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Wall-to-wall whiskey, cooked-to-order burger help elevate new Surrey restaurant

Skye Avenue Kitchen & Lounge opened last fall at Central City’s old brew pub site
Menu, the cooked-to-order Chef’s Burger and glass of whiskey at Skye Avenue Kitchen & Lounge in Surrey, located at the north end of Central City Shopping Centre. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

The sky’s the limit when it comes to whiskey at one new restaurant in Surrey.

While aiming to redefine luxury dining in the Surrey Central neighbourhood, Skye Avenue Kitchen & Lounge has reached new heights with its collection of the distilled spirit.

“We have around 1,200 different labels, probably the largest whiskey collection in North America for a restaurant — I’ve never seen bigger,” said Richard Goodine, a manager of the restaurant/bar.

“All the walls of bottles here don’t represent even half of the collection. We’ve got a whole room downstairs stocked with shelves and shelves, an impressive collection.”

Located in the former brew-pub building on the north side of Central City Shopping Centre, Skye Avenue borrowed its name from Scotland’s Isle of Skye, home to world-class whiskeys.

Completely renovated and ready for business since last November, with 350 seats inside and out, the restaurant is owned by Gurpreet “Garry” Sangha, CEO of the CCI Group of Companies.

The place isn’t quite casual, nor formal or stuffy.

“We think we have something unique here,” said Goodine, who has operated some notable Vancouver restaurants for years, and lives on the west side of that city.

“Now I spend a lot of time finding out what’s going on around here, and there’s a lot, with the hotel there (Civic) and towers,” Goodine said. “This is going to be a happening place, an exciting market. I find it really invigorating how ready we are to set the tone in this neighbourhood when it comes to restaurants.”

Whiskey bottles and bar at Skye Avenue Kitchen & Lounge in Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Executive chef Valerio Pescetelli at Skye Avenue Kitchen & Lounge in Surrey. (Contributed photo)

While bottles of whiskey dominate the lounge, Skye Avenue’s food also impresses with emphasis on what Goodine calls modern Canadian cuisine with a tag line, “committed to the craft.”

Originally from Italy, executive chef Valerio Pescetelli built a diverse menu featuring a cooked-to-order Chef’s Burger that’s become a house favourite — one that required approvals from local health authorities.

“Personally, it’s a burger that I would just do at home when I’m inviting guests,” explained Pescetelli, who leads a kitchen staff of 32 at Skye Avenue. “This is at that level of simplicity, but in a restaurant, I wanted to do something that first, you can ask for any temperature you want, which is something that I used to experience back in London, in Europe, very common.

“Here, it’s a very grey area,” he continued, “so I went to Fraser Health, and they said to build a full protocol that had to be approved, a lot of back and forth. So OK, let’s do it, and I created an entire protocol of sterilization, the way we cut the beef, never frozen, it comes fresh, organic. I use the shoulder from Prairie Ranch, in Alberta. We grind it twice, a specific way where we redistribute the fat equally, then we make the patties, eight ounces per patty, treated just like a steak on the grill.”

The mouthwatering burger is served on a brioche bun with truffle aioli and melted fontina cheese — “but no lettuce and tomato, which I call contaminators,” the chef said with a smile. “Very simple, and it comes with two types of onions reduced in red wine.”

Pescetelli is a medium-rare kind of guy, as are most of the Skye Avenue diners so far. “And if you’re not convinced about the red of the meat, the blood, maybe medium is more what you want to eat,” he added.

Lobster cobb at Skye Avenue Kitchen & Lounge in Surrey. (Contributed photo)

Back to the whiskeys now.

Goodine said the opening of Skye Avenue involved the “synergy” of the ownership group obtaining a large whiskey collection.

“That’s a key part of it,” he said, “and when you’re talking about whiskey, you’ve got Ireland, Scotland, the southern U.S. with bourbon, Japan, and then sometimes we forget that Canadian whiskey is part of that equation. It opens up a real palate for us, of all these different areas where we can draw inspiration from, from a cuisine perspective.”

Whiskey Wednesdays started recently, and other theme-night ideas are cooking at Skye Avenue, which includes a private dining room for tastings, meals and special events. Visit for details.

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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