My girlfriend and myself recently went for a 10 day holiday in which we visited Victoria, Tofino, Salts Spring Island and Vancouver .
We went to several restaurants while in Tofino and I will be posting a positive review for one of them, The Inn at Tough City which offers excellent Sushi. I will also be posting a glowing review for Lumiere in Vancouver.
Sadly, my review for Wickaninnish Inn - Le Pointe Restaurant is not good and it was due almost entirely to the hostess. My significant other and I do well financially but we would certainly not consider ourselves rich. However, we like excellent food and every trip we spend a significant percentage of the trip budget on food and we always choose 1 top flight restaurant in the area to visit. For this trip, we selected Lumiere.
Due to the cost, we had decided we would not eat a full meal at the Wickaninnish Inn - Le Pointe Restaurant – the big money was already put aside for Lumiere. However, we wanted to try it and see what it was like. So we decided that we would have dessert. We arrived at around 9pm and the restaurant itself was full. The hostess was young, in her mid 20s I would guess. I said we had come for drinks and dessert. She politely informed us that the restaurant was full but we could order dessert in the lounge. We said that would be fine. She then said something like “please come into our lounge”. Perhaps if you live in BC it would be obvious to walk ahead and find a seat but the way she said it we were expecting her to walk us to our seat in their lounge so we basically kept waiting for her to start walking with us. She did not and said again “please come into our lounge.” At a restaurant of this calibre I would always expect to be walked to a table, even if it’s in the lounge.
We walked, unescorted by the hostess into the lounge and there appeared to be only 1 table for 2. The table had not been cleared and there was 1 empty cocktail glass on the table. We decided we would sit down because we did not want to lose the table. It was more than 5 minutes before anyone acknowledged us from the restaurant. A well dressed restaurant employee, I am guessing the manager, noticed us and asked if we had been served. We said no, and shortly thereafter a server came by and took our order.
The server was both polite and nice and she was clearly trying to do a good job. Trying goes along way with me but I would have to say that I think they need to invest more time and money in training their staff. There was one glaring error, that I will get to shortly, but the bigger problem was the lack of polish. Servers in a restaurant like Le Pointe, even if it’s the lounge, should know the little things that professional servers do and carry them off effortlessly. It’s almost a professional demeanour I am getting at if that makes any sense and it was not present that night. I am not expecting perfection and I have seen even the best servers make mistakes, but it’s easy to forgive one or two mistakes if the over all quality of the service is evident. The server was lacking that polish but she did try and was very nice - for that she got a good tip. The problem, in my opinion, was not her, but with the restaurant that I am guessing does not invest much time training its staff – particularly young staff.
The glaring error? Neither my girlfriend, nor myself, were ever given a napkin. We ended up using the small beverage type napkins they place below your drinks. The waitress should have caught this but I lay full blame for this error at the feet of the hostess. Had she been more attentive from the get-go we would never have ended up sitting at a table that had not been cleaned after the previous customers had left; we would not have waited more than 5 minutes to be served while an empty glass from the previous customers sat in front of us; and both of us would have been given a napkin. I should note that their lounge was not huge. I would guess it might seat 15-20 people at the most (my gf estimates 12) - so I am not sure why she did not escort us to our table. At the end of the day, we spent $50 on 2 drinks and 1 dessert (I believe it was called a Trio of Chocolate).
The dessert itself, the Trio of Chocolate, was very good but I would not go so far as to say excellent. At $25 (which is $12.50 each) I would have expected it to be excellent. That said, my experience of the food might have been coloured by the let downs in service. Excellent service can never rescue a bad food experience but it can raise a food experience a level – i.e. from very good to excellent or good to very good. They missed that opportunity.
When we walked out the hostess was at the podium/high desk at the entrance (where they keep their reservation book) and she did NOT say goodbye or thank-you. She did not appear to be overly busy. When I leave any sit-down restaurant I expect to hear either a goodbye and/or a thank-you from restaurant staff when I leave. This is not a problem for restaurants such as Montana’s, so it surprises me that it did not happen here.
On our way to the restaurant that evening we talked about coming back to Tofino in a few years and spending top dollar to stay a few nights at the Wickaninnish Inn. We stayed at a nice bed and breakfast that was certainly not cheap, but we thought it would be fun to stay at one of the top flight resorts in the area with its beautiful view and the onsite spa. We can certainly afford to stay at the Wickaninnish Inn and have a full meal at their restaurant and we are more than willing to pay top dollar for excellent food. (We spent over $700 on a dinner for two at Lumiere). But, I will not be spending any more of my money at the Wickaninnish Inn.
We did not go there that night intending for our dessert and drinks to be a test run but that’s what it ended up being. Leaving the restaurant, influenced heavily by the behaviour of the hostess, we concluded that this place is full of itself. Life is too long to say never, but I really cannot see myself considering either the resort or the restaurant for at least 15 years. It sounds like they don’t need my business but I will give a clear thumbs down to anyone considering it based upon the sort of behaviour we saw.