Tag Archives: Sooke Harbour House

Sooke Harbour House

Staying in Sooke – Fall at Sooke Harbour House

I adore fall and find there’s nothing better than a stroll on a  coolish day when the sun is still shining, yet there’s a crispness in the air and a need for an extra layer to insulate one from the impending chill. This is the best time to get away in British Columbia and really take the time to watch the foliage turn colour and the land claim back what’s left in the fields to refurbish its soil.

img 6519

Vancouver Island often calls me and I feel so at ease there as I sync/sink into the slower pace almost right off the ferry I take from Tsawassen. It’s a 90 minute  ferry ride to the other side, and another half hour or so until the road brings you to Sooke, and then the trail to Sooke Harbour House, where I recently had a most memorable stay.

Sooke Harbour Hous was built in 1929 as a simple  two-story farmhouse inn with a dining room for visitors. In 1979 Frederique and Sinclair Philip, purchased the, it five small guestrooms, but no private guest bathrooms, and only a small dining room. The couple continued to renovate though to 1986 when they built ten additional far larger guestrooms, then renovated the initial five in 1988 and added 13 rooms in 1998, bringing the total to the current 28. The hotel is known for its luxurious, spacious rooms, superb hospitality, top notch dining and gorgeous gardens, all which are maintained to this day, attracting locals and visitors from all around the globe.

Sooke Harbour House

I stayed in a most spacious room, which was a bit wasted on me as I was solo, but I did my best to use up the most welcoming space, taking a bath in the mid-room tub, sprawling out on the couch to read and occupying the majority of the king bed throughout the night. It was almost too much, but I managed.

Sooke Harbour House

I had met Frederique Philip at a Feast of Fields in Duncan a few year’s back and was thrilled she was joining me for dinner. One could not hope for a more entertaining and knowledgeable dinner companion. While the food was foremost, she unveiled stories of her journeys and the history of Sooke, acting as a fitting backdrop for a remarkable evening.

My photos do not convey Chef Jonas Stadtländer talents properly as the lighting was getting trying as the evening went on and we sampled leisurely through the pairing menu. Stadtlander’s father, Michael Stadlander, led the kitchen at Sooke in the 80’s and it’s quite special to see his son come up the ranks and join this highly regarded resort, with his own approach to the area’s local cuisine.

Local is an absolute that stands out at Sooke, and always has. While farm to table, field to table, foraged and free range are words that are now splattered on menus as often as drinks are splashed on them, Sooke Harbour House always had this mandate. The restaurant followed the seasons and the chefs that came and went from their took this style of cooking with them. Frederique and Sinclair were pioneers in this field, and did not just influence those on the Island, and throughout British Columbia, but created practices that shaped the local movement throughout North America and beyond.

Sooke Harbour House

Highlights of the dinner included the Roasted Pork Belly, balanced with mustard-braised lentils, lovage pork jus, asparagus and morels; these wild mushrooms had just come into season and were superbly dense with earthy flavours.

Sooke Harbour House

Grilled Albacore Tuna came with a Sooke-grown wasabi (held by Fredrique above), a strawberry ginger glaze, tempura radish greens, and radish and foraged sea asparagus, another example of exquisite local ingredients enhanced by international techniques. A Kettle Valley Riesling balanced out the mild spiciness in the dish.

Sooke Harbour House

Cowichan Valley is not far up Island from Sooke and a Pekin Duck had been brought for the next dish, duck breast dish with a savoury jus, buttered spring leeks, tortellini and red and golden beets. Perfectly cooked, quite tender and a stellar pairing for the Pinot Noir from Tantalus Vineyards.

The meal was fulfilling on so many levels and as I drifted back to my room for a final hour or so before that king size bed called, I thought of all the memories that had been created in this very space over the last century and how rare a place this still is to this day.

Sooke Harbour House

In the morning I strolled the property and peaked into some of the other guest rooms (the empty ones of course) and had a breakfast before I had to venture out. A wedding was to take place that day and the prep was well under way. Many more memories were being made as I looked on, and I absorbed many of my very own.

 

Sinclair and Frederique Philip are Lifetime Achievers

Sooke Harbour House Hotel Owners Sinclair and Frederique Philip Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from Vancouver Magazine

Sooke Harbour House owners, Sinclair and Frederique Philip, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Vancouver Magazine’s 21st Annual Restaurant Awards, along with the award for Best Restaurant on Vancouver Island. The awards ceremony took place on Tuesday, May 18th, at the Sheraton Wall Center in Vancouver.

“Long before the 100-Mile Diet, before Bishops and Ocean Wise and the word ‘locavore,’ there was Sooke Harbour House,” says Christina Burridge from Vancouver Magazine, and while regional cuisine is now garnering much media attention, “every proponent of regional dining owes a debt to the locavore granddaddy Sooke Harbour House.”

“Sooke Harbour House has been celebrated by everyone from Condé Nast Traveler to Wine Spectator, and has drawn discerning guests from around the world, but it’s the Philips’ three decades of infusing visitors, chefs, and staff with their knowledge of place that has helped define West Coast food and earned them this award,” says Burridge.

For the Philips, serving seasonal, regional foods at Sooke Harbour House was never about being in vogue. 

“In 1979, when we started to serve local food, we had no idea that eating regionally and seasonally would become as popular as it is today,” says Sinclair Philip.

“When we opened, we simply thought, with such an abundance of high quality regional ingredients, why would we need to bring in foods from anywhere else? We weren’t trying to start a trend, it was just common sense, and also the way we used to eat when we lived in rural France.”

Over the past 31 years, almost all of the food served at the Sooke Harbour House has come from its own certified organic gardens and farm, local area farms in Sooke and Metchosin, and the ocean around their doorstep.

“We still have some of the same suppliers we have worked with for the past 31 years,” says Mr. Philip. 

“We have established a regular supply of free range lamb from across Sooke Bay at Silver Spray Farm, local rabbits, Tamworth pigs, suckling kid, Vancouver Island bison, pastured Cowichan Bay chicken, and we serve rare breed animals from our area.” On top of this, “we were perhaps the first restaurant in Canada to make widespread use of edible flowers, grown outdoors, twelve months of the year,” he adds.

Over these 31 years, the Philips and their team at Sooke Harbour House have learned to work with roughly twenty different types of local seaweeds and large numbers of indigenous plants, berries, wild herbs and mushrooms.

The Philips have always tried to showcase the best foods from Vancouver Island.

“From the very beginning, we realized that it is important to support the production of small scale, artisan cheeses from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. I even have a cheese named after me; that is St. Clair, from Hilary’s Cheese. We can now serve sheep, cow, goat and water buffalo cheeses most months of the year so why would we bring in cheese from the outside?”

“We have also worked to sustain local wines, spirits, ciders and vinegars, as well as meads from Tugwell Creek Meadery and Honey Farm in Sooke.”

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award also marks the 21st consecutive year that the Sooke Harbour House Hotel has received the award from Vancouver Magazine as Best Vancouver Island Restaurant. The Philips credit much of this to their staff at the Sooke Harbour House.

Frederique Philip says, “I am very proud that our kitchen team has once again been honoured with this distinction for their hard and consistent work. It is very hard to maintain this level of quality day in and day out and I really admire them for their ongoing creativity and consistency. It is a pleasure to work with artisans who come up with new dishes that reflect the rhythms of the seasons, and who respect the intrinsic nature of the ingredients from our certified organic gardens and the sea nearby. We have been very fortunate over the last thirty years to have been able to work with such outstanding people.”

To contact Sinclair Philip please call 250-642-3421 ext. 203 or email sinclair@sookeharbourhouse.com. To contact Frederique Philip please call 250-642-3421 ext. 308 or email frederique@sookeharbourhouse.com. Website: www.sookeharbourhouse.com

Sinclair Philip

“In wilderness is the preservation of the world.” – Henry David Thoreau

Sooke Harbour House,
1528 Whiffen Spit Road,
Sooke, British Columbia,
V9Z 0T4  Canada
 
Email: sinclair@sookeharbourhouse.com
Telephone: 250-642-3421 extension 203

Johansens Award for Excellence, Most Excellent Eco Resort, Condé Nast, 2010

Gold List, World’s Best Places to Stay,

Condé  Nast Traveler, January 2009
One of Canada’s Top Five Hotels”, Travel + Leisure, January 2009
Gold Award for Best Vancouver Island Restaurant, from 1989 to 2010,Vancouver Magazine

Grand Award, One of the World’s Best Wine Lists, Wine Spectator Magazine, August 2009

Fodor’s Choice establishment 2008

Sooke Harbour House was the first recipient of Eat Magazine’s Green Star Guide of Local Food and Drink Hero Award, Eat Magazine, December 2008

Corporate Environmental Award: Leader in Environmentally Responsible Tourism”, Tourism Victoria, 2004

Audubon International Green Leaf Eco-Rating Program, Four Green Leaf Hotel”, the highest eco-rating in British Columbia, 2004

 

Ranked number eight ‘World’s Best Service’, Travel and Leisure Magazine, Reader’s Poll, June 2007
Best Small Inn in North America, Readers poll and editors of Mountain Living Magazine, January 2007

Vancouver Restaurant Awards 2010

From Van Mag….Our panel of 19 experts judged scores of rooms to determine the best restaurants in and around Vancouver. They recognized both established rooms and upstarts that have made a virtue of the new economy

Our panel of 19 experts judged scores of rooms to determine the best restaurants in and around Vancouver. They recognized both established rooms and upstarts that have made a virtue of the new economy

Click on the categories below to read the judges’ comments and see the winners

2010 Winners

         
Restaurant of the Year Italian Formal Korean North Shore
New Restaurant Italian Casual Thai Whistler
Regional European (Other) Vietnamese Victoria
Seafood Chinese Formal Asian (Other) Vancouver Island
Small Plates Chinese Casual Indian Okanagan
Bar/Lounge Dim Sum Americas Winery/Vineyard Dining
French Formal Japanese Formal Casual Chain Service
French Casual Japanese Casual Steakhouse/Chops Last Course

 

 

 

 

 

Special Awards


Chef of the Year  
 

Lifetime Achievement 

 

 

Bartender of the Year 

 


Premier Crew  
 

Green Award 

 

 

Producer of the Year 

 


Ingredient of the Year  
 

Interior Design 

 

 

Worth the Drive 

 


Resort of the Year  
 

Meet the Judges 

 

 

How We Did It 

Getaway to Victoria and Sooke in style

From Tourism Victoria

Visitors to Victoria, BC can experience the best of downtown city life and the tranquility of an ocean retreat in one trip with a new package offered by Victoria’s Abigail’s Hotel and world renowned Sooke Harbour House. Valid until December 15, 2009, the two-night Island retreat package, called “Vancouver Island at its Best” offers guests one night at each five star property. Nestled in downtown Victoria, just steps from the Inner Harbour guests at Abigail’s Hotel will receive one night in a premier Coach House room featuring a four poster king size bed, wood burning fireplace and jacuzzi soaker bath, gourmet breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres compliments of the chef. Upon arrival at Sooke Harbour House guests will check into a deluxe ocean view room complete with stone fireplace, private bath (jetted or soaker tub), in-room breakfast, complimentary garden and wine cellar tour and use of the on-site Infra-red sauna. Although where you choose to start your Island getaway is up to you, one thing is certain, that the surrounding beauty of the picturesque downtown harbour and sights and sounds of the wild West Coast will delight the senses and lead to the envitable – restoration of the body and soul. Package rates start at $635 CDN / $589 USD based on double occupancy and are not available for on-line bookings. For more information visit www.abigailshotel.com and www.sookeharbourhouse.com.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sooke Harbour House –Best Vancouver Island Restaurant –Vancouver Magazine, April, 2009

The Sooke Harbour House received the Gold Award for Best Restaurant on Vancouver Island at Vancouver Magazine’s 20th Annual Restaurant Awards.

This marks the 20th consecutive year that the Sooke Harbour House Inn has received this distinction. According to Vancouver Magazine, “Every proponent of regional dining owes a debt to locavore granddaddy Sooke Harbour House.”

Co-owner Frederique Philip says, “I am very proud that our kitchen team has once again been honoured with this distinction for their hard and consistent work. It is very hard to maintain this level of quality day in and day out and I really admire them for their ongoing creativity and consistency. It is a pleasure to work with artisans who come up with new dishes that reflect the rhythms of the seasons, and who respect the intrinsic nature of the ingredients from our certified organic gardens and the sea nearby. We have been very fortunate over the last thirty years to have been able to work with such outstanding people.”

Co-owner Sinclair Philip is equally happy. “Nature has provided our area with many wonderful and unique foods and I am very pleased at how our staff has worked to skilfully incorporate more and more indigenous plants, seaweeds and mushrooms into our menus. I increasingly enjoy foraging for mushrooms, and it always amazes me what magic our staff performs with these year round delicious morsels. We have always tried to showcase the best foods from Vancouver Island and we have a great deal to draw upon. Island wines, cider, and mead from Tugwell Creek also improve year after year and it is easier than ever to offer very high quality foods to travelers to our region. ”

Sinclair Philip will be away at the National Slow Food Annual Meeting in Toronto. If we can be of any help, please contact Frederique at 250-642-3421 ext. 308 or by cell phone at 250-893-3421. Her email address is frederique@sookeharbourhouse.com.

Sinclair Philip

Sooke Harbour House,
1528 Whiffen Spit Road,
Sooke, British Columbia,
V9Z 0T4 Canada
Email: sinclair@sookeharbourhouse.com
Telephone: 250-642-3421 extension 203

Best Vancouver Island Restaurant, Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, April 16th 2009

Sooke Harbour House was the first recipient of Eat Magazine’s Green Star Guide of Local Food and Drink Hero Award, Eat Magazine, December 2008

Grand Award, One of the World’s 73 Best Wine Lists, Wine Spectator, August 2008

One of Canada’s Top Five Hotels, Travel and Leisure Magazine, January 2008

Ranked number eight ‘World’s Best Service’, Travel and Leisure Magazine, Reader’s Poll, June 2007

Second Best Hotel in the Continental US and Canada, Eighth Best Small Hotel in the World, Travel and Leisure Magazine, Readers’ Poll, January 2007

Corporate Environmental Award: Leader in Environmentally Responsible Tourism, Tourism Victoria, 2004

Best Small Inn in North America, Readers poll and editors of Mountain Living Magazine, January 2007

Audubon International Green Leaf Eco-Rating Program, Four Green Leaf Hotel, the highest eco-rating in British Columbia, 2004