was a very good meal and we were brought 2 chocolate dipped strawberries for our anniversary. How nice!

On our fourth visit, we went for the Mumbai Butter Chicken for the main and black forest cake (or a sundae) for dessert. Luis was our server but Audrey was there and looked after us too. Luis was good and informative. We were four that evening and we asked if there was a wine under $40 on the menu. Audrey said “no, there wasn’t one on the menu” but thought she could find one. Luis brought us a good merlot for $40 that the 4 of us shared. The Mumbai Butter Chicken was very good, served in a large bowl with rice. Each couple shared one order and everyone was satisfied. We sat inside in the large room and even though it was crowded, it wasn’t noisy and it was fun.

Our final $20.10 meal at The Wildflower was on a Saturday night for the “Slow Roasted Prime Rib” for the main and “Lemon Meringue Tart” for dessert. We could only get a 5:15 p.m. reservation so it wasn’t busy (yet) when we arrived. We sat outside and Chris K. was our server. He was charming, chatty and an excellent server. He had time to give us details on the slow roasting process and was able to achieve what we wanted: a very rare piece of slow roasted prime rib. It was a gorgeous (and large) piece of meat and was served with a Yorkshire pudding (a popover), mashed potatoes and sautéed mixed vegetables. The dish was delicious and plenty of food for two. The lemon meringue tart was lemony enough for us and very good too. Sitting outside was delightful because the live music from the Mallard Lounge was audible and very enjoyable. From time to time we heard the roar of the crowd from the Crankworx event which was a hoot.

We are very glad that The Wildflower was doing a $20.10 special and that we found it early in our stay in Whistler. We hardly ever repeat a restaurant in our global meanderings (particularly on a short stay) but The Wildflower special was the best value for very good food. We know a good deal when we experience it and it fit with our frugally chic budget.

1.2            Le Gros, 1200 Alta Lake Rd., Whistler Creekside, Whistler, BC V0N 1B0, tel. 604-932-4611, www.legroswhistler.com. We spent $59.36 plus tip. We had a very nice meal inside during the summer. We had hoped to sit outside and to see the lake but the patio is situated over the Sea to Sky Highway and is noisy. The restaurant itself has no view of the lake whatsoever. The main room is dominated by a stone fireplace; the decorations on the other walls were unremarkable. The window wall has good tree views and a view of the playing area for boule. Our server from Aix-en-Provence was nice and attentive but not too knowledgeable. We shared everything, as usual, and had one shrimp bisque ($8.50—the online menu was out-of-date and so were the prices on it). The bisque was delicious. A kind of rye bread baguette was served with butter and was good. For our main, we shared one fish of the day which was an arctic char that was served with saffron rice and seasonal vegetables ($24). The portion was huge, nicely cooked and very good. The accompaniments were very good too. We each had a glass of the pinot grigio ($7 each) and we liked it. For dessert we had one meringue glace ($6.50) which was a pavlova surrounding ice cream and whipped cream. It is not the type of dessert that Audre would have thought Dimitri would like, but he did like it very much. The meal, at $53 plus $6.36 HST, was more than we had been spending in Whistler but we enjoyed it.

2. Recommended Restaurants for Dinner

2.1            Caramba, 4314 Main St., Unit 12, Town Plaza, Whistler, BC V0N 1B0, tel. 604-938-1879, web: www.caramba-restaurante.com. We spent $40.71 plus tip. The room is noisy and the wooden chairs are uncomfortable. We read that the mission statement of Caramba includes the excitement and the energy of the place as important aspects of the dining experience. We just heard noise. We liked our server, Jodi, and thought she was professional and very good. We shared one Spit Roasted Leg of Lamb ($19.95) with roast potatoes and, instead of house style baked beans, we had the sautéed spinach (and were charged $2.50 extra for the change). We didn’t have the kitchen split our meal; ALE just took some from the main plate. We also had two glasses of Caramba Vino Vadina Tinto (Spain) for $6.95 each. HST added a whopping $4.36 to our bill of $36.35. The total with tax was $40.71. The menu says that Caramba means “Wow”. DM says caramba means “oh God” in Spanish.

2.2            The Den Restaurant at Nicklaus North Golf Club, 8080 Nicklaus North Blvd. Whistler, BC V0N 1B8,  tel. 604-938-9898, e-mail: info_nicklaus@golfbc.com, web: nicklausnorth.com. We spent $39.14 plus tip. Friday nights are “Prime Rib Fridays.” They start at $18.95 and are served with a baked potato or fries. The Den was entirely taken over by a private party so all of the restaurant diners were in the bar area. The chairs there were for big people and ALE had trouble sitting in one. She was brought a pillow-type thing which worked to make her more comfortable. Aside from the chairs, the bar area was okay for dinner. It had a nice view of the patio and beyond. Our server Tricia S. was not to our liking, although she didn’t do anything improper. We shared one prime rib which we asked for rare. It was served medium rare and was a bit dry. We asked for some “au jus” and that made the meat better. But it wasn’t the butter-tender kind of prime rib that we like. We ordered a side of asparagus ($6) that were very good—crunchy and not stringy. We each had a glass of reasonably priced Peller Estates Merlot ($5x 2). The meal was fine. It totaled $34.95 plus $4.19 HST and tip.

2.3            Wildwood Pacific Bistro at the Whistler Tennis Club, 4500 Northlands Blvd., Whistler, BC V0N 1B4, tel. 604-935-4067, e-mail: jackie@wildwoodrestaurants.ca, web: www.wildwoodrestaurants.ca. We spent $26.85 plus tip. We recommend this restaurant with some misgivings. We wouldn’t go back. The room is large with a fire place and is casual. It looks like it should have been the lobby of a hotel. We didn’t “take to” our server, Kristina, and so the meal was adversely affected by that. There are daily specials at the restaurant and we went on Monday for the 2 course menu for $15.99. There is a choice of entrées and we chose the salmon. With the salmon comes a choice of soup or salad and we chose the salad. The salad was huge and, as usual, we shared it. It was good and so was the dressing. No bread is automatically served (although water is) and we didn’t order the focaccia. We specified that we wanted the salmon rare and it was. The salmon was very good and so was the maple syrup glaze. With the salmon we had 2 glasses of the house wine by the glass at the special Monday price of $3.99 each. The wine was good. The meal was good enough but it once in a lifetime will be enough for us.

2.4.            Ric's Grill, Crystal Lodge, 4145 Village Green, Whistler, BC, tel. 604-932-7427, web www.ricsgrill.com. We spent $35 plus tip. We went because of the special 3 course dinner being offered at $35 (including HST). The room is dark, like a lounge, and the music was raucous (too loud and with an annoying disco beat; we felt like we were in aerobics class). We liked our server, Paul J.; efficient enough and friendly. The bread that was automatically served was in baguette form but it was squishy and basically crust-less. We were able to choose from a list of appetizers, mains and desserts for the one 3 course meal we would share. For our starter we had the Spanish calamari with chorizo. The calamari was crispy and the sauce and chorizo had enough spiciness to be interesting. For our main we chose the Alaska King Crab which was 1 lb. (6 legs) with basmati rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables. The crab was delicious (maybe slightly overcooked) and served with an herb butter, kept warm by a candle. The rice was okay and the vegetables were good. There was plenty of crab for the two of us. For dessert we chose the Frozen Cappuccino Pie which was described as cappuccino ice cream with a chocolate wafer crust and hot fudge. It was actually served with a (too sweet) caramel sauce. The ice cream pie was good and we finished it. It was a good meal but the environment was not for us.

3.  Restaurants for Dinner We Don’t Recommend

3.1            BBQ Bob's at Rolands, 2129 Lake Placid Road, Whistler Creekside, BC, tel. 604-932-4424, web: http://www.rolandswhistler.com/. We spent $16.95 plus HST plus tip. We had the ½ rack of baby back ribs with the 2 sides that are included in the $16.95 price. We chose corn muffin and French fries as our sides. We sat outside and it was okay. You go to the counter to order and to pick up your food (so what was the tip we left for?). The ribs didn’t fall off the bone like we would have liked (and they were slightly dry) but the bbq sauce was good enough. The fries were cooked enough to be crunchy on the outside which we asked for and like. The corn muffin was the best. In fact, the ribs were not as good as the ones we bought in a package at Safeway. That was another eating experience where once in a lifetime will be enough.

3.2            Whistler Samurai Sushi, Nesters Shopping Center, Nesters Rd., Whistler, BC, tel. 604-935-0006. We spent $15.84. We didn’t want to eat there so we ordered one Chicken Teriyaki Bento Box (with rice, spinach goma-ae and house salad) ($8.25) and one plain Udon ($4.50) to take away. The udon was mushy and over-cooked. The chicken teriyaki was dry and tough. The spinach goma-ae was good, the salad was okay and the rice was good. We wouldn’t have their food again.

4.  Lunch Restaurants

4.1            Gone Village Bakery, 4205 Village Square, Whistler, BC V0N 1B4, tel. 604- 938-1957. We had one vegetable and bean soup ($6.50) plus bread ($.50) and we shared it. It was good and it was enough for us for lunch. To order you go to the counter and then you pick up your meal on a tray. It worked.

4.2            Opa! (next to the IGA in Marketplace), Whistler, tel. 604-905-4711. WE spent $8.69 plus 12% HST for a spanakopita and Greek salad with tzatziki (that tasted like blue cheese dressing). It shares space with the Chinese takeaway place and there is an area for eat-in that is acceptable for lunch. The spanakopita was okay and so was the Greek salad. The tzatziki tasted like blue cheese dressing. We also bought one baklava ($1.99) that was surprisingly good.

4.3            Nesters Market, Nester Rd., Whistler, BC, tel. 604-932-3545. We spent $5.87 for lunch. We sat outside and shared one spelt and kamut salad that was delicious and one samosa that wasn’t good.

4.4            The Little Eatery at Celebration Plaza, 4338 Main St. (Suites 127-128), Whistler, BC V0N 1B4, tel. 604-962-7687. We spent $12.32 plus tip. We had one 1 side salad with Caesar dressing ($4.50) and one soup of the day which was a Mediterranean lentil ($6.50). The outside seating would have been nice except for the construction work at Celebration Plaza (which was where the Olympic medals were given out and which was being made into an amphitheatre). Our server, Ben D, was okay. The soup was very good and the salad was good.

4.5            Southside Diner, 2102 Lake Placid Rd., Whistler, BC, tel. 604-966-0668, web: www.southsidediner.ca (Dave Keen). It has a real diner flavor with up-market prices. We had one homemade apple pie ($6.99) and one coffee ($2.49) as a snack to get out of the rain when we were biking. With HST the bill came to $10.62 plus tip. That’s a pretty expensive snack for us.

4.6            Ciao Thyme Bistro, #2-4573 Chateau Blvd., Whistler, BC, tel. 604-932-7051, e-mail: ryanliebrecht@hotmail.com. We had one Curry lentil soup for $7 plus HST .84 = $7.84. It was good. The small space is pleasant but crowded. We would have tried it for dinner too but it closes at 3 p.m.

4.7            Beet Root Cafe, #129, 4340 Lorimer Rd., Whistler, BC, tel. 604-932-1163. We had one quesadilla and salad special which was enough for the two of us for lunch. We sat outside on the patio and it was pleasant. The lunch special (which you order at the counter and bring to your table yourself) was $10 including HST.

5.    Events

5.1.            Feast in the Mountains, www.feastinthemountains.com. Ticket price was $50 per person for wine and enough nibbles for a meal. We volunteered and had a great time (working very hard, we might add). The weather was good and the event was well organized. We’d recommend it. In a letter from Astrid Cameron Kent, co-founder/co-producer, Feast in the Mountains, she said: “This beautiful location is a perfect place to contemplate the relationship between people and the food that they consume.” 
The Feast in the Mountains in Rebagliati Park Whistler

She’s right, it's a great location and a fun event.

5.2.           Canadian Cheese Rolling Event, Blackcomb's Base 2 Parking lot via Excalibur Gondola (free round trip), canadiancheeserolling.ca. We didn’t win the cheese rolling but we sampled all of the Canadian cheeses on offer. It was great for visitors like us to learn what Canada has to offer. We’d recommend it (and it was free).

5.3.           Slow Food Cycle Sunday. We volunteered for the 6th Slow Food Cycle Event in the Pemberton Valley, through the Pemberton Meadows from farm to farm. We volunteered and were at the Helmers Organic Farm. We cycled there and then on up the valley. It was around 40 degrees C with a clear sky (some smoke from the fires made the vistas in the distance smoggy).  It really isn’t a foodie event and is for families who want a day out cycling on a road with a modest incline, stopping from time to time at farms along the way to buy food.

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