Chef's Choice: Palmer's Gallery Bar and Grill 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALISON TAYLOR - Famous fish tacos Palmer's Grill chef Richard Johnson serves up one of the eateries most popular dishes.
  • Photo by Alison Taylor
  • Famous fish tacos Palmer's Grill chef Richard Johnson serves up one of the eateries most popular dishes.

Though it may be slightly off the beaten path, the Whistler Golf Course boasts some prime real estate for grabbing food and drinks.

For those in the know, the sun-drenched patio overlooking the 18th green is the perfect spot for a burger and a beer, or some fish tacos and a margarita.

And best of all, you don't have to be a member of the club, or even a golfer for that matter, to be allowed inside.

Club general manager Alan Kristmanson calls the restaurant "classic clubhouse fare, with a contemporary twist."

This is what he means.

"We're not serving bagged guacamole," he laughed. "We make everything fresh. We're in the golf food and beverage business. We're not trying to compete with Araxi. We are who we are. We want to take that clubhouse to the next level, making everything fresh in house and sourcing locally when we can."

The kitchen is headed up by Richard Johnson who is busy behind the scenes rustling up a fresh-made dish of fish tacos complete with lime aioli and corn salsa made from scratch.

The fish tacos are undoubtedly a crowd favourite, along with the corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast and the house-made Arnie burger.

That's "Arnie" after the legendary Arnold Palmer.

The Whistler Golf Club was designed and opened by Palmer in 1983. That was back when Whistler was barely a blip on the summer tourist scene. This was an initiative from the Whistler Resort Association (now Tourism Whistler) to grow the summer business. Now, summers in Whistler are busier than winters.

Tourism Whistler has a 99-year lease on the land and all of the profits from the golf club go back into TW's marketing budget.

This was Whistler's first golf club and it was the first Palmer-designed course in Canada.

"This was the course that got everything started (in Whistler)," said Kristmanson, of the course that stood alone for 12 years before Nicklaus North and the Four Seasons and Big Sky in Pemberton.

The walls of the clubhouse pay homage to Palmer, one of the greatest golfers in history.

His company, Arnold Palmer Design Company, has designed courses over the world.

The philosophy behind it: "... we create golf courses that are beautiful, fun to play, and inspire the soul."

Checkmark all of those qualities in Whistler.

And to top it all off, the vibe here is not intimidating at all; it's fun and casual.

"That's what we want Palmer's Bar and Grill to be too, whether you're golfing or not golfing," said Kristmanson.

The après scene is also important —whether that's après golf, après bike ride or après dog walk.

Palmer's is a place where all are welcome to soak in the Whistler scene.

The work in the kitchen at Palmer's Gallery Bar and Grill extends onto the golf course too. There's the Crabapple Corner at the ninth hole.

"We get lots of Valley Trail traffic. We try to have the best hot dog and ice cream and all your regular halfway-hut fare," said Kristmanson.

"A golfer is a golfer. He wants that hot dog at the turn! We've got to be true to what we are."

And don't forget about the beverage cart service on the course too that includes house-made granola bars.

The clubhouse is located on one of Whistler's most popular Valley Trail loops — five kilometres that stretch around the course.

Kristmanson, who just returned as the Whistler rep from the International Association of Golf Tour Operators convention, said the feedback was really good from tour operators who say people are starting to travel again to play golf.

The enduring problem is "time poverty" — playing golf is a time commitment.

And so Whistler, like golf clubs the world over, is working on ways to entice people out — a nine-hole rate, a five after 5 p.m. rate.

"It's all about trying to be flexible."

That said: you don't need your collared shirt or golf cleats to sit at Palmer's.

Said Kristmanson: "Come after a bike ride... and hang out on the deck."

And check out the daily specials too.

Palmer's Fish Tacos

method

Sauté 6 oz fresh halibut diced large

Place evenly on three warmed tortillas

Top with house-made corn salsa (see recipe below), fresh avocado and drizzle with house-made lime aioli (see recipe below)

Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime

Lime Aioli

Zest and juice from two limes

Four egg yolks

Two teaspoon Dijon, two cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of olive oil

Combine zest, juice, yolks, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in processor and puree. Slowly add the 1 cup of olive oil.

Corn Salsa

Half red onion diced, one serrano chile finely diced, two green onions diced fine

One pound of fresh corn kernels, one teaspoon diced garlic, 50 grams of brown sugar

Six fresh tomatoes diced and seeded, fresh thyme, half a tablespoon of fresh lime juice

Half teaspoon cumin, one teaspoon of coriander, one-quarter bunch of cilantro

One shot of Tabasco, one shot of Worchester, one tablespoon olive oil

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