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Food and Drink

A raw history of the Whistler restaurant scene The uncensored, unadulterated version



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You pushed your food tray along the rails in front of the hissing steam table loaded with institutional fare, and yelled out your order to the cook. Breakfast was 85 cents.

When the lounge opened you could get calamari, pizza and burgers to go with your after-ski beer. You might have heard Paul Burrows himself playing his guitar and belting out some pretty funky songs, or you might just as easily have run into Pierre and Maggie - Prime Minister and Margaret Trudeau - up to ski with their boys in tow. Justin would pop in years later just to say hi to Leo.

After last call at L'Apres - later reincarnated as Dusty's, home of the famous but motley stuffed horse named Dusty and many an infamous BAREback ride - you headed up the highway to Al and Tony's where the honour system ruled and the essence of beer wafted up through the floorboards. If we're not there just let yourself in, said Al and Tony. And so you would, for more fun and beer, and maybe a bowl of chili and tunes cranking out of the jukebox.

With the '70s came the start of the restaurant flurry. At Rudy's Mountain Holm Steakhouse, later shortened to "Rudy's Steakhouse" and located where Nesters Market is today, Rudy reigned supreme. He worked the room like a politician the week before election, greeting regulars, really greeting good-paying regulars and generally making everyone feel like a queen or king on their big night out.

If you sat at the table next to the single-pane glass window, you'd get as good as a sunburn from the blowtorch blast of flames char-grilling the steaks. It was cherries jubilee, please, for dessert and maybe something special if it was your birthday or anniversary.

Sandy and "Puddy" Martin ran the Christiana Inn, which could pack you a lunch to take up the mountain. It was down a nasty little road - if it was snowing you'd never get out. European-style dining and telephones in all the bathrooms hallmarked the Cheakamus Inn, where you could try your first avocado. If a storm crashed the power, you'd be served by candlelight. Baron of beef, prime rib, baked potatoes with all the trimmings and iceberg lettuce salads in wooden bowls - it was all first-class all the way.

The Keg was the first purpose-built restaurant and oh, if those beams could talk. Nestled in the woods near Alta Lake, it was a hotbed of good food and sometimes wildly good times, where the movers and shakers of Vancouver rubbed shoulders with the "wild men" - and women - of Whistler. People would fall down the stairs drunk; very important people would fall down the stairs drunk. Someone - likely more than "one" - piddled in the fireplace. Someone else chased a woman (playfully) with a branding iron because that's how you got your steak rare.