Après Eats

Après-Ski Whistler Style

Story by Nikki Bayley | Images by Joern Rohde

Après-ski — undoubtedly one of the most celebrated traditions following a day skiing, riding, or adventuring in the mountains. Whistler has a reputation for being one of the best resorts in North America in which to partake, whether it’s your first time visiting or you’re one of the many who come back year after year to your mountain home away from home. You're in for a treat if you’re new to Whistler-style après — no need to stop off at your hotel to get changed. In Whistler, après-ski is super chill, with ski or snowboard boots, thermals and casual clothing all positively encouraged everywhere, from five-star hotel lounges to funky locals’ bars. Après draws a neat line between the end of your day on the hill and the start of your night’s adventures… get ready for some memorably delicious experiences!

Après Eats

Carb up! You’ve earned it after a hard day on the slopes*. We’ve focused on the classic après-ski flavours with the must-have eats and treats at some of the most delicious places around town. From oyster specials and cheesy fondues to belly-warming soups and gloriously mouth-watering burgers, enjoy this guide to Whistler’s must-have après treats. *And, to those who skip the whole “going up the mountain” thing, it turns out we can still absolutely rule at après. After all, someone’s gotta be at the bar first to bag the coziest spot; it looks like that’s the role we non-skiing/boarding folks were born to play.

Executive Chef Dominic Fortin

Freshly Shucked Oysters

“What goes better together for après-ski than oysters and champagne?” asks the Bearfoot Bistro’s new culinary director, Dominic Fortin, raising a glass to celebrate his role. Fortin returns after a five-year hiatus, having previously helmed the restaurant’s pastry team as Executive Pastry Chef. “I’m excited to come home,” says Fortin. “Five or 10 years ago, my creations were the most exciting for me, but now it’s working with the team that means the most to me. We have a talented, experienced brigade in place.”

whistler dining bearfoot bistro
whistler dining bearfoot bistro

But about those delicious oysters: “We offer guests a choice of B.C.’s Sawmill Bay Shellfish Co. oysters from Quadra Island that beautifully showcase B.C.’s cold, clear waters. Or they can compare West Coast to East Coast by sampling six of each, so diners can choose whether they want salty or mineral-y oysters,” says Fortin. A dozen oysters, a glass of champagne, maybe saber a bottle with friends in the 15,000-bottle wine cellar or visit the sub-zero Grey Goose Ice Room for a vodka tasting experience. What a fabulous way to wrap up a day on the mountains.
On the restaurant menu, expect a little more foie gras, thanks to Fortin’s Quebec roots, and maybe some more Japanese influences rather than Thai. Change is exciting.

604-932-3433 | bearfootbistro.com

Executive Chef Joel Labute

Cheese Fondue

One of Canada’s most-awarded restaurants, it would be easy to think that you couldn’t possibly pony up to the bar at Araxi all sweaty with post-ski helmet hair, but you’d be wrong! “We do après pretty good at Araxi,” Executive Chef Joel Labute says proudly. “I come straight here in ski gear, like everyone else. Araxi is always an inviting spot, but especially so during après. I do the whole spread: charcuterie, prawns, fondue, oysters… I’ll load my three kids up with cheese, so they’ll sleep on the ride home!”
A Whistler Village legend, Araxi’s fondue is a classic, blissfully boozy take with plenty of white wine, kirsch, a hint of garlic and a decadent blend of Swiss Gruyére and Emmentaler for maximum gooey cheese pull.

whistler dining bearfoot bistro
whistler dining bearfoot bistro

Served with big chunks of toasted house-baked bread, pickled Pemberton vegetables, and gherkins — the basics are great, but you can also jazz it up. “We’ll do daily features like crab,” enthuses Labute, “or you can add on chorizo, apples, truffles, you name it! People love to gather to eat fondue; we’ll send one out, and then we’ll have to make 10 more. It’s just the best thing to eat together in a group straight off the mountain.”

604-932-4540 | araxi.com

Executive Chef Shane Sluchinski

Caramba Burger

Caramba’s chef, Shane Sluchinski, has just one rule about après-ski: “I like anything hearty; you don’t want a salad; that’d be insane!” Home to one of Whistler’s best burgers, Caramba’s fabulously messy version melds the best of both burger worlds, combining two “AAA” smashed beef patties with a generously loaded bun. “We honestly didn’t do much recipe development for this; we made it, it was great, so we kept it!” Sluchinski says.

There’s a certain genius in keeping things truly simple. This stacked-high beast of a burger elevates “simple” to “simply the best.” Ground chuck and brisket are combined, two patties are smashed nice and thin on the grill, and American cheese,

whistler dining bearfoot bistro
whistler dining bearfoot bistro

two slices of bacon, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce, tomato and Caramba’s secret sweet pickle burger sauce top it off. Messy, oozy, and completely gorgeous, you’re gonna need ALL the napkins for this Whistler “Tappy Hour” favourite. “People come straight off the gondola with their friends and pile into the restaurant,” Sluchinski says with a grin. “They love watching the flames from the wood-fired pizza oven while they smash beers and burgers and talk over how the day went on the mountain. It’s just the greatest thing!”

604-938-1879 | carambarestaurant.com

Chef de Cuisine Horacio Macias

Classic French Onion Soup

The Four Seasons’s new chef de cuisine, Horacio Macias, has a confession: “I didn’t get up on the mountain once last winter, and I don’t know how to ski yet!” he says with a laugh. “It was my first winter in Whistler. But that’s all going to change this season; I’ve decided to learn to ski. I want to earn those après carbs.” Originally from Mexico City, Macias came to Whistler after a few years in Toronto. “My first few months here were so different; everyone wakes up early to ski on the mountain, then when they’re back, it’s all about après; they want something warm, hearty and delicious!”

whistler dining bearfoot bistro
whistler dining bearfoot bistro

Macias’s classic French onion soup ticks every one of those boxes: magnificently meaty from the slow-cooked, roasted bone stock, which rests overnight to develop even more flavour. The team slowly caramelizes the onion and flambés with brandy, deglazing the pan with wine for beautifully boozy layers of rich flavour. They add the stock to the gooey onions with aromatic herbs, and this heavenly soup is served with a slice of sourdough decadently topped with melted Gruyère and mozzarella. It is, quite simply, heaven in a bowl. Pair it with a foamy, crisp beer for the ultimate après indulgence.

604-966-5280 | braidwoodtavern.com

Head Chef Bonnie Khummuang

Tom Kha Mussels

When you read this, Mekong’s head chef, Bonnie Khummuang, will have finally experienced her first Whistler après-ski. Born in Thailand, Khummuang has been in Vancouver for the past five years, but this will be her first winter in Whistler. “Learning to ski is on my bucket list,” she says with a smile. “But I’m also really looking forward to cocktails and hot tubs afterwards!”
A new spot for Creekside diners, Mekong is set to become a popular choice for lunch, après and dinner. “Thai people never like to eat alone because we love to order many different dishes,” Khummuang explains. “You can come to Mekong with friends and eat Thai-style, ordering many dishes to share.”

whistler dining bearfoot bistro
whistler dining bearfoot bistro

One non-negotiable dish is Tom Kha mussels, a Thai meal staple for lunch and dinner; this aromatic hot-and-sour, coconut milk-based soup forms the base of Mekong’s new mussel dish.
“We add a chili jam to our Tom Kha and plenty of galangal, lemon grass and makrut lime leaf. Traditionally, this is served with chicken, but at Mekong, we elevate the dish and use local Salt Spring Island mussels to combine ingredients from Thailand with fresh products sourced from B.C.” Garnished with basil, long-leaf coriander, fish sauce, chili sauce and lime juice, “it’s everything in one dish: super aromatic, sweet, salty, sour and spicy.”

604-972-1065 | 88mekong.ca