Western Living Magazine
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These restaurants combine adventure and fine dining to create an experience youll never forget.
The geography of British Columbia is inarguably gorgeous. From the low-lying Coast Mountains, to the arid desert of the Okanagan Valley, to the maritime beauty of the rugged West Coast, the province’s landscapes are as varied as its cuisine.This diversity makes for a gastronomic paradise full of food adventures that are unique to the region. To get you started, here are seven B.C. travel and dining experiences well worth the car, plane or boat ride that it takes to get there.
Photo: Harbour AirFor those who want a quick a taste of West Coast Island life, local seaplane operator Harbour Air offers a flight and dining experience on Bowen Island. Tucked away in the mouth of Howe Sound, Bowen is a short trip from the city, but the quaint vibe makes it feel a world away. The Fly ’n Dine package includes the 20-minute flight there, a three-course dinner at Doc Morgan’s and a limousine ride back from the ferry terminal. Favourites at Doc’s include the pesto salmon burger, Doc’s crowded chowder and the southern BBQ shrimp, so prepare to get your seafood on.
Photo: Dan Seguin, Yasodhara AshramThe spiritually thirsty traveller will love whetting their appetite and their curiosity at the Yasodhara Ashram, a yoga retreat centre in Kootenay Bay. It’s one of the longest-running spiritual communities on the continent, and visitors can take in the blissful peace of the Ashram while enjoying a healthy lunch on Kootenay Lake. The overnight Taste of the Ashram program includes a hatha yoga class for all levels, a locally sourced lunch, a tour of the Ashram’s bountiful gardens, a Karma yoga session, dinner and an evening Satsang: a spiritual gathering the incorporates ritual meditation and mantra.
Photo: Kekuli CafeIf you’re visiting the Okanagan Valley and looking to experience some of B.C.’s oldest cultural traditions, Kekuli Café Coffee House offers a taste of traditional Indigenous cuisine served with modern charm. Owned and operated by couple Sharon Bond-Hogg and Darren Hogg, Kekuli has been serving up their specialty bannock since 2009. Bannock is a traditional fried bread, which at Kekuli is handmade fresh every day. Indulge your sweet tooth by adding cinnamon sugar or Saskatoon berries to this delicious dish.
If ever there was a siren’s call for seafood lovers, you’d find it emanating from Smitty’s Oyster House in Gibsons. Located on the aptly named Sunshine Coast, Smitty’s features enough varieties of oysters and other seafood dishes (like fish fritters, seared scallops and salmon cakes) to tempt even the most stubborn landlubber. The restaurant looks out onto one of B.C.’s last working wharves, so you can watch fishermen unload their catch while you enjoy yours.
Photo: Old Bauernhaus RestaurantLocated in the Kootenay Rockies, Kimberley is a small B.C. town with big views and an even bigger heart. The town’s best-kept culinary secret is The Old Bauernhaus. Setting up shop in a 350-year-old building that was originally built in Germany and transported to where it now stands, Bauernhaus serves up authentic, hearty German fare. You can’t leave without trying the Bavarian Feast: a smorgasbord of baked brie, garlic prawns, bauernplatte (the German version of charcuterie), spinach salad and the crowd-pleasing wiener schnitzel. Prost!
Photo: Backyard FarmIn the heart of B.C.’s best fruit-growing country is Oliver, a town of 4,000 surrounded by protected grasslands. An amazing way to indulge in the best the Okanagan Valley has to offer is a visit to Backyard Farm Chef’s Table. Backyard Farm takes an “old world” approach to eating—the dining room seats only 20 guests, creating an intimate dining experience. With a focus on local and ethically sourced flavours, Chef Chris Van Hooydonk creates each personalized menu with food producers in mind.
B.C.’s Gulf Islands, a chain of small islands in the Strait of Georgia, are renowned for their craggy seaside beauty and down-to-earth locals. Salt Spring Island is the largest of the bunch, and is home to the widely acclaimed white-linen dining room at Hastings House. Awarded four stars in Forbes 2018 Travel Guide, Hastings House is a small luxury country resort set on 22 acres of waterfront on Salt Spring’s main village waterway, Ganges Harbour. The Hastings House dining room features a menu of daily creations, using ingredients from the House’s own garden and local farmers.No matter where in B.C. your wanderlust takes you, you can bet there’s a unique culinary experience just waiting to be added to your itinerary. With the launch of the Eat Drink Local campaign in B.C. this spring, there are even more opportunities to sample the best that the province has to offer. This month-long culinary celebration promotes restaurants that have crafted menus that highlight locally grown and produced foods. Whether you’re dining at a restaurant near you or exploring the diverse offerings of our province, tap into your adventurer’s spirit and start eating!