Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wickaninnish Inn: The Pointe Restaurant

The Wickaninnish Inn, also known as the "Wick", is nestled on a rocky promontory surrounded by ocean on three sides, and old growth forest as its spectacular backdrop. With sweeping 240° views over the Pacific Ocean, The Pointe Restaurant, overlooks the very waters that provide much of the bounty that Chef de Cuisine, Nick Nutting, features in his Pacific Northwest cuisine — seafood such as fresh Dungeness crab, mussels, clams, spot prawns, oysters, octopus and squid to wild salmon, Ling cod and halibut. 

Tofino's spectacular Wickanannish Inn - a Relais and Chateaux property

The Wick's Pointe Restaurant with 240° of sweeping views

Having access to the very best Vancouver Island produce allows chefs John Waller and Nick Nutting to get creative with foraged mushrooms and succulent seafood, Sloping Hills pork sausage and brie from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, as well as showcasing an excellent selection of Pacific Northwest wines that can be paired with each course. I tried a Twisted Tree Viognier from Osoyoos in the Okanagan Valley, a delightful wine with peachy overtones, great flavour and conveniently available by the glass.

Executive Chef Nick Nutting of the Wick's 'The Pointe Restaurant'

The amuse-bouche - lemon flash fried calimari with fennel tomato slaw

Produce by local artisans can be found throughout the dining room, like this exquisite hand turned burl charger plate

Brass privacy screen of Tofino salmon, by a local artist, in the Wick Bar

The Wick's amazing Potato Crusted Cortez Island Oysters with sweet corn velouté and creme fraiche - one of the best dishes I've ever had!

Tofino Dungeness Crab Perogies with fennel onion charcroute & lemon mustard vinaigrette

On the Rocks Bar and Lounge is the ideal spot to enjoy a cocktail before dining at The Pointe, or to enjoy a lighter menu with dishes like West Coast Clam Chowder with wild side shrimp, local fish, corn and bacon; Steamed Saltspring Island Mussels with Tuff Session Ale, caramelized onions and blue cheese; or a selection of international cheeses with freshly baked bread and house whipped butter, all from your oceanside seat on Chesterman Beach. The dinner menu features appetizers such as Tofino Dungeness Crab Perogies with fennel onion charcroute & lemon mustard vinaigrette; Chilled Cucumber Soup with albacore tuna tartare, mint and shiso lemon sorbet with a shot of Hendrick's Gin; and my favourite, Potato Crusted Cortez Bay oysters with sweet corn velouté, in wild mushroom truffle cream and creme fraiche - with a shaving of black truffle!

Romescu Crusted Ling Cod  with homemade chorizo, Russian kale and new potatoes in a shellfish broth

Seared Tofino Halibut and Seafood Sausage with carrot pasta, carrot purée & carrot foam

For entrées, there's Seared Tofino Halibut and Seafood Sausage, made with shrimp, scallop and crab, and finished with homemade carrot pasta, carrot purée and chanterelle mushrooms and garnished with carrot foam; Romescu Crusted Ling Cod with homemade chorizo, Russian kale and new potatoes in a shellfish broth; and Tofino Salmon with crispy sweetbread, spot prawn and celeriac braised lettuce.

Pastry Chef Matt Wilson and the pastry brigade create inspired breads, pastries and desserts, both unconventional and conventional like Vancouver Island Blackberries, Vanilla Crème Brûlée or a platter of housemade chocolates and petit fours. Although my cousin and I decided not to splurge on a dessert, our server arrived with a small plate with two delicious homemade caramels sprinkled with fleur de sel for a little dolce to add the perfect finish to our delicious meal. For an exceptional dining experience, superb service and breathtaking views - raise your glass, and your expectations, because The Pointe is not to be missed. 

Cornmeal Crusted Salmon with Sweet Corn Polenta & Lobster Mushroom Ragout
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Nicholas Nutting at the Pointe - Wickanannish Inn

4-5 oz filets of Spring Salmon, skin off
2 egg whites
150 ml finely ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 325°F. Season and dip one side of salmon in egg whites. Combine cornmeal and coriander seed. Dredge salmon filets in cornmeal and coriander seed mixture. Pan fry dredged side in olive oil and bake to medium rare, 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness.

Sweet Corn Polenta:
250 ml cornmeal
1L 2% milk simmering with bay leaf, thyme, black pepper
250 ml Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Whisk cornmeal into strained simmering milk. Cook until cornmeal is soft. Add Parmesan cheese. Add zest and juice of lemon and parsley.

Lobster Mushroom Ragout:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced pancetta
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 onions, julienned
pinch of fennel seed, dried chilies, black pepper
1 sprig rosemary
100 ml B.C. Pinot Noir
4 large B.C. lobster mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
250 ml white veal or vegetable stock
250 ml peeled cherry tomatoes

In a large sauce pan, render pancetta in olive oil until crispy, add garlic and cook until golden. Add onions, fennel seeds , chilies, pepper and rosemary. Deglaze with Pinot Noir and reduce. Add lobster mushrooms and veal stock. Simmer until mushroom are tender and finish by adding peeled tomatoes.

Assemble plates by placing salmon over a serving of polenta. Top with lobster mushroom ragout.