We spend several weeks a year in Whistler skiing in the winter and hiking, playing tennis and other adventures in the summer. It is one of my favourite places in the world and I’ve travelled to a lot! For me, one of the fundamental reasons why I love Whistler is that you can spend all day outside doing what you love and then, in the evening, go out to some exceptional restaurants. This is the focus of this latest blog. When we splurge (which we often do), which are our favourite fine dining choices in Whistler?
What Do These Restaurants Have In Common?
Well, they all obviously have amazing food, drinks and service or they wouldn’t have made the list. However, there are a couple of other things.
Reservations are needed, sometimes weeks in advance.
All of these fine dining establishments are very popular. If you really want to make sure that you get a table, you need to make reservations. How far in advance depends on the time of year. If it is off season (October-November, and May) and mid-week, then you likely don’t have to worry too much. However, on the safe side, I’d try and book a few days in advance. If it is a normal weekend in the middle of high season (January-April, and June-August), then I’d book at least a couple of weeks in advance. If it is over a busy holiday time (Christmas, New Years, President’s Weekend, Family Day Weekend – you get the picture), then at least a month in advance (if not more). Of course, this is being really prudent. You might try a lot closer to your dates and be fine, but this is risky.
If you don’t mind a 5:00 pm reservation or a 8:30 pm reservation (or later), you will likely be fine anytime of year.
Be aware of promotions
All of my favourite restaurants offer promotions during the year. Sometimes, the value of them are so good, it is well worth it to try and figure out if any of these restaurants are offering them when you will be in town. None of them offer anything during ski season – Dec. 18 – mid April, but they all do at different times during the rest of the year.
Normally, these promotions are from Sunday – Thursday. Your plan might initially be to splurge on an amazing fine dining experience on a traditional date night (like Friday or Saturday night), but I’d encourage you to find out if the restaurant you prefer has any special deals on other days of the week that you will be in town.
Other than that, the following are my four favourite fine dining experiences in Whistler. There are many, many great restaurants in Whistler which cater to different tastes and budgets. However, these are simply my favourites – the ones that me and my husband return to again and again and again.
Fine Dining In Whistler
The Rim Rock Cafe
The Rim Rock Cafe is located near Creekside in Whistler. This would be a VERY long walk from the Village, but a quick cab ride – around 7 minutes. Without question, this fine dining establishment is well worth the journey.
My husband will tell you this is one of his favourite fine dining establishments anywhere. This is high praise from someone who eats out all the time. I agree. It is exceptional.
The Rim Rock Cafe is located in a two story building that has a feel of a ski chalet. It is lovely and cosy inside. This restaurant is a lot smaller than the others on this list. Accordingly, it is one of the hardest to get a reservation. However, it has a small bar area with a few tables that offer seats on a first come, first serve basis.
The menu offers phenomenal fish and seafood dishes, as well as spectacular cuts of meat. If you are adventurous, the Rim Rock usually offers a couple of dishes with untraditional meats, such as reindeer, buffalo, elk and boar, with the more traditional cuts of meat like lamb or beef.
The style of cooking is West Coast meets French, but without all the heavy sauces and creams that are normally associated with French food.
The Rim Rock is one of the most accommodating restaurants at which I have ever eaten. If there is something that you do not like or would prefer in your dish, do not hesitate to ask. I don’t think they have ever refused one of our requests and have never charged us extra for it.
For example, one of my favourite main courses that is normally offered as a “special” is a trio of fish. In one entree, it offers three different kinds of fish done three different ways. This is an extraordinary option for those who want to try many different menu items at once! The three fish choices constantly change. Hence, why it is a special and not on the regular menu. Normally, there is one other fish offered on the regular menu or in another special that I would love to try. Whenever I ask to swap one of the fish on the trio for the other fish, there is never a problem.
There are two other menu options that I would strongly recommend at least one person at your table tries. The Seafood Antipasto is an ever changing selection of different appetizer options, such as ceviche, smoked salmon, and shrimp cocktail, of which are unbelievable. The Sticky Toffee dessert is also an absolute must.
Il Caminetto is a large Italian restaurant in the centre of Whistler Village. With a recent renovation, this restaurant is probably the most gorgeous of my favourite fine dining choices.
As the name suggest, the menu is Italian. The food is exceptional.
Il Caminetto also has a very large bar and lounge that offers the full restaurant menu on a first come, first serve basis. This is our go to restaurant when we haven’t been organized enough to book a reservation far enough in advance and want a fine dining experience. Odds are, you can walk in and get a spot at the bar, or even one of the tables in the lounge, either immediately or with a small wait. If you are looking for a refined, upscale spot to have a delicious cocktail or dinner at the last minute, this is the first place that I would go.
The Italian Salumi and House-Made Charcuterie is my favourite appetizer. It normally includes house made pate that I literally fantasize about when I’m hungry. This platter is very large so I would recommend either sharing it or choosing this for your main course. Otherwise, be prepared to take home leftovers!
The risotto is one of my favourite menu items. It doesn’t matter how they have chosen to do it on the night that you visit, it will likely be delicious. It always is.
As for dessert, it’s traditional but I adore their house made gelato or sorbetto. The flavours constantly change, but the quality is always superb. The servings are very generous so make sure you leave some room, even for this dessert!
Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Araxi is also in the centre of Whistler Village and only a short walk from Il Caminetto. It is a large restaurant with a reasonable size bar and seating area but nothing as nice or comfortable as Il Caminetto. Araxi has a large outdoor patio right on the pedestrian walk. It is an amazing place to sit and people watch, with heater lamps and blankets for when the sun goes down, while enjoying some sensational fine dining.
Like The Rim Rock Cafe, the food at Araxis is a combination of West Coast with a hint of French influences without the heaviness of traditional French cooking. Unlike the Rim Rock, some menu items have an Asian flair to them.
Araxi has some of the freshest ingredients and prettiest food around. Having pretty food and remarking about it might sound a little crazy, but the plating of the dishes is truly special.
If you are oyster lover, you should definitely make sure that you head to Araxi’s. It offers several kinds and most, if not all, are locally sourced in British Columbia.
If you ever want a larger serving of something on the menu, for example a larger cut of meat than what is being offered, always get a price beforehand. Once my husband asked for a steak that was 30% larger than what was on the menu and the entree doubled in cost. It was an unpleasant surprise and one which easily could have been avoided had we asked for the price.
Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar
Sidecut is located in the Four Seasons Hotel next to Blackcomb Mountain. Both the Four Seasons and Sidecut are beautifully designed. Sidecut is a large restaurant with very comfortable seats and lots of room between the tables. It also has a large outdoor patio available in the summer.
Sidecut is fundamentally a steak house. If you are in the mood for a stunning cut of meat, this is the place for you. In addition, Sidecut has its own selection of custom rubs and sauces that make each entree truly individual, unique and made to order. If meat is not your fancy, Sidecut also has a large seafood selection from which to choose.
One of the best parts of this fine dining establishment is the selection of “Sides” offered at reasonable prices. From creamed spinach to roasted squash with truffle and sage, Sidecut normally offers around 9 sides to compliment your meal. Depending on your passion for meat, one suggestion is to get one serving of meat to share and then, enjoy as many sides as your appetite allows. They are all delectable
Another favourite of mine is the dessert menu. It is one of the largest and most delicious dessert menus in town. For a special experience, try having your dessert outside by one of the fire pits in the middle of winter. Blankets are supplied and with snow all around, it is a pretty magical experience.
If you have a passion for food, then you have another reason to visit Whistler. With many exceptional restaurants offering high quality food, everyone will enjoy their time here. That is especially true for those who have budgeted for a special night or two enjoying Whistler’s fine dining. Beyond the four that I have described here, there are many more to discover and enjoy. However, The Rim Rock Cafe, Il Caminetto, Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar, and the Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar, are truly spectacular and will offer you a night to remember.
For other articles about Whistler, please refer to the following:
- A Whistler Summer in Canada: 10 Of My Favourite Things To Do;
- Whistler Restaurants: Budget Friendly Choices!
- Whistler Treats: 5 Amazing Places To Wreck Your Diet
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