Salt Spring Harbour House Hotel
There are so many places to see in BC that we will never get to but each summer it is our goal to see one area or Island that we have never been to before. This year we picked Salt Spring Island and spent two nights at the Salt Spring Island Harbour House and of course doing some dining on Salt Spring Island. While the room furnishings are a bit dated the hotel restaurant and lounge has been recently updated, the staff were friendly and helpful and the view from our patio of the harbour was terrific. We spent three days and two nights relaxing (the sound of birds and crickets replaced or usual street noise), exploring the town of Ganges and eating at as many restaurants as possible. (You can view the complete photo sets of our flight on Salt Spring Air and our Salt Spring Island visit.)
After a fabulous 35 minute flight on a 1956 De Havilland Beaver operated by Salt Spring Air we arrived to find the downtown square with all of its power out. It was lunch time and after poking our head into several restaurants that were closed due to the power outage we discovered a patio with a view serving still ice cold bottles of Corona. While the menu at “Mexijo – A Real Mexican Café” was limited due to the power outage chef Jose Barrasa from Mexico City still had a gas burning stove with which to fry up a batch of Halibut Tacos and a side order of chips and salsa. The food was very authentic Mexican and a good start food wise to our trip.
Moby’s Oyster Bar & Marine Grill
For dinner on the first night we decided on appies at a few different restaurants to get to know more of the food offerings around town. We started at Moby’s Bar & Grill just across the street from the Harbour House Hotel. While the view was great that is all that the place had going for it. The service was I have to say ‘awful’ at best and the chowder was more like vegetable soup. After waiting 15 minutes for a drink and another 30 for a bowl of chowder with toast the experience almost ruined the night.
Auntie Pesto’s Cafe
Thankfully we found Auntie Pesto’s Café (as recommended by our Salt Spring Air pilot) and revived the evening. It was a bit chilly to sit outside as the heaters were sadly out of propane so we ended up at a cozy booth in the corner of the restaurant. The café boasts “food prepared fresh, from scratch using quality ingredients and lots of love” and can seat about 40 people inside and another 20 on the patio if summer heat ever comes. We ordered the local cheese plate to start which contained three cheeses from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company – Montana (a hard sheep’s milk cheese), Camembert and Blue plus toasted seeds, fruit jelly, roasted garlic and bread. The cheese plate was large and probably enough for dinner but I had to try the appetizer special of the day which was grilled prosciutto wrapped asparagus and I was glad that I did. The prosciutto and asparagus were grilled to a slightly crispy finish and topped with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of truffle oil. A poached egg sat on top and was the perfect combination when cut into. Delicious and one of the highlights of the food on this trip. We also tried the Salt Spring Island 2009 Pinot Gris which we thought was quite good and the 2007 Millotage which we did not. Next trip will include a visit to the winery and a taste of all of their offerings.
All in all the food experiences on day one were better than expected (except for the one hiccup). There was much more variety of food, atmosphere and hours of operation than we expected based on our last two years trips to Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast. Auntie Pesto’s is a must visit. Stay tuned for Part Two.