Last weekend a group of around twelve of my friends decided to head up to Whistler for the weekend, as my brother had a cabin booked that we could use during that time. About five of us headed up for the Friday night before everyone else was going to show up and ski or board the next morning, so we all decided to make a reservation for a restaurant we hadn’t tried yet once we got into the village and had settled into our place.
We decided to go to Il Caminetto, one of the restaurants run by Umberto Menghi (who also has Il Giardino and Umberto’s in Vancouver, and Trattoria in Whistler). I called in and we managed to set up dinner for 8:15 PM – just in time for our hunger to strike that evening.
We walked in the doors of the fine-dining restaurant, and right away I noticed the traditional Italian decor and warm atmosphere to the room. The aromas in the air smelled absolutely delicious, and although the restaurant was very large, all of the seats appeared to be filled at the time that we were seated.
Once we settled in and ordered some white wine, we decided to try several different antipastis to go around the table. There were so many delicious options that I could see on both the regular and Chef’s Suggestions menus, and I wanted to have them all!
First up to discuss is the Quail and Polenta (sorry for the dark pics again – I wasn’t using my flash and we were using an alternative lighting method of candlelight and cell phones instead :)). The polenta was creamy and rich in flavour, and the quail was tender and a nice treat that I don’t have very often at all.
We also had the Grilled Calamari, which was served with some greens, diced up tomato that made up a lemon-flavoured salsa, and coriander. The squid was cooked just right, so there wasn’t even an inkling of chewiness to it – just the way I like it.
The Buffala Mozzarella didn’t contain any tomato, as I was expecting, but sliced red beets instead. The cheese was creamy and the dish was topped off with grilled scallions, and basil (of course). I actually really liked this alternative to tomato, and would definitely order it again for the extra fiber that you get out of the root vegetable!
Finally, we tried the Beef Carpaccio. Again, this starter was divine, and I really loved the capers and shredded parmesan over top.
Next, we moved on to our main course, and I was starting to get concerned about how stuffed I was likely going to be by the end of the meal. I chose to have the Risotto with Roasted Quail and Chanterelle Mushrooms from the Chef’s Suggestions menu at this point. Again, the meat was very tender and the risotto was cooked just right. A delicious flavour with all of those mushrooms!
My brother ordered the Roasted Alberta Lamb Rack, and the meat was an excellent medium rare. It was served with fresh herbs and an assorted bean cassoulet.
Mike decided to go with the Seared Duck Breast and Confit Leg, with lentils and gooseberry chutney. I loved the slices of breast meat that were perfectly tender and not too fatty, while the sides themselves added a great complement to the dish. Once we hit the leg though, I wasn’t as interested anymore – there was a lot of meat to this one.
Our other friend went with the traditional Spaghetti Carbonara, which was done really well. I’ve had others in the past that were too rich and overly salted as well, but the components in this dish were put together just right – parmesan cheese, pancetta and egg yolk.
The last main course item that we tried was the Linguine alla Vongole, and yet again, this did not disappoint. The fresh clams were delicious, and the best part was spooning up the white wine garlic sauce at the bottom of the plate and swirling the pasta in it before eating a mouthful. A nice and light, yet filling choice.
Now on to the sweets!
Although none of us were initially planning on ordering any dessert, we somehow managed to end up with three at our table to share. The first one was the Lemon Tart. It was absolutely divine, with a fluffy meringue on top. The crust was light and flaky and so delicious, and I kept reaching over to grab more.
My favourite after dinner dish would have to be the Semifreddo, however. This version of the cold creamy wonder was covered with roasted almonds and the plate was drizzled with a sticky caramel sauce. Mmm.
Last of all, the classic Tiramisu was a pleasant finishing touch. Although I’m not normally one to order this dessert, I really enjoyed the lightness to it, and the fact that it wasn’t too saturated in alcohol.
Really, I can’t say that I tried anything that evening at Il Caminetto that I didn’t like. It was all really well prepared and cooked just right. And it was also a great start to a fun weekend, which gave us all the energy we needed for the mountains the next day!
All I have to say now is that I can’t wait to try Il Giardino! I will definitely be back again and again.