Sooke Harbor House vs. Wickaninnish
We are two couples from San Diego who love fine dining and great food and would like to stay and eat at one of these places this Summer. I realize the two places are different in many ways. We've visited Sooke Harbor for dinner maybe 10 years ago, loved the whole vibe there at the time and promised ourselves we'd return for a 2-3 day stay someday. We've never visited nor eaten at Wickaninnish but it's been highly recommended by a third couple who stayed there recently.
Wickaninnish Inn looks to be an all around more upscale establishment, but I can't seem to find any reports on the dining there. Plus, it's going to be difficult and expensive for us to fly into Tofino.
Sooke Harbour had quite a reputation for dining years ago, but it seems to me I've read or heard somewhere that it's gone downhill recently. It's easier to get to, but wouldn't want to schedula a trip there if the food is just so-so as there seems little else to do in Sooke but eat.
We'd sure appreciate some local feedback from folks who've recently been to either place. We're primarily interested in the dining aspects, but anything else to help us make a decision would be appreciated. Thanks.
485 Wick, Ucluelet, BC V0R, CA
Ok, that's a toughy. Staying at the Sooke is really something...the rooms are all quite different and unique, with lovely soaker tubs, real wood fireplaces and just lovely little touches. The Wick is more of a conventional boutique hotel, very high quality and with great views.
Eating at the Sooke seems to be a bit of a YMMV thing, since the menu changes from day to day. I've never been in the summer high season, when I imagine there's a greater selection; I've been four times in the off-season, and EACH TIME the main course on the tasting menu was....CHICKEN!??!!. Ok, great local chicken, but still, chicken is not the most exciting ingredient. Give me duck or goat or whatever, anything except fracking chicken. Perhaps I was just unlucky on the days I went, still, four times in a row?? The last time I went, and saw chicken again for the fourth time, I just about lost it. Other dishes were generally quite interesting with lots of local ingredients. A huge and varied wine list, if wine is your thing.
The Wick has a more spectacular location, with lots to do around Tofino and Long Beach. The food is consistently great, the tasting menu fairly reasonable for what you get. For some reason, the last time I went everything was a bit over-salted (the head chef wasn't there that day); hopefully just an aberration.
Still, I love the ambience of the Sooke. It would be a hard call to choose. Why not go to both? Spend a night at the sooke, then drive up to Tofino, about 5 hours or so (spectacular drive).
Been to both several times. I would choose the Wick hands down. If you want solitude, go to Tofino. Besides the Wickanninish, there is the Raincoast Cafe which is excellent and the Schooner restaurant is good. We found the food just ok and ambiance at Sooke Harbour House just way too snooty.
Harbour House Restaurant
12233 Beecher St, Surrey, BC V4A3A2, CA
120 Fourth, Tofino, BC V0R2Z0, CA
If you have a car, there's as much to do around Sooke as there is around Tofino. OK, Tofino does have the National Park, the long beach, and deep wet forest.
Somethings for the Sooke area that come to mind:
- the spit at the Harbor House. I walked that with the dog while my wife took the garden tour (we have not eaten there).
- East Sooke Regional Park - lots of hiking, both easy stuff at the Aylard Farm Entrance, and a challenging 10km Coast Trail.
- Port Renfrew and Botanical Beach - one of the best tide pool beaches on the BC coast; every bit as wet as Tofino.
- complete the loop back to Victoria via Lake Cowichan and Duncan (newly paved route).
There were some changes at Wickaninnish (The Pointe) last year or the year before...I haven't been since these changes happen so no first hand reports from me. However...the Wickaninnish must have the best view of any restaurant I have been to. It's at the end of the world.
I ate lunch at Wickaninnish last year and was impressed, but the place is very expensive (my lunch entree was $25, and many dinner entrees are upwards of $35). Having said that, the food was great and the view was spectacular.
The only caveat is that Tofino is rarely warm, even in summer. You might get lucky and get a few days in the 70s or you might end up with temperatures in the 50s, regardless of what time in summer you plan to visit. Plus Tofino is very, very touristy in summer, much more so than Sooke, although it will be interesting to see how the recession impacts the numbers.
I have never eaten at Sooke Harbour House, strangely enough. Their long time chef, Edward Tuscon (sp?), did leave about 2 years ago to open his own place in Sooke, EdGe, which is much, much more casual than the Harbour House and offers bargain-oriented fare. I had lunch at the EdGe and the food was pretty good but not amazing. Still a good value.
I would lean toward Wickaninnish if only because the views and the nearby scenery are much more wild and spectacular than Sooke.
485 Wick, Ucluelet, BC V0R, CA