Review: The Bearfoot Bistro Restaurant, Whistler, Canada
Every year, Whistler hosts an annual fall festival of food and drink, which is described as being made for the epicurious, uninhibited food and drink lover. The event is a great way to fill Whistler during the off season and is also a great way to celebrate Whistler’s world-class food and drink scene.
Review: White Alba Truffle Dinner with Prunotto Winery (Wine Dinner) at the Bearfoot Bistro Restaurant, Whistler, Canada
This review is of the Bearfoot Bistro Restaurant. If you’re interested in a restaurant in Whistler, but something a little different, please here for our experience at Il Caminetto Restaurant, or the Wildflower Grill Room Restaurant.
Thanks to the pandemic this year, the Whistler Cornucopia format was a little different. While there are usually ten to twenty separate wine dinners at communal tables on set evenings over the course of several weeks, this year offered staggered seating with paired wines, at private tables. While everyone can comment on whether this is a good or bad thing, the best part is the ability to enjoy a wonderful meal that is paired with excellent wines.
While everyone has their own opinion on the safety of pandemic travel, at the time of our visit, there were less than four thousand cases in a province with four million population. The provincial health orders were also allowing restaurants to be open, provided a safety plan was in effect and social distancing measures were in place.
About The Bearfoot Bistro Restaurant:
The Bearfoot Bistro has been a mainstay in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada for almost twenty years. It has won a spot on Canada’s Top One Hundred Restaurants List and is the only whistler restaurant to do so.
The Head Chef, Melissa Craig, has been at the head of the Bearfoot Bistro culinary team for well over a decade. She was awarded Canada’s country’s top chef at the 2008 Canadian Culinary Championships when she was just 28 years old. Unlike some of the other chefs, she has staying power in Whistler, along with Executive Chef James Walt of the Araxi / Il Caminetto / Bar Oso group up the road.
The Bearfoot Bistro restaurant and environment runs towards a showy performance along with flamboyance. This can be expected from a restaurant that has a 20,000 wine bottle cellar. The owner, Andre Saint – Jacques, also happens to hold the Guiness Book of World Records for sabering the most bottles of champagne in the shortest amount of time. These achievements don’t come easily although I am very happy to report that the flair comes with substantial substance in the food.
In addition to wonderful dining, the Bearfoot Bistro also offers a number of other features. These include a Ketel One Vodka Tasting Room experience where Vodka can be sampled at sub zero temperatures amid fur coats, a champagne sabring experience, chef’s table dining experience and private dining in the wine cellar pictured above.
The Bearfoot Bistro is situated in Whistler Village, just steps from the main Village Stroll.
“No visit to Whistler is complete without an evening at the Bearfoot Bistro, the resort’s premier fine dining restaurant. Enjoy a spectacular meal created by award-winning Executive Chef Melissa Craig, try your hand at sabering a bottle of Champagne, or visit the Ketel One Ice room, the coldest vodka tasting room in the world.”Courtesy of the Bearfoot Bistro website
As with most cornucopia events, we booked direct via the Whistler Cornucopia website. This was handled without incident. Of course, booking for regular dining could also be made direct to the restaurant. While I didn’t experience this directly, I was left with the impression that there was substantial reservation demand (even during a pandemic) as all tables were occupied and many customers were directed to the lounge.
The Experience of Dining:
We had booked a 7 PM dinner slot. This year’s wine dinner offering was not seated at the usual communal tables, but at individual private ones set to the size of your party. We arrived a little bit early at 6:40 PM and, after a hand sanitization and temperature check, were escorted into our table of four (set for two) right away.
We were a bit early thanks to the bus schedule so we opted for a cocktail of the day prior to dinner. Today’s featured cocktail of the day was the lime margarita with tequila, grand lime and Grand Marnier. It was presented in a snowy salted glass and was exceptionally tasty and elegant. I don’t usually go for a starter cocktail unless I happen to be flying up front, but this was a terrific way to start a nice evening.
Tonights event was the White Alba Truffle Wine Dinner with Prunotto Wines. We were provided the five course menus. Strangely, the wines also had price markings next to them, despite being included in our set dinner. The menu itself was ambitious and presented strongly in the complexity and ingredients that were to be offered.
For those interested in dining at the restaurant, a sample of the regular menu is as follows, also courtesy of their website.
Onto the main event: The White Alba Truffle Dinner.
The First Course: British Columbia Spot Prawns
Before we knew it, we were underway with our five course eating festival. The first course was a refreshing British Columbia Spot Prawn with Bone Marrow Truffle Panna Cotta & Northern Divine Caviar. The wine was the only wine of the evening not from Prunotto, as they do not produce a white wine. Instead, we had a very enjoyable Castello della Salla Bramito Chardonnay from Umbira. Being produced in an old world style, it was very light on the palette and malolactic fermentation.
This was an interesting and exceptionally tasty with the truffle wanna cotta providing an unusual but warming texture to the dish which was proportionally blended with the ingredients. The fresh cut vegetables elevated the plate to a crisp introduction into the meal.
Second Course: White Alba Truffles
The second course was “White Alba Truffles” over a sixty three degree egg, potato pasta, Ibérico ham, and a parmesan espuma (a crisp) paired with Prunotto Barbaresco 2015.
This dish was the highlight of the evening. I haven’t been able to enjoy an Italian truffle with egg yolk dish outside of a past truffle dinner in Alba, Piedmonte, Italy. The results here were a highlight of the evening with tastes that just combined all together in a sensual savoury manner. The soft yolk of the egg, splitting apart over homemade pasta, with fresh Iberico ham amid shaved truffles
The Third Course: Theissen Farm Squab
The third course presented Thiessen Farm Squab. The Theissen Farm is based in Mount Lehman, British Columbia and prepares small level speciality squab and other game including quail, partridge, pheasant, blue-footed chicken and Muscovy duck. Tonights squab dish was prepared two ways, presented with both a breast and a confit leg. It was accompanied with black pepper truffle caramel, a crisp kataifi nest, a parsnip, scary looking confit leg, all paired with a silky Prunotto Barolo 2015.
I was really impressed at the technical execution of this dish with the pairing of a soft confit leg, along with the nest crisp. t was so enjoyable, I had a little bit of MrsWT73’s leftovers. The Prunotto Barolo was also very approachable and elevated the nuances of the food.
Palette Cleanser: White Chocolate and Pear Jelly Envelopes
Between the third and forth course, we had an off menu palette cleanser. It was based of white chocolate and pear jelly frozen all together in a crisp ball. It was just the right size and amount, with enough “wow” to make the taste buds delicately pop.
The fourth main course: Québec Red Deer
The main course was presented as Québec Red Deer accompanied with textures of sunchoke, chantrelles, charred cippolini, black Périgord truffles joined at the heart with a Prunotto Barolo “Bussia” 2014. The Prunotto “Buissa” is the special vintage of Barolo that is only produced by Prunotto in select vintages and harvests.
The venison was exceptionally cooked at medium.
The dish, like all the others, was consistently cooked in excellence. The dish was elevated with the sun choke as a nice accompaniment, along with fresh organic greens and local chanterelles that made the dish shine appropriately along side it’s others.
The Fifth Course at Dessert: a Candy Cap Mushroom Forest
Our last course was desert. Like any great meal, desert tastes can run all over the place and can be hard to execute. Even before you attempt to pair it with truffles, it’s a hall order to get it right and elevate the dish to the caliber that was presented throughout the evening. The truth be told, when I saw this course on the menu “Candy Cap Mushroom Forest” on the menu, I was a little worried about what we were going to get.
I’m happy to report that the dish was, again, absolutely sensational. The Bearfoot Bistro has it’s dedicated pastry chef and this investment clearly shows.
The dish was presented as a Candy Cap Mushroom Forest with butternut squash, macerated stone fruit, pecan and black truffle ice cream. Like all other courses, this dish was sensational. It highlighted the evening as Ms WT73’s favourite dish of the meal.
After the festival of food, we ended up wandering through a winterty Whistler Village Stroll towards the transit loop to get home for the evening. It’s always great to see snow in the valley and tonight was no exception.
Our experience at the Bearfoot Bistro:
It’s not often you get to experience a world class meal that is technically on point, where the dishes are consistent and align with each other in terms of palette, taste, elevation and variety, and the service and execution is strong. While I had tended to avoid the Bearfoot in the past due to its perceived pretentiousness, I’m happy to report that we had an excellent experience dining at the restaurant.
The food was creative, the quality outstanding, and the “wow” factor was certainly ever present. Each dish was presented in a consistent manner and was world class in nature. For those looking for a special occasion meal, the Bearfoot Bistro makes the grade for foodies looking for a new adventure.