Dine Around the World at Antoinette's
Updated: Nov 25, 2021
The new owner of Antoinette's Restaurant, in Whitehorse, says you need not travel abroad to experience international cuisine.
“Come to Antoinette's and you can dine around the world in an hour and a half," says James Concepcion.
There's German pork schnitzel, Dutch-Caribbean elk and mushroom meatballs, Filpino crispy pork sisig, Middle Eastern grilled lamb kebabs, South African peri-peri shrimp, and Vietnamese pizza with a rice-wrapper base-to and was name a few menu items.
The new dinner menu at the Fourth Avenue mainstay still features the Caribbean influence it's famous for, like Caribbean pork and mango spring rolls. But Concepcion has brought his love of travel and diverse cultures to the new dishes he's cooked up
“We want to have one of the most adventurous menus in town,” he says.
Concepcion is new to Whitehorse, but not to the restaurant scene -- he and his wife, Ingrid, own and operate four restaurants in the Philippines. Concepcion typically splits his time between there and Vancouver, where his three grown children live.
After COVID-19 hit, his brother, Rey, a co-owner of both 506 All Day Grill and Yukon Asian Market, told Concepcion he’d heard from other local restaurant owners that some were breaking even and actually making money despite the uncertain times.
Concepcion-who has a master's degree from the Massachusetts institute of Technology and was brought up in a business-savvy family -- flew to Whitehorse to check out the opportunities.
Last March, he and Rey bought Antoinette's and the North Dragon Restaurant.
“Whitehorse reminds me of Vancouver 30 years back, when you should've invested,” says Concepcion, So, foreseeing growth in the city, that's what he and his brother are doing. He purchased a condo here, too.
For the last several months, though, he's been running his businesses via Zoom, which hasn't been ideal-especially for a hands-on boss. One Thursday afternoon, one of his Whitehorse employees video called him from the grocery store, showing him the selection of papayas. “That one looks ripe," he said. "Get the one that's not yellow. That looks okay.”
Concepcion's father was a restaurateur, so Concepcion grew up surrounded by food. “I’ll try anything once. It's a cultural experience. How can you say you don't like it if you never tried it?”
And he really means anything. He's tried pufferfish, field mouse, crickets, scorpion, worms and live octopus.
Have no fear. You won't find any of that at Antoinette's. However, you will find a “three sisters” stew made of corn, beans, and squash and, “for our Muslim friends" he offers shak shuka, a Middle Eastern breakfast dish made with halal lamb.
It's not just about global influences, though. He plans to buy locally harvested mushrooms, fireweed, Saskatoon berries, and spruce tips and create new dishes with Yukon flair.
"We want to be different from other restaurants in town," Concepcion says. "We're for people who want to be able to taste unusual flavours.”
Antoinette's is open for dinner seven days a week and brunch on Sundays. For more information, visit antoinettesrestaurant.com or call (867) 668-3505.
Winter 2021 | YUKON North of Ordinary