“Let’s go to the Pemberton Hotel for drinks first,” I excitedly chirped at what I thought was the impossible.
Talking a friend into driving all the way out to Pemberton for dinner. Okay, the Highway 99 trail only takes 25 minutes from Whistler, and that’s doing the speed limit, but when you classify a 10-minute drive into Whistler Village from Function Junction as a commute, anything longer seems an effort, especially when there is plenty of dining to take advantage of in Whistler.
But I had got the scoop from a Pemby insider on one of the coolest nights in the cowboy town. The Pony Pizza and Beer Night is “the” place to be on a Thursday night.
Check your heels at the door. This family hoedown is all about getting real — really good food and really a lot of kids.
I’ve obviously been holed up in Whistler too long, where I never see kids in restaurants or maybe the places I frequent. Isn’t everyone twenty something? But there was no shortage of wonderful entertainment at the Pony. Who needs Bearfoot Bistro painted ladies when you have a toddler tearing off their clothes and dancing up a storm.
My friend turned her new baby Kade — of course the most well behaved little man in the place — around in his highchair to watch the youngsters, keeping both himself and ourselves entertained.
Along with my ears, the Whistler bubble popped at the Pony and the down-to-earth setting was a refreshing new view.
I opted for a pint of pale ale, but you can upgrade the $14 beer and pizza special to a glass of wine for an extra $3. I loved the great detail owners put in describing the pop option on the menu. Apparently, pop lovers and designated drivers can’t choose a carbonated drink, the menu specifies diners who are underage, pregnant or not currently drinking (mickey must be put away out of sight) are the ones allowed to order a fizzy alternative.
Unique doesn’t even begin to describe this popular local hangout that now resides at the former Pemberton Steakhouse location. To find the Pony, just turn left at the stoplights off Highway 99, drive past the school grounds and look for the restaurant with a zillion trucks parked alongside of it.
A friend and I shared two pizzas because there were too many interesting ones to choose from. I was disappointed with our veggie pizza choice that lacked pizzazz despite an interesting listing of caramelized shallots, asparagus, feta and green olives, but The Pizza Yet To Be Named was as verbose as an Italian opera singer minus the ornamental tuxes and gowns.
The Nameless was very straightforward with roma tomatoes, bocconcini, basil oil and green onions. Flavours were distinct, with fresh quality products zipped up by this wonderfully potent balsamic reduction drizzled over top. I think the Pony should name this large slice of heaven the Pemberton Pizza because both are worth the drive from Whistler or even Squamish. And there are three gas stations to fuel up at — another tourist guidebook mentionable.
Expect cold pizza for breakfast. These thin-crusted rounds are huge. But the only problem with tinfoil leftovers is that you need to remember to drive them back with you to Whistler. I couldn’t bring myself to drive to Pemberton for my orphaned leftovers the next day — although I came close.
And while there are a lot of vegetarian options (the Newfie Pie with goat cheese and eggplant looks interesting), don’t despair carnivores; there is more than just rabbit food sliding out of the pizza ovens. My lactose-sensitive friend swears by the less-gooey Italian Calzone with chorizo sausage and salami. The Crew Cab also wields meaty finds such as hot capicolli and Genoa salami.
There are also salads and pastas available on pizza night. The Pony Salad with wild greens, arugula, sweet peppers, leeks, Gorgonzola and pancetta chips tossed in walnut vinaigrette caught my attention, as did the homemade banana cream pie — just another reason to come back.
Whistler adventurers might want to make reservations for pizza night. Every table was full when I visited — Pembertonians make Thursdays at the Pony a weekly social night.
So until the Pony starts a pizza delivery shuttle to Whistler (to add your name to a petition calling for Pemberton Council to legislate the mandatory van service contact Nicole@piquenewsmagazine.com ) mosey on North to hitch up a new dining experience where underage streaking is allowed.