A year and a bit ago I blogged about how all the restaurants in Whistler were either crappy, overpriced, or both. But I recently had a dining experience that is making me whistle a different tune. This past weekend while up in the village with a couple of girlfriends, we stumbled across the hidden gem that is the Alta Bistro. It fills a quiet unassuming little corner at the base of the Pinnacle Hotel, just off Main Street. We wandered in mid afternoon, at the recommendation of our concierge at the Westin, to scope the place out. We had been debating between the usual suspects on the Whistler fine dining scene (Araxi/Rim Rock/Bearfoot Bistro), but were so happy we found Alta!
When we walked in, not only did it smell amazing, but I immediately noticed a bowl of beautiful heirloom tomatoes sitting by the kitchen and was told by this really nice guy exactly where they came from. Then he started telling me about the rows of beans they had bought from Rootdown Farm in Pemberton, and how they planned on drying them for the winter to use in the restaurant. There’s pretty much nothing that makes me happier than knowing where my food comes from, so we booked a table for later that evening.
After a relaxing afternoon, we got ourselves pretty and headed out for dinner. I was surprised to see that the two guys we had been chatting with earlier, who were clearly the owners, were also the ones serving us. Another win, because it highlights how passionate they are about their product. The dining room at Alta is small and warm, and it makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a little village in France. If I were to run a restaurant this would be my dream place!
After selecting our wine, we settled on appetizers, sharing the summer salad and the prawn and scallop crudo. Both were excellent and full of flavour. I preferred the crudo, because I would never be able to recreate something like that at home. It was light and refreshing, but had a subtle smokey flavour that added depth to the dish. I could have eaten the entire thing myself, although the portion sizes for both dishes were perfect for sharing.
Moving on to mains, I had it in my head that I was going to cheat (no, not like that). I’m not a strict vegetarian by any means (hello, I ate a bunch of hot dogs in Iceland not too long ago!), and I really wanted to celebrate the first day of fall with a hearty dish. After Eric, one of the owners, educated me on where the meat came from, I decided on the maple glazed pork cheeks at his recommendation. The other girls had the beef shank and ahi tuna, which were also great; everyone loved their food. It was beautifully presented, but not so fancy that it was pretentious, and the portion sizes provided great value for money. Let’s just say this is the kind of place you could bring your man to, and not need to stop for pizza on the way home. Unfortunately I was more focused on enjoying my meal than on taking photos, so you’ll have to just trust me!
Desserts were on the house, since the owners felt bad we couldn’t get in on their screaming hot $19 prix fix menu earlier in the evening. Rhubarb & cream semifreddo and a dark chocolate banana cake totally hit the spot after a nice bottle of red, amazing food, and great conversation.
The Alta Bistro is a clear winner when it comes to value, ambiance, food quality and service. I also love that it’s a little off the beaten path of the main village stroll, because it makes for a more authentic dining experience. I am seriously smitten with the philosophy behind this place and plan to eat here as often as possible. I wish Eric and Edward, and their chef Nick (who I didn’t meet) every success with this amazing foodie adventure they are on.