After several visits to Tigh-Na-Mara’s Cedar Room, we were really impressed. Unfortunately, it didn’t start that way…
While in Nanaimo for a weekend of work, my partner and I decided to treat his Dad and Step-Mom with a nice dinner in the Cedar Room at the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort in Parksville. Brendan and I had never been, but Tigh-Na-Mara has a very good reputation and from what I understood was quite world renowned for it’s dining, spa and resort overall, so we were really looking forward to dinner.
The first indication there might be trouble was when we were seated. For some reason, even after making a reservation, we were stuck in what felt like a hallway. We made the best of it though and began reviewing the menu. The main reason we decided on Tigh-Na-Mara for dinner was their annual “crab-fest”, so we each ordered a crab entree. We were all quite tired and limited on time, so we decided against appetizers and none of us were really feeling like having a drink, so we all stuck to water.
All of the food we ordered was fantastic, outside of the crab gnocci. Not sure what happened there, but it was probably one of the worst dishes I have ever eaten in a restaurant. We were kind of hoping that something was wrong with it, because we couldn’t quite understand why anyone would want to eat the gnocci by choice after tasting it.
Unfortunately the gnocci was not the only thing that seemed to have gone bad during our dinner visit. The service we received was appalling, which was shocking considering the reputation of Tigh-Na-Mara Resort. We had to ask several times for almost every need, including having our water glasses refilled. Our empty plates sat so long on the table that we ended up piling them up and putting them towards the end of the table to help initiate their removal. Had the restaurant been bustling and overcrowded, we could have understood some delay in our service, however, the restaurant was not busy and we were let down so many times for so many requests that I cannot justify the poor service. As it came time to discuss the gnocci our server went into a description of what gnocci was. We explained that we were aware of what the dish consisted of, but that it was, well to be frank, disgusting. She then took attitude and asked us what we wanted her to do about it. At that time I lost complete hope for the rest of the night. We asked her please just to inform the kitchen staff and she took away the dish without another word.
I like to provide feedback to businesses when I experience out of the normal service, food or product. I am not a complainer because I pride myself on providing both negative and positive feedback, when I feel they are warranted. I felt like the service and at least the gnocci warranted a comment back to the restaurant, so I took their survey card home with me, and sent them an email detailing our experience. I received contact back from Tigh-Na-Mara’s Director of Food and Beverage and was offered a gift certificate to come back to the Cedar Room and try again.
Now, let’s fast forward a couple of months…
The gift certificate I received was a very fair amount, so my partner and I decided we would give Tigh-Na-Mara’s prime rib Sunday brunch a try, as we had heard nothing but good things about it. The cost per person is about $30, so it wouldn’t be something we would typically do on a camping trip up island, but thought, “Sure! Why not?”
The service we received for the buffet brunch was a complete turn around for the service we received during our first visit. We were constantly attended to, always had water and coffee offered (or just refilled while we were filling our plates) and the service staff were wonderfully friendly. It was hard to believe that this was the same restaurant we had encountered before, but were so relieved.
Now to the important part of the brunch – THE FOOD! Before I get too far into describing every wonderfully delicious item we stuffed ourselves with, I have to first comment on the room and how the brunch buffet was set up. It was absolutely lovely. There were several tables, each with it’s own little theme (whether it was fruit and baked goods, the hot options, seafood or dessert). The dessert table was beautiful with many different options thoughtfully placed. There was also a children’s dessert table that was smaller than the rest and was just adorable.
In terms of a brunch, I think Tigh-Na-Mara covered their bases VERY well. They had an omelet station, prime rib, they had baked goods, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt and fruit. There was a seafood area, a salad area with several kinds of salad and they had the hot dishes which included the regular breakfast type food like scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, waffles and hash browns, plus they also had tasty additions like fresh waffles and crepes, pasta, an amazingly flavourful baked potato, squash and more.
What impressed us the most was the attention to detail to their food. The scrambled eggs were cooked perfectly and were smothered in cheddar cheese. The crepes were lightly covered with maple butter and could be accompanied by a tasty berry compote or whipped cream. There were so many healthy options, which was refreshing because so often brunch is filled with incredibly decadent food, but no real options for those that are trying to be “good”.
The desserts were also phenomenal. Tigh-Na-Mara has their own pastry chef and they do not disappoint! There was a rich berry crumble, tarts, pies, squares and more. They also had chocolate covered strawberries and gluten free options, which I thought was fantastic. Who does that?
Now, you’ll have to stay tuned in order to read about my second dinner experience…………!