Review: The Wildflower Grill Room Restaurant, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Canada
Review: The Wildflower Grill Room Restaurant, Fairmont, Chateau Whistler, Canada
With the pandemic all around us, even up in friendly Canada, we’ve been taking holidays closer to home. Instead of closing in on 40,000 miles usually flown by now at more than halfway through the year, I’ve been stuck at about 17,461 and 19 flights as the world ground to a halt. After about 3 months of sitting home, when it was safe to do so as endorsed by the provincial health authorities, we made it up to our home away from home, our place up in Whistler, Canada. As a result, we ‘ve been finding ourselves usually up in Whistler most off weekends. This year, it’s only been more so given that there hasn’t been any international flying or domestic flying.
The new favourite hangout is the semi – isolated Rainbow Park in Whistler. It’s a bit more remote than the other lakes as the park is on the opposite side of the village and is harder to get to and a longer walk or ride. It has some beautiful Canadian mountain views along with great skyline for hanging out during the day.
Our time in Rainbow Park has included the new self isolating relaxing concept. This includes getting your own private inflatable float and positioning yourself away from all others. I won’t be getting tired of this view any time soon. . .
After a relaxing day out in the sun on the water, it’s time for dinner. While we could stay in and cook, it’s much more fun to go out. Tonights’ dinner found us at The Wildflower Restaurant at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
As I’ve written before, the Fairmont Chateau Whister is one of the flagship hotels in Whistler, Canada that’s typically fully booked through the winter months and mostly booked through the summer months. It is close to the famous pedestrian oriented Whistler Village and is fortunately a short walk from our second vacation home.
We previously visited the Woodlands Rooftop Summer Barbecue Pop Up and had a great time. Would we have the same experience at The Wildflower restaurant in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler?
The Wildflower is the anchor restaurant in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. It’s situated in the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in a pretty unassuming space off the corner of the foyer. In my experience as an every day diner, it can be challenging to brand a mainstream restaurant and still have it be relevant and exciting to all of its clients. In the past, the restaurant has been home to many local Wine Dinners for the Whistler Cornucopia wine festivals. From the Fairmont Chateau Whistler food and beverage website, its described as:
“The Wildflower’s signature warm and inviting ambiance is the ideal casual resort setting for breakfast and dinner. Showcasing locally inspired dishes and innovative classics in a family-friendly restaurant setting, The Wildflower also offers extensive `by the glass’ wine selections, a noteworthy variety of regional beer and signature cocktails. During Whistler’s warm, summer months, enjoy alfresco dining on The Wildflower’s garden patioFairmont Chateau Whistler website
Like with our past visit, I ended up easily booking earlier in the week through Open Table. There always seems to be availability through Open Table; which has not reached any saturation or prevalence in the Whistler market. Despite dozens of restaurants in Whistler, there are only about seven that remain on Open Table. Still, free points are up for grabs, so it makes sense to use this portal when there is availability. Availability was shown, along with the temporary Woodlands Pop Up Summer BBQ.
The Details (Summer Hours Shown):
The Wildflower is open for breakfast Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 10:30 am and Saturday – Sunday from 8:00 am – 11:00 am (à la carte only).
Dinner service is available Sunday – Thursday from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm and Friday – Saturday from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm, by reservation only. Book online via OpenTable.com, call 604 938 8000 or e-mail email@example.com.
We ended up walking down from our place in the Blackcomb Benchlands neighbourhood to the Fairmont. It was a beautiful summer evening with cooling mountain air.
The Experience of Dining:
We got to the hotel where, like last time, we checked in at the Fairmont Health and Safety Reception located in the main lobby. Thanks to the pandemic, we had our temperature checked and had a courtesy spray of hand sanitizer on our hands. We were then given a hotel coupon showing that we had been “checked” and allowed into the hotel.
Despite the quiet walk over, the lobby was still quite busy. Most of the guests appeared to be Vancouverites up for the August Long Weekend.
We headed over to the restaurant reception. For some reason, there was a bit of a delay tonight with the reception and getting seated inside the restaurant. We had about 10 people in line, which took a bit of time to get the groups processed. There didn’t appear to be any one person set dedicated at reception on duty tonight. This is also unusual times with the pandemic so it’s reasonable that seating arrangements take a little longer than usual.
We were eventually led to our table which was in the upper portion of the restaurant. The restaurant is effectively divided into two interior portions (an upper and a lower), and one seasonal patio portion. Tonights’ set up during the pandemic only involved the two interior portions as the patio was closed even though we were in the summer months.
We were led to a table in the upper interior portion. The tables, like all others under provincial health orders, were socially distanced at more than 6 feet / 2 meters apart. Empty tables were used as dead space for the areas where there was no ability to socially distance.
The decor itself in the Wildflower Grill Room is old world library style. The room was anchored with substantial wine in lit glass bookcases, which led to an older school feel. The mood in this venue was quiet and subdued. The volume level low enough and easy to have a conversation.
We were given the sole option of reviewing the menu via our telephone on the internet or by scanning a QR code located at the foyer. I didn’t ask what the alternate was (laughing), but this option worked just fine. The regular dinner menu is as such:
The restaurant has made a bit of a speciality with wine. Although not in a wine region itself, it does make an effort to showcase the local British Columbia Wine Regions such as the Okanagan area that are about 6 hours driving distance from the hotel.
I was pretty impressed with the wine list for a North American hotel restaurant. The wine list had more than a few local bottles that were eclectic enough to be interesting, along with a few mainstream choices.
When it came time for ordering, the orders were taken. Consistent with service during social distancing, there wasn’t much further interaction with our server. This was okay and not a negative aspect of the experience. I certainly felt as though we were being well looked after as he was always available.
We ended up ordering a bottle of Mount Boucherie Merlot from Kelowna in the Okanagan valley. This presented reasonably well. The wine, like many Okanagan Valley wines (a hot region) are strong on the nose with, black cherry aromas along with deep ash or tobacco. The taste is similar with spicy black raspberry, black pepper and cedar along with a rough finish. There have been forest fires through this area over the years and the vines may have been affected. We didn’t have the wine decanted, although it was offered. The wine did mellow out a bit throughout the meal and presented better with food.
The Meal: A pleasant main course
We were presented with home made breads as a starter. The breads included rosemary focaccia, seeded grain rolls and Italian style crisps. This was served with chives and whipped butter.
For the main course, I had the Yarrow Meadows Duck with confit leg croquette, beeswax aged breast, with Pemberton Carrots, Beets and Cherry Gel. This was prepared “as the chef recommended”. While duck breast is typically an east coast dish in Canada, I rarely pass up on it in a restaurant due to the great flavours that can go with it. This dish was no exception – the flavours in the vegetables were fabulously fresh, thanks to the fertile Pemberton Valley only twenty minutes drive from whistler. There was strong organic taste in the vegetables that complimented how fresh the dish was. The duck was wonderfully cooked and full of flavour. There was lots of complexity there in the flavours of the dish. I enjoyed this dish and would order it again if given the opportunity.
MrsWT73 went for the Risotto special of the day. She never passes up on Risotto thanks to how long it takes to properly cook. There Risottoo was marketed as “Market Risotto – Reimagined daily with Golden Ears Cheesecrafters with Charmesan Cheese with the best of market vegetables. The Risotto special of the day featured celery and parmesan grand panado cheese. While the name sounds like it belonged in an Applebees’ the taste of the dish was equally as fabulous. I took a little sample of it and it was sinfully rich with out being too over bearing. Like the duck dish, there was lots of complexity and depth to the dish that made it wonderfully enjoyable.
We enjoyed the dinner and the wine. Although we were offered desert, we ended up passing on the sweet course. The dessert menu was heavier on the baked goods side. While all looked tasty, we ended up opting for a lighter meal.
The bill was reasonable and we enjoyed the experience along with a walk home through a cooler summer mountain evening.
The Wildflower Grill Room was a pleasant if not a slightly predicable dinner for a hotel restaurant. The dishes were very good and enjoyable – quite tasty and sufficiently complex with fulsome flavour palettes. While the mood of the restaurant wasn’t as exciting as the Woodlands Summer Rooftop BBQ upstairs with a live band, the meal was pleasant, the service was punctual and there was enough wine available to keep you engaged and interested. Lastly, the Fairmont did a great job at transforming dining limitations during a pandemic into the most comfortable and safe experience possible. I can’t hesitate in recommending the Wildflower for a meal that can offer something for almost anyone looking for a solid quiet meal.