Aura entrance

Everything about Aura is top-notch, from the service to the serene Nita Lake and mountain views. The restaurant’s been open for just over a year, and has been receiving excellent word of mouth.

Chefs Tim Cuff and Owen Foster have combined talents with mixologist Hailey Pasemko to bring the best products to their menu. A rooftop garden provides organic herbs and lettuces. All ingredients are fresh and local, with pork products sourced from nearby Pemberton.

outdoor seating

I enjoyed perusing the cocktail list (Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas, and The Hail Garry caught my eye), though we chose Farmhand Ale from Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery to complement our meal. We had, after all, just spent an afternoon hiking around Blackcomb Mountain.

menu cover

Diners can choose between a set three course menu, or get more adventurous with either a 5- or 10-course chef’s menu that changes daily. Food allergies are discussed beforehand, but what comes out to your table remains a surprise until the last minute. We chose a three course prix-fixe menu for $49. A few dishes on this menu have a $5 supplement.

Aura private dining room

The ambiance is relaxed. The room is tastefully adorned with white linen-covered tables, many with a view of Nita Lake and the mountains in the background. Four short-stemmed roses and a candle added a sense of warmth to the intimate lake and layered misty mountains looming just beyond. The music was soft pop/indie rock, set at a level in order to enjoy conversation. And the service was not rushed but very attentive. A room in the back can seat a private group of about 12.

The Rocky Mountaineer pulls into adjacent Nita Lake Lodge, another place worth investigating. Its lobby is beautiful.

Nita Lake Lodge lobby

Our meal began with a gazpacho amuse-bouche that was made extra flavorful by an infusion of coriander oil. The house-made breads are prepared just prior to the restaurant’s opening and are served warm with a dish of creamy lemon curd butter.

Still and sparkling water are brought to the table in attractive bottles. Our server Veronique explained that Aura purifies the already-delicious local water. For their sparkling version, carbonation is done in-house.

We started with two appetizers: seared scallops and cured ivory spring salmon.

[Seared scallops with Kaffir lime, black garlic and cabbage]

The scallops contained kaffir lime, black garlic, and cabbage. The kaffir lime added to the scallops is simply divine. I was left wondering why scallops hadn’t been brought my way like this until now. The black garlic gave the cabbage just an edge of tanginess. This dish’s ingredients worked very well together.

Cured ivory spring salmon
[Cured ivory spring salmon]

As for the cured ivory spring salmon served with citron vinegar-injected melon, the presentation alone was gorgeous. The salmon is beet-cured, adding both colour and flavour to an already delicate mouthful. The dish is finished with thin garam masala chips. All three main ingredients create a very delicate taste combination.

[Sezmu beef flat iron pepper steak, horseradish and bacon salt]

My husband’s Sezmu beef flat iron steak, complete with horseradish pepper, home made bacon salt, and Warba potatoes arrived next. The beef is tender and the bacon salt added a hit of smoky goodness in the palette. I’d never tasted bacon salt until now, and am going to be hunting for it at my next gourmet food outing. The beef was accompanied by a mild but strongly flavored mustard.

Steelhead salmon
[Grilled Lois Lake Steelhead salmon & garden herb sauce vierge]

My entrée was a grilled Lois Lake steelhead salmon, served with garden herb sauce vierge. The sautéed chard leaves on the bottom of the dish weren’t bitter but rather sublime when combined with the sweetness of the caramelized corn poking from underneath the chard. Tiny bits of celery, zucchini, and tomatoes served atop the perfectly cooked salmon gave a delightful taste sensation.


Between courses, we were offered a complimentary charcuterie plate containing venison, beef, and Tuscan-style salamis, Bresola and Lonza hams, plus house-made bread sticks, pickled vegetables, and purple mustard to dip it all into. The venison salami was enhanced with Cuban spices, giving it a unique flavour all its own, but still marrying well with the venison.

We could tell that a lot of passion goes into each dish and ingredient that make up Aura’s menu.

Kalamanse lime pearls
[Kalamanse lime pearls, star anise & Kaffir lime infused pineapple, coconut sorbet]

Kalamansi lime pearls along with a smearing of black sesame tahini, shaved lime made with the aforementioned Kalamansi (a type of gelatin made with vegetable-based agar-agar), joined coconut sorbet and crystallized pineapple, some infused with kaffir lime and star anise. My husband enjoyed this dish for the sweetness of the sorbet, and the pearl texture that pops inside the mouth not unlike a smaller version of salmon roe. It was refreshing on the palette and not as rich as my chosen dessert: Textures of chocolate.

Textures of Chocolate
[Textures of chocolate]

How do you finish off a fantastic dinner? With a salted bitter chocolate soufflé, white chocolate and Okanagan Chevre, salted chocolate crumble, peppered strawberries and Agassiz hazelnuts. This photo doesn’t do it justice. Each and every one of the ingredients on the dish was to die for.

Linger over several courses and enjoy this experience. Aura Restaurant is located at Nita Lake Lodge, 2131 Lake Placid Road, in Whistler Creekside, BC. Visit the website for reservations and menu information.

1 Comment

  • Pingback by Vivreau: A Bottled Water Alternative | ariane c design — September 19, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    […] glass bottles and brought to the table. I experienced Vivreau’s water when my husband and I dined at Aura in Whistler this past summer. We marveled at the fact that the bottle had been recycled several […]

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