If the Wickaninnish Inn is known for rustic elegance on nature’s edge, then The Pointe Restaurant captures that philosophy in perfect food form. Fresh, local, and extremely high-quality, situated in the original Pointe building of the beautiful Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach in Tofino, this restaurant is one that transcends expectations of Pacific North West dining.
Pointe can be found in Tofino, a rustic, wild, west coast town on the tip of Vancouver Island far up in the depths of the Pacific North West. Tofino is a rugged place, one of ancient forests, violent storms and large waves, secluded beaches and an unpredictable, dense fog that sets itself down without warning. The food here is similarly wild; fresh seafood from the vast oceanic waters, earthy mushrooms and vegetables from the dense, fertile earth, and organic meats from the animals roaming the land. And it is this that Pointe sets its foundations upon; food that is sustainable, steeped in its own environment and celebrated for its own wild, unfettered beauty.
With over 240 degrees of Pacific Ocean viewscape welcoming your arrival, The Pointe Restaurant is a marked place to dine. The interior is warming and inviting, continuing in the vein of the Wickaninnish Inn with natural elements and textures lining the venue. There is much wood, and handcrafted features from remnants of broken driftwood, creating a rustic vibe, yet the place remains elegant and refined. Dim lighting, beautifully set tables, and a sophisticated bar upon entry, Pointe is undoubtedly a premier dining experience.
Executive Chef Warren Barr writes the menu, and, working closely with coastal fishermen and local BC farmers, focuses on organic, local sources that emphasise the quality of the ingredients. The intention is to be simple and rustic, handmade, yet creative and aspirational about it. And thus, moving with the shifting seasons, the menu changes regularly and features everything from small plates to a full tasting menu.
We arrived at 7pm to find the restaurant already full and bustling, before seating ourselves at the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail at the On The Rocks Bar. Featuring a solid selection of cocktails, as well as an excellent selection of Pacific Northwest wines, exciting range of classic ports and, interestingly, one of B.C.’s largest selection of single-malt scotches, the bar is well worth visiting before (or after) dinner. I had a champagne based cocktail whilst my guest opted for a more spirits-driven one, the rich spiced rum cocktail. A spicy and full body drink that provided a great kick before starting dinner.
After our drink, we headed to our ocean-view table, where we began with the basket of house made breads. Arriving with house-churned butter, ricotta, and kale tapenade, these were warm and delicious, wetting our appetites as we perused the menu.
Given my guest is a vegan, and Pointe, impressively, offers a vegan tasting menu, we decided to opt for a tasting menu each, with wine pairings ($190 per head, all in). I had the main, whilst she had the vegan.
Our meal began with a beautiful box of ‘snacks’. Mine were, delightfully, little savoury macaroons redolent of salmon and cream cheese bagels, which were delicious, and little mounds of crispy, deep fried moss with herbs and cream cheese. Very moreish with a welcome crunch to cut through the cheese, these were lovely. My guest had a beautiful fried forest moss dish, which was a first for both of us and a memorable and uniquely “Tofino” taste. We both loved it.
For the first starter, I had a gorgeous ‘Beet Bouquet’. This came as, quite literally, a bouquet of beetroot slices, presented as a head of roses nestled atop a bed of miso alioli and shiso, topped with trout roe. The beets were crunchy and sweet, complimenting the creamy and savoury notes of the miso alioli and trout roe. An interesting, salty mouth-feel, this evoked wonderfully the oceanic waters outside. To drink, I had the Little Farm ‘Blind Creek Vineyard’ Rose, 2017 vintage, from BC. This winery produces only single-vineyard wine made with minimal intervention to reflect the terroir. Pale, crisp, refreshing, dry and savoury, this rose is as elegant as some of the finest Provence wines, showing decent complexity with its light strawberry fruit and dried herb notes. Meanwhile, my guest had the Chewy Beets. This rich starter was sweet and savoury, with a pecan puree’ at the centre, the pickled red beets and fruity black plum blending into a perfect starter bite.
My second starter, was a fantastic ‘Mushroom and Foie Gras Toast’ served as foie gras topped with dried foraged mushrooms, on sourdough toast, and next to a dollop of delectable cherry puree. The cherry went typically well with the foie gras, whilst the mushrooms added an interesting earthy depth to the dish that made it all the more interesting. The foie gras was curiously pan-seared and thus crispy on the outside, adding a further depth of texture that made the dish pop. It paired well with the surprising choice of Lustau Dry Olorosso ‘Don Nuno’ non-vintage Port that they served. The combination made sense though, when the port’s walnut, roasted nut, and zesty candied citrus peel notes created an unexpectedly delicious combination with the rich foie gras.
My guest had potato cakes which were resting on a vegan patty that was grainy and creamy, harmonising with the filling potatoes that were freshly garnished with spicy green onion. This dish was filling, wholesome, and comforting.
For the third course, we moved to mains. I had the ‘Seared Halibut’, an exceptional cut of tender yet meaty Halibut served on a bed of confit squash, next to a slash of hazelnut crust and topped with more hazelnut, dukkah spice and sage. This was again, another interesting twist on flavours. The nutty hazelnuts, combined with the spices and sage, added an exotic tang to the meaty fish yet kept the flavours firmly earthy and familiar to Pointe’s Pacific North Western elements. The wine, a Signorello ‘Vielles Vignes” Chardonnay, 2013, from California, with sweet notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom and vanilla, married well with this dish.
For the second main course my guest had the marinated rutabaga steak. The caramelised taste of rutabaga mixed with the fruity bed it was laying on was a deliciously light tasting and refreshing meal. The bed of cooked root vegetables with tastes of cooked pear and apple was a new and amazing taste accompanied by the marinated rutabaga made for a satisfying exploration of unique taste.
My final main and fifth course, was a ‘Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin’. This came deconstructed, with the beef tenderloin holding centre stage in the middle of the plate, with a Nostrala dauphine potato on its right, and a truffle glazed celeriac piece on its right. Jus sprinkled all three elements, elegantly bringing the dish together. As expected, the beef was excellent (made to medium-rare perfection on my request). The celeriac offered a slightly acidic, earthy tang that cut through the fat well, whilst the potato gave a creaminess that supported the juicy cut of meat beautifully. To drink, we had the Misconduct Cabernet Franc, 2013 vintage from BC, an apt choice, with its red fruit flavours and lightly vegetative notes.
For my last main I had the autumn vegetable cassolette. This crispy and savoury dish is divine for someone who enjoys anything crispy.
For dessert, I had the refreshing ‘Mountain rose apple presse’. This was similarly deconstructed, arriving as a mound of rose apple presse on a bed of green apple, served with an accompanying dollop of Salt Spring Island goat cheese mousse atop a brown butter and oat cookie. Like a cheese-board and dessert rolled into one, this was a very satisfying finish to my meal. The Quails Gate Optima 2015, from BC, that paired with it, was equally delicious. A botrytis sweet wine and redolent of a Sauternes, its aromatic notes of lavender, quince, honey, and poached pear accompanied the apple and cheese dish beautifully.
My guest had the Cherry and Orange Panna Cotta, a rich chocolate taste perfectly balanced out by the taste of berry sorbet. This dessert was so delicious and rich, no one would be able to tell it’s plant based.
All in all, from the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, decadent cocktails to start, extensive tasting menu offerings, faultless wine pairings, and seamless service,The Pointe Restaurant really proved a point to us; this is the place to eat when in Tofino. You have to go.
The Pointe Restaurant @ Wickaninnish Inn
500 Osprey Lane