We went to the Alta Bistro for dinner tonight. We just arrived in Whistler and decided we didn't feel like cooking. After looking on urbanspoon, we found Alta had fairly good ratings at the price between casual and fine dining. I always like a place that offers online reservations. We called because their first reservation online was at 9pm. They said someone "just cancelled" and they had a spot at the bar available at 8:15pm. I told them we will go somewhere else and "conveniently" enough they had another table top available in half an hour. We decided to accept, but it makes me wonder why they didn't offer that first and made the restaurant sound busier than it actually is.
When we got there at 5:30pm, the place was empty. There were two servers standing at the POS machine, and we waited what we thought were too long to get noticed. I think they need a hostess.
We didn't get to see the whole restaurant but the decor seems nice. Our server was friendly, but I think it may be his first night. After we ordered, we couldn't get his attention at all. There was another server / bartender who was more helpful than he was.
As appetizer, we ordered:
Alberta Elk Tartar & Duck Liver Parfait ($15)
This was a solid dish. It wasn't too bland like most tartar dishes would taste, nor was it fatty, given the duck liver. Unfortunately, it was a very small dish and it didn't come with anything. Usually when you order something like this, the restaurant would provide baguette slices or chips for the tartar. If they don't, the server should let you know.
We had to wait so long to get someone's attention just to add a half order of bread ($3).
It came with some oil and white bean paste, which kind of tasted like guacamole. If that was why they charge for bread I think they're better off just giving us oil and balsamic vinegar.
Our main dish was the Roasted Venison and Braised Beef Shin ($35).
The venison was perfectly cooked and so tender. If it actually had fat in it, it would probably melt in your mouth, how soft it was.
I don't recall seeing or tasting any beef shin.
The mushrooms were so well marinated and flavorful. The sunflower seeds were also a good addition.
As a wine pairing, I ordered the Tannat/Merlot Brumont from Gascogne, France. My partner ordered the G.S.M., Romain Duvernay from Costieres de Nimes. The GSM was fuller bodied than the merlot and much easier to drink. The merlot was a little acidic for my taste.
Overall, the food was solid but the service did not make up for the price.