This evening John and I were guests of Araxi, one of Whistler’s finest restaurants which will be the home of this season’s winner of the FOX reality series, Hell’s Kitchen. I had the opportunity to interview Executive Chef James Walt a few weeks ago about his restaurant and experience with Chef Gordon Ramsay. Tonight, I was able to sample his creations.
We were offered a special chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings and we were definitely in for a treat. I was going to email them later on to jot down the menu we received however before I could even ask, Restaurant Director Steve Edwards handed me a printed copy. He also noted that whenever the menu is updated they also update their website so they have the most up to date information available at all times.
green beans wrapped with smoked sockeye salmon and nasturtium
Paired with Col de ‘Salici, Prosecco di Valdobianne, Italy 06
Ricotta Stuffed Pemberton Squash Blossoms
local vegetable ratatouille, globe eggplant and roasted garlic puree
Paired with Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma, California 07
Qualicum Beach Scallops
pomme mousseline, radish and green bean salad
with honey and fresh herd vinaigrette (garnshed with Agassiz Hazelnuts)
Paired with Joie ‘Re-think Pink’, Okanagan, BC 08 (Pinot Noir/Gamay)
These were probably the best scallops I’ve ever had. I can now understand why Chef Ramsay demands perfection in Hell’s Kitchen – this is one high standard.
Trio of Paradise Valley Pork
slow cooked belly, pork cheek ravioli and lightly smoked tenderloin
Pemberton sunchoke puree, chantrelles and green beans
Paired with Perrin, ‘L’Andeol’ Rasteau, Rhone, France 06 (Grenache/Syrah)
John and I agreed that the pork was prepared to perfection (all three ways).
Valrhona Chocolate Fondant
mint chocolate earl grey tea ice cream
chocolate dentelle and creme anglaise
Pemberton Berry Vacherin
soft-baked honey meringue with seasonal berries
lavender cream, raspberry coulis and mint syrup
Paired with Quady Elysium Black Muscat, California 06
In other words, chocolate lava cake, ice cream, berries, and Amaretto-soaked goodness (not exactly the technical terms but you get the gist).
There are abundant dining options at Araxi including a “100 mile” prix fixe tasting menu. As Chef Walt noted in our interview, 70% of their produce and ingredients are sourced directly from the Pemberton Valley.
Our highest of compliments to Executive Chef James Walt, Restaurant Director & Somalier Steve Edwards, Pastry Chef Aaron Heath, and Wine Director Samantha Rahn. Also hat tips to Scott from the bar who brought us our first cocktails of the evening (pictured above).
The ambiance was great — they played smooth modern music that wasn’t boring (e.g. Goldfrapp) and it was not pretentious in the slightest, even though it is an upscale restaurant. Araxi is truly a gem and I can’t wait to see it shine even more in the spotlight when Whistler welcomes the world for the 2010 Olympic Games.
Araxi Restaurant & Bar
4222 Village Square Whistler, B.C.
Whistler is 90 minutes north of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway
Disclosure: We were invited to Whistler by the Delta Whistler Village Suites. The dining experience at Araxi was courtesy of of the restaurant but that had no bearing on how wonderful it was, we’ll certainly be back.