Chalet chic without the pretense, Alta Bistro in Whistler offers haute eco fare at sea-level prices
Savoury layers of elk tartar, duck liver, Belgian endive, molasses rye toast, tart apple, smoked shallots and cocoa nibs are nestled in an old-school jar and crowned with creamy crumbs of duck fat.
It’s an all-in-one feast for the senses. And it garners plenty of gushing, a typical response to the Alberta Elk Tartar & Duck Liver Parfait – the must-try dish on Alta Bistro’s dinner menu.
Oohs and aahs aside, it’s just one creation by chef Nick Cassettari, an Aussie transplant who’s infusing the resort town of Whistler with some serious farm-to-fork fare.
His partners are co-owners Eric Griffith (a born and raised Whistlerite) and Edward Dangerfield (a Brit who came for the skiing eight years ago and never left). Edward and Eric met while working in the local fine-dining scene and decided to open their style of restaurant – somewhere hip with an eco ethos and haute fare without the pretension (the three-course prix-fixe menu is $39).
Nick Cassettari and his team of chefs create fabulous fare with local ingredients (photos: Edward Dangerfield; chef – Robin O’Neill Photography)
The chefs found a space in Whistler Village, sourced sustainable materials like beetle-kill pine, used local contractor Seamus Quinn to custom build rustic-luxe decor, added resident artwork (spectacular ski shots and stylized mountainscapes), engaged artisanal producers (from beets to gin) and brought on chef Nick and mixology geek Scot Curry, whose handcrafted cocktails showcase spirits barrel-aged on site.
Two years later, the bistro embodies the Whistler vibe and woodsy esthetic. It’s named, appropriately, for Alta Lake, the site of the town’s first settlement. Everyone behind Alta Bistro is immersed in the Whistler lifestyle, whether logging 100 days on the slopes in winter or mountain biking come summer.
Recreate the Whistler mood with these beautiful buys: Schramm Gin, $55, is handcrafted in single batches using organic potatoes, herbs and botanicals by Pemberton Distillery (photo: Edward Dangerfield); Alta Bistro’s housemade chutney, $8, is the perfect complement to cheese and cured meats (photo: Rich Emmerson Photography); Retro-chic posters of the mountain and village by local artist Pat Griffith evoke the Whistler vibe. Lithograph art poster $45; digital print $90
Most produce comes from Rootdown Organic Farm in Pemberton; meat from North Vancouver’s Two Rivers (hormone and antibiotic free); preserves are hand-canned (by staff!); stellar wine pairings have a B.C. focus; and gin from Pemberton Distillery.
It’s about celebrating sustainability and the Pacific Northwest scene – from the modern chalet-chic design to the signature Highway 86 cocktail. Named for a ski run on the mountain, it’s an apropos aperitif to all that Alta Bistro and Whistler offers.