On a bright and chilly day in January five girls found themselves on a road trip to Tofino, BC from Victoria, BC. Plans for relaxation and cocktails at the vacation rental home had been made. A Saturday French toast brunch feast had been planned. The beaches to visit to see the Winter waves had been discussed. Everyone was excited!
At nearly the last minute these girls realized they had not planned dinner for the evening of their arrival and a flurry of emails went around. The first email listed a few local Tofino eateries to try but at the mere mention of Shelter Restaurant the decision was made. Each of us had heard it was delicious…and everyone agreed we should go.
SHELTER RESTAURANT | 601 CAMPBELL STREET, TOFINO, BC V0R 2Z0 | (250) 725-3353
After a five hour drive, a tasty cocktail was welcomed by each of us. After one of my dining companions ordered a Bloody Caesar I had to have one too. Fresh and spicy! And served with the traditional big stalk of celery…which I personally prefer over the pickled beans and such you often get now.
Even though we had actually made a few food stops during our road trip we were all famished when we got to Shelter and immediately started throwing out starter ideas. One of my companions had just had the calamari recommended to her the day before so we definitely knew to try it.
It was lightly battered and seasoned and perfectly crisp. The original touch to their offering of this common dish was the inclusion of jalapeno slices and red peppers mixed in with the squid. We all also enjoyed the squeeze of lime and creamy lime-chipotle mayo for dipping.
We also ordered a dish of edamame with sea salt and lime. Always a winner when cooked right…still crunchy and bright. Again, we all commented on the lime. Good idea!
For my main course I spent a long time staring at the menu. Knowing our weekend was going to include a lot of indulgence in the food department I really wanted to have salad. I chose the Shelter Salad (local organic greens, sweet peppers, dates, pumpkin seeds, cucumber, feta cheese, honey-lime vinaigrette) and was very pleased when our server told me how large it was and gave the option of a half size. I can only imagine that the full size must be massive.
The mix of fresh veggies with creamy feta hit the spot. More lime was present in the dressing and complimented everything very well.
Of course, there was no way that I could visit a fabulous restaurant like this and only order rabbit food. 🙂 After throwing ideas around with the girls I decided on the Meares Island Chowder (smoked salmon, arctic surf clams, manila clams, gallo mussels, yukon gold potatoes, garlic bread) and it did not disappoint!
As good as my meal was, looking around the table I started to feel a bit of “dinner envy”. Two of the girls went for the crab dinners and were very pleased! Being a hard core crab lover I can’t believe I passed up fresh-off-the-boat crab…I guess it’s just a reason to go back, no?
Another of the girls wasn’t a big seafood fan so she found this amazing Teriyaki Street Bowl with chicken on the Lounge menu (same place we found the calamari and edamame) and literally raved about it. She kept eating and eating and you could barely tell she’d made a dent in the huge stack of veggies! And when she found the rice with spicy yogurt sauce underneath she really was in heaven.
For dessert we couldn’t pass up the crème brûlée to share. Unfortunately it was a bit of a letdown after such a delicious dinner but we still ate it. Not near creamy enough and we were disappointed in the top…but the two of us that shared it are a bit snobby about our crème brûlée!
All in all we loved Shelter. The building is absolutely beautiful and the ambiance was cozy and lovely. If it wasn’t a road trip away I think all of us would gladly go back for a cocktail in front of the fireplace, or a date with a cute man, or just a quick bite in the lounge.
If you find yourself on the West Coast of Vancouver Island take a moment to stop into Shelter. You drive right by it on your way into Tofino and it’s worth pulling over for.