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Shelter is owned by Jay Guildenhys who also owns Suze Lounge in Victoria. My good freind Jeff is the chef. Jeff's food is fantastic-very organicly focused and clean. Unfortunately I have not been there to eat yet as I work in an isolated resort at the top of Vancouver Island. Jeff is very buisy though, he never emails...

cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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Hi again, everybody! Thanks so much for all the suggestions--we are about two weeks away from heading over there and really looking forward to the trip. I will definitely make sure to post back once we return.

Cheers,

Howie

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Merlin, thanks for the advice. We're not planning on making the trip until Oct 2004. Right now it looks like we may end up staying at Sooke Harbour House instead, and save the Wick Inn for another year--perhaps during storm season. By then, hopefully the food will have improved! I didn't realize they were building more suites. Kitchens would be really welcome.

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Funny to read your post Zep. My first job in Tofino was at the Alley Waycafe. Made alot of meals out of that little kitchen.

I went on to work at the Wick...not that one. The original Wickanninish Inn in Pacific Rim Park. I have no idea how it is now, the crew I worked with is all long gone we did some fine meals there, then we would surf right out on Long Beach, the staff room was full of uniforms and wetsuits.

This thread sure takes me back. I spent about 6 years Chefing on the coast and made my home on a float house about 10 miles from town. Commutes could sometimes be tough.

Has anyone been out to the Cayoquot Wilderness Resort?

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Hello from Tofino, I have been reading this line for some time, and have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. Some of the latest udpates for all:

Wickaninnish Inn - Pointe Restaurant - now under the direction of Senior Sous Chef, Mike Bebault - best bargain is the salmon BBQ takes place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at $28pp. Dinners still great, service good, and still a tough reservation during the summer as accepting guests only due to the recent expansion.

Cafe Pamplona - Outstanding food, funky atmosphere, decent service - Eli is the person to talk to about hidden finds for wines at this restaurant. Go early for your dinner reservation and wander through the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

Long Beach Lodge - Not the same place since Lisa left the kitchen (I will talk more about that later). Still a great place to hang in there Great Room, eat nibblies and have a glass of wine or beer - service can be spotty.

Raincoast Cafe - Still some of the best food in town - pacific northwest with and Asian flair - Not a very good wine list - little atmosphere.

Shelter - the new kid on the block is holding there own - good food, mixed service (been there twice with two dramatically different experiences) - I still expect this restaurant to grow in stature once they get the details worked out.

Schooner - the old standby intown - always packed - slow service - go for appys (lots of flavours - mains tend to lack after the appys).

Alleyway Cafe/Costa Azul - yahoo, fun atmosphere, good cheap and plentiful food - new tapas menu in the evening is good and lots of fun.

Tough City Sushi - good sushi (if the real sushi guys are working), introduced a new regular (?) menu this year under Matthias, but just heard he walked out last week - not good!

Weigh West Pub - sorry other than a last resort for a cold beer - I do not recommend this place - Last week all nightly food specials and beer deals are gone - now costs $7 for a lousy draft - its cheaper at the Wick.

Sobo - this is Lisa Ahiers' new spot, a converted catering truck serving unbelievably great take out food. Located just behind Beaches and Live to Surf - Long live the killer seafood taco!!!

I think that is the basics for now - I can be reached at gypsyinnkeepers@hotmail.com if someone needs more direct needs.

Big Hugs from Paradise!!

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I think that is the basics for now - I can be reached at gypsyinnkeepers@hotmail.com if someone needs more direct needs.

hmmmm....gypsyinnkeeper...is this Chris?

We'll be out Oct 15 staying at the house mid-way down the beach with the "eagle's nest" panoramic view

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Latest scoop on Tofino:

Pointe Restaurant at The Wickaninnish Inn - still one of the premier spots in the area, Mike Bebeault is the Senior Sous Chef, worked under both Rodney Butters and Jim Garraway. Reservations for Inn guests only during the summer, although they do open up ressies day of for visitors to the area. Best deal is the Salmon BBQ, Fridays-Sundays from 11:30 - 2pm - yumm.

Long Beach Lodge - has never been the same since Lisa Ahier left (more on her later), mixed food, very mixed service - although the Great Room is still a nice spot to have a glass of wine or beer with some appetizers.

Cafe Pamplona - This is the real deal for all doubters. Rick has been consistently putting out some of the best food in the area, and with Eli and his pairings of wines - this is great value in a beautiful setting at the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

Weigh West Pub/Blue Heron Restaurant - UGH! - rushed service, average food, decent atmosphere (if being waterside with a bunch of locals watching keno and sports is your idea of atmosphere). Prices have gone up recently and believe it or not it is better value to have a cold draft at the Pointe then at the Pub - go figure.

Shelter - yes the new game in town in doing a good job. Have eaten there twice, both times with mixed service, although the food was very good. Alot of strong personalities on the service side, all seem to be trying to make their mark with not a lot of cohesion. Still recommended for food though!

Raincoast Cafe - Great food, lousy atmosphere, very basic wine list. The main Chef just had a baby so she is not always in the kitchen. Good Pacific Northwest cuisine with an Asian Twist.

Schooner - the locals favorite - I tend to love the appetizers, but find that although the mains are cooked very well, they tend to be lacking in flavour compared to the appies. - always busy.

Loft - most locals shun this place, but I would rather go here for a burger and fries, or fish and chips than most of the other spots in town doing the same food - good value for money.

Garys Chinese Restaurant - great takeout - don't eat in!! If you like spice youhave to really emphasize it with the lady taking the order, otherwise just nicely cooked food with no heat.

Alleyway Cafe/Costa Azul - Locals favorite - awesome breakfasts, gotta have the Huevos Verde (Tofinos version of Huevos Rancheros) - new nightly features are Tapas that are going over very well - no ressies taken - arrive early!

Breakers Deli - Great spot for a quick sandwich, pizza by the slice, decent cheese selection, great spot to stock up for a picnic.

Surfside Pizza - good pizza, not great - expensive if you are used to big city prices - always ask for the crust to be cooked a little longer - tends to be a little underdone most times.

Sea Shanty - Basic pub food with a view - enough said!

Cafe Jabez - Canadian/New Zealand food in a little spot down by the water - has been hit or miss regularly with food and service.

Tough City Sushi - Very good sushi (walk right out if the Japenese guys aren't behind the Sushi Line), used to have an alternate menu, but understand that Matthias who was running that aspect of the menu, left the property a couple of weeks ago. Still a great spot for sushi, with nice views over the harbour.

Sobo - okay - Lisa Ahiers new spot is a giant purple catering truck behind Beaches Grocery and the Live to Surf shop - holy cow - this is gourmet takeout at its finest. Not just recommended - its a must!!!!!!!!!

That basically covers the restaurants in the area - as a side the Long Beach Golf Course has a great little restaurant for burgers, sandwiches etc. If it wasn't a 20 minute drive from Tofino it would be a very busy spot.

If any of you need updates on what is going on, I can be reached at gypsyinnkeepers@hotmail.com

Until next time......

W

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Chris:

This is Bob Macdonald aka Merlin.

My wife and I were at the Wick last year and we talked during several lunches.

You were at the time looking for your own property until the new positions came available.

Recollect discussing our trip to PEI too given your history there.

We'll be out again after Thanksgiving.

Merlin

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with the posts on Tofino in general.

However; I would have to be critical of one property:

The Long Beach Lodge Resort is a hit and miss indevour to eat at. The young chef appears eager and proud and the food can show this, but they have had numerous staffing changes/walk outs and an apparent tyrant of a General Manager has good staff leaving as quickly as they arrived.

Lots of potential, but enter at your own risk.

Cheers,

M'd

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That is indeed a shame.

We had several good lunches at the Long Beach Lodge watching the surf roll into Cox Bay [much different from Chesterman].

Did not understand their practice of only selling wine by the glass rather than the bottle at lunch. Did have Note Bene from Black Hills by the glass however.

I remember the fish tacos in particular being delicious.

Last week the Edmonton Journal published an article from the Victoria newspaper hilighting the Tofino Food festival and mentioning places like Shelter and Sobo which I had not heard of before reading some recent posts here.

Those two and Cafe Jabez are the new ones we'll try out this trip.

One more month to go and we'll be "Tofino bound".

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Good choices Merlin.

Sobo is Lisa Aheir's little enterprise. She was responsible for the Fish Taco that used to be served at Long Beach Lodge.

When she left the lodge she took her fish taco recipe with her. The great food that she was known for at the Lodge can now be enjoyed outdoors in front of her snack truck kitchen and dining area. The affordable and completely unpretentious environment is perfect for her clean, slow cooked, treats.

Enjoy!!

M'd

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  • 1 month later...

An update on Shelter. Chef Jeff has left to do a new restaurant in Whisler, the sous has also departed. No info on a replacement.(It may be interesting to note that the parent company Suze in Victoria burned through five chef's in their first year of buisness.)

cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just got back to Alberta from almost three weeks on at least this occasion, the very "wet" coast.

Had a brilliant time in Tofino. Had cooking facilities this time so did not get out and try the local restaurants very much apart from a couple of lunches at the Long Beach Lodge Resort and another at the Wick.

The lunches at the LBLR were inconsistent both with regard to portion size and quality.

The Wick's lunch was delicious but the prices make it difficult to justify multiple samplings.

Did get some fish tacos from SOBO. They were as good as what I had remembered from last year's lunch when she was at the LBLR.

Cafe Jabez which had been mentioned by others was closed down. I could not find it and then asked at the liquor store and was told it had closed a couple of months earlier.

Dave Dolina's pizza from Surfside still pleases as does his very garlicy caesar salad when "yours truly" does not want to cook.

Made reservations at Shelter for one nite but had to cancel. Perhaps just as well given Saucey's comments above.

Cafe Pamplona and the RainForest...both recommended by people I had spoken to...will have to wait for next year when we return....both were good on past visits.

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  • 2 months later...

Tofino Top Five:

1) Stay at the Tofino Swell Lodge. Ask Betsy the owner where to get fresh seafood. Barbecue in the backyard which

is on the waterfront. Sit in the hot tub. A perfect day.

2) Shelter: Hopefully Jeff the Chef will come back for the summer of 2004. Jay the owner is a great guy. Simple

locally sourced products.

3) Tough City Sushi. Kinda pricey, not the most exciting sushi but the owner Crazy Ron is worth the visit. Ask him

to 'hold up' a table. The patio on the back is best place to watch the sun going down.

4) The Wick - I like going in the afternoon after a long walk on the beach and eat weathervane scallops wrapped in

smoked albacore. A couple of Stellas and some people watching.

5) I also work out at Clayoquot Widlerness Resort and we have an unbelievable dinner cruise / barbecue on Saturday nights running through

the summer. I'm not necessarily trying to flog the place but it in my mind it is an incredible deal as they are aggressively trying to

showcase the resort. www.wildretreat.com You get picked up in Tofino and then enjoy a 30 minute boat ride out to the resort. The barbecue is in our

authentic native longhouse. We do smoked rib eye steaks, dungeness crab, salmon that smokes around the fire, roasting

oysters in the fire and a myriad of other unique buffet items. We also serve high end bc wines and always bring in a band.

You can also come most any night of the week and do our 5 plus course dinner in our dining room.

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So.....if someone were to go to Tofino in the next few weeks, what places would be open for dinner? Are there enough choices for several nights worth of meals, or should we wait until the winter 'blahs" have passed?

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Latest Tofino lineup as follows:

Wick - open daily 3 meals a day

Long Beach Lodge - open daily 3 meals a day

Cafe Pamplona - re-opening March 1st

Raincoast Cafe - open daily for dinner 5:30-9

Shelter - reopening March 1st

Schooner - daily 3 meals a day

Tough City Sushi - daily 5-9pm

Surfside Pizza - reopening February 1st

SOBO - reopening February 1st (we hope!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I agree with Paul Mitchell above about Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, great food, fabulous atmosphere and the staff are great, however, unless you are staying there it can be difficult to get transportation requirements worked out. I desperately tried to send numerous guests out there this past year, and on several occasions was told that unless there were 4 or more booked they wouldn't do the trip for 2 people. Bring a gang and enjoy it - a very special dining experience.

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SOBO - reopening February 1st (we hope!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Great to have eyes & ears out in Tofino!

Let us know when SOBO actually reopens, if you can. I'm looking for an excuse for a roadtrip out there, and I'm really interested in trying that place!!!

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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  • 2 weeks later...

Sobo will reopen on Feb. 6th with all the great goodies from last year and a few new additions. Cowichan bay farms duck confit over warm organic grains and port wine vin, grilled fresh albacore tuna with local komatsuna to name a few, and of course the daily specials are always worth a try. Closed tues. and wen. until may. 7 days a week in the summer.

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We are heading over to Long Beach Lodge on Friday, Feb 13th. Does anyone know the phone number for SOBO so we can make reservations for dinner? Having read the other posts I am assuming that SOBO is the first choice for dinner, followed by Rainforest Cafe and Cafe Pampalona. Other musts? Thanks for the help.

Cheers,

Karole

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Foodie in Vancouver:

SOBO is, or at least was, when we visited in October a catering truck parked behind the surf shop and grocery store off the highway. It was/is a place you walked up to and read the specials off the blackboard and then got your food and sat outside at the few tables or took home.

Unless Chef Ahier has changed her format substantially to deal with the Tofino "winter" ? {this from an Edmontonian who has been dealing with minus 40's not too long ago} it is not a place for reservations or candlelit dining.

The fish tacos are great.....

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It doesn't matter that SOBO is closed or that it is a truck. SOBO is a good lesson on what to do in Tofino for dinner. Get your friends, go surfing or hiking then get some causal dinner and take it to the beach and watch the waves and feel alive outside. My advice is to go to Trilogy Fish Co. and get some indian candy smoked salmon and maybe some smoked albacore if they got it ( in the Weigh West Hotel complex) then go to the Sunflower Cafe and get a whole wack of take out stuff, then go to then go to the Liqour Store and get a bottle of champagne. Then walk past the liquor store, past the hospital, and about a half kilometer down the road till you get to a park with swings, turn right and follow the road another half kilometer as it winds itself to Tonquin Beach Park. You walk down through the rainforest along cedar boardwalks and get to the best beach ever. If you continue to the left (it takes a bit of hiking but worth it) you'll get to four of the coolest private beaches you've ever seen. Put your blanket down and feast. Enjoy everyones company. Talk about how good life is. Then you'll know why everyone knows that SOBO is the fanciest place to eat dinner in Tofino on a Saturday night even if it is just a truck parked in a gravel pit.

Edited by paul mitchell (log)
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