After making the move from Whistler Village to Function Junction, I thought I would be forced to brown bag it or resolve to stomach those night-before-made sandwiches inevitably soggy by the next morning.
While there are plenty of lunch spots I miss in the village – the spicy lentil burger at Splitz Grill, the mile-high, best-deal-in-town veggie taco salad at La Tortilleria, the veggie lasagna at Pasta Lupino Gourmet and the mango roll at Sachi Sushi – there are a few gems this side of Highway 99 worth a drive out of the village: Whistler Cooks, Delish Catering, Millar Creek Café, Wildwood Café and now my favourite noon-hour escape The Cracked Pepper Kitchen Café.
Flashbacks of process-cheese sandwiches from high school lunch boxes fall to the way side with the café’s incredible showcase of grilled paninis showcased on freshly baked baguettes.
Nothing is run of the mill with half a dozen unbeatable combinations, such as goat cheese, tomato and basil as well as roast pork, applesauce and Swiss cheese.
Highly anticipating the fanfare around the fresh apple, Brie cheese, caramelized onion and balsamic syrup combination, I was upset to learn everyone else heard about the buzz too. By 1:30 p.m. on my first visit, all were gone.
I begrudgingly opted for the traditional egg salad sandwich on multi-grain bread and bit into what has now become a regular part of my lunch routine. I am a fan of the clunky egg sandwich at Alpine Bakery and Catering Co. – both bread and egg are thickly chopped. Tastes great, but I always end up wearing most of the sloppy salad. The Cracked Pepper Café deal is driver friendly and the unique hint of Dijon mustard memorable.
It’s the small touches that really define this colourfully painted café dressed in a mish mash of funky mismatched tables and chairs. With every sandwich, a serving of thick ripple chips is included. There is no set menu, so one day its buttery sugar cookies and the next chocolate, peanut and coconut ball contraptions. Even what appears to be seemingly standard fare, such as the cauliflower and cheese soup, the café always dishes up a surprise with no heavy cream, cheddar instead of white cheese and a generous pepper dusting.
Pastries, hot entrees and breakfast wraps are also available, but the queen bee of them all are the towers of cookies stacked daintily on flowered plates. A cookie monster haven, favourites can’t be picked, with soft chewy ginger snaps, sweet coconut chocolate chip and the always morphing oatmeal cookie sometimes keeping company with walnuts, other times cranberries and occasionally pine nuts and raisins. Apparently bakers don’t play favourites either.
The secret behind this sister run operation?
Recipes come from everywhere. Owners Helen Campbell and Jennifer Dewar along with latest recruit Ophra Buchman (formerly the owner of Auntie Em’s) always bring fresh ideas into the kitchen whether the result of watching a program on Food Network, an article from a magazine, an inspiration from a night out dining or even a conversation with friends.
The only disappointing thing about this place is you might fall in love with a dish and have to wait a few weeks to see it again. The counter can become as busy as a DJ booth with comeback requests.
So when are we going to see the spinach and feta croissants again?