You don’t need to ski to work up an appetite for Whistler’s Araxi

Araxi
4222 Village Square, Whistler, B.C.
604-932-4540, araxi.com

The Pitch Visitors to Whistler Village are spoiled for choice when it comes to just about anything. Five-star hotels litter the landscape and there are almost enough fine-dining options to satisfy a vacationer of nearby metropolis Vancouver, let alone a somewhat isolated ski resort. But after a hard day on the slopes — or, you know, drinking hot rum in a local lounge — don’t we all deserve a meal where both the food and service are five stars? Enter Araxi, Whistler’s preeminent restaurant. The menu’s focus, by farm-to-table pioneer chef James Walt, leans more toward surf than turf, but what a rich sea it is. Seared scallops, fresh local oysters, the biggest and plumpest shrimp cocktail you’ll ever see … it’s little wonder the establishment has been consistently named the town’s best restaurant at the Vancouver Magazine Awards and been endorsed by the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.

What We Love That aforementioned shrimp cocktail cannot be beat, but the oyster bar tries damn hard. Beach Angels from B.C.’s Cortes Island (briny, with a sweet-ish finish), Black Pearls from Desolation Sound (small and firm), Royal Miyagis from the Northern Gulf Islands (spicy, fresh sea finish) and Satoris from Denman Island (plump and salty) are just some of the offerings being shucked in front of you, should you be lucky enough to score a seat near the bar. And during my visit the shucker in question was atypically friendly — eager to let patrons know what they were tasting and why. (Usually I’m lucky to get three words out of shuckers at other establishments, so busy they are with the maddening pace and careful craft.)

Don’t Miss The inventive cocktails (go for the Barrel Aged Boulevardier, with straight rye and Aperol). Ditto the extensive wine list developed by sommelier Samantha Rahn. Food-wise, if you’re with a larger group, you’re going to want to try the two-tier seafood tower, an $85 work of beauty containing 10 oysters from nearby waters, chilled prawns, Read Island mussels, seared tuna, sushi and a Maritime lobster. Single diner? Opt for the trio of wild seafood ($19.50), which can include seared Vancouver Island albacore, chilled prawn ceviche and a crispy wild scallop roll.

Cocktails from $10, entrees from $15

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