Tofino, the least snowy town in Canada, the most dramatically stormy, and home to the chocolate starfish.
Darn spiffing fish & chips! Wildside Grill is the place. No indoor seating. We ate on benches under a cedar pergola that was definitely built by hobbits. It was raining hard.
Fried Tofino salmon.
Fried Tofino lingcod.
Clam chowder with pink shrimp and dill.
With all other options ruled out due to rain, we mostly stayed indoors. SoBo is owned by a Texan chef and her husband, so I gave the SoBo margarita a whirl. Yikes. I had asked for it on the tart side but they couldn't tweak the recipe because the mix is already made, in house, from oranges, lemons, and key limes. And all the sugar in Tofino, evidently.
In defiance of the weather and the surf report, Peter suited up, boots to brows, and went surfing. (Quick note from Peter: 3-5ft waves offshore wind 5-10mph and pouring rain, amazing and surreal.)
View of Lone Cone on Meares Island from the bar upstairs at Wolf In The Fog, where we showed up early for our reservation to have drinks in the lounge: black leather divans, mesmerizing cocktail list, gorgeous staff in the plaid shirts of their choosing. I wanted to have this restaurant. I wanted to BE this restaurant.
Drown Your Sorrels, in green, was extraordinary: reposado, muddled sorrel, yellow chartreuse, fresh lime, Sauvignon Blanc syrup, sherry lemon bitters.
The Angler was smoked salmon infused vodka with maple, ginger, and orange. Nothing fishy here- just smoke and salt. Lovely.
Then we were seated and ordered another round.
Peter's rosemary Michelada was- cross my heart- disgusting. It tasted like room-temperature V8 mixed with Sprite that had lost its fizz. He asked imploringly, "do I really have to drink this?" And I said YES, because they are pretty here and let's not make them hate us.
He drank it dutifully, like a child choking down castor oil.
Bamfield seaweed with shiitakes, toasted wild rice, and cubed daikon. Can't wait to do this at home. Loved it.
Survey says: a sensational potato-crusted smoked oyster.
The Cedar Sour is their signature drink, but it contains egg white. I normally order around this aversion and don't ask bartenders to accommodate it, but if they suggest a drink that contains egg, I'll share my disfavor, and this sometimes leads to them offering to make me the drink without egg. This was so good. I couldn't stop sniffing the glass once it was empty, holy cabin in the woods!
Spring halibut salad with radishes, perfectly medium-boiled eggs and sauce tonnato. Mm.
"Tunacorn". I need Peter S. Beagle to write a book about this... This... This creation that should be banished to the imagination of the person who stonily concocted it. Old El Paso would be shamed. Dreadful. People love it, so as Henry might say, "I must not be people then". I felt like I was being punk'd. Major blegh.
We ordered a $4 plate of ok bread.
Things got weird at this point-ish.
One of the side dishes on the menu is a $10 six-pack for the (open) kitchen. As we blithely breaded, the line erupted into a five-second celebratory clanging of pots and pans. When our server came back to our table, he asked if he should go ahead and send that six-pack over to the kitchen now, or...? Because apparently the racket was the kitchen's way of saying "cheers", only... uh... we hadn't actually ordered a six-pack for the kitchen, or anything else on the menu that could have possibly been mistaken as such. This was an uncomfortable misunderstanding that went on longer than it should have. We had to state and re-state that we hadn't sent over a six-pack. Ick. Awk. Peter suspected it was a bit of a douchey game the servers play on guests, and had the food been any better after this, I'd have disagreed.
But it didn't get better. Instead, it flatlined.
The theme of our dinners up here in the PNM seems to be "hope springs eternal". There's a consistent promise that meals show before their unlovely demise. This is not just what Thomas Keller would call "the law of diminishing returns" at the table; people predictably losing interest after appetizers. It was just an across the board fail. The cod cheeks and clams, the Moroccan-spiced octopus, and the charred squid and pork belly. And a side of fries + mayo I forgot to photograph until we'd eaten some. Disastrous.
I had planned on a London Fogust after dinner but we decided to just get out of there with our fake-out boxes.
We've all fake-out boxed, right? "Oh this is just SO much food; I don't know what we were thinking when we ordered. Can we please take it home?"
Peter suggests saying something nice here to keep us from looking cantankerous.
Well: we didn't get sick, and we didn't get into any bar fights. The end.