Have you ever returned from a restaurant and just felt … satisfied?
It would have been a night when the ambiance was comfortable, the service was unobtrusive and the food was definitely something you don’t often experience. Even if you shared your meal with the best of friends, it was the dining experience itself that allowed the magic to just … happen.
This is what you can expect from Volare By Antoinette at SKKY Hotel.
When you enter the main room, you are immediately embraced by a symphony of textures that will continue as a delightful theme throughout the evening.
The cinnamon-chocolate walls and wood stained dark are mere backdrops to internationally flavoured original artwork and even the smiles of your servers.
Indeed, it was an absolute pleasure to hear laughter come from the kitchen on the night my LDC (Lovely Dinner Companion) and I visited.
One of the laughs belonged to the boss, the chef, Antoinette Oliphant. Two summers ago, she renovated her Dawson City restaurant and came to Whitehorse in the winter to help pay for it.
Opening Antoinette’s across the street from the Yukon Territorial Building, she was quickly discovered by proponents of the new Skky Hotel. “It was a type of marriage,” she says, with a sailor’s hat cocked upon her head (those worn by the officers I should point out) as she prepares an appetizer for one of my fellow guests.
She calls over Ed Williams and gives him a squeeze as she introduces him. “He’s a white boy from Manitoba, but …” Oliphant waves her arm about the kitchen proudly to show where they create such international delicacies as Carribean Salmon Salad and Pasta a la Vodka and Juicy Wiri Wiri-Coffee (that’s a 10-ounce rib-eye steak loaded with a variety of mushrooms in a creamy truffle oil gravy).
“International with lots of fusion,” Oliphant calls it.
Hired a couple of months ago, Williams’ presence allows Oliphant a chance to go home a few nights a week. And, soon, she will be offering cooking lessons at the restaurant or in peoples’ homes.
Back to my table to join my LDC, I passed Oliphant’s son, Michael, who was tending bar with a flourish. He’s also the manager and is called upon often this night to explain what the kitchen has dreamed up.
Take, for instance, our main dish: it was a Halibut T&T (Trinidad and Tobago, for Antoinette’s home country).
It was a generous serving of halibut resting in a coconut and tomato sauce (creamy, without the heavy dairy) with a very light cornmeal dumpling. On top of it all were shoestring yams that had been deep-fried for just a moment to give them a crunch.”It’s a mixture of sensations,” says Daisy, my LDC, in what would continue the theme of “a symphony of textures”.
“You can taste the curry, the coconut and the tomato,” she said. “You can feel the crunchy on top, the tender halibut, the soft coucou and the creamy sauce.”
As artistic as the meal was, we were properly prepared. You see, the first of the four courses was bread and humus. But it wasn’t like any humus we ever bought at the grocery store (or likely ever will again). Instead it had a “real” look about it and it tasted heavenly.
Our server, Paula Mowat, smiled wide when she confirmed for us that, yes, this is home-made humus. We think she is accustomed to surprised guests.
The next appetizer was something my LDC called, “Love on a plate”. It was three large pan-seared scallops with a drizzle of maple syrup. They were perfect (having worked for a summer in the Maritimes, I know something about scallops and these – these scallops – were perfect).
Removing our dishes and the warmed towelettes, we were thus primed for the main course.
Afterward, again, the symphony of textures was presented in the form of our dessert: Chai coconut flan with a mocha run. On one side of the plate, subtle flavours of the coconut flan; on the other, the bite of good chocolate.
Sitting back – not full, but satisfied – my LDC said she didn’t feel guilty about the dessert at all: “It was light and yummy.”
Looking over my shoulder to see the view of Grey Mountain she had been enjoying, I was startled to be reminded there were other people in the restaurant. Other than a larger table in the middle of the room, the tables were spaced generously and separated by gentle partitions to make us think we were having a romantic dinner for two.
A hotel restaurant with a family photo on the menu.
Friendly and expert.
A juxtaposition of sensations for sure at Volare By Antoinette.
But how do I write a headline for this review? I thought I would just translate “Volare” from Italian and play on that. Instead, I found out it means, “fly” — Ahhh, it’s in a hotel called, Skky, and it is across from the airport … very clever.
Volare By Antoinette is open Monday to Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made at 456-2400.
This review is not meant to judge the quality of the food or service. It only describes the experience offered by the reviewed restaurant. The owners were informed in advance of the review and the meals were provided at no cost.