Whistler residents hold onto your hats: a local legend is returning to town, set to take our dining scene by storm. That's right - Uli's Flipside is back!
The family- and budget-friendly eatery was a popular option with Whistler residents throughout the '90s and early 2000's and after a brief hiatus, the team behind the favourite former hotspot is returning to take over the old Zueskis/Mountain Club location on Main Street.
Now, Uli's (or The Flipside, as some people called it) was slightly before my time, so I caught up with Derek Pasenow, managing partner at the relaunched restaurant, to get a bit of history. As Pasenow explains it, Chef Uli Schnur, a classically-trained German chef who came to B.C. as Umberto Menghi's corporate chef, started his own restaurant in 1992, sharing a space with the Southside Diner (which, at that time, was a daytime-only operation dubbed Southside Deli).
"So that's where the name 'Flipside' came from," Pasenow explained, "It was Southside Flipside at night."
The eatery, which offered generous entrée portions of pasta, a choice of starter salads and unlimited bread for just $9.99, was wildly popular with Whistler residents, many of whom were trying to stretch their minimum wage earnings as far as possible.
"There was no place in town for locals that made $8 an hour - or back then, probably $7 an hour - to go out on sort of a regular basis," Pasenow pointed out.
"There was no real place to go and have a good meal - comfort food, that made you feel like you were eating at your grandmother's house. Everything was made on-site, no sauces were brought in, everything was made from scratch, even the pasta was made from scratch at the time."
After a brief hiatus, Schnur joined forces with Pasenow, and the two moved the restaurant into other locations around Whistler, including the current homes of 21 Steps and Creekbread, before Schnur finally decided it was time to focus on family, closing the beloved local eatery in 2003.
But the legend has lived on.
"Once a week, living here, people would still say, 'Aw, Flipside. Come on!'" Pasenow chuckled.
Now, sensing that Whistler residents are once again looking for good value for their money, Pasenow and Schnur decided that the time was finally right to bring Uli's back. This time, though, it's going to be called The Flipside.
"We figured that the timing is almost the same that it was in '92," Pasenow explained. "There are a lot of great restaurants in Whistler, definitely, and I wouldn't change it for the world because I eat out far more than I eat in, in this town!"
But both men felt that there was something missing on Whistler's dining scene: affordable, family-style food at a good price point. They plan on offering those same large and hearty entrees, with value being one of their central goals. Their kitchen will also be open late at night, just like in the good ol' days, with food served 'til around closing time at 1 a.m.
"We want you to walk out feeling full in the stomach and full in the wallet," Pasenow laughed.
Schnur is moving back to Whistler from Bowen Island as soon as he can find accommodation, and his family will follow this summer. They take possession of the space this Friday and will close for just a few days to renovate the menu, and they plan to be open for business by Tuesday or Wednesday next week (Jan. 18 or 19).
"It just feels right to Uli and I! We felt like something was missing in our lives, not running The Flipside," Pasenow mused.
"We're really excited to be back."
Comforting leftovers in the Community Kitchen
Interested in learning more about preparing healthy meals at home? For just $10, you can take part in a cooking class, courtesy of the Whistler Community Services Society's Community Kitchens program.
Matt Prescott of Snowline Catering is leading a class on Monday, Jan. 17, teaching people how to make belly-warming bowls of chicken stew with dumplings.
The $10 fee includes all of the ingredients you need to prepare the meal, and the best part is, after you prepare it, you get to eat it! To sign up, contact email@example.com or call 604-932-0113.
During the winter months, local fondue-lovers can get their fill of the good stuff at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler's Chalet. And for the next three Sundays (Jan. 16, 23 and 30), they can enjoy a feed of the good, gooey stuff at 50 per cent off, as the Chalet hosts their local's night.
It offers three rich and decadent fondue menus, featuring a selection of meats, seafood, cheese and chocolate to warm the belly. According to the menu posted on its website, diners can choose between "The Classic" for $59, "The Chalet" for $69, and "The Ultimate" for $79 (don't forget to factor in your local's discount!) For more information, contact 604-938-8000.
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