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Features Whistler, Canada: Where to Eat and Stay on the Slopes, Year-Round
 
TRAVEL ARCHIVE
Whistler, Canada: Where to Eat and Stay on the Slopes, Year-Round
April 2009

Only a two hour drive from Vancouver and five from Seattle, Whistler is conveniently located for a quick ski weekend—that family vacation you’ve been trying to fit in—or to work. The resort town has a small permanent population, but a huge transient one, luring chefs to work a season at a time in one of the 17 restaurants (with a total of 6,540 seats) dotting the slopes. Whistler Ski Company employees 800 people in F&B in the winter and 400 in the summer, with 100 year-round staff. Roundhouse Lodge, part of the Whistler Ski Co. family, is the largest F&B operation in North America with an 1,800-person capacity.

Employment comes with mountain passes, 40-hour work weeks, and discounted housing. If you’re a chef who loves the outdoors, this is the gig for you. Whistler is best known for its winter activities like skiing and tubing (they will be hosting most of the alpine, nordic, and sliding events of the 2010 Winter Olympics). The area has a thriving ecotourism industry, led by companies like ZipTrek, which offers year-round zip-lining with minimal environmental impact. But the area has just as much to offer in the summer, with activities like zip lining, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. The world’s highest and longest gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains (it’s 1.88 miles long and 1,361 feet up), making for an easy, exhilarating 11-minute trip between slopes and activities—be sure to snag a glass-bottomed car for an extra thrill.

Whether you're looking for sustenance after a day outdoors, or if looking for a job, Whistler has no shortage of restaurants offering a variety of cuisines. At Steeps on Whistler Mountain, Chef Randy Jones serves exactly the kind of food one wants coming off the slopes, but with an upscale twist—like artisanal flatbread with seafood chowder. Besides the huts and restaurants on the mountains themselves, Whistler Village has more than 90 restaurants, bars, and fine dining options. Araxi, for example, might look like the kind of restaurant you’d expect at a ski resort, but Chef James Walt is a forward-thinking chef who uses local, seasonal ingredients and good technique.

Whether it’s your restaurant, your home, or your personal life that needs some romance check out Bearfoot Bistro where Chef Melissa Craig cooks sensual food with a focus on foie. And Chef Jeffrey Young of the Aubergine Grill at the Westin Hotel is not your average hotel chef; he cooks and plates his food with elegance and precision, exciting the palate with unusual ingredients like sea asparagus and citrus nage.

For a chef-approved greasy spoon, look no further than Splitz Grill, where local chefs flock for burgers and milkshakes. Whistler also has a notable après-ski scene, so you can let loose at any number of the area’s bars and lounges. Garibaldi Lift Co. is undoubtedly the hottest après-ski spot in town with floor to ceiling windows, tapas, shooters, and a great floor to dance the night away. On your way home stumble up to the counter at Zog’s Dogs for a hot dog and a big serving of poutine.


Restaurants: Araxi, Aubergine Grill, Bearfoot Bistro, Garibaldi Lift Co., Splitz Grill, Steeps, Zog’s Dogs
Hotel: Westin Resort and Spa
Play: Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park, ZipTrek Ecotours


Araxi
4222 Village Square
Whistler, BC
(604) 932-4540
www.araxi.com
Hours: Daily 5pm-11pm

Situated in the heart of pedestrian Whistler Village, Araxi is an upscale resort-town restaurant. Start your meal with refreshing cocktails, like the Harmony Meadow, an English gin concoction mixed with sake, ginger, lemon, chamomile tea, elderflower cordial, and cucumber. Chef James Walt takes the principles of molecular gastronomy and applies them in bite-size doses, creating food that is simultaneously innovative and approachable. Albacore tuna tatake is served with cucumber pearls that roll on your tongue, shiso, acidic pickled salsify, micro greens, sunchoke chips, and crunchy cubes of butternut squash.    

Recommended Dishes:

  • Dungeness Crab on Avocado Yuba Roll with Apple Vinaigrette, Ginger Sauce, Chili Oil, Soy Sauce, and Orange Juice
  • Albacore Tuna Tatake with Cucumber Pearls, Shiso, Pickled Salsify, Micro Greens, Sunchoke Chips, and Butternut Squash
  • Saddle of Rabbit, Medley of Beans, Pesto and Celery Leaves, Confit Pemberton Musicale Garlic, and Salsify
  • Lamb Duo: Roasted Loin, Braised Shoulder, Glazed Parsnips, Crisp Parmesan Polenta, and Salsa Verde

 

Araxi - Albacore Tuna Tatake with Cucumber Pearls, Shiso, Pickled Salsify, Micro Greens, Sunchoke Chips, and Butternut Squash
+ Click image to enlarge

Aubergine Grill
4090 Whistler Way
Whistler, BC
(604) 905-5000
www.westinwhistler.com
Hours: Daily 7am-10am; 11am-Close

Aubergine Grill might be a hotel restaurant, but Jeffrey Young is a serious chef who applies his sophistication and precision to all of his food—whether in the hotel kitchen or in cooking competitions (he was named Chef of the Year at this year’s BC Chef’s Association competition and was on the BC Culinary Olympic team that won in 2008). If you’re in need of plating inspiration, then be sure to take note of Chef Young’s presentation. His dishes are sleek and modern with an exactness that transfers throughout. Under his discerning eye, even beef shoulder blade is brightened and elevated on a colorful bed of parsnips and young carrots.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Wild Salmon 'Tasting:' Gravlax, Smoked, and Candied
  • Pacific Sablefish with Organic Fingerling Potatoes, Sea Asparagus, Watercress, and Citrus Nage
  • All-Natural Pemberton Meadows Beef Shoulder Blade with Mountain Morels, Wildflower Honey-Roasted Parsnips, and Young Carrots
  • Howe Sound Diamond Head Warm Stout Loaf with Saltspring Island Goat Cheese Mousse and Semi Freddo with Maple Roasted Winter Squash

 

Aubergine Grill - Wild Salmon
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Bearfoot Bistro
4121 Village Green
Whistler, BC
(604) 932-3433
www.bearfootbistro.com
Hours: Daily 5pm-10pm

The kitchen at Bearfoot Bistro is wide open like a theater, with two tables right in the midst of the action. The décor is an art deco-inspired throwback to the 1920s, complete with a piano player in the main room. If your food could use some soulful inspiration, then observe Chef Melissa Craig, whose cuisine is rich, indulgent, and heavy—in a good way—on the foie. Scallops and sweetbreads are served with porcini and thyme cream, and squab comes with foie gras and fresh black truffle. Mixologist JS Dupuis shakes up sexy drinks to match, like the Drunken Duck, made up of maple whiskey, rum, Grand Marniere, maple syrup, and yuzu apple cider, and garnished with—you guessed it—foie gras foam.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Thiessen Farm Squab Breast with Quebec Foie Gras, Chesnut Puree, Cinnamon, Confit Leg Spring Roll, and Fresh Black Truffle
  • Qualicum Scallop, Sweetbreads, Porcini, and Thyme Cream
  • A Tasting of Foie: Foie Gras Terrine, Foie and Duck Confit
  • White Chocolate, Blood Orange, Rice Praline, and Sake

Recommended Cocktails:

  • Drunken Duck
  • Move Over Manhattan

 

Bearfoot Bistro - A Tasting of Foie: Foie Gras Terrine, Foie and Duck Confit
+ Click image to enlarge

Garibaldi Lift Co.
4165 Springs Lane
Whistler, BC
(604) 905-2220
www.whistlerblackcomb.com
Hours: Nov-April 11am-Midnight or later

Garibaldi Lift Co. (GLC, as those in the know call it) is open only for the winter season and boasts Whistler’s most popular après-ski scene. This is not your high concept cocktail lounge, but rather a clubby night spot with a young crowd and fun drinks like the Horny Chocolate Elephant (Amarula cream liquor and coffee) and the Grenade (Red Bull, Jagermeister, and Blueberry Vodka). Help keep the alcohol down with sharable tapas-sized bar snacks like Tuscetta and Chicken T&A.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Tuscetta: Toasted Bruscetta topped with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, and Onions, Drizzled with Balsamic Reduction
  • Chicken T&A: Breast and Thigh Meat tossed in a Choice of Hot, Honey-Garlic, Chipotle BBQ, or Dry Jerk Rub Flavors

Recommended Cocktails:

  • Horny Chocolate Elephant
  • The Grenade

 

Garibaldi - Horny Chocolate Elephant
+ Click image to enlarge

Splitz Grill
4369 Main Street
Whistler, BC
(604) 938-9300
www.splitzgrill.com
Hours: 11am-Close

The long line outside Splitz Grill should tip you off that this place is worth checking out. The milkshakes are creamy and delicious, with just the right amount of nostalgia. Although you can get chicken fingers, hot dogs, and even a vegetarian sandwich, the burgers are where it’s at. Load up on extras like sautéed mushrooms, guacamole, or even pineapple.

Recommended Dishes:

  • The Legendary Splitz Burger
  • Milkshake

 

Splitz Grill - Legendary Splitz Burger
+ Click image to enlarge

Steeps Grill and Wine Bar
4545 Blackcomb Way
Whistler, BC
(604) 905-2379
www.whistlerblackcomb.com
Hours: Dec-April 11:30am-2:30pm

Steeps is right on Whistler Mountain, 6,030 feet up, with sweeping views of the surrounding areas. Chef Randy Jones serves dressed up and immensely satisfying comfort food, just right for the environment. A club sandwich gets a face-lift with gruyere, caramelized bacon, and ciabatta. Flatbread pizza is handmade, salads come with goat cheese, and the duck confit is rustic and delectable. Keep in mind that Steeps is one of the handful of seasonal restaurants on the mountains that are closed in the summertime.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Yarrow Meadows Duck Leg Confit
  • Smoked Duck Breast with Grilled Scallions and Chinese BBQ Sauce
  • Maple Hill Farms Club Sandwich with Grilled Chicken Breast, Caramelized Gruyere, Caramelized Bacon, and Vine-Ripened Tomato on Ciabatta Bread
  • The Steeps Sampler: Seafood Chowder and Flatbread Pizza with Roasted Eggplant, Cheddar, Red Peppers, Olives, and Balsamic Vinegar

 

Steeps Grill and Wine Bar - Smoked Duck Breast with Grilled Scallions and Chinese BBQ Sauce
+ Click image to enlarge

Zog’s Dogs
4340 Sundial Cres RR4
Whistler, BC
(604) 938-6644
Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am-7pm; Fri-Sun 8am-2:30am

Located directly next to Blackcomb’s gondola, this outdoor hotdog stand is an ideally located pit stop when you need to recharge. Get a plain hot dog or veggie dog and top it with fried onions or one of the many toppings from the condiment bar. Or get one of their house variations, like the chili dog with cheddar, the eponymous Zog’s Dog (with spaghetti meat sauce and mozzarella), or the Smokie (stuffed with jalapeños and cheese). A side of poutine comes as a mountain of fries doused in gravy and cheese curds. And don’t leave without having a Beaver Tail, a sweet, maple-flavored fried pastry.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Zog’s Dog
  • The Smokie
  • Poutine
  • Beaver Tail

 

Zog’s Dogs
+ Click image to enlarge


Westin Resort and Spa
4090 Whistler Way
Whistler, BC
(604) 905-5000

www.westinwhistler.com
Rooms start at $160 CAD

The Westin Resort and Spa is an all-suite luxury hotel in Whistler Village, with convenient access to both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. With close proximity to the slopes, all-season equipment rental, a golf course, spa, pool, plus a number of other amenities, The Westin is a great base for your stay in Whistler. All suites have fireplaces and exquisite balcony views of the mountains. And, if you can’t seem to stay away from the stove, rooms come equipped with a full kitchen (complete with dishwasher) as well.

Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park camera icon
Base 2 Zone, Blackcomb Mountain
Whistler, BC
1.866.218.9690
604.967.8950
www.whistlerblackcomb.com
Hours: December- April, Mon-Fri 12pm-8pm; Sat-Sun 11am-8pm
Prices start at $16 per adult/hour
Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park

 

ZipTrek Ecotours camera icon
Carleton Lodge
Whistler Village
Whistler, BC
(604) 935-0001
www.ziptrek.com/whistler-canada
Hours: Mon-Sun 8am-7pm
Prices start at $79.00 per person

A self-proclaimed leader in “ecotourism,” Ziptrek’s flagship location is in Whistler. More than a swing on a zip line, you’ll build your knowledge of the stunning landscape around you, as you clamber across wooden bridges through the wilderness, and finally whip through the forest at 50 miles an hour (depending on how much you ate before you start!) miles above the ground. Ziptrek supports environmental education groups and is a vocal supporter of sustainable business practices. And best of all, they operate come rain, shine, or more frequently, snow, so as long as you wrap up warm, it’s never a bad day to go.
Zog’s Dogs
+ Click image to enlarge
 
 
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