If it's lunch or dinnertime in Whistler and you're looking for a local who's not home, good chance you'll find him or her at the Alpine Café.
Owned and operated by Kevin Wood and Martini Bart, the café and its related catering business is a longstanding favourite — one of those comfortable eateries that you enjoy again and again because, A., you never get tired of the food since it's quintessentially "homemade" as they say in TV commercials, only in this case it's absolutely true, and, B., the place is so comfortable you feel right at home, or at least at a really good friend's house where you can kick off your shoes even if you have holes in your socks, and hit the couch after dinner.
Alpine Café, located just off of Highway 99 at the first entrance to Alpine Meadows, also gets rave reviews from more than locals. Sunset Magazine calls it a "don't-miss spot, just out of town."
Not only do they run a great café show, Kevin and Martini also play large when it comes to community events — not splashy, but large. They're often the ones on deck for school barbecues and events, cooking up a hot dog or 50. They're also the faces behind the popular No Trace Loonie Race, baking up their homemade bread into bowls that they fill with vegetarian chili, which is served with a wooden spoon. You eat up the chili, scoff down the bread bowl, then throw your wooden spoon into the fire — no trace!
Given all this, I thought it would be fun to peek into the fridge of someone who's behind such good food and good vibes, and Martini graciously agreed. (You'd be surprised how many people turn me down for "what's in your fridge?" — or maybe you wouldn't!)
But before we went poking around his shelves, I had to ask Martini what he figured was the secret to Alpine Café's magic.
"I think it's mostly the staff," he says. "What my business partner, Kevin, and I are trying to achieve is a relaxed, fun atmosphere and that's kind of what bounces off on the staff. That's how we hire people, too. We look for that that big smile and bubbly kind of attitude."
Plus the homemade food concept is key to this "every day, every people" kind of place. They wanted a menu that mimics going to the grocery store yourself and buying a chicken breast and some vegetables, then going home and cooking it, but the café does the work for a similar price and — bonus — no dirty dishes.
So it's no surprise when Martini describes his fridge as almost bare — a bachelor's fridge, his girlfriend Shelley Ledingham calls it — because he eats most of his meals at work.