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Jul 22, 2006 11:07 AM

Recommendations for Sooke, Tofino and Salt Spring Island

We're going to B.C. next week and will be visiting the above mentioned areas (as well as spending our first night in Vancouver

Have planned to dine at Sooke Harbour House but would appreciate any other recommendations (we like bistros and always enjoy sampling "regional" cuisine.)

Thanks for sharing your expertise. I promise to report back on discoveries.

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  1. You are fortunate alleyjasper. The weather should be beautiful if unfortunately a tad busy even out on the Pacific Rim and the beautiful beaches of Long Beach and the like.

    I will look forward to hearing your review of the Sooke Harbour House. My wife and I have been meaning to go for years but do date usually end up staying in downtown Victoria rather than out to Sooke. Maybe next year.

    There are numerous beaches in the Sooke area which would be worth a wander. I have heard good things about Markus' Wharfside Restaurant which is near the government dock in Sooke itself [] and the restaurant at the Point, No Point Resort.

    Victoria has numerous excellent restaurants including long time favourites Brasserie L'Ecole, Zambri's, Cafe Brio and newcomer...well relatively, Rosemeade.

    So you are going to Tofino? Probably my favourite place in Canada to relax, refresh and revitalize. You won't be too far from it when you are in Sooke if you could venture straight across the coast and Broken Island Group through Bamfield and the West Coast Trail. Pity you have to do all that backtracking up the island to Nanaimo and then across island through Port Alberni to Pacific Rim National Park.

    Mind you it is all worth it when you hit that one spot at the crest of the hill and Long Beach opens up and comes into sight for the first time.

    Where are you staying? Even if you do not stay at the Wickaninnish Inn definitely go there for lunch. I suggest lunch over dinner because of the crowds, prices and the fact that you will can take in the beautiful panoramic vistas from their dining room.

    Mind you you are going during the summer whereas we usually travel in the fall and the sun has set by 7. It will be up later in your case.

    Last year a new spot opened upon in the Village, Pasticcerria Conradi. Former pastry chef from the Wick. Just across from the Liquor Store. Nice, cool atmosphere with thin crust pizza's salads and of course pastries.

    Shelter and Rain Coast Cafe are also very good too. Another place opened earlier in the year above the Schooner on the main street.

    SOBO...the famous "catering truck" is now adjacent to what was formerly Cafe Pamplona in the Botanical Gardens as you drive into town. You can now have Lisa Aheir's "killer" fish tacos with a glass of wine inside.

    Given the time of year you will be visiting you can drop into the Parks Canada interpretative centre on the Wickaninnish Beach within the Provincial Park. Not to be confused with the Wick Inn mentioned above which is actually on Chesterman Beach a few kilimetres outside of the village. There was a nice restaraurant with a great view operated by the folks who own the Canadian Princess in Ucluelet. It is closed by the time we get out to the coast in late October.

    Tofino and the area is a wonderful place. I hope you enjoy it and the crowds are not too crazy...funny how all the Claqoquot Sound logging protests accomplished one thing but at the same time introduced the area to all that investment and lower mainland money, developement and even have subdivisions going up. I remember speaking with a real character of an older woman who operated a floating book store which was achored up at Hot Springs Cove, this was probably 20 or more years ago and she observed, "Tofino isn't the funky little town that I remember anymore"...oh too true but it is still great.

    Saltspring was very nice the one time we stopped there en route to Victoria from Tofino. We had good pub fare at the bar just off the Vesuvius Ferry terminal and at Moby's in Ganges. The latter may be closed now.

    The Hastings House in Ganges looked interesting but they did not take dogs so we could not stay.

    The Saturday morming farmer's market was very good. Of course crafters abound on the island. Great cheese. Had an interesting talk with David Wood whose chevre in particular is outstanding.

    Do enjoy your trip.

    You might want to check your local newstand, Saveur Magazine is featuring Vancouver Island next month but often the newstand release date is earlier so it should give you some ideas too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Mac

      Just wanted to say thanks, Bob Mac. I will definitely report back -- looks like Sooke Harbour House has some mixed reviews already.Also will search for, "Saveur" before we depart. And the website for Markus' Wharfside
      restaurant looked intriguing.

      We are hoping to try the Wick -- heard something about hotel guests getting first priority so I guess we'll have to see how it works because we aren't staying there.

      All in all, it is a much anticipated trip!

    2. If I were back in Tofino I would pay repeat visits to the Rain Coast cafe and the cafe Pamplona, if they still exist. The latter has a wonderful garden too.

      The farmer's market in Salt Spring island was good for tastings indeed. There are some quality crafts there as well. In addition to the famous cheese I also have fond memories of the lamb sausage sandwich sold in one of the stands by the liquor store. If you don't want to carry the cheese with you on your trip, you can buy it when you get back to Vancouver at the Thrifty supermarkets or at one of the cheese vendors in the Granville Island Market.

      1. The Treehouse in Ganges town has a sprawling patio area all under trees-a wonderful place for lunch.

        1. Felix the Hound:

          Yes the Raincoast Cafe is certainly a continuing and going concern in Tofino with its somewhat south-east asian influenced seafood. Just tough to get in given its relatively small seating and being open only for dinner. Consistently gets good reviews from tourists and locals alike [


          As I mentioned above, Cafe Pamplona has changed hands. Lisa and Artie Ahier now operate it having parked their catering truck SOBO beside it for lunch hours and dinner inside the restaurant.

          You can get some vino inside to go along with the fish tacos, soba noodles and other interesting take outs from the bus.

          Richard Moore who was one of the two former owners of Pamplona has gone into business with the chef at Shelter [used to be the Crab House][].

          I think the other was Conradi who has opened Pasticceria Conradi in town which is definitely a nice addition.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bob Mac

            Bob Mac
            I missed the reference to Cafe Pamplona. Have not been back to Tofino for two years but it seems like things are really cooking.

          2. Any recs in Uclulet? How about Campbell River?