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http://www.cafepamplona.com/

http://www.schoonerrestaurant.com/

http://www.taucalearesort.com/

Also don't miss common loaf bakery for hippie-Berkeley-style pizza, and double-check the above with the Ahiers at Long Beach Lodge -- they know all the locals and won't steer you wrong.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks Fat Guy, your report on Long Beach Lodge was spot on. We had a very nice dinner there last night - good food, fair prices, friendly service.

I was most impressed with the care she obviously took in the vegetables - good presentation, excellent taste.

And given this is high season, it was nice to report a full house! With people dining the great hall and at the bar as well.

Hopefully, this new addition to the coast will enjoy some success and give the Wick some competition.

After many years of an annual family gathering here (Pacific Sands), it was very pleasant to have a nice place for an afternoon or evening drink too - the place we stay (next door) has zero restaurant and bar.

I will share my find of last year - Tough City Sushi. Had lunch and found it to be a nice addition to the town. Good sushi, good service and an interesting tin toy collection.

However, after years of the hippy bakery, I will give it a pass.

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Glad you liked it. Yours is the first independent report I've heard back about Long Beach Lodge. I was there very early on in the restaurant's life cycle (so were you, but I was there even earlier) but it seemed the fundamentals were so strong that it had nowhere to go but up. I don't know that Long Beach and the Wick are competing exactly, because they offer such different experiences, but I certainly see Long Beach becoming more of a real restaurant as opposed to a resort restaurant.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Long Beach Resort is definite competition for the Wick and somewhat more casual so its a little better fit to the "west coast experience".

Had a family party at the Wick in a private dining room last night to celebrate inlaw's 50th anniversary. It went great - the food, wine, service etc were PERFECT. They handled 26 adults and 12 kids with great style.

Foccacia buns for kid's hamburgers only "complaints" from a few little ones but that's nothing. The Wick's food can challenge anything in a bigger city which considering the distance from Vancouver is saying something. And the staff actually enjoyed serving the kids unlike many restaurants in Toronto were my very well behaved son is just tolerated.

Even the 2 BC wines we served were liked by all - their wine list was extensive but really light on wines I know - in Toronto, the selection of BC wines is poor so pre-event tasting was limited. I trusted the Wick's sommelier and was not disappointed. However, the markup on their list is a little generous - by my count about 350%.

Had lunch at Tough City Sushi - on the back deck, yesterday. Noticed same faces from diner at the Long Beach Resort. Its quite a finite eating scene here in Tofino but in comparison to when I first came 10 years ago, a much more enjoyable vacation.

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I had dinner at both restaurants this week. I thought the setting was breathtaking at the Wick but the food was disappointing. The Long Beach Lodge was terrific for its simple handling of organic ingredients. The service and desserts brought the experience down a few notches but I was just thrilled to be there. Tofino is my idea of paradise.

So is Ouest in Vancouver, but I'll report on that magnificent meal later. :smile:

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  • 1 month later...

We were up in Tofino in the middle of September. The Long Beach Lodge was a nice surprise. The food was much better than I would have expected from a new place and the atmosphere was very loose and holidaylike.

Dinner at the Wick on the other was just this side of execrable. My companion had a steak that was too tough by far and the food lacked any real sizzle. The atmosphere left something to be desired with waiters still on a training program and the generally stiff atmosphere nicely complementing the large number of male patrons wearing jacket and tie. The setting is beautiful but I have never been impressed with the food or atmosphere or help and this last experience will be the last.

The Middle Beach Lodge does a crab feed buffet style on Friday nights that hits the right note for a resort meal. Unfortunately this time we gave that up in favour of the Wick (all those good reviews have to be right. Right?) The setting is nearly as good as the Wick and the lodge great room is a fantastic place to eat and enjoy and apple crisp for dessert.

This time the weather was unbelievable and made the whole place more beautiful than usual.

It ain't the meat it's the emotion

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bgood, I'm sorry to hear that you didn't have a good experience at the Wick. My husband and I are going there for the first time in January and are staying for a few nights but we won't have a car in Tofino. I was hoping to dine at places while I'm there, do you know if it's feasible to do that without a car?

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  • 8 months later...

Hi Canada posters!

NYC egulleter heading to the Tofino/Ucluelet area (after a few days in Vancouver) for the first time in mid-August. Really excited and the info. I've searched for so far has been really helpful. We are debating as to whether to stay in the Middle Beach Lodge while we are in the area or a small B&B in Ucluelet (which has a working kitchen so we can cook some of our own fresh seafood!)

My one main question is about down-home, seafood shack style eateries on Vancouver Island--are there any recommended ones? Per FG and everyone else's advice, we will definitely try either the Wick Inn, Long Beach Lodge, and/or Cafe Pamplona while we are in the area, but also interested in a nice, get-your-hands dirty seafood eatery where we can crack open a crab (FG--really curious to get one the size of a "small puppy") or just slurp some oysters. I've seen links to the Schooner on 2nd and Sea Shanty in the area--do any egulleters have experiences with these restaurants?

FYI--the itinerary for our trip so far is 4 days in Vancouver and 3-4 days in Tofino/Uncluelet. In Vancouver, we will be staying in Richmond so will make sure to hit Kirin and Sun Sui Wah; we also will be dining in at Ouest for the first time which has gotten me super-excited (looks like we may get a kitchen table, too!) Maybe a day trip up the coast or to Whislter... Then, it's off to Tofino/Uncluelet.

Thanks so much,

Howie

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Ah yes, Tofino. One of our favourite places to go relax, refresh and revitalize. I moved out west from Montreal/Halifax in '80 and visited Tofino for the first time in '82 and have been back every year since.

We head out there after Cdn Thanksgiving in the fall thanks to the kind folks who will rent we golden retriever owners their home on Chesterman Beach.

Over the years, before and after dogs we have stayed at the Ocean Village, Pacific Sands, Weigh West, Orca Lodge and the Wickaninnish Inn.

We extended our stay the first year the Wick opened when after a couple of drinks in their lounge we were pleasantly surprised to be advised that they had two pet rooms per floor (no other place at that time on the ocean/beach permitted pets). We have been back every year since.

Is the Pointe as good as it originally was when Rod Butters (now Fresco in Kelowna) opened it? No. Is it still a great destination point? Yes, no question. Personally, I prefer to have lunch rather than dinner especially when in the Fall, the sun has set by about seven so you lose the breathtaking view. We had a few hit and misses during our last visit so this fall we are going to give the Wick a pass and stay the entire time in a rented home. More cooking for me perhaps, but what a place to do it.

Last year we were pleasantly surprised by the Long Beach Lodge Resort. We had a couple of lunches there watching the rolling surf plow into Cox Bay. Much different look as compared with Chesterman. Surprised by their lunch policy [at least at that time] of only serving wine by the glass rather than by the bottle too. Mind you enjoyed the Black Hills Note Bene that they were featuring by the glass.

I have seen some positive reviews here. I thought the original manager and wife/chef had left. Who is cooking now? Her salmon/halibut fish tacos were great last fall.

We have enjoyed Cafe Pamplona the past couple of years including a bottle of Jeff Martin's Merlot from La Frenz.

For a more casual meal the pub at Weigh West is a good bet.

Of course, there is nothing better some nites than a good pizza from Surfside Pizza. Dave Dolina does a great job and it is worth ones while to inquire about the evening specials. I had some nice lamb chops one evening which were just great.

We dropped in at the relatively new resort in Ucluelet last year out across the harbour from the Cdn Princess along Seaplane Rd...the menu looked nice but they were only open for dinner and I did not want to drive back that night.

Well only about 3 more months before we'll be out there. If anyone has other suggstions I would love to hear them.

Merlin

Edmonton, AB

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Hi Canada posters!

NYC egulleter heading to the Tofino/Ucluelet area (after a few days in Vancouver) for the first time in mid-August. Really excited and the info. I've searched for so far has been really helpful. We are debating as to whether to stay in the Middle Beach Lodge while we are in the area or a small B&B in Ucluelet (which has a working kitchen so we can cook some of our own fresh seafood!)

My one main question is about down-home, seafood shack style eateries on Vancouver Island--are there any recommended ones? Per FG and everyone else's advice, we will definitely try either the Wick Inn, Long Beach Lodge, and/or Cafe Pamplona while we are in the area, but also interested in a nice, get-your-hands dirty seafood eatery where we can crack open a crab (FG--really curious to get one the size of a "small puppy") or just slurp some oysters. I've seen links to the Schooner on 2nd and Sea Shanty in the area--do any egulleters have experiences with these restaurants?

FYI--the itinerary for our trip so far is 4 days in Vancouver and 3-4 days in Tofino/Uncluelet. In Vancouver, we will be staying in Richmond so will make sure to hit Kirin and Sun Sui Wah; we also will be dining in at Ouest for the first time which has gotten me super-excited (looks like we may get a kitchen table, too!) Maybe a day trip up the coast or to Whislter... Then, it's off to Tofino/Uncluelet.

Thanks so much,

Howie

Email me and I will set up a great tour of our restaurant and the local fisheries while you are in Vancouver. I can set you up with some stuff on the island as well, with enough notice.

Or call Jason, my purchaser at the restaurant directly and he can help (be aware, he can be ornery early in the morning!).

Chef/Owner/Teacher

Website: Chef Fowke dot com

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I was in Tofino 2 years ago ... We had a great meal at a restaurant, but i can't remember the name of it. It was in a small plaza that had a sporting goods/clothing store ... It was Pacific Rim cuisine. I had halibut soaked in sake over rice with a curry sauce and vegetables. I think it may have been the Raincoast Cafe, but i'm not sure ...

It was not right downtown, it was a little outside, but pretty close.

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ErinB:

That would be the Raincoast...or is it the RainForest...or the Raintree :biggrin: Rain something anyway adjacent to the gift shop, whale watching, hemp clothing and raingear stores.

We too have enjoyed its food with an asian influence as you suggested with the sake soaked halibut.

Merlin

Edmonton, AB

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Hi - This is Lounge Lizard's wife! He and I met while he was living in Tofino, and I was living in Ucluelet. We both worked at the ORIGINAL Wickaninish Restaurant on Long Beach, right in the National Park (he was a chef, me a server) Years ago it was a fantastic place to eat, but I haven't been back in about 8 years. I wonder if it's still the same....... if anyone happens to go there I'd love to have a review!!

:biggrin:

Edited by Lounge Lizard (log)
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"Mrs" Lounge Lizard:

Well, if it has been 8 yrs since your last visit to the orginal Wick location, you may very well have served us. It has been about that time or a little longer since we were last in Tofino at the time of year when the restaurant was open.

We now head out to Tofino after Cdn Thanksgiving so by that time the restaurant has usually packed up (Labour Day deadline I think) and the Parks Canada interpretative centre is boared up as well.

Was the restaurant being operated by the same folks as the Cdn Princess in Ucluelet at that time?

I recollect being disappointed in the food one year but upon our return the following year it was so much better. One certainly could not do much better for a view, at least until the new Wick's "Pointe" opened up.

I recollect being there one evening and watched as an eagle swooped into the ocean to catch a fish. The weight of the fish dragged the eagle into the surf. The restaurant almost tilted as diners left their tables to watch the eagle "swim" using its wing to "breastroke" to a nearby rock. It pulled its prey up onto a rock and "had dinner" as we returned to our plates.

We are looking forward to October and a return visit to the area.

Merlin

Edmonton

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Chef Fowke inquired in part:

Is Roots Lodge still open?

I am not sure CF, we have passed it several times since its opening en route to the lighthouse at the Amphitrite Point Coast Guard station or to stroll along the Wild Pacific Trail however have never stopped at the Lodge itself. Its architecture, at least from the street side, does not make it easy to tell if anything is happening or not.

No one has ever recommended it to us during our trips to the coast.

I just did a google search and there was a real estate ad offering the building up for sale for $379,000. Not sure of its date but there was a 2003 copyright icon at the bottom.

I suspect that it is, was or will be "no more".

Did stop at the Tauca Lea By The Sea resort last trip out. It is off the harbour across from the townsite accessed by the Seaplane Depot Rd. Unfortunately the restaurant was only open for dinner at least at that time of year [we were there in October] . Had a look at the menu and it was predominantly south-east asian influenced seafood. Looked very good but we never headed back to try it. Maybe this Fall.

Merlin

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We stayed at the Aerie for our honeymoon and are now thinking about going to Wickaninnish Inn, with perhaps a stop-off at Sooke Harbour House, for next year's anniversary. I've been taking notes from this and older threads, so all your opinions are much appreciated.

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For breakfast in Tofino, I recommend a little place behind the CIBC called the Alleyway Cafe. The patio furniture is made of driftwood, and check out the large laurel bush. I always pluck a leaf and inhale the aroma. The Alleyway Eggs are excellent, 2 over-easy eggs on an english muffin, with cheddar and Swiss, salsa, and some kind of white sauce. You may end up sharing a table with some hippies, but don't sweat it, man, it's all good.

Right beside it is The Common Loaf bakery. They have some weird pizzas by the slice, if you're into stuff like yam paste instead of pizza sauce. But the best is the Peasant Loaf, a chewy crusty bread with dates and sunflower seeds, which just begs to be broken off by the chunk and eaten plain, preferably shared with friends as you stroll casually to the beach.

The most reliable place for live dungeness crab is the Weigh West Resort, just before town, on the right. Make sure you get large ones, with no legs missing, and, if you can, squeeze the legs to make sure they're hard. If they're caught locally, especially from Long Beach, they'll have a purplish color. These are the best in my opinion. Sometimes crab is brought from Nanaimo or Mill Bay, but they tend to be dull red or brownish.

You can also try the Crab Dock for a better deal/fresher local crab, but no guarantees. Also keep your eye out for signs on the way into town.

Want some free oysters? Go to the 4th St Dock. See the loading ramp? Look to the right of it, between the dock and the ramp. This is where the oyster boats from the oyster farms load up the oyster truck. Many oysters fall from the nets as they hoist them into the truck. If you get there after a recent load, you should be able to wade in and collect armfulls. Slightly dodgy, but in the 3 years I lived there, I always had plenty of oysters for beach cookouts.

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We stayed at the Aerie for our honeymoon and are now thinking about going to Wickaninnish Inn, with perhaps a stop-off at Sooke Harbour House, for next year's anniversary. I've been taking notes from this and older threads, so all your opinions are much appreciated.

We have been going to the Wick annually since its opening. Our stays have ranged from a couple of days up to about a week at a time.

This year will be the first one that although we will be back on Chesterman Beach we will not be spending any of the stay at the Wick.

In part we are not returning because we were disappointed in the food service. We are of the view that it has been sliding for awhile. There were a few hicups last year with service too that maybe one ought to be more "forgiving" about except that at the end of the day you are being charged "resort" prices.

Chef Garroway had just left so I do not know who was running the kitchen.

We love the "physical plant" and by and large, the people who staff the Pointe Restaurant but not enough to spend the "big bucks" required especially if you are staying for longer than a week-end and are eating all your meals there.

Personally I would not put it in the same category as the Aerie (which we enjoyed a lot when we stayed in Victoria) or the Sooke Harbour House (going from reputation as we have not been but keep meaning to try).

No question this fall we will head down the beach for a leisurely lunch with a nice bottle of wine despite the cost, but will pass on dinner. Mind you, at that time of year the sun has set by 7:00/7:30 so you lose the breathtaking ocean vistas at nite.

Although the Chefs selection tasting menu was quite good last year, dinner is not sufficiently good or interesting to warrant the cost so we'll pass.

Perhaps under the new kitchen/restaurant team things have improved. I do not know anyone who has been there recently.

If you do go before Thanksgiving I would appreciate hearing your comments.

Merlin

PS I read that their beachside addition complete with some suites equipped with cooking facilities opened July 1st or so. Will be interested in seeing what they are like. I could not get any printed literature on it and their website had not been updated the last time I checked.

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There is a new restaurant in Tofino called Shelter. Great chef, Jeff Keenliside-former Cafe Brio chef. Looking forward to eating there in October. Stay far away from the Wick. (actually the view is very nice from the dining room-but it reminds me of a ski-lodge)

cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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