Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sooke Harbour House--the Food

The dining room--nearly empty upon our arrival. (Recall Mike's anxiety about not being able to snare a table?) The view--gorgeous, even though the skies were overcast. The service--impeccable. The flowers--fresh tulips. The art--classy British Columbian. The food--art in itself.

Beginning with the wine list...113 pages long. The restaurant is legendary for its outstanding wine cellar and experienced sommeliers.

Mike with the very thick wine list

Toasting Mike's 46th!

When I called to make the reservation, the woman at the Sooke Harbour House asked me if we had any food allergies or special needs. I told her about Mike's wheat sensitivity, and she duly noted that. The bread arrived in two small baskets--one for me, and a nonwheat variety (oat) for Mike. Off to a great start!

Note the butter with a yellow flower on top, and the water served in a clear wine bottle.

The menu is prepared daily at 5 p.m., and prepared with seasonal, fresh, and locally grown or caught ingredients. One can choose from the basic four-course set menu, or the gastronomic feast (each course paired with a different wine choice). We went for the "basic" with a glass of wine. For each course, we had a choice of two or three options.

Course 1:
Parsnip Grand Fir Soup
with a smoked tuna cake, crispy seaweed, and pumpkinseed tarragon oil

We both chose the soup for our starter. Instead of the smoked tuna cake and crispy seaweed (both of which contained some wheat), Mike had a small sablefish fillet and tenderly fried onions garnishing his soup. Parsnips are one of Mike's very favorite things (I had never tasted a parsnip before I married him, sheltered American that I was...but I too now like them).

Course 2:
Smoky Maple-Glazed Octopus
with quinoa and root vegetable salad, chick pea, purple cabbage, and pea shoots
Fresh Mussels
served in the shell with Grand Fir cream

Mike's was prettier, but mine was tastier!

They were the most tender mussels I have ever tasted!

Course 3:
Roasted Chicken
with coriander, pumpkinseed Montana cheese pesto on a potato pave with bok choy and roasted squash
Pan-Seared Sablefish
in a lovage pear cream with roasted salsify, shallots, and shrimp fritter

Gorgeous, and amazing!

Mine looked like it was surrounded by seafoam--must have been the "lovage pear cream." Sablefish, also called black cod, is a very tender white fish.

Course 4:
Chocolate Souffle
with a pear poached in red wine and coffee ice cream
Garden-inspired Sorbets
(sorry--forgot to note what flavors--but they were fancy!)

Both choices were delicious, but this time Mike's was tastier!

By almost three hours later, more tables were filled (although the dining room was not full), and we were, as Mike's dad used to say after a good meal and a good wine, "feeling very content."

We could not remember a more memorable, delicious meal! Next year is our 20th wedding anniversary, and for years we have been talking about splurging on the Agatha Christie room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. But now we are wondering whether we should make a true splurge and stay at the Sooke Harbour House instead! We'd have to save our pennies, because it's about three times as expensive as our beloved Sylvia Beach Hotel!

1 comment:

  1. Yum! All looks beautiful and delicious! The most delicious fancy restaurant meal I've ever had was at Canlis in Seattle. My mother paid for Gretchen & Todd & me to have dinner there for my 40th birthday (or was it my 39th birthday but we didn't go till I was 40? I think that's it, Gretchen had a hard time getting around to making reservations). It was truly incredible. I've had lots of really good meals, but this was a step above. And the service was amazing... all kinds of people tending to our every need!