It was Thursday night and I had heard that Whistler was starting to dump snow. So, we decided to be spontaneous and go early Friday morning to spend a couple of days skiing and getting away from the city.
After a great day of skiing through a lot of fresh powder on a perfect and not-so-busy workday, I wanted to go out for a nice dinner. The last time I was in Whistler, we couldn’t get reservations at Araxi Restaurant for a group of 5 of us (we ended up at Quattro instead), so it worked out well this time when I called and managed to get in for a later sitting at 8:45.
After wandering through the Village for awhile and realizing how hungry we were after exerting so much energy on the mountain earlier that day, we figured we’d try to stop in early at the restaurant to take our chances. It was only 7:30. When we walked in, there were still some seats left at the bar, and food could be ordered and eaten there regardless. I didn’t care where I was sitting at that point and would’ve eaten anywhere as long as they would serve me. A few moments later, the hostess came back up to us, and told us that there was actually a two-person table in the corner available in the lounge area that we could take over instead. Perfect!
I ordered a cranberry soda to drink, since I’ve been trying to take it easy on alcohol for the month of March. I’m going to a wedding in Hawaii next month and feel like I could use a little break after all the Olympic craziness. In the meantime, our server brought us some Bread with olive oil and an olive tapenade to help ease our hunger pains while waiting for the rest of our meal to come. I did really well with mopping up as much oil as possible, but took it easy on the tapenade as it was quite salty and a bit overwhelming when I took my first few bites with it slathered all over the bread.
Our starters arrived at this point, and I had the Tasting of Oysters, which came with five different oysters that are found on Araxi’s menu, prepared with a variety of toppings on each one. My favourites were those that had the horseradish on it and the fish roe. They tasted very fresh and all of them were fairly small in size, which I usually prefer. I don’t remember which oyster was which, but they included the Black Pearl, Sawmill Bay, Beach Angels, Marina’s Top Drawer, and Sartori varieties – none of which I can recall having before. I usually eat the Kusshi ones when they’re available at good seafood restaurants.
Also from the Raw Bar, we ordered the Salmon Roll. This was wild spring salmon (not sockeye, which explained the less red colour that I was confused about at the time), with cucumber and shallots, all wrapped in a what I think was an egg crepe instead of nori. This was quite refreshing, but the wasabi wasn’t all that strong and I had to add a fair amount to get the bite that I was looking for. It was also expensive at $15.50 for the 8-piece roll (I went in with these expectations though at this restaurant).
Next, we moved on to our mains. We both kind of lost our motivation at this point and ordered a beer and a glass of wine. I figured it wasn’t worth it to go dry during a nice meal. Or, maybe that was just what I kept telling myself…
Anyway, at this point, my vegetarian menu choice came to the table – the delicious Wild and Cultivated Mushroom Gnocchi. It’s not very often at all that I don’t feel like eating meat or at least seafood during any meal where I’m dining out, but I was still feeling a bit sensitive after being so ill the week before. It turned out that I was extremely delighted with my choice. The gnocchi wasn’t too doughy and it was in small pieces, just the way I like them. The toasted sage with white wine and truffle oil was a fantastic touch, and I loved the roasted BC hazelnuts throughout, which added a great additional texture. I couldn’t quite finish the dish off, but took the rest to go for a midnight snack later on (and I did end up eating it in my hotel room for a small breakfast the next morning).
Mike was feeling like a good old ribeye steak, so he ordered the 10 ounce Canadian Prime Ribeye. I had a few bites of this, and it was cooked medium rare, although I found it to be just a tad overdone to my liking. He ate every single last bite and couldn’t stop saying “Mmmm…,” so I’m assuming he was pretty happy. The dish was served with steamed yet still crispy green beans and carrot, and a crisp cheese polenta, which can also be ordered as a side.
As we continued our meal, we got more and more sleepy and barely made it to dessert. I was determined to try at least one thing though, so I ordered the Ice Cream Sandwich. What managed to entice me the most was the candied hazelnut, and also just the fact that it was a frozen Frangelico parfait. Chocolate isn’t a huge deal for me after a large meal, so the chocolate cake cocoa nib crust wasn’t the deciding factor, but it did end up to be fairly good as well.
The only problem at this point was trying to get the bill. We were practically falling asleep at the table when ordering dessert, and had asked our server to bring it to the table at the same time so we could quickly pay up and get out before we became too comatose. Our dessert came, and then I had to ask for it again. Finally, quite some time later, Mike went searching the restaurant for our server, and couldn’t find him. He had to ask another member of the staff to inquire for our bill. After this, it finally arrived with an apology that he didn’t know we were waiting.
Overall, the food was great, and the atmosphere was what I would describe as ‘classy Whistler’ – still more laid back than a fine dining restaurant in Vancouver. I think one of the major problems for us was the lack of patience we had in terms of service towards the end of the meal since we were ready to collapse from fatigue.
Service: (I just wanted the bill!)