The Best of Pemberton 2012 

Everyone has their own reasons for loving Pemberton — great food, wicked recreation, a slower pace of life, fresh farm-to-table food — the list goes on.

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Food & Drink

Best Restaurant — Mile One Eating House

There's a new number one in Pemberton this year. In its second year of operation, the Mile One has thrown it down and the people of Pemberton have indicated their new favourite eatery is at the corner of Highway 99 and Portage Road.

Randy Jones and Cindy Yu's use of top-quality ingredients from just up the road has pushed the "modern burger joint" into the coveted top spot amongst Pique readers. The eatery features bold menu items like Bacon, Chicken and Goat Cheese Salad and the "Outlandish" Oyster Burger.

This restaurant opened in March of 2011 and within months of opening it was voted Pemberton's best new restaurant. Just 18 months later it is voted the best in Pemberton. Not bad for a sophmore.

Best Value — Mile One Eating House

According to the dictionary, the word value means relative worth, merit or importance.

Mile One Eating House has clearly shown its importance to the community. The community has shown Mile One has merit by giving the restaurant a total of six Best of Pemberton awards.

Mile One's worth is proven through the collection of half the votes cast in this category. From breakfast burgers and wraps to gourmet Mac'n'Cheese and steak dinners, the prices range to a high of $23 for a rib eye.

Best Latte — Mount Currie Coffee Company

For the fifth year running the best latte is found at the Mount Currie Coffee Company.

There was no doubt with this award. Pemberton latte drinkers are clear: the place to get a caffeine hit is at the corner of Portage Road and Arbutus Street. The original art by talented residents that adorns the walls doesn't hurt the taste of the latte either. While enjoying the latte one can surf over to the coffee company's blog to read about the artists whose work decorates the walls.

Best Breakfast — The Wood Restaurant and Lounge

Wake up and get over to The Wood in the Portage Station building for the first meal of the day. The day's first meal sets the tone and nutritionists like to preach that it is the most important meal you'll eat all day. Starting at 8 a.m. on weekends, the eggs are on and there's also pancakes and French toast. And The Wood breakfast is on until 3 p.m. for the evening workers who start the day well into it.

The Majestic Mount Currie Frittata is a must with three eggs, fresh herbs, Chorizo, cherry tomatoes, onions and pepper jack Cheese. Served with Pemberton potatoes, of course.

Best Burger — Mile One Eating House

Are you seeing a trend here? Mile One picked up two nods last year in just six months of operations. That figure of two awards was tripled in this year's survey.

The phrase "strategic partnerships" is big in the corporate world and we clearly have a case here of a small dining outlet taking a page from the big business playbook.

Burgers are central to the menu and feature strategic partnerships with Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef and Blackbird Bakery. The meat is from Pemberton Meadows and Blackbird provides the buns. The ingredients, which also include lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, mushrooms and bacon, are assembled at Mile One. The combination of local expertise is a winner.

Best Pizza — The Pony

Asked what it is about the Pony pizza that netted the eatery the best pizza nod, owner Alex Stoll says he doesn't really know. But the formula is clearly working as witnessed by the fact that The Pony keeps winning this category year after year.

"Two or three times a week we have a special," says Stoll on a busy Saturday afternoon at The Pony.

A new pizza variety with various toppings is whipped up every few days to keep pizza lovers engaged and entertained.

Pemberton's pizza from The Pony is the clear winner as no other pizza maker even came close this year to dethroning The Pony.

Best Steak — The Wood Restaurant and Lounge

Your friends at The Wood serve up New York Striploin and AAA Sirloin with your choice of peppercorn or BBQ sauce.

The New York option has two sizes to choose from at 10 and 14 ounces.

The Black Squirrel and Mile One tied for second in a close steak race.

Best Wine List — TIE — The Wood Restaurant and The Black Squirrel

Last year the Squirrel topped the list but the folks at The Wood have won a few more people over in 2012.

This award took an interesting twist this year after the provincial government announced that we're free to bring our own bottles of wine to restaurants if we choose and if the restaurant chooses to open the bottle for us then provide glasses to drink from.

According to Gord Bell at The Black Squirrel, nobody has brought their own bottle of wine to the Squirrel since the change in rules. He says the Squirrel team will soon have a policy on corkage but, really, what's the sense? The Squirrel and The Wood both have great wine lists. They'll do the heavy lifting and all the thinking for you when it comes to wine.

Best Beer Selection — The Pony

Saddle up and have a few at Pemberton's new lager leader.

The secret here seems to be the selection of local craft brews, including an organic option. Owner Alex Stoll says you can pony up for brews on tap from the Whistler Brewery, Howe Sound Brewing, Phillips, Lighthouse, Stanley Park Brewery and Russell Brewing.

On the patio or inside, the selection is wide and Stoll says he's always looking to add good beer to the mix to keep things fresh for pilsner appreciators.

Best Bartender — Kevin McCleod at the Black Squirrel

Through this survey last year, we learned that McCleod does it all at Black Squirrel. McCleod won the most votes this year and took a few shots in the paper from his boss for getting those votes.

One year later and very little has changed.

"Bizarre – I know he's the thirstiest bartender in town," says the Squirrel master, with a chuckle.

Honourable mentions this year to Chris Hedges and Shakey for giving McCleod a run for his gin and tonic.

Best Server — TIE — Katie Betchel & Chris Hedges — the Black Squirrel

Working as a server is an interactive experience and those who do it well tend to really stand out. This dynamic duo at the Black Squirrel apparently has perfected the art.

"They both have big personalities in different ways," says owner Gord Bell of his two superstar servers. "They are very different people. They are both great people and great with the customers."

Note that while Bell publicly roughs up poor Kevin McCleod, the boss has high praise for his two popular servers.

Best Service — Mile One Eating House

It is interesting to note that The Black Squirrel produced the two most popular servers in Pemberton but the top vote was decisive with Mile One collecting about half the votes for best overall service. The Squirrel placed third in this category and number two was The Wood.

The Pony should also get a mention as it placed fourth in a very tight race for second through fourth.

Best Takeout — Mile One Eating House

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the restaurant voted to have the best service also has the best takeout.

Good takeout is a component of good service and the theory is proven at Mile one. If you haven't yet tried the take out, call 604-384-3842 from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

How about this plan? Call ahead from Whistler at the end of your shift. Pick up your takeout at the northern terminus of the commute and enjoy a stress free meal after work.

Best Dessert — Blackbird Bakery

For the final course, we offer up the sweat treats at the Blackbird Bakery.

Co-owner Richard Stewart says the bakery he owns with Raven Burns is French-inspired. Like many other European countries there's one key ingredient that brings out the flavour which make desserts irresistible.

"Lots of butter – we use copious amounts of butter," says Stewart in between serving customers. Getting a few minutes to chat with him at the Blackbird is a daylong affair involving multiple phone calls. With each call it is apparent by the din in the background that the Blackbird is a busy place on Saturdays.

Best Patio — The Pony

The ingredients for a great patio include scenery, sunshine and people.

All three come together at The Pony. With majestic Mount Currie and Signal Hill both looking down on The Pony. One can't help but get lost in a world of mountain adventure while enjoying a beer (or pizza or any other menu items) on the Pony patio, also voted best place for people watching.

Best Chef — Randy Jones

The food section of the survey closes out with a final nod to The Mile One Eating House.

Randy has found inspiration from the Haida and other First Nations across the province while tapping into Pemberton's pioneer roots and acknowledging those who discovered the wonders enjoyed by the First Nations residents.

Randy says he is committed to dishing up good quality relatable food and he strives to find the ingredients as close to home as he possibly can. Those ingredients are then mixed with care from scratch to produce the food that has netted Mile One an impressive six Pique reader awards.

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