In most ski villages, the term “après-ski” is pretty synonymous with chicken wings, pitchers of beer and large rowdy groups of friends. However, the Kettle Valley Steakhouse at Big White Ski Resort is turning the tables on the entire experience and giving it a refined edge.
Overlooking the hockey rink in the Happy Valley Day Lodge, my steakhouse experience started out on an unlikely foot. The restaurant shares a roof with the skate rental shop as well as two casual dining outlets and a cafeteria. For my date and I, this meant being surrounded by a group of hockey players as we made our entrance.
The fast-paced atmosphere is immediately lost around the corner to Kettle Valley however. A host, eager to check our coats for us, immediately greeted my date and I at the door. Once we had taken our seats, an amuse-bouche and bread plate was brought out, whetting my appetite perfectly.
While I knew I was technically in a steakhouse, the oysters in the amuse-bouche left me with a taste for seafood and I ordered the trinity of wild Canadian fish for my appetizer. This included a sablefish brandade, steelhead tartar and sockeye salmon gravlax. The tartar stole the show, with a delectable mixture of tastes piquing my palate.
My date meanwhile opted for the French onion soup. Topped with Gruyere cheese, the bowl was hearty, delicious and a perfect way to warm up an evening in a snow-capped village.
For our mains, we opted for a chateaubriand. 16oz. of AAA tenderloin beef, it’s definitely a dish made to share. If the size and quality of the beef wasn’t extravagant enough, in addition to being aged for 28 days, the meat was brought out and placed on its own table to be grilled in front of us by our server. Going for medium-rare, I wasn’t expecting too much of a show, but the flamboyance was in no shortage as our server made short work of bursting our meat into 2 metre- (7 foot-) high flames.
After being cut up and plated along with mashed potatoes, a vegetable medley and baked garlic, I was more than ready to dig in. My first taste had a richly succulent flavour and it was clear that behind the show-y performance, the steak had been aged and prepared to perfection.
Despite being more than satisfied after the seafood and chateaubriand, the dessert menu was too enticing to pass up. I chose a baked Alaska with raspberry gelato, ginger sponge cake and Italian meringue. To my surprise, the Alaska was also set aflame tableside. While the flames were less extravagant than those of the chateaubriand, they had toasted the meringue beautifully.
Finishing the night, the cheque was brought over with yet another dessert sample, the perfect close to a refined après ski experience.