Style Drama - Edward Quan
Escape to Canada's Pacific Coast Rainforest to discover Tofino’s finest tables
By Edward Quan
Oct 6, 2019 - 6:39:38 PM

Tofino's Wichaninnish Inn on Canada's west coast on the Pacific Ocean

With its extensive network of hiking trails through stunning old growth forest, Tofino is one of the greatest wilderness vacation spots in British Columbia, Canada. But there’s more to this gem of a coastal retreat than outdoor adventures. Aside from its wild and adrenaline-fueled surfing excursions and intimate lover’s strolls along deserted white sand beaches, you can now add exceptional dining and outstanding lodgings to your list of reasons to visit Tofino. For those desiring a more luxurious experience after a day exploring this vast outdoor playground, Tofino is coming into its own.

For my last travel assignment to Tofino, I visited in fall to write about storm watch season for a women’s magazine, but for this late spring visit we arrived to sunny skies. The unseasonably high winds on the seashore evoked just a touch of deja-vu as we prepared for our culinary journey through this outdoor paradise.

Interestingly, you will find no major restaurant chains within the city. Rather, Tofino is filled with smaller independent chef-run restaurants with a focus on quality foods and outstanding ambiance.

For the ultimate Tofino evening dining experience, with the best in west coast cuisine and wine, visit The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn. Perched high on a rocky point, the dining room offers expansive 180-degree views of ocean waves with Chesterman Beach to the south.

The floor-to-ceiling dining room windows are framed by cedar wood and large roof beams bring a taste of the outdoors inside. The natural beauty of both the decor and the views gives you a sense of the local region which inspires Executive Chef Carmen Ingham who creates his menu from sustainable BC seafood, game and produce.

The Pointe Restaurant

The Pointe Restaurant offers a superb tasting menu which changes with the season. Chef Ingham offers five unique selections with wine pairings and you can expect to savour the freshest seafood and meat such as smoked tuna and locally raised grill beef.

Their standard menu has a nice selection of appetizers to satisfy any palate, including green salads, confit ‘northern divine’ sturgeon and foie gras as well as full ‘northern divine’ caviar service.

Recommended entrees are the luscious pan seared scallops which coms with whipped potato, turnip variations, spinach and sorrel and a crab bisque and the truly mouth-watering 6 oz. beef tenderloin accompanied by a baked potato, grilled vegetables, spicy greens and black garlic jus.

The desserts are just as delicious as the entrees, especially the wildflower gateau mille crepe with raspberry sorbet, confit lemon and mountain berry jelly. Delicate and light, this exquisite dessert makes the perfect ending to a fabulous dining experience.

The Shelter Restaurant, Tofino

Below The Pointe’s dining area is the newly built Howard’s Wine Cellar. With three temperature controlled rooms and a large 20 ft yellow cedar table, Howard’s offers one of the largest wine selections on Vancouver Island and one of the finest tasting experiences in BC. The wine list includes not only the best from the Pacific Northwest but also some exceptional bottles from regions across the world. Oenophiles won’t be disappointed.

If a more laid-back atmosphere is what you’re looking for, The Shelter is a casual restaurant in the heart of Tofino with a year round patio that is perfect for families and groups of friends.

The menu offers a range of wholesome comfort foods - burgers, salads and bowls - all sourced from local farms and waters and perfect with a Shed brew.

Inside you will find a large cozy fireplace to sit around with dining areas upstairs and down. Or grab a patio table during the summer months and watch the world go by. The casual fare and relaxed attitude are fitting for this ‘surfer’s paradise’ part of the world.
The Pointe Restaurant

The Tacofino food truck and patrons.

After a day of surfing or diving, Tofino locals head for Tacofino, a bright orange food truck located at the rear of the parking lot on Pacific Rim Highway. The original Tacofino food truck is the stuff of culinary legends, offering the best cod and tuna tacos, burritos and gringas I have had in a long time.

If you didn’t know it was there, you’d find the truck hard to sport as it’s not visible from the highway. Upon entering the lot, you have to travel another 150 meters on gravel before you see Tacofino which is always has lineups but is well worth the wait.

Tacofino now has several locations in Vancouver. But the experience is not the same as it is after a day spent on the water or hiking Pacific Rim Park. It you haven’t dined at Tacofino’s original truck, you haven’t really experienced Tofino. Maybe it’s the fresh salt air that compliments the taste? Whatever it is, you won’t find it anywhere but here.

If you’re looking for a unique local brew, visit Tofino Brewery where they offer small batch, handcrafted beer using quality malted barley and pacific northwest hops.

Not only will you find your standard ales and IPA’s but you can also stretch your taste buds with a Kelp Stout. This full, rich-bodied beer is brewed with local, sustainably harvested kelp, salted chocolate and coffee. A unique brew and a tasting bar unlike anywhere on the Island.

Tofino Distillery

Walk next door and up the hill to the Tofino Craft Distillery, if a cocktail is more to your liking. In their tasting room, you’ll find jalapeňo vodka and old growth cedar gin.

Try a mini-cocktail taster before you buy your bottle of certified organic spirits in either a 375 ml or 750 ml bottle. These make wonderful gifts or mementos of your visit.

And after all this eating and drinking? There really is no better place to stay during your trip to Tofino than the Wickaninnish Inn. Built on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, it offers its guests a luxury experience second to none.

As you arrive on site, you will notice that the hotel buildings are made from cedar that has bleached to a soft grey colour. This grey tone allows the hotel to blend into the skyline so that it doesn’t intrude visually on the surrounding landscape, unlike many of the grand hotels in Canada’s national parks which stand out like sore thumbs.

As you enter through the towering yellow Cedar main doors, you are welcomed by warm and courteous staff. During my visit, I was greeted by name every time I came or went.

Seamless comfort is the goal at the Wickaninnish Inn. The spacious suites and rooms will not disappoint. Each room has a grand bed, an inviting tub and rain gear in the closet for those windy wet days.

For couples, I recommend The Pointe Building with a room that has west or south views. The Ancient Cedars Spa and The Pointe Restaurant are conveniently located downstairs and the stunning scenery will take your breath away.

For families, the Beach Building facing Chesterman Beach, with easy access to the beach and walking trails, features the Lookout Library, a fitness room, the Driftwood Café and the Henry Nolla Gallery.
A Wickaninnish Inn Room in Tofino, BC, Canada

After a day enjoying Tofino’s grand landscape of rolling waves and rainforest, the
Wickaninnish Inn offers a refuge for those who appreciate returning each evening to luxury after a day spent adventuring in Tofino’s natural splendor and dining in its superb restaurants. With a head full of unforgettable memories and a stomach full of delicious food and drink, where else would you want to be?

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