Inside of Jamie's Rainforest Inn, a popular tourist accommodation spot located less than 5km from the Tofino town centre, is Jamie's Restaurant & Lounge - a laid-back dining spot offering everything from sophisticated Fall Risotto to 1/2 priced wings on Wednesday. We arrived early for dinner, and in its rustic & cozy atmosphere we noticed a theme of the new arrivals trickling in. While there were couples and families, it was large groups of friends that mainly dominated the lounge…wearing attire that suggested they were fresh off of Tofino's famous surf. They added a new level of warmth to the lounge, sharing in both pints of local beer and laughter. Apart from making our hearts ache for our own group of friends back home in Alberta, this is what Jamie's is all about. According to Marcus, the Food & Beverage Manager - Jamie's loves the locals.
But it isn't only the locals that are responding to Jamie's. In the highly competitive food culture of Tofino - Jamie's holds a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor (awarded by the website for consistent great reviews from travellers). Getting its current reputation didn't come without its challenges though. Affordability was the #1 goal of Jamie's, but creating a quality menu within a strict budget was a difficult feat. The tides turned (no surf-pun intended) with the addition of Chef Daniel Crane. Daniel has a love for food that has grown through his culinary career - but it was while working at a Premier Canadian Private Club in Vancouver that a mentor saw his potential and took him under his wing. It turned Daniels love for food into a full blown passion. He credits his mentor for also giving him the confidence to manage his own kitchen - and with 5 menus at Jamie's under his belt - he is clearly doing something right.
Our first course was a Smoked Tomato Bisque, served with Parmesan & Sage Fritters. Apart from my initial thoughts of not wanting to disrupt the beautiful plating, this bisque was delicious and the perfect way to highlight Daniels creativity. Full of depth, the smokey tomato flavour went beautifully with the fritter, and the combo was a match made in heaven. I tried to act like a lady at first, but soon was shoving the dipped fritter into my mouth without inhibition. I am sorry about that Jamie's team - truly.
Next was a Beet Carpaccio, and yes - it was as tasty as it was pretty. Served with veggie chips, hazelnut pesto and crostini - the flavour combo was definitely on point. The pesto was mild, yet interesting (a good interesting!)… and while we all know I have a mild obsession with beets...piling all those delicious flavours on a crostini was fabulous. Also… I mean… just look at it. Its so beautiful.
Popcorn Cauliflower with Pesto Mayo was next. This is a local favorite, and it was not hard to see why! Apart from being completely impressed with Chef Daniels cauliflower breading skills (anyone who has tried this knows what I'm talking about…) the seasoning on the cauliflower was perfect, and the texture was spot on allowing the pesto mayo to do the talking. So addicting. I want more - like…right now.
Our tasting was over - but we weren't done (classic…), so we grabbed a couple of menus and ordered some mains. Kris ordered the Tofino Brewery Braised Short Rib (above) which came with a Potato Yam Pavé, Roasted Vegetables and was served with Kelp Stout Gravy. Kris devoured the short ribs, but he had to dodge my fork which was stealing bites of the Potato Yam Pavé which was killer. This is the dish that Chef Daniel likes best - and it was worth the hype.
I was dying to try the Butternut Squash Ravioli, but opted for the Veggie Enchiladas, which is the most popular vegetarian dish offered at the Restaurant. These were ammmazzing. They were corn tortillas stuffed with peppers, onions, roasted corn & black beans… baked with cheese and served with salsa verde, spicy tomato sauce, sour cream & cilantro. So comforting and yummy. Very well done! And somehow they even make their enchiladas pretty. A+ for plating skills.
Thank you so much to Chef Daniel and his kitchen for an awesome tasting & dinner - and for the entire Jamie's family for inviting us to check out your awesome restaurant & lounge. We will definitely be coming again!
What is your favourite dinner spot to go with friends? Send me a tweet @wayfaretrail !
Love you guys,