Whistler Stories and Tips

Drinking and Dining on the Mountain(s)

Dude, Where's My Board? Photo, Whistler, British Columbia

With only three days to ski the vast offerings of the Whistler-Blackcomb extravaganza of trails, we didn't have the luxury of planning our runs to end up at the best restaurant on the hill at precisely 11:45am. Instead, we let fate and timing guide our decisions, and for the most part, were happy with our choices. One important word to the wise, though: start thinking about eating around 11am. You'll need time to find your way through the labyrinth of lifts and trails so you can plunk yourself on a food line before the real crowds get started. Do NOT ignore this advice, or you may end up eating outside under a snowfall like we did one unhappy day.

If you are, on the other hand, the plan-ahead type, then plan to end up at the Raven's Nest on Whistler at least once during your trip. This smallish lodge has a lot to offer, including an outdoor grill that was manned (womanned?) by two cute blondes with mysterious accents. That probably explains why my brother-in-law ended up on that line before the rest of us had even decided where we were eating. The grill had run out of veggie burgers, so I headed inside and found a limited but appetizing selection of salads, sandwiches, soups, and fresh baked desserts. I ordered corn chowder with a whole grain roll and brought it outside to eat. The chowder was fantastic: peppery, robust, and filling. We indulged ourselves with some tasty chocolate chip banana bread and chocolate chip M&M cookies as well. The highlight of lunch on the outdoor deck was a visit from the local skipjacks, daring birds that will swoop down and take offerings of bread and french fries right out of your hand! We had them repeat their trick several times in hopes of getting a good photo, but a slow shutter and a fast bird are not a photogenic couple.

Day Two found us at Rendezvous Lodge, a well-situated and enormous structure on Blackcomb with an equally huge selection of dining options. They have everything you would expect from slope-side cuisine and more, including Mexican offerings, barbeque, soup and chili bar, and a variety of salads and desserts. Unfortunately it gets intensely crowded, particularly in bad weather when the outdoor seating is no longer an option, so go early or don’t plan to eat sitting down!

We stopped by Merlin's one night to check out the bar scene and found ourselves timewarped back to freshman year frat parties, Canadian-style. Live music enlivened an already hopping bar scene in this two-story, typical ski chalet-style spot. Most tables sported a bowl overflowing with an enormous pile of multi-colored cheese-coated chips: the signature nachos. The local microbrew got a unanimous thumbs-down from the crowd, but my Keoke coffee was delicious. We stuck around for a few silly human tricks, like the 'free bucket of [our sponsor's] beer to the table that cheers the loudest' stunt, but watching the beer board contest put us over some sort of "I am too old for this" threshold. Some imaginatively depraved mind had dreamed up the idea of attaching a number of plastic cups to a snowboard, then lining people up on stage in front of them. A bottle of beer was placed in each cup, each would-be winner placed the mouth of the bottle between their lips, and the board was slowly tilted toward them, forcing them all to chug their beers at precisely the same rate. All well and good for the semi-pro beer guzzlers who had obviously done this before, but woe to the unsuspecting petite female who answered the cry of 'we need some women up here!' She foolishly took the stage with no idea of what was in store for her. Within seconds she was overwhelmed. The beer overflowed her mouth and poured all over her lacy black top and jeans. She looked near tears as the staff awarded the prize (more beer, naturally) to the guy on her left. We left the bar and went home.

After being forced out into the snow to eat lunch at Rendezvous the day before, we decided to ski all the way down to the village for lunch on our last day. To our surprise, the lunch choices were somewhat limited, particularly for those in noisy clanking boots. It's worth noting that some of the lunch options in the village are actually bars, so if you have kids with you, you can't eat there. Why, when I was a kid, I used to sit right AT the bar on weekends at brunch with my Dad ... but either the rules have changed, or Canada is just uptight. Anyway! Tex Corleone's was the place we staggered into. You'd think we would have learned a lesson about mixing cuisines at Gaitor's, but while the TexMex/Italian food was uniformly ordinary, we had plenty of room to spread out (a table for 10, to be precise!) with our very own fireplace at the end of it to warm up our wet gloves.

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