Sooke Harbor House is a little over an hour from Victoria and it has a point location is really is wonderful. We stayed at the hotel (and would also return to sleep there) and ate at the restaurant all three nights.
We liked the fresh flavors and the obviously freshly picked herbs and flowers. We thought it might be over-petaled for some, while we found it sort of enchanting. I liked that the desserts had sugar restraint and although offered intense flavor they were not intensely sweet. If we were nit-picking there are alot of flavors and elements sneaking into a dish and holding a few back might make some of the offerings cleaner and more enjoyable - but somehow also have 10 different things in a dish here, seems an important point of the cuisine and while it seems ponderous to describe the dishes they actually didn't seem to suffer from a weight of strange flavors.
1st night: 4 course fixed menu with choices. Certified Organic greens and blossoms from our garden with peach and fruitsage vinaigrette.
Freshly picked garden greens with flowers, very light fruity dressing. Jack would have liked more dressing.
Scotch Broth garnished with braised Sooke hare, grilled tofu, pine mushrooms and mint syrup.
Dark meaty broth with small squares of tofu and slices of pine mushroom. The pearl barley was a bit aldente but a nice rustic flavor over all.
Smoked Tuna and Grilled Scallops served chilled in a tamari-hazelnut marinade, wild mushroom emulsion, begonia and green pea sauces, and apple and fennel salad
The salad had a very tart vinaigrette. The smoked Albacore was lovely. Scallops were hard to find. Wild mushroom emulsion was great.
East Sooke Kid loin, on top of a bacon, potato and chanterelle mushroom hash. Crisp red onion, spiced goat's milk yoghurt and hempseed-nasturium oil and crabapple syrup.
Kid a bit dry but the flavors here forgive all as the slightly caramelized potatoes, pancetta and yogurt curry were amazing together.
Foraged Chanterelle and chickpea brioche bun with a shaved fennel and golden beet salad with a crispy goat cheese ginger basil vinaigrette and roasted kohlrabi
Nicely made bun. Chanterelles were not on starring roll. Still I wished I'd ordered it again the 2nd night.
Pan Fried Silver Gray Rockfish with a sourdough breadcrumb and dill crust, cured sablefish tempura roll. Spot shrimp and tomato coulis, trap caught octopus, cucumber and grape tomato salad, sage scented spaghetti squash, bull kelp pickles and poppy seed oil
A hearty dish. Fresh and bright flavors. Octopus added nothing. A lot of ingredients... Tempura Jack thought was great, Joanne thought just good (not the product of a top sushi-chef). Jack remembered liking the pickles.
Wow. Wild flavors of blackberry mint, Pear Rosemary and Apricot Fruit Sage. All on the not-too sweet side. The apricot was over the top intense, needed something as a foil- pretty hard to eat on it's own. The Pear rosemary was almost pure white with a nice acidity and showcased the rosemary more than the pear. Blackberry mint was nice. Artisan Cheese Plate.
Hilary's Cheese: Belle Anne (goat)
Moonstruck: Ash-ripened Camembert and Beddis Blue
David Wood's Cheese: Juliette (goat) and Romalia
A really nice selection of island cheeses. Our fav was probably the Romalia. Cheese plate had alot of stuff on it but the cheeses were in good condition.
Sooke Harbor House (2nd night) Shrimp and tomato soup
The soup had a shellfish broth base making it taste like shrimp bisque merged with tomato soup. Really nice. The fritter actually added an extra layer of flavor along with the creme fraiche. A really nice start.
Flower petal salad and coucous actually made this dish really pleasant. The quail was not succulent. The coucous and petals married well but the quail seemed the third wheel. Tuna
I liked the Rosehip miso broth, Jack did not.
Lamb Shank really good.
While the food here is decidedly not fancy, it seems fresh and the view is really wonderful. the restaurant sits atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Binoculars are provided on the table to whale watch in between courses. This is perhaps the only place to eat real food between Port Renfrew and Sooke, so as such it has our mark as a great lunch spot. Irish Soda bread to accompany to the food was a nice touch.
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.