Araxi Longtable continues to shine in BC

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Posted September 8, 2014 by Adrian Brijbassi in British Columbia
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Close to 300 diners crowded onto the Bard on the Beach grounds to enjoy the Araxi Longtable in August. (Adrian Brijbassi/Vacay.ca)

Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Columnist

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — 1,640 glasses.

840 plates.

480 shucked oysters

144 bottles of wine.

Five great chefs and one unforgettable evening.

Those were some of the components of the Araxi Longtable celebration at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach in August.

The Araxi Longtable Dining Series has been a summer staple for chef James Walt in recent years but this year’s dinner — which featured 62 eight-foot tables and hosted approximately 270 diners — accomplished a couple of notable firsts. One, it was held on the site of the city’s annual Shakespeare production — among the best in the country — and second, it included Walt’s peers in the Toptable Group of restaurants.

You could call Toptable the west-coast equivalent of the Oliver & Bonacini group, the Toronto-based corporation that contains a number of notable fine restaurants, including Canoe and Auberge du Pommier. But O&B also has a couple of other restaurants that fail to dazzle. That’s not the case with Toptable. Each one of their five properties is a treasure, with Araxi being the leader. West and Blue Water have also ranked among the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada while CinCin is an Italian standout in downtown Vancouver. Thierry offers some of the best pastries, macarons and coffee selections in the city.

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Dungeness crab sausage from Blue Water chef Frank Pabst was among the highlights of the unique dining experience in Vancouver. (Adrian Brijbassi/Vacay.ca)

The Bard on the Beach dinner at Vanier Park was the first of three in August, with the others in Pemberton and Whistler, home of Araxi. This one in Vancouver, which took place on a glorious and hot summer day, was the largest service yet for the dining series.

For Walt, the Longtable Dining Series is an opportunity to showcase the products of British Columbia that adorn his menu. This time it was also about collaborating with Frank Pabst (Blue Water), a leader in serving Ocean Wise sustainable seafood dishes, Quang Dang (West), Andrew Richardson (CinCin) and Thierry Busset (Thierry Cafe).

The diners were treated to a surprisingly diverse menu, served family style. The Dungeness crab sausage from Pabst was the most inventive dish. The flavour of the crab didn’t lose any of its distinctiveness (or decadence) when packed into the casing. Among the notable facts of the meal was the amount of sausage consumed: 80 feet in total.

Other dishes included salt-baked sockeye salmon, Okanagan Valley beef served both as a grilled fillet and as an ingredient in Walt’s beef-cheek ravioli, and a charred octopus salad.

In a nation where culinary happenings have become noteworthy calendar events, the Araxi Longtable holds a special stature. The reason why is because of the quality of the service, the sophistication of the wine and spirits program, and the dependability of Walt to not relax on his standards in order to feed a large group in an outdoor setting that can pose challenges.

This isn’t an event where celebrity chefs show up to lend their name in order to sell tickets and maybe grill up a few dishes that are not indicative of their talents. These chefs’ skills were on full display and that ensured the meal delivered on its promise to match the Bard on the Beach setting with flavours that suited the moment.

MORE ABOUT THE ARAXI AND THE LONGTABLE DINING SERIES

Longtable Website: The dining series sells out quickly. Email longtable@araxi.com to ensure your spot for one of the 2015 dinners. Click here for more details.

Araxi Location: 4222 Village Square, Whistler, BC (see map below)
Reservations: Telephone 1-604-932-4540 or book online through OpenTable.com.
Website: araxi.com
Menu price range: Dinner entrees range from $23.50 to $42.50. Executive chef James Walt is a leader in providing vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices that are just as carefully prepared as the primary menu options.
You must order: Saffron-crusted halibut caught in Haida Gwaii ($36.50), featuring a seafood and herb foam with chili oil.
Vacay.ca Top Restaurants in Canada Rank: No. 42 in 2014; No. 25 in 2013; No. 12 in 2012.


About the Author

Adrian Brijbassi
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Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and his articles are frequently syndicated by the Huffington Post and appear in the Globe & Mail. He makes regular appearances on CTV News, TSN Radio and CJSF Radio, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. A former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing and fiction, and has visited more than 30 countries. He is also a judge for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and spearheaded the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list that debuted in April 2012.

 
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