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|January 22-28, 2009
• Food Bites
• The foodie forecast
Search for 2009 trends reveals grains of truth—and buckwheat
by Nancy Stohs
Whistler’s Café is the perfect spot to refuel for the mountains
by Clay Fong
It had been a bone-chilling morning on the mountain. Icy blasts of wind created an involuntary and painful dermabrasion treatment while my skis rattled like an angry snake. Cutting the day short, my friends and I sought nourishment at Nederland’s Whistler’s Cafe.
It was my first visit to this eatery’s new building, which has a brighter and more contemporary feel than its predecessor. Most important, it felt much warmer than its sometimes chilly antecedent.
I asked our friendly server about the restaurant’s name. Long ago, this location was a train depot, and a previous eatery here called itself the Whistle Stop. Somewhere along the line, the name changed to Whistler’s Café. This current appellation appears to be unrelated to the railroad; the menu’s cover features the painting popularly known as “Whistler’s Mother.” How the name went from something out of Fannie Flagg to the American artist who palled around with Impressionists is beyond me.
Happily, the Whistler’s menu is less puzzling, as it offers up predictably reliable diner fare. Breakfasts include the requisite omelet and bacon and egg repasts. Lunch options are anchored by hamburgers and other sandwiches, including a vegetarian Portobello slathered with hoisin barbecue sauce. Pot roast and similar comforts round out the dinner menu, which is available at 5 o’clock.
Warmth was my immediate priority, and so I started with a $2 mocha. While this coffee drink wasn’t made from high-end java or fancy imported chocolate, it did help me regain the feeling in my Bredoesque body. A generous dollop of whipped cream upped the decadence quotient and cemented this beverage’s winning resemblance to a liquefied version of Coffee Nips candy.
Bon vivant Mark had the Whistler’s signature breakfast dish, the $7.95 Mountain Muffin. This alpine adaptation of the classic Benedict features egg, cream cheese, ham and avocado piled atop an English muffin. Not a dish for the diet conscious, this hearty specialty is just the ticket before or after a vigorous day on the slopes. While it might not have the bite of something like huevos rancheros, its soothing flavors are easily kicked up with a splash of hot sauce.
Skiing buddy Keith and I both had burgers, and my $7.95 blue cheese bacon combination hit the spot. While the patty wasn’t a gigantic slab of meat, it was still enough and arrived in my requested medium-rare state. The garnishes of lettuce and raw onion were crisp, while tomato and bread and butter pickle slices packed a punch.
I would have preferred that the crisp and not-too-heavily-battered onion rings were a touch hotter when they arrived at the table. My other complaint was that the attractive bun quickly disintegrated, leaving a mess on the plate and few polite options for finishing this sandwich. In this burger’s defense, the blue cheese was ample and of surprisingly good quality. The addition of cheddar didn’t hurt, as it acted as a creamy counterpoint to the blue’s pungency.
Whistler’s Cafe serves as an optimum spot for recovering from, or fueling for, high-country activity. It also does the job for the individual or family seeking a leisurely weekend repast. As our group departed, we happily realized that the sun-filled dining room and filling selections fulfilled our desires for warmth and comforting fare at a fair price.
Clay’s obscurity corner
James McNeill Whistler is best known for the painting of his mother, officially titled “Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother.” A friend of Oscar Wilde, Whistler is less famous for his notorious wit. When someone asked Whistler how he came to be born in Lowell, Mass., he simply replied that he wished to be near his mother. After hearing one of Whistler’s witticisms at a party, Wilde proclaimed that he wished he had said that. In response, Whistler replied, “You will, Oscar, you will,” reflecting the artist’s concern that the author would later take credit for his words.
121 N. Jefferson St., Nederland,
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