Friday, January 15, 2010

Araxi Restaurant & Bar

4222 Village Gate Square
Whistler, BC V0N 1B4

Araxi Restaurant & Bar came to my attention well before I arrived at Whistler since an executive chef position at Araxi was offered to the winner of Season 6 of Hell's Kitchen which I am a tragic fan of.

Before I arrived at Whistler I knew I had to at least pop in for quick bite to eat and see what it was like.

The fit out is nice, formal but relaxed and they cleverly have their restaurant with a seperate bar lounge that serves the same food, but in a bar layout with a TV playing ice hockey so you can dine and not miss out on the national past time.

Local Butternut Squash Soup
spiced creme fraiche and apple curry oil
amuse bouche

Despite making it clear to our waitress we were only going to have a few small plates, they still brought out bread and an amuse bouche which was a delightful butternut squash soup. The team here treat all diners as serious patrons, I respect that a lot.

Seared Foie Gras
Okanagan apple, pear, quince and cherry mostardo
smoked sea salt and toasted brioche

For my choice of small plate it was a no brainer, Seared Foie Gras! The place came with Brioche and an apple, pear & quince chutney to offset the richness. It was well plated and well presented, it was a lighter foie gras than I've had elsewhere but still delightful.

Wild Seafood Trio
seared albacore tuna, hamachi sashimi & salmon sashimi

My ski friend Tim went with the Wild Seafood Trio which came out on an overly elaborate plate, but despite the OTT presentation was in his opinion top grade Sashimi and based on the small piece I tried, I absolutely agree.

Since my foie gras mission was complete, we paid our bill and moved on satisfied. On the way out I saw the winner of Hell's Kitchen 6, Dave Levey. He looked well working behind the sushi bar and has recovered from his numerous Hell's Kitchen injuries. I had a brief chat with him and got a great pic of him with a cheesy grin!

Dave Levey - Winner of Hell's Kitchen 6

Araxi is a great place and would recommend it highly to anyone travelling to Whistler who wants a fine dining night out.

Araxi - 13/20 (based on limited dining)
Araxi on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ric's Grill

4154 Village Green
Whistler, BC V0N 1B4

In and amongst the bars and pubs serving burgers and wings Ric's Grill looked like the kind of place that may offer a more refined dining experience in the village of Whistler.

Ski resorts are often the domain of opportunistic restaurateurs that can serve mediocre food and you know what, if you don't like it, it doesn't matter since you will be replaced with a new tourist next week.

Looking at the stylised R in Ric's shaped like bull horn's and the nice moody steak house atmosphere I thought that this may be an exception to this.

Things got off to an interesting start, our overly friendly waiter (does Northern America do any other kind??) ran through everything and recommended a local BC Wine, the Jackson-Triggs Shiraz which was decanted and seemed nice but was a bit warm. After this came a song and dance where they placed it on ice to bring down to cellar temperature but left it too long and was stone cold.

French Onion Soup au Gratin
Once the wine drama was over our first course arrived, a French Onion Soup. This is a perfect winter soup and was nice, the soup was a light onion soup with nice pieces of Gruyere covered bread

Sirloin & Nova Scotia Lobster
9oz Sirloin and a 4oz Nova Scotia lobster tail, with hot drawn butter

The main course came out and boy what interesting presentation, there was surf, there was turf, there was a big hot potato "thingy" and all this was hidden under an array of thin and seemingly tired fired onions.

But let's not get carried away, let's focus on the positives,

- The steak was cooked to order correctly (Medium Rare)

- Steak was very chewy
- Nova Scotia lobster tail was WAY over seasoned and over cooked
- Baked potato was a dry potato sarcophagus filled with pureed potato which had the texture of baby food
- Side of drawn butter had no flavour and added no value
- Fried Onions were possibly fried the day before, or the day before that

After this we decided that we really didn't want to discover Ric's deserts and finished up. As a footnote to this we discovered the wine we had which was $70 on the menu sells for $20 in the local liquor store.

I guess Ric's fits the opportunistic category, now he just needs a franchise in Circular Quay and Las Ramblas and he can really rake it in with the 300% markups on wine.

Ric's Grill - 9/20
Ric's Grill Whistler on Urbanspoon

Prawn Star