After a lengthy flight delay, we finally landed in Victoria in the late afternoon excited to take the road. Located 45 minutes West of Victoria, Sooke Harbour House would prove to be a restful oasis.
As we were checking in, we essentially checked out all of our worries. There are two main things that lure you to Sooke Harbour House: exquisite dining and a breathtaking location. We were soon to experience both over the next two days.
All of the inn’s 28 guest rooms have a warm and bright feeling to them. Every single one has its own name and décor. We stayed in Room 22, the Emily Carr Room. The view would have most certainly inspired the late artist with the great view of the Juan de Fuca Strait and Washington’s Olympic mountains. We eventually found out during our stay that our room is the one my partner’s aunt and uncle stay in when they decide to escape the crowds of Vancouver for a more peaceful retreat.
Once our bags were dropped off we took a leisurely stroll along the shores of Whiffen Spit Park where kelp was abundant and we got to see two otters which I aptly described as “sea squirrels” (I had never seen otters in person. I was in awe… Let’s just say I’ll blame the jet lag on that one… OK?). Tuckered out by our walk and a long day of travel and anticipation, we were ready to indulge in Sooke Harbour House’s most excellent cuisine.
A Culinary Experience
Sooke Harbour House has built a solid reputation over the years earning many awards and accolades locally and abroad. It also made the select list of Travel and Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards” as the #2 Top Resorts in the Country. Not too shabby!
The notoriety of Sooke Harbour House was built in great part thanks to its dining. Well before the likes of the 100-mile diet were trendy, founders and co owners Frederique and Sinclair Philip have always focused on hyper local cuisine. Since they opened the Inn in 1979, they have, they’ve always strived to source out most of their ingredients and products on their menu directly from the island, sometimes directly on the inn’s grounds. There are two noted exceptions: coffee and many wines come from across the Strait of Georgia a little more East, out of the Okanagan Valley.
The best way to soak up the full Sooke Harbour House dining experience, is to enjoy their four course tasting menu complete with wine pairing.
Here’s what we’ve enjoyed
- Carrot and savoy cabbage soup topped with crème fraîche (2011 Pinot Grigio, Liquidity, Okanagan Falls)
- Sooke Harbour House Salad – made with in house cultivated green and wild herbs and flowers (2011 First Crush, Arrowleaf, Okanagan Valley)
- Sooke Harbour Farm Pork Terrine (2010 Pinot Noir Seven Poplars, Lake Breeze Naramata Bench)
- Salt Fish Potato Croquette (2008 Riesling Farm Reserve Lang Reserve Naramata Bench)
- Semolina crusted Lingcod 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (with Semillon), Clos du Soleil, Similkameen Valley)
- Strawberry Mascarpone Wedge
- Garden inspired Sorbets (raspberry fennel, apricot lavender, peach mint)
From start to finish, the entire culinary experience was memorable. Everything throughout that meal was spot on. The sommelier was very passionate about the wine selections for the evening.
A fun moment occurred during dessert. My partner and I were both quite intrigued by Angelica jelly that was served with the strawberry mascarpone wedge. Sinclair Philip overheard our conversation and then led us to directly to the gardens to show us the plant and explained its flavour and its digestive properties. It was a simple gesture that confirms the passion of our hosts for their food.
A Sunday in Sooke
There quite possibly isn’t a beautiful place to wake up. The sight of the Olympic Mountains across the Juan de Fuca Strait is peaceful and breathtaking. Sipping a hot cup of coffee and munching on some warm house made baked goods made for a most excellent morning. I could get used to this!
We quickly slipped on our shoes and went for a brisk morning walk along Whiffen Spit Park. We returned to the inn and took great time to explore the grounds in broad daylight. It was great to see the small greenhouses with heads of lettuce, the herb garden and all the wild flowers. We even had a chance to take a peek at Sooke Harbour House’s smoker only to notice that we weren’t alone out there: deer were also roaming the grounds.
With its large windows with a view, candlelit chandeliers and fireplace, the Sooke Harbour House dining room is an extension of all the rooms: cozy and welcoming. We were seated at the same place as the night before. Just like the Emily Carr room, our table had a stunning view of the Juan de Fuca Strait.
It is needless to say that our second dinner was also an excellent one. All dishes had a particularly elegant presentation and proved to be just as tasty as the night before.
Our brief stay at Sooke Harbour House was proved to be a tranquil oasis. It was the perfect way to ease into a vacation routine.
Take a peek at the photos to get an even better idea of the experience.
What are your favourite places to escape, refocus and re energize?
Sooke Harbour House
1528, Whiffen Spit Road
Sooke, BC V9Z 0T4