Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: to the hard-working servers, cooks and bartenders who may have suddenly seen a rush of requests for off-menu items after Pique's article last week dishing on the resort's not-so-secret secret-menu items, we salute you.
As a small but vocal contingent reminded me online (never read the comments), frontline restaurant staff already have a lot on their plates, and I'm sure not everyone appreciates the potential uptick in special requests from diners.
But, I would be remiss if I didn't mention: almost down to the dish, each and every item included (and those to come) were volunteered by the servers, staff and restaurateurs behind them. Nobody forced them to offer up these dishes, and truth be told, most of the off-menu items featured are, by this point, an open secret anyway.
So, at risk of a legion of line cooks showing up at my door with pitchforks and torches, we bring you Part 2 of Whistler's favourite secret-menu items. This round, we focus on local food hacks, classified cocktails, as well as a few more secret-menu items that we missed in Part 1.
Eat, drink and be merry, Whistler!
Favourite Food Hacks
Pasta Lupino's chicken parmesan with spinach pasta and rose sauce
This category is less about full-scale culinary creations than it is about savvy menu hacks for the discerning—and price-conscious—diner, and there is likely no food hack more popular with locals than the chicken parm-tweaking regulars at Pasta Lupino.
One of the enduring appeals of Pasta Lupino is its warm familiarity. Its simple, straightforward menu of classic Italian dishes and fresh-made pasta has remained virtually unchanged since the village restaurant opened more than 20 years ago.
That consistency is something of an anomaly in the fickle world of Whistler restaurants, but it has also encouraged Pasta Lupino’s loyal regulars to tweak their ole’ stand-bys to their personal liking.
For many, that means switching out the standard linguine noodles that accompany the big-as-your-face chicken parm for spinach pasta, and the basil and plum tomato sauce for the creamy rosé, giving diners a little taste of everything that makes Pasta Lupino such a hit with locals.
Insider Tip: Order a side of alfredo sauce to get the whole selection of house-made sauces.
Tatchos Supreme topped with chili at Stinky’s on the Stroll
Another consummate locals' joint, Stinky’s on the Stroll has become Whistler’s home for all things tater tots, a consequence of the small village sports bar not having a deep fryer. Instead, Stinky’s will pop those bad boys in the oven, and bake them in all their cheesy glory.
If you’re looking for your fill, order the Tatchos Supreme—taters topped with spicy taco beef, cheddar, Monterey jack and sour cream—with a side of chili, and slather those mothers in it.
According to Stinky’s regular and person who eats stuff, “Big Kev” Mikkelsen, this hearty hack is “a true hidden gem.”
Chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches at Rocky Mountain Chocolate
Sometimes getting what you want is as simple as asking. Like the off-menu ice cream sandwiches at Rocky Mountain Chocolate. Unbeknownst to this here chocoholic, you can have the shop’s yummy chocolate chip cookies warmed up, with a scoop of ice cream thrown in between.
“If you catch us making cookies in the morning, we can custom top them for you,” says one employee. “Decadent, but oh so good!”
Chicken salt on your fries at Splitz Grill
This one’s for the Aussies: if you’re craving a taste from home, ask the chefs at Whistler’s beloved burger joint to throw some chicken salt on your fries, a favourite seasoning Down Under that packs an umami punch with every bite.
Insider Tip: If you’re hankering for some chicken salt for your spice rack at home, homegrown Whistler brand SPCY GRLS makes its own, at $6 a pop.
The De-Cider at The Raven Room
For those of us who like a little libation while we’re thinking, the De-Cider at Raven Room is meant for those moments when you’re waiting for your actual cocktail to arrive.
“Because the cocktails at The Raven Room are so beautiful, they do take a bit of time to get, so you can order a De-Cider and it’s a hard glass of cider while you wait,” one Raven Room barkeep tells me.
The Crown of Thorns cocktail at Maxx Fish (RIP)
Another throwback that is unfortunately no longer on the menu—from a long-running underground establishment that is no longer in operation—the Crown of Thorns cocktail, at least judging by the comments online, seemed to spark something deeply ingrained in a certain subset of Whistler locals.
“You’ve unlocked a core memory,” says one commenter.
By all accounts invented by long-time Maxx Fish bartender Cowboy Jim, the Crown of Thorns was ostensibly created to skirt the two-shot limit for cocktails. It featured one shot of Crown Royal, a liberal “half” shot of apple and raspberry Sour Puss, topped with Red Bull and 7up, and poured over ice.
It was typically served with two straws for quick slurping—all the better to avoid those pesky liquor inspectors!
More secret-menu dishes
'Baby birdheads' at Sushi Village
Don't worry, they're not actually the heads of fallen fledglings, but crispy crab-claw tempura that is only available at Whistler's raucous sushi spot at limited times of the year. Ask your server if it's crabbin' season.
Trashy Hashy at Delish Café
Function Junction's cozy lunch spot is a favourite of the Pique newsroom, both for its proximity—it is less than a 100-foot walk from our office—and its affordable, simple and tasty menu of fresh-made soups and sandwiches. One dish you won't find on the menu—because, full disclosure, I invented it—is what I like to call the "Trashy Hashy," a heaping pile of crispy, golden hash-brown patties smothered in gravy and cheese curds, poutine-style. Certainly not the healthiest way to start your day (a good way to end it in a food coma though!), but delicious nonetheless.
If my legacy in this community starts and ends with the Trashy Hashy, I will die fat and happy.
Honourable Mention: The PS Roll at Sushi Village
Sushi Village has for years had a knack for off-menu items, a consequence of the long leash late founder and owner Mikki Homma gave his servers, sometimes to the dismay of the sushi chefs tasked with preparing their coworkers' creations. We all know about the Nicole Roll, highlighted in Part 1 of this series, but there was another secret-menu roll that preceded it, becoming so popular that it eventually made its way on to the restaurant's official menu: the PS Roll.
Invented by former server Travis Tetrault in the early '00s, the PS Roll is made from prawn, salmon and cucumber and coated with tempura bits. Despite what you may think, the "PS" didn't initially stand for "prawn" and "salmon," according to former server and occasional Pique columnist, Feet Banks.
"People used to experiment with different rolls and combo ideas," he explained. "That roll, Travy decided, was 'pants shitting-ly' tasty. As in the taste was so good you’d shit yourself in joy and surprise."
The more you know.
Know of any local food hacks items we missed? Let reporter Brandon Barrett know by emailing bbarrett@piquenewsmagazine.