LAST MONTH'S TRIP TO BIG SKY GOLF CLUB IN PEMBERTON GAVE CAUSE TO SCHEDULE A RETURN VISIT WHEN THE WEATHER GOT BETTER.
This time I was joined by friends Lance Olsen, Robert Zlock and the indomitable Dan Foster for another round at the Pemberton Valley's gift to B.C. golfers. Afterward, we spent some quality time on the patio of the club's Fescues Restaurant. It's a beautiful setting that allows you to relax and see almost every hole on the course.
Fescues has new menu selections courtesy of chef Ryan Leitch. Having honed his craft in the kitchens of Umbertos' many restaurants, he brings a thoroughness and discipline to creating memorable meals from the freshest ingredients he can find with a focus on Canadian products.
Together with wife and muse Melissa -also a chef, they met at Umberto's - they are building a dining destination that is bound to become a highlight of any visit to the Whistler-Pemberton area.
You might think, given the club's excellent reputation and proximity to Whistler, that the meals would come with a stiff tariff. You would be wrong. Dinner mains run from $16.95 for the fish and chipsto $26.95 for Ahi Tuna, Panko crusted and served with shrimp spring rolls in a ponzu soy ginger buerre blanc.
Our server, Laura, was nimble, attentive and, like everyone at Big Sky, very down to earth and friendly. She kept us in beverages and everything arrived with perfect timing.
For the main course, Lance chose the Salmon and Scallop Combo ($23.95), Bob opted for the Ahi Tuna ($26.95) I selected the Barbecue Brisket ($19.95) and Dan ordered something called Pork on Pork ($23.95), grilled pork loin wrapped in bacon, served on a stack of Portobello Mushrooms and fresh vegetables in a caramelized cherry balsamic demi-glace.
The Salmon and Scallop dish is a jumbo Baja scallop wrapped in fresh salmon and served with grilled asparagus, fresh vegetables and parsley potatoes in a saffron beurre blanc. We asked Lance how it was, but he was too busy eating to talk. If you have ever spent time with Lance, you will understand what an exceptional moment this was. Surely a sign of quality.
Bob's Ahi Tuna was equally well presented. Portions here are not little postage stamps of food too exquisite to eat, fit only for admiring. You get a good meal and a good presentation, giving the eyes a sensation the tastebuds will soon share.
The Brisket? I love brisket as tougher cuts of meat compensate for their texture with intense flavour. Fescues' barbecued brisket is braised for hours and served with their own Jack Daniels barbecue sauce. The dish comes with fresh vegetables, potatoes and fresh coleslaw. The brisket was tender, rich in flavour and a substantial meal.
Dan's Pork on Pork arrived and we all fell silent for a moment. It's a simple concept but a revelation in execution. Pork loin is lean and mild tasting. Bacon is intensely salty and full of fat. Together, they combine for an astonishing combination of sensations - soft paired with crunchy, salty paired with sweet. I convinced Dan to let me try a little and it was as good as it looked. The cherry balsamic demi glace gave it a tanginess that underscored the sweet saltiness of the meat.
We finished with the Mount Currie Split Banana for two: two scoops of ice cream, banana chocolate spring rolls, berry compote, whipped cream and caramel sauce topped with a cherry. It's backstopped by a mountainous sheet of chocolate that looms over the plate.
If you golf at Big Sky on Wednesdays and Sundays, for $10 on top of your green fees, you get a three-course meal that includes a salad or appetizer, main course and dessert.
If you're up in Whistler holidaying, it's worth a trip to Fescues for the meal alone even if you don't play golf. Check it out.