Another advantage of being in Whistler in May is that the restaurants are less hectic, and there’s some bargains to be had in the top establishments like La Rua and the Bearfoot Bistro. $40-45 fixed price 3 course menus at each of these were somewhat tempting, but we resisted and diversified – a little anyway.
It’s nigh impossible to get in Sushi Village in mid-winter, but we just wandered in at 9pm Thursday night and got a table straight away. The food here is of a uniform high quality. A scallop roll was wonderfully creamy and laced with a good dash of wasabi. Agedashi tofu came served in a ‘special’ sauce, which was balanced and hot and sour. A mixed plate of sashimi contained some shiny local salmon and light colored and subtly textured albacore tuna from off the BC coast. Washed down with an Asahi, it was a darn tasty dinner.
The ‘$10 for a dozen oysters’ special lured us to the Champagne Bar at the Bearfoot Bistro on Friday. We resisted the fixed price restaurant menu and indulged in the tapas, accompanied by a fine, restrained and carefully aged Petaluma 2002 Chardonnay. The oysters were fine things – a selection of BC offerings whose names now escape me. In fact I think I ate them before I had time to thoroughly contemplate their origins!
We then shared impossibly thinly sliced buffalo carpaccio, a superb tuna tartare and sashimi, and a truffle-infused lemony risotto that was perfectly gluggy and quite enthralling. A braised duck pie surprisingly didn’t quite hit the heights of the other dishes. Chunky duck and vegetables were somewhat dry and a super-light flaky pastry left me yearning for something slightly more substantial. Overall though, there was little to fault in a dinner that tantalized the senses, in an elegant and casual setting. This was very high quality food.
Determined to try somewhere new on Saturday, we wandered into the Mountain Club, near the Whistler Brew Pub. A modern space, replete with odd shaped soft leather seats and funky decor, the atmosphere was relaxed and service professional. The wine selection was refreshingly untaxing after the intellectual challenge of the Bearfoot Bistro wine ‘encyclopedia’. From several candidates, we settled on a Sumac Ridge Black Sage 2005 Meritage. A rich and powerful sauvignon blanc/semillon blend from one of BC’s best wine makers, this was fine accompaniment for the bistro-style food on offer.
Appetizers were a instant hit. A huge bowl of Salt Spring mussels in a light broth kept me quiet for 10 minutes. The perfectly steamed mollusks were sweet and juicy – the best I’ve had for a long time. Jan’s grilled squid was soft and creamy, accompanied with a zingy green salad.
The wine cried out to me for the sockeye salmon. A deep pink steak subsequently appeared, sat on roasted fingerlings and root vegetables. The flesh was succulent and the simple preparation showed off the quality of the produce. The translucent roasted ling cod filet was accompanied by homemade gnocchi lavished with garlic and a light cream sauce. Jan is a bit of a gnocchi aficionado, and the fluffy lightness of this interpretation received an enthusiastic thumbs-up.
The Mountain Club will definitely be on the ‘return to’ candidate list next time we’re in Whistler. I liked the ambience of the place and the food was of a high standard for a moderately-priced bistro. There’s also a terribly trendy cocktail bar in which the scientist in me could be persuaded to experiment for an hour or two ;-}