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Good Eats in Vancouver and Vancouver Island

We are going on an Alaskan cruise and will have a few days both before and after the cruise. We will probably spend 1 1/2 days precruise in Vancouver and then 3 days on Vancouver Island after the cruise. (We have previously been to Vancouver Island and enjoyed Tofino so we're thinking of a different area this time.)

From reading previous posts, I see that West seems to be the restaurant of choice for Vancouver and will probably try it precruise.

After the cruise we think we'll head for Vancouver Island. I've read that Rosemeade, L'ecole and Cafe Brio seem to be the favorites around Victoria. What's the opinion on The Aerie and or Sooke Harbor? (I had read about them in the past) In fact we are debating staying in Malahat for a couple of days to be near The Aeries, and the wineries on the Island and not too far from Butchart Gardens via ferry. Speaking of the wineries, are any of them worth a visit?

Also are there any recommended Thai restaurants in either area?

Thanks for your help and comments,


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  1. we are also cruising to Alaska(leave on July 15 on Holland America). Ship of the Seven Seas in North Vancouver is quite an experience(if its still there. Also the Boat House in West Vancouver is great!

    1. Jean for the island, my money is on Sooke Harbour House vs. the Arie. What I have always liked is the whole terroir approach to food. If they can't get it within a certain distance of the restaurant (50KM's I think) they don't use it. So instead of lemons, it is lemon thyme or lemon balm. Really creative.
      Arie has a better wine list though and the locale cannot be beat.

      As for wineries, I would not think that any stands out, but I would reccomend Merridale Cidery in Cobble Hill, has a great little place for lunch (have heard from family, not gone myself)and the winter apple cider (done the same as Ice Wine but with apples) is fantastic. Was just up there last weekend and there is still a supply.

      1. I haven't been there "yet," but I picked up a magazine at Barnes and Noble the other day that I wished I would have had a long time ago. It's called "Wine Adventures," and practically half the magazine is devoted to British Columbia this issue. There's a whole article on the Okanagan Valley wineries, a whole article on Vancouver Island wineries, and a whole article on Sooke Harbour. It's definitely worth picking up if you can. I can't get to their website, because they block winery websites at my work, but the articles may be online: www.wamagazine.com

        1. Sounds like a wonderful trip Jean.

          You named our current three favourites in Victoria. Will not go wrong with any of them.

          It has been quite awhile but we had a wonderful meal at the Aerie a few years ago. We had a nice table overlooking the fjord and enjoyed our food and wine while watching the sun set and an everchanging tapestry of colours.

          The maitre d' and sommelier likely responsible for the very good wine list that squeegeeboy was James Kendall who I now think manages the resort itself.

          The Sooke Harbour House is on our "must go" list but despite heading to the Island [we too love Tofino]at least twice a year have not "splurged" and actually stayed there and dined. Some occasion we will and if you go I would appreciate hearing how you found it. People I have spoken to are divided almost 50/50 into "outstanding" v. "disappointed" "camps" in my experience.

          The only winery we have actually visited...after missing the Nanaimo ferry..was Vignetti-Zagnatta. Decent sparking wine, not too impressed with the others.

          Our favourite wines from the island are produced by Alderlea in the Duncan/Maple Bay area. We have tried on two occasions to visit without success. The signage is not as good when say compared with the Niagara Escarpment/On-The-Lake area so we have not been to any others. Perhaps this Fall.

          Like Squeegeeboy, I would recommend Merridale. Their ciders are delicious covering all styles. Love their "Scrumpy"...mind you my wife says it is because I am "grumpy" and enjoy the extra alcohol.

          I just read that another ciderie has opened up in the Saanich area if you do not want to go to Mill Bay.

          1. For Thai food in Vancouver, I'd recommend Simply Thai on Hamilton Street in Yaletown above all others. Montri's is also excellent but somewhat out of the way from the downtown core which, I gather, is where you'll likely be staying.

            West: fabulous.

            As an aside regarding the first reply in this thread, the Seven Seas seafood restaurant in North Vancouver has been out of operation for a number of years now. And, no offense, but The Boathouse in West Vancouver (I'm guessing that this refers to the one in Horseshoe Bay) is nothing more than a CFD (casual fine dining) chain restaurant. Decent food, but there's certainly much better in Vancouver.

            Enjoy your stay!

            1. Thank everyone for the responses.

              It appears that Sooke Harbour wins out. Now I just need to figure out the logistics. Is it an easy drive from Victoria to Sooke - or should we stay down there? We will of course enjoy wine(s?) with dinner so want to be safe.

              I do intend to buy the Wine Adventure mag - the web site is pretty limited - so again thanks for that info.

              Actually, I have lots of logistical problems and as usual to many places to try and not enough time.

              If I only eat one meal in Victoria, should it be Rosemeade, L'ecole or Cafe Brio?

              Again, thanks for all the input. Of course, I'll appreciate more if any one else cares to voice an opinion.


              1. Jean:

                You are asking about the same issues that concerned us when deciding whether to go out to Sooke Harbour House or not.

                Their wine list is very good especially in regard to hard to find better Canadian wines. Perhaps not surprisingly given their penchant for "regional" focussed dining.

                It takes about an hour to drive from downtown Victoria and I would not recommend taking the winding road after a big meal and some good wine.

                A taxi would set you back approximately $70 to $100 the front desk advised me.

                That was part of the reason I elected The Aerie and had to exercise some wholly uncharacteristic, self-restraint when it came to the vino. A bottle of the stiped label pinot gris from Blue Mountain as I recollect.

                Tough question about Victoria.

                We always go to L'Ecole, usually more than once because we love the food, the wine program [everything on their list apart from bubblies available by the glass if you agree to have two...that usually means that there are quite a few bottles open as a result most can be had even if you want one and your partner another]. Marc Morrison joint owner/sommelier loves his job.

                Brio is terrific too. Greg and Sylvia are dynamic hosts. A little louder perhaps. Have not had a bad meal.

                Rosemeade. First time visitor in February. Very good. Lovely room.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Bob Mac


                  What do you think of Nautical Nellie's, if you've been there? I kind of wanted to go there for a lunch just because of the name! They have t-shirts too, so I would need one and my mom, who's also a Nell by way of middle name, would need one too!

                  Katie Nell

                  1. re: Katie Nell


                    Although we have walked by Nautical Nellie's on multiple occasions we have not eaten there. No particular reason. Probably just a case of heading away from Wharf Street at the time and deciding to stop in elsewhere.

                    I just went to their web-site and it looks ok to me.

                    Let us know your reaction if you do try it.

                2. When I took an Alaska cruise, I similarly had time in Vancouver before & after. I loved my dinner in Vij's and my lunch in Wild Rice. In fact, the latter was so delicious I went back there for lunch after the cruise. They had this dessert, something like banana plantain date crunch? anyway it was simply delicious

                  1. Just returned from 5 days in Vancouver/Victoria and had some great meals! Vij's was FANTASTIC and a great value, had the lamb popsicles and short ribs for main course, sublime. West was also outstanding but we felt somewhat overpriced, I had scallops and I think my husband had salmon. In Victoria we stayed at Brentwood Bay about 20 minutes north of town and had dinner at their lovely dining room one of the nights. It was very good, picturesue overlooking the bay. But the service was quite slow. Also ate at Lure, recommended for seafood and they were right! Excellent halibut, my husband requested a different prep on salmon from what was on the menu, they accomodated him easily and it too was outstanding, all while overlooking the harbor and Parliment building at night.