Araxi is almost a restaurant that doesn't need introduction. Located in the Whistler Village, Araxi is one of best known fine dining restaurants in Whistler and, as of 2011, has won Vancouver Magazine's Gold Award for Best Whistler Restaurant 10 times in a row. Araxi has released its own cookbook and has won critical acclaim for using local ingredients and fashioning them into wonderful new dishes. This particular meal especially holds a particular sentimentality for me, because when I made the reservation for two at Araxi, boyfriend and I were celebrating our two year anniversary.
I've been lucky enough to have a tradition of going to Araxi ever since I was little. However, the restaurant has certainly changed quite considerably since my initial meal there. Araxi has been remodeled several times with the addition of a large bar area, oyster bar, and an expansion and modernization of the dining area. The main color schemes have stayed the same: rich dark browns, contrasted with custard yellows, and mirrored surfaces. Since it was Christmas, the entire restaurant was decked out in Christmas lights and pine wreathes. It made for a wonderfully sumptuous holiday setting for both the eyes and the palette.
Boyfriend and I wanted to go "all out" for our second anniversary, especially because we only see other twice a year. Long distance relationships are terrible, but the silver lining to this grey long distance relationship cloud is that we have a larger budget for our date. Since we only go on like two a year. I get to spend half a year planning for an awesome night. =) Optimism!
Although there was a tasting menu, specially made for Christmas, my boyfriend and I opted to create our own menu by individually ordering appetizers, mains, drinks, and desserts. Overall, the meal was wholly enjoyable, well paced, delicious and fun. Although Araxi is listed as a fine dining restaurant and its price point only bolsters the fine dining vibe, I feel that the atmosphere is much more casual. Often in fine dining restaurants there's a sort of sharp, mechanical, efficiency that come along with Michelin Stars and awards. In Whistler, the waitstaff are courteous, uniformed, and polite, but at the same time the atmosphere of Araxi has more of the casual hustle and bustle.
|One thing that especially caught my boyfriend's attention was the oyster bar and the selection of oysters. So fresh and lovely! A must try if you dine at Araxi.|
Unfortunately, I am a petite, Asian woman and my alcohol tolerance is not very high, and I definitely did not want to get overwhelmed by alcohol on one of my binannual dates. My lovely boyfriend is made of stronger stuff and ordered a cranberry vodka and orange tequila cocktail appropriately titled Passion. It's certainly a sweeter cocktail and one leaning on the "girly" side of the alcohol world, but my boyfriend certainly enjoyed it. I'm proud that he's secure enough in his masculinity to rock the fruity cocktail. ;)
|Canada Prime Beef Tartare tossed with truffle vinaigrette, capers, shallots and garnished with a quail egg|
house baked sourdough crostini
I am a raw beef fiend. I loved this. I take great sadistic joy in popping the golden yolk and mixing it in the the raw sticky pink of the tartare. There's something about the rich yolk, sweetness of raw meet, combined with the slightly bitter bite arugula, and the crunch of the crostini make for a home run combination. Beef Tartare is certainly a common item on many menus, but few restaurants can execute this simple dish as well as Araxi can in terms of taste, freshness, and mouthwatering raw beefy flavor.
|Look. I'm hungry just looking at my macro shots.|
I was really looking forward to a creamy, potato-y, thick mild soup. I was very surprised by how tart the soup was overall. The soup had a thicker consistency and the little jewel of the oyster was nestled at the very bottom of the shot glass. This was actually my least favorite out of the "five ways" the oyster could be done. The soup was just a little bit too tart to my liking.
The virgin Caesar oyster shooter was the one that I was actually most scared about. I wasn't sure of what it would taste like and the vibrant, tomato colored liquid intimidated me. However, you guys know I'm not picky. =P I ended up enjoying this one the most out of the two "oyster shots." The consistency was considerably less viscous than the smoked potato soup, and I really enjoyed the saltiness of the Clamato with the savory, hot-ness of the tabasco and the Worcestershire sauce. Again the oyster was nestled at the bottom of the glass, but this time I willingly gave it to boyfriend.
These three were our favorites, because my boyfriend and I absolutely adore raw oysters, and we had a very, very difficult time trying to delegate who would eat what. Eventually he took the oyster with the trout roe, I took the one with the sphericated ponzu sauce, and we halved the fried oyster with spiced avocado. They were all sumptuous and delicate! I have a strange aversion to oysters if they're too large or cooked, but these oysters were so fresh, petite and sweet it was hard not to order more of them. =)
This was the warm house made bread they served after the appetizers. I am always suspicious of bread in fancy restaurants. Although I know it's fragrant, delicious, and uniquely "homemade" and the fact that the bakers probably put a lot of effort into creating and baking this bread....I know it'll fill me up. I am a glutton. I want to eat more oysters.
|Loin of Venison goat cheese stuffed ravioli, roasted cipollini onions and Pemberton salsify apple and pear chutney with red wine jus|
The waitstaff was extremely accommodating for my boyfriend and I. We both couldn't decide between two different mains, so we simply requested that the kitchen help us pre-split the main dishes before they were placed on the table. I know a lot of restaurants that blanch at the thought and usually leave the messy separation of shared dishes to the unlucky diners at the table, but they divided the two mains into mirror images of each other. We were very pleased.
The loin of venison is a very, very hearty, rich main. Coupled with the thick skinned, rich goat cheese ravioli I felt full from eating only half of this particular main dish. I do have a preference towards game meat, I'm seduced by its rich, robust flavor, so whenever I come to Whistler I make sure to order anything venison or caribou. The meat and the sauce were perfectly paired and the goat cheese ravioli was a pleasantly tart surprise. However, I did not like the apple and pear chutney at all. It was strangely spicy and I personally felt that it provided too much of a contrast for the flavor profile given by the rest of the dish.
The ravioli was delicious and when I cut it open I wasn't expecting the goat cheese to be purple! It's very rich and creamy, but at the same time keeps the original tangy nature of the goat cheese.
|Veal Cheeks + Radiatori Pasta slow cooked veal cheeks with roasted oyster mushrooms and truffle pecorino classic pasta preparations also available|
This was our favorite main...by far! I want to congratulate all the pasta engineers in the world as well, y'all are geniuses. I have never seen this kind of pasta before, lest even heard of it, but the grooves and waves within the pasta were absolutely perfect for holding the thin, concentrated sauce. We could not get enough of this pasta, everything about it was perfection. The veal cheeks were flavorful and tender, the cheese was creamy and tart, and the sauce had the pungent taste of black truffle. This main, although tasty and rich, was light and didn't make you feel full or overly bloated after eating a whole bowl. I highly, highly recommend this pasta if it's still on the menu when you go.
Boyfriend and I were pretty full at this point, but when I saw this on the dessert menu I had to get it. Boyfriend was very kind and obliged my crazy request, even though we were both super full. ><
These little hazelnut pastries came with the check. A mouthful of nutty deliciousness and a perfect last bite to end the meal. After paying and munching on these cuties, we waddled all the way home full and content.
Araxi is a wonderful, wonderful place to go and dine...for whatever occasion. I was happy that we chose Araxi to celebrate our second anniversary of being together. We had a wonderful time there, the service was smooth and casual, the food spoke for itself in deliciousness, and I think boyfriend and I will continue going there for meals. Regardless of whether we are celebrating an anniversary or not. =) If you're in Whistler I highly recommend that you give Araxi a try. It is truly a gem of a restaurant in the ski resort town, I doubt you will be disappointed.
Kid Friendly: Yes
Price:$$$$ out of $$$$$
Repeatability: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes!
Price:$$$$ out of $$$$$
Repeatability: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes!