We’ve invited Tofino’s excellent Spotted Bear Bistro to join our GOODS section. They are now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be posting their news in addition to hosting a page for them on our curated list of independent goodness. We would like to thank them for their support of Scout, and for making British Columbia a tastier place to be.
Head Chef | Cameron Young
About The Spotted Bear
The Spotted Bear Bistro is located in charming downtown Tofino just steps from the harbour, set against the backdrop of the lush mountains of Clayoquot Sound.
Here at the end of the road, be delighted by classic upscale comfort food from a menu that reflects the abundance of quality products available on Vancouver Island. Along with a cozy, intimate atmosphere and an open-concept kitchen, this locals’ favourite also deals in sophisticated cocktails, local brews, and carefully selected wines. The casually elegant dining room combines salvaged wood, seating at a yellow cedar slab bar, antique cookery and eclectic local art for a funky, friendly setting. Private heated patio seating is available in the summer.
Head chef Cameron Young brings a fresh perspective to former-chef-turned-creative-consultant Vincent Fraissange’s tradition of classic French-inspired cuisine. A proud member of the Tofino-Ucluelet Culinary Guild, the Spotted Bear focuses on the freshest and best in local seafood, specialty meats, and Vancouver Island sourced produce.
Chef Young’s seasonal menus include such delights as tuna tartare, braised local octopus, duck breast and daily fish. Also available are chef’s three- and five-course tasting menus, family-style dinners, and an unforgettable weekend brunch (Sundays only in off-season). On an innovative beverage list developed by service manager Meggan Leeck, find Tofino Brewing Company beers on tap, inspired cocktails, and specialty wines and liqueurs.
A perfect setting for an intimate dinner, and ideal for private group events and wedding dinners, the Spotted Bear Bistro truly offers the best of the west coast.
The GOODS from Shelter
Tofino, BC | All May is the 3rd annual “Feast Tofino“, the culinary celebration that showcases the bounty we get to enjoy everyday here in Tofino. There are visiting chefs, numerous events, a dock festival and Feast menus showcasing local chef’s creations inspired by the boat-to-table movement. For Shelter’s menu, our kitchen focused on local seafood but used the now synonymous craft beer from Tofino Brewing Co. as its core inspiration. To celebrate this menu (and since we’re the only restaurant in town to offer all of the local brews), we thought it would be fitting to create a fun little video about the unique journey of a keg from the brewery to our taps. Enjoy! Read more
by Andrew Morrison | We like Tofino. It’s sort of been our escape of choice since forever. We have a habit of spending two or three days camping and getting proper filthy along the beach at Bella Pacifica and then – with sand in every crevasse and our clothes reeking of wood smoke – getting cleaned up for a few days at the world renowned Wickaninnish Inn. It’s a refreshing, invigorating way of taking time off, and it’s not all that much of a journey, especially if you love taking BC Ferries and driving on curvy roads through breathtaking scenery for a couple of hours and a half.
When you arrive, the town has just about everything one could want. There are several kickass restaurants, chief among them The Pointe, Sobo (with whom we have just finished a cookbook for Random House), Tacofino, Spotted Bear, and Shelter. The town has a thing for fresh, local, high quality ingredients, one that we have watched grow over the years from an inherent affection to a proud passion. We get our daily coffee and beer fixes at The Tofitian and the Tofino Brewing Company (latter home to growlers galore and a fantastic little half-pipe for whenever the town’s sweet little skatepark suffers the rain), and very quickly forget our cell phones (Rogers’ service is a 20th century joke in these parts anyway).
All this is to say that we almost always turn right to Tofino when Highway 4 hits the Pacific Ocean, and very seldom left. If we were to turn left, we’d quickly end up in the village of Ucluelet, which – despite a few visits and on account of our own ignorance – has always seemed like the lesser of two awesomes. But since we’re in Tofino for nearly a month of every year with seldom a day of that spent in Ucluelet, we decided on our most recent trip up that it was only right to go left.
Ucluelet might not have the vast expanses of sandy surf beaches like Tofino, but it’s nevertheless comparable in other ways. It has a similarly small population at just under 2,000, basically the same mid 30′s median age, the same love affair with food and drink (albeit with far fewer outlets), a much more challenging skatepark (that bowl section is gnarly!), and accommodations that run the gamut from rustic to world class. We’d been hearing great things about Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, and so made the place our home base for a few days. The accommodations were top drawer, reminding us plenty of those offered at The Wickaninnish Inn. Everything that we sat on or laid down upon was bosom plush, and our suite came with the extra-auditory benefit of a vast seascape crashing into rocks directly in front of us. The only thing that struck as odd about the place was that it wasn’t busy. Granted, we arrived mid-week on out of season dates, but the occupancy appeared to be a little on the light side; a testament, perhaps, to Tofino’s greater appeal.
Because we had so much work to do with the cookbook, we kept to the suite for much of the time, with chef Lisa Ahier of Sobo commuting to us daily from Tofino instead of the other way around. That meant no time indulging in the spa and only an hour a day of shoreline exploration (some interesting finds, including the skeleton of a former sea lion who’d misplaced his skull). We only took breaks to eat, and let me tell you, when you’re dissecting and perfecting recipes for a cookbook all day and night, hunger is often, urgent, and so very debilitating.
We checked out a couple of places in town, namely Ukee Dogs and Hank’s. At the former – a tiny counter service joint with a few picnic tables out front – it was all about comfort foods and Foggy Bean espresso. I’m sure they offered a token salad or two (probably with bacon), but the focus was squarely on big ass hot dogs of varying stripe and decadence. The chalkboard menus were painted onto surfboards and told of daunting wonders, everything from pizza smokies loaded with jalapenos to “logger dogs” filled with banana peppers and onions. They even had a Mac & Cheese dog (and probably a couple of defibrillators under the counter). The latter, Hank’s, was equally a little more refined but equally indulgent, plus they had a liquor license, which is to say I liked it more. The owners, Francois Pilon and Clark Deutscher, are irrepressible beer and BBQ fetishists, smoking their meats in house and offering a good representation of local pours, including a proper cask ale or two. I fell for their pork ribs – so tender and flavourful; some of the best I’d ever had on the island. Our one major regret is that we never were able to slow down enough to take in a proper supper at the well reviewed Norwoods. Alas, next time…
Most of our eating was done at Black Rock, either in the Float Lounge with it’s uncannily pretty bar (its back and ceiling is shaped like a cresting wave) or in the main dining room, which is called Fetch. Both are fronted by the ocean and both get plenty of natural light, but Fetch looks and feels a little more formal and juts out onto the rocks just a little further and so affords better views. It also has a large patio, upon which was what appeared to be a fire pit for outdoor grilling (alas, it wasn’t quite patio weather yet). The lounge suited us well because it offered late night drinks and bites. They plate a really good burger, but food-wise, Fetch was the main attraction.
Chef Louise Pickles and her crew are killing it in Fetch’s kitchen, and that’s saying something considering how hard it is to staff the place. It’s hard enough to attract competent, dedicated kitchen staff in Tofino, let alone Ucluelet (sidebar: if any Vancouver cooks are looking for a different experience and some serious surf, send your resumes to any restaurant hereabouts). I’d heard nothing but really good things about Pickles from a few food writer colleagues and quite a few local chefs (including Lisa, who adores her), but the truth of it was that I’m a doubting arsehole sometimes, made apprehensive by the same ignorance that had always caused me to turn right instead of the left.
I knew Pickles’ bio – that she had been trained at Vancouver’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, toiled at Diva At The Met and the shockingly good Sonora Resort (chef Terry Pichor is amazing), and had been part of Fetch’s opening crew under then executive chef Andrew Springett – but it wasn’t until I tucked into one of her basil-licked organic chicken dumplings (maintaining its heat in an intensely flavoured, freshly foraged mushroom consomme) that I appreciated what that meant. It was the same story with the perfectly cooked Coho filet (fresh from “Pacific Provider”) that came resting hot on a warm ragu of mushrooms (twas the season) and toasted quinoa, the lot sauced with quince vinaigrette and decorated with sauteed kale and baby carrots. The technique and presentation were faultless. Even the least sophisticated dish on the menu – a freshly cut pappardelle pasta loaded with slow cooked beef chuck flats from Two Rivers, impactful shards of red pepper, little bombs of confit garlic, and thick slivers of Parmesan cheese – seemed of an elevated elegance, as if every forkful was a sentence in a convincing explanation of how utterly ridiculous it is to ever prejudge the ability of an unknown kitchen. There were fresh oysters that night (from Outlandish, naturally), too, and some sort of chocolate banana pile of deliciousness to close, but what stayed with me (and remains with me) was the lightning strike of that chicken dumpling in the hot consomme. Pow! So good. Also of note were the new offerings from sushi chef Kevin Kimoto. We actually arrived at Black Rock on the day before his rolls were introduced to the menu, so we were happy to be guinea pigs (with a heavy emphasis on “pigs”). His panko-crusted, tempura-battered “blow hole roll” of spicy tuna, tobiko roe, and fruit salsa was outstanding!
We didn’t leave Black Rock all that happy, which is to say that we weren’t happy to leave Black Rock. Or Ucluelet, for that matter. It didn’t have as many varied attractions as Tofino and none of the spark a spliff and stretch your legs beaches, but it shared the same chilled out, down to earth Islander ethos that defines in part what it means to be British Columbian. We left fully aware that our work had cruelly kept us from properly exploring the small town’s immediate environs, but we’re past that already, happy in the knowledge that there will be a next time.
So the next time you come to the highway junction, give it more than just a thought. Give it a day. Better yet, give it two or three or four. And consider doing it sooner rather than later, as the region’s annual food festival, Feast, is underway from now until the end of the month, and every eatery that I’ve mentioned in this story – even the ones in Tofino – are totally on board.
The GOODS from The Pointe At The Wickaninnish Inn
Tofino, BC | The Pointe Restaurant is accepting applications for the position of “Restaurant Chef”. The Pointe is a free standing restaurant within a successful Hospitality operation. It services not only the guests and patrons in the restaurant but also banquets, room service and off-site functions. Duties include running the night service line; menu creation and implementation in collaboration with the Executive Chef; and providing leadership to the Culinary Brigade. Requirements and details after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Black Rock
Ucluelet, BC | Black Rock Oceanfront Resort on the West Coast of Vancouver Island is looking for a Banquet Chef. The person for this position should have 1-2 years experience running a similar department or in a similar role. Our wedding season for 2013 is fully booked and will require a Chef to run, organize and manage all aspects of our banquets from ordering and MEP to preparation and plating of all foods under the supervision of the Executive Chef. In the off season this person will also need to help by filling various roles on the a la carte team for Fetch Restaurant and Float Lounge.
This is a very demanding and busy section of our kitchen during the summer season, and requires someone with enthusiasm, high organization skills and above all a passion for cooking good food. The position is available immediately or as soon as possible to allow for some training time before the busy season begins! We live in a small remote community close to the town of Tofino, so having a car is helpful but not necessary. If you are not knowledgeable about this part of the world it would be good to do some research before applying. Further details after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Shelter
Tofino, BC | Shelter is in need of a Cook/Chef de Partie/Jr. Sous Chef. The requirements of this position include being proficient in many aspects of the kitchen, primarily in the short order and/or line cooking position. Applicants must exhibit a positive attitude, a strong willingness to learn, as well as an exceptional work ethic. They should also be self-motivated, desirous of personal growth, and eager to support (and be supported by) a wide variety of personalities within a large, like-minded team. A high standard for cleanliness, food production quality, and personal hygiene are an absolute must. Read more
The GOODS from Shelter
Tofino, BC | On February 20th, Edible at the Market will begin their 2013 Guest Chef Dinner Series with a “Taste of Tofino” and Shelter Restaurant is honoured to have their chef playing a role. Matthew Kane will be part of a team representing the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild, a Vancouver Island organization that works to facilitate regional ingredients from independent food producers to our area’s restaurants, grocery stores and residents. Joining chef Kane will be Wickaninnish Inn chef Nicholas Nutting, Pastry Chef Matthew Wilson and TUCG community food coordinator Bobby Lax. 24 lucky guests will be treated to a 5 course meal, cooking demonstrations and B.C wine pairings. Tickets and details after the jump… Read more
We’ve invited Ucluelet’s stunning Black Rock Oceanfront Resort to join our curated GOODS section as a recommended boutique retreat. They’re now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be posting their news in addition to hosting a page for them on our awesome list of independent goodnesses. We’d like to take this chance to thank them for their support of Scout, and for making BC a much more comfortable place to live.
Adele Larkin- General Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Loiselle- Restaurant Manager: email@example.com
Louise Pickles- Executive Chef: firstname.lastname@example.org
Danielle Stothers: Sales & Marketing Manager: email@example.com
About Black Rock Oceanfront Resort
Escape to the natural tranquility, beauty, and comfort of Black Rock Oceanfront Resort – an extraordinary retreat on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast. Our magnificent oceanfront resort in Ucluelet, British Columbia, combines contemporary comfort and quality service with the organic energy of the Canada’s western frontier for an enchanting vacation experience.
Featuring Fetch Restaurant and Float Lounge both boasting oceanfront views and artisan inspired West Coast Cuisine. Black Rock Oceanfront Resort offers phenomenal culinary experiences at its ocean side restaurant, patio and lounge. Discover the essence of Vancouver Island’s West Coast as you savor fresh cuisine, Pacific Coast wines and spectacular ocean views. Watch the waves crash endlessly as the sun sets over the pacific ocean, maybe catch a glimpse of a whale on the horizon or hear eagles soaring and smell specially crafted cuisine that delights all the senses. Our menus are carefully designed using locally sourced Vancouver Island seasonal ingredients. Our passion and enduring West Coast spirit results in ever changing menus that will inspire your senses.
Designed with a deep respect for the land and sea, Black Rock’s innovative architecture – of rock, water, glass, steel, and wood – enhances and contrasts the Wild Pacific landscape. Expansive spaces, natural light and breathtaking seaward vistas create a passionate connection to the freedom and serenity of the Vancouver Island’s magical coast and experience true excellence with spectacular accommodations and awe-inspiring views. Black Rock Resort is one of the most stunning destinations on Canada’s wild Pacific coast.
by Andrew Morrison | My family spends a lot of time every year in Tofino, and we’ve slept in just about every resort and hotel the small town has to offer when we’re not camping in the Westfalia or crashing at friends’ houses. We have our favourites – the Wick, Pacific Sands, Long Beach Lodge – but until recently, there was one place that had always gnawed at our curiosity that we’d never gotten to, and it was Ocean Village.
The sprawl of bee-hive shaped cabins on the southern end of Mackenzie Beach has always beckoned. Our regular beachfront campsites at Bella Pacifica (#7 through #12) are toward the northern end of the beach, so we’ve walked past the simple-looking cottages countless times while combing up and down the sands looking for sand dollars (more likely on Cox Bay) and glass fishing floats (little baubles of beauty that have been pushed westwards by currents from Japan). The structures look like a colony of romantic idylls from the outside, little self-contained retreats promising the kind of nostalgic, West Coast coziness that comes with firelight and wine-soaked games of scrabble. It was where we landed on our most recent trip up, and it was awesome.
The beachfront cabins can sleep a maximum of 6 people (available in one and two bedrooms), and they’re equipped with shower, tub, kitchen, gas fireplace, and big windows that look directly into the ocean sunsets. There’s free wireless, too, though its pulse might prove frustratingly weak to those looking to download movies (there’s no TV) or upload a hundred high-res photos to Flickr. Lucky for us, we were up to eat, relax, and work offline on a cookbook, so the only angst the netlessness caused us – we couldn’t stream Canucks games – was not a big deal (in heart-shattering retrospect). As for kids (if you got ‘em), what more could they want than a couple kms of beachfront to browse, dark rainforest to explore, and stern lectures on what to do when you see a bear, cougar or wolf?
Of course it rained the whole time we were there (such as it often does), but the sounds of the big drops pattering on the weird roof and the crash of the violent surf outside made it all seem fine (the property’s 50 ft. indoor heated saltwater pool and jacuzzi helped, too). And rain be damned, because just up the forested road is the little gravelled mall with its surf/skate shop, chocolatier, The Tofitian (for good coffee), grocery store and Wildside for fresh fish, good poutine and killer burgers. Truly, unless you want to visit another beach, grab a beer at Shelter, rip the skatepark, get some chow at SOBO or Spotted Bear in town, or are afraid of getting a little wet, there’s little reason to use a car.
It might not offer the same level of luxuriousness of The Wick or the space of a villa at Pacific Sands, but Ocean Village is an altogether different place to stay. You look after yourself instead of being looked after, and when it’s time to leave, you really don’t want to. So if you’re headed across the Strait to surf or scarf thereabouts this Spring/Summer, put it high on your list. It’s cheaper than most, and the return – as you can see from many of the shots below – is more than fair. To learn more about the town and what is has to offer, visit Tourism Tofino.
The GOODS from The Pointe At The Wickaninnish Inn
Tofino, BC | The Pointe at The Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino will play host to a number of special suppers this Spring and Summer. Chef Alain Raye of La Régalade will be up to cook in April; Wickaninnish alumni Andrew Springett will be on hand in May, as will La Quercia chef Lucais Syme; and June will see a special pairing supper with Quail’s Gate Winery. Get all the details after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Shelter
Tofino, BC | Shelter Restaurant’s chef, Joel Aubie, will be competing on Top Chef Canada Season 2 and all of Tofino is anticipating the March 12th start date of the series.
Joel will be in Vancouver on February 16th representing Shelter and the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG). He will be working along side Nicholas Nutting (Wickaninnish Inn) and Bobby Lax (Community Food Coordinator for TUCG) at “A Taste of Tofino”, where they will introducing guests to the coastal ingredients and producers that make eating on nature’s edge such an inspiring and pleasurable experience. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more