Even just a couple of years ago, with the exception of a few restaurants, it was quite the challenge to get a decent vegan meal in Whistler. But how things have changed! Perhaps it was Bill Clinton’s coming out as vegan, or the hugely successful documentary FORKS OVER KNIVES, or maybe all the newly vegan celebrities raving about their diet that has influenced this change. Whatever it is, it’s awesome to see restaurants not just catering for vegans, but enjoying it. Gone are the days of pasta with tomato sauce, or a boring salad (I swear everyone thinks vegans just eat plain salad because that’s all they see them eat in restaurants!). These days chefs are using their talents to create delectable dishes that make the rest of the diners at your table wish they had ordered the vegan option too.
We decided to give Araxi a try during their fall special. Araxi was more than happy to cater for 9 vegans and welcomed us with open arms. We didn’t even feel that we needed to apologise for being that awkward group with ‘a special request’. And although we had made our request in advance, it was a delight to see that they now have a separate menu for those who are veggie, vegan or gluten free. As anyone who eats a ‘special diet’ will tell you, being included on the menu is a real treat and scores a restaurant many extra brownie points.
Araxi impressed our group right from the start with their impeccable service. When each course was brought out the servers literally swirled up to our table to deliver nine beautifully presented servings of each dish. Cameras at the ready, we all had to take several moments before enjoying the food to capture photos of the dishes from all angles.
First up was smoked tomato soup, accompanied by ‘oh that was sooo good’ and ‘the flavours…wow!’. If we were at home rather than at a fancy restaurant, I’m pretty certain some of those cups would have been licked clean.
Second course was a beet salad. I’m not sure how they prepared those beets but they were oozing with flavour and deliciousness. Would love to be able to get the recipe!
Sushi was next and this was my personal favourite. I loved the creativity and delighted in how they had made one of them look so much like ‘the real thing’ – we ALL asked if it was fish! The flavours were divine; in particular the leaf shaped mushroom sushi, for which I will definitely be going back for more.
We were more than thrilled at this point and would have left happy if we had just stopped there, but there was more to come. Next up was a roasted vegetable and lentil entrée, with two sauces that I don’t remember the names of but can assure you they were incredible. This dish won ‘favourite dish of the evening’ for many of the group.
Just when we thought we couldn’t fit any more in, we were presented (by the wonderful, swirling servers) with pears and sorbet, garnished with an apple slice. This was easily the best sorbet I have ever had and it has to be said, the caramelized, paper-thin, crisp apple slice effortlessly took top spot from the ‘icing on the cake’, even if such a phrase would not roll off the tongue quite so easily.
We were thrilled with our Araxi experience and can’t thank them enough for their warm welcome and service, and incredible food. If we could have gone into the kitchen and hugged the chef, we would have. Maybe we’ll do that next time…
-Hayley, November 2012