The waves moved towards the shore in long, straight lines. I watched the surfers, little speckles of black, bobbing between the lines. The sandy beach was windswept, drift logs brought in by winter swells gathered along the coastal tree line. A family was exploring tide pools in the rocks, and beyond that a black headland jutted into the ocean. From my dining table at the Wickaninnish Restaurant I was observing the magic of the west coast; I was already awed by the view and I hadn’t even had lunch yet!
The Wickaninnish Restaurant is located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Wickaninnish Beach. Since 1986 this seaside restaurant has been serving fresh west coast cuisine, specialty coffees and full bar services for lunch and dinner. It is the only restaurant in the park.
I started with the daily soup, the chef’s creation, which was vegetarian corn chowder. Creamy, with a peppery bite, loaded with vegetables from local markets, served with fresh bread and whipped butter.
Speaking with management I learned that the Wickaninnish Restaurant uses local Vancouver Island products as much as possible. Their seafood, meat, cheeses, and vegetables come from island producers. Their desserts are homemade and their seafood is smoked in house.
I ordered the Florencia Bay Wrap, named after another section of the Pacific Rim National Park just south of the restaurant. It’s a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with grilled vegetables, baby greens, goat cheese, and homemade humus. I added smoked salmon. It was served with an artisan mixed green salad and fresh cut fries.
The ingredients in the wrap complimented each other perfectly: the tang of the goat cheese, richness of the humus, the delicately smoked salmon and refreshing greens. The Florencia Wrap, simple in its individual ingredients, came together to satisfy gourmet taste!
The Wickaninnish Restaurant has items on their menu new for this season. Arrive for dinner and start off with the Island Bison Carpaccio: naturally-raised bison strip loin with a balsamic reduction served with a fresh baked baguette. This delicious red meat is nearly rare, sliced paper thin, will melt in your mouth.
Then try a new, unique entry that you don’t often see in this region. West Coast Black Cod, a fish found in local waters; which is a rich and savoury. The Chef at the Wickaninnish Restaurant steams the fish on a cedar bough, dresses it with lavender butter, a blackberry garnish and it is served with rice and market vegetables.
Then it is time for dessert! Share a South Baked Alaska, Long Beach style, with their home-baked spice cake, served with mango and peach sorbet, covered in meringue and baked golden brown. This dessert is then doused with brandy, lit, and served to your table in flames!
Diners can start off with classic seafood chowder, crab martini, or Chef’s seafood specials. Choose from entries like citrus glazed salmon, certified Angus New York steak, and the popular fresh steamed local Dungeness crab. Vegetarians will be satisfied with options the Big Beach vegetable stack of wild mushrooms, grilled vegetables, polenta, tomato puree, topped with watercress pesto and goat cheese.
There are few places on the west coast where you’ll find such an amazing view of the sweeping wild coastline while dining on local, fresh and delicious creations. Dine near the end of the day and watch the sun set over the horizon.
After my lunch I took a coffee to go and enjoyed a long walk on Wickaninnish Beach. It looks even more beautiful on a full stomach.