They say not to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to the restaurants, it's always the exterior that catches my eye, followed by the menu. I was strolling along the Village in Whistler when an elegant Italian restaurant caught my attention. The ambience was more upscale, but not over the top. It was a place I'd like to spend an evening at. So, I went up and took a look at the menu. The price range was also on the higher scale but on par within its league ($14-$20 per appie and >$30 per entree), and the selections sounded appealing. It was a done deal. BBJL and I showed up later that night without a reservation and took our chances.
Side note: Its sister restaurant, Trattoria Umberto provides rustic Italian cuisine and also receives great reviews. It was also located right in our hotel and we thought about trying it out there as well. In the end, the ambience at Il Caminetto prevailed.
For the main entree, I once again went for the obvious, duck breast with a side of red cabbage, and lentil. Personally, I'm not a fan of the sides to go along with my duck and would have preferred steamed vegetables or anything else more interesting instead. The duck breast, however, was simply delicious. It was cooked medium rare, still very juicy in the centre and the skin was crispy on top. It was almost as good as La Belle Auberge (which to me, still reigns supreme for duck breasts). The sweetness and tartness of the gooseberry also complimented the overall flavour very well. BBJL would agree with me on this one because he kept complimenting how good it was.
Another main ordered was also the special of the day, grilled red snapper with tiger prawn, beans, peas and carrots. Unlike my sister, fish isn't an entree at the top of my list. However, this must have been one of the best fish entrees I've had in a long time. I was surprised at how flavourful it was. The seasoning on the fish was amazing and they did not hold back the garlic. The red snapper was also cooked well, very tender and flakey. It was a large dish with 3 giant red snapper pieces with 2 prawns and beans underneath in case that didn't fill you up. The cream sauce was also tasty and went very well with everything (especially bread).
We were extremely satisfied with our meal that evening (and frankly I'm surprised we finished everything). Since we finished all the food, there was absolutely no more room for the dessert. The portions were huge, yet carefully crafted. Both quality and quantity were there and it was worth the value. The ambience was pleasant, and the service was also good. As it was a positive experience, I would definitely return again. Even though Il Caminetto is an Italian restaurant, based on what we ordered, I would assume that it is more of a Italian-French fusion restaurant. As mentioned above, its sister restaurant, Trattoria, would more likely offer more traditional, rustic Italian selections. Nonetheless, each dish very executed and we were quite pleased with our first time experience at the restaurant.