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Once upon a time...

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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a castle in the kingdom of the Upper Village. Okay maybe not castle, but a place at least where kings and queens stayed. Here at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler dwelt a new gathering place.

Rising above the dungeons of banquet spreads, a new feasting hall was celebrated. They called it, The Wine Room.

The Wine Room, you ask. What is that? My exact sentiments after reading the unfamiliar name listed among the regular dining knights of the Dine and Unwind round table. Each spring shoulder season, diners rejoice with the coming of the set-menu courtship that sweeps across Whistler from now until June 30.

Frogs become princes, or at least they can afford to feast like royalty with Whistler’s top fine dining restaurants pricing set menus that don’t require robbing the king’s coffers to pay the dinner bill.

A visit to The Wine Room will make you think you are royalty, with the three-course set menu crowned with a dessert that now haunts my dreams. (I am running through a forest, a black forest of layered mousse and Birkenhead cherries.) I am going to spoil the happily ever ending. Let’s first begin by turning to the opening chapter of our tale.

Chapter one. Finding The Wine Room.

The Wine Room is located within the Wildflower Restaurant. A library spined with wine bottles separates the two wings of the grand hall. On one side The Wine Room hosts a set menu that changes monthly, while on the other side the Wildflower Restaurant serves a more casual à la carte fare. The Wildflower menu ranges from $12 quesadillas and $34 steaks to $14 mountain burgers and $29 cioppinos. I fell in love with the latter, which originated at the Portobello, but was removed from the menu when the Portobello shifted into a casual breakfast, lunch cafe. It was like seeing an old friend when I scanned the Wildflower menu to rediscover the west-coast melting pot of prawns, scallops, salmon, halibut, clams and mussels in a tomato-basil broth.

The Wine Room leaves the decision making to the experts. Sommelier Jay Whiteley works with executive chef Michael Pagnacco to create the set menu, which includes choices under each course, as well as the option of a three-course wine pairing. Normally the set menu is $80 and wine $45, but for May and June, we all have fairy godmothers. The three-course dinner is only $35 and wine pairing a $25 addition— no glass slippers required.

While the warm, rich setting of dark wood, roaring fireplace and cozy intimate setting welcomes a special occasion, everyman clothing (i.e. blue jeans and fleece) is equally at home.

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