Epicurious: Over and above meat and potatoes 

Players Chophouse takes over former Morgan’s location in Creekside

Creekside’s culinary options keep getting better and better, and as someone who lives within five minutes walking distance of Franz’s Trail I couldn’t be happier. First, we had the addition of Nita Lake Lodge’s new fine dining restaurant, Jordan’s Crossing, then Hoz’s and El Tipo’s changed hands and were transformed, and now, Players Chophouse Restaurant and Lounge is set to open its doors.

The Chophouse is a series of restaurants owned by a group of businessmen and professional athletes, like NFL player Mitch Berger, NHL alumus, Steve Passmore and many more.

“We have hockey players and Olympians and business owners, and that’s where the Players name comes from,” said Wendy Derzai, director of marketing and sales.

They’ve purchased the former digs of Morgan’s Restaurant and transformed the interior using stockyard legacy and alpine lounge decor, creating a space which can accommodate 300 guests in the dining room and an additional 50 on each of the two patios.

Over the past month and a half, they’ve been busy installing hardwood floors, a massive bar that runs the entire length of the room upstairs, and seven flat screen TVs, not to mention refacing all of the fireplaces and removing the chandelier that hangs in the front window.

Whew, that sounds like a lot of work — enough to work up a bit of an appetite.

I don’t find myself craving a sumptuous steak very often, but a quick glance at their menu tells me that, even if I’m not in a carnivorous mood, I could find something to satisfy my hunger.

Their offerings for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner cater to a myriad of tastes, and even some tighter budgets.

“We actually are changing the menu slightly for Whistler, in order to take into account local fare and produce,” Derzai added, explaining that they will also be offering a daily fresh sheet that includes produce from surrounding communities.

The Chophouse concept is actually a bit of a twist on a traditional steakhouse.

“We’re a casually elegant steakhouse,” she said, adding that their concept is based on the American chophouse, which offers specialty cuts, but in a laidback atmosphere.

If you love beef, welcome to heaven. The Chophouse carries the highest grade of meat available on the market — prime steak.

“Only two per cent of cattle are ever deemed prime,” Derzai explained, “There’s nobody (else) in Whistler that carries it.”

Apparently, when meat is this good, any idiot could cook it, and it would still taste amazing.

But the Chophouse’s bottom line seems relatively simple: offering a quality product at a reasonable cost. And they also want to appeal to a wide range of clientele, not simply wealthy tourists who are visiting town.

“We want to be part of the fabric of the community,” Derzai said. “We don’t want to be a company that comes in and just sort of says, ‘well, you guys have the tourists right here, so we’re going to gear to them.’ That’s not what keeps a business sustainable.”

It certainly sounds like they’ve thought out all aspects that go into creating the perfect Whistler dining experience — it’s family-friendly, with a complete kid’s menu, perfect for skiers, with a holding area in the front of the house to store gear, and there’s even an entertainment aspect, with live music in the lounge.

“We’ve done this a couple times,” Derzai said with a laugh.

They had originally hoped to open in September, but have been waiting for their licensing to be approved. Now, they are gearing up to open for business in late October or early November. Sharpen your steak knives.

Extra helpings

Samurai Sushi is taking another step to try help the environment. The eco-conscious restaurant has already switched to bamboo chopsticks and biodegradable containers and now, they’re trying to discourage customers from using plastic bags to take their orders home by charging 15 cents per bag.

Wendy Gabelhouse manages both of the Samurai locations in town.

She said the new fee is their way of encouraging customers to bring their own cloth bags, and think twice about whether they really need to use a plastic bag. If they decide to take one anyways, the 15-cent fee will be given to AWARE.

“We don’t take any of it. We still buy the bags, which are like double the price, but we just feel that… everyone has to do their part, and we want it to be a positive experience for our customers,” she said.

Though Gabelhouse is expecting it could take a while for people to get into the habit of bringing their own bags, so far, the response to their new policy has been overwhelmingly positive.

“People have already been bringing their own bags in,” she added.

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