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Indoor Entertainment: Beautiful Butterfly Gardens

Indoor Entertainment: Beautiful Butterfly Gardens

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2015
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Butterfly Gardens – Into the Jungle we go!

 

Now that the weather has changed and it can be a bit more challenging for outdoor experiences, let us recommend Butterfly Gardens.

Welcome to the Jungle!

Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience the beauty and curiosity of a tropical jungle up close. With surprises at every turn, the gardens is home to a wide variety of rescued tropical animals including ducks, flamingos, rare tropical birds, poison dart frogs, tortoises, turtles, giant Koi and thousands of tropical free flying butterflies. Stroll along the paths and see organic vanilla beans growing on the vine, papaya trees, pineapple, coffee beans, ginger and many other foods of the world flourishing in their natural habitat.

Witness hundreds of butterflies feeding on fresh tropical fruits, learn about carnivorous plants from our jungle experts and marvel at the stunning blooms and thousands of rare and endangered tropical plants. For best butterfly sightings we recommend a sunny day. So if you are looking for a tropical experience in Victoria check out Butterfly Gardens. It is just 5 minutes from nearby Butchart Gardens. Don’t pass it by or you will miss something very special that Victoria has to offer visitors. Like all great tropical gardens it is a world full of colour and wonder…please check it out. You will not be disappointed!

 

Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly Gardens

 

Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly Gardens

Nautical Nellies Steak and Seafood Restaurant

Nautical Nellies Steak and Seafood Restaurant

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2015
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Nautical Nellies Steak and Seafood Restaurant – The Experience

Nautical Nellies Steak and Seafood serves up great food

Nautical Nellies Steak and Seafood serves up great food – Photos Courtesy of Nautical Nellies

We recently had the opportunity to experience Nautical Nellies Steak and Seafood Restaurant on the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria. Believe me when I say that it is much more of an experience than just a meal. As you enter, take note of the heated sundeck, where you can enjoy Victoria and views of the Inner Harbour on almost any day of the year. The decor in the restaurant is cosy with a combination of booths and tables to accommodate any size group, and they have some great fish tanks with a nice collection of exotic fish. The staff are attentive, welcoming and know their menu.

good food -great taste experience

good food -great taste experience

From the first bite you will realize that they use the best local and seasonal ingredients available. As frequent customers, we know that they make regular changes to their menu, so there is always something new to try. As advertised, they have a wide variety of delectable seafood specialties and they serve premium steaks aged for 38 days.

If you are looking for something different, the chefs are very innovative and serve dishes you that you will not find in other Victoria restaurants. On this occasion we tried tempura coated green beans served with red pepper jalapeno cream cheese dip – delicious!

We were there with a rather large group so we had the opportunity to share a taste of most of their new menu items and we enjoyed them all! Of course different people like different things but it’s safe to say that the scallops, the green beans, the Portobello mushroom fries, the stone fruit glazed local barbeque pork belly and the hot crab dip with arugula and artichoke served on parmesan crostini were among the favourites.

Wonderful Appies and Small Plates

Wonderful Appies and Small Plates

For those who made it past the appetizers, a variety of dinners were ordered and shared in many cases. The steak and seafood here is fresh, delicious and well presented. We think that they are trend setters in the Victoria culinary scene. They also serve up some of the finest sushi in Victoria. A couple of our group ordered sushi dishes.  They also serve at least 10 varieties of fresh shucked oysters in their oyster bar.

Nautical Nellies has a Happy Hour daily from 3 to 5:30 pm, so come by and sample some of the wide variety of drinks on their menu. It all is part of the Nautical Nellies experience!

We certainly have recommended Nautical Nellies to many of our family and friends and to visitors from out of town. It is at the top of the list on our “go to” restaurants. So we urge you to give it a try and let us know what you think!

A Touch of Class – Experience the Oak Bay Beach Hotel

A Touch of Class – Experience the Oak Bay Beach Hotel

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2015
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A Touch of Class – Dinner Theatre at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel

Recently we paid another visit to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Whether you stay there, visit the Snug for a drink and appetizers, enjoy great food in the dining room or take in the dinner theatre you will know you are experiencing the class and charm of this incredible hotel. We certainly highly recommend it to our friends and family and anyone visiting Victoria. Oak Bay Beach Hotel is on the waterfront in an exclusive part of Oak Bay on the East Shore of Greater Victoria. There is no better location for a hotel. The views are spectacular and you are tucked into a quiet neighbourhood close to amenities including two world class golf courses. Oak Bay Village offers some unique shopping and a variety of restaurants. There are some exceptional art galleries in the Village as well. Check out the video below to see what you have been missing. They have taken the hotel industry to the next level.

 

Dinner Theatre in the David Foster Theatre

This is our second visit to the Dinner Theatre and once again we were not disappointed, rather thoroughly entertained. David James (Almost Johnny Cash) and the Big River Band perform a 90 minute Tribute to Johnny Cash. James transforms into Cash when he steps to the mike and says “Hello – I’m almost Johnny Cash.” The band members are  – Todd on bass, Allan on guitar and pedal steel, and Colin on drums.  James completes his transformation, from imitating the  way Cash holds his guitar to the way he talks to his audience. And he throws in a bit of Johnny Cash history to make it interesting. Like all good entertainers James engages the audience often, including a sing-a-long. It was very entertaining and a lot of toe-tapping fun! The video below will give you a taste of the Big River Band and their tribute!

We enjoyed a 3 course dinner which included a tasty salad, a beef short rib main course and dessert. It was truly delicious. The salad was Young Lettuce, Corn Bread Croutons, Oven Dried Tomato and Chorizo Vinaigrette. The Bourbon Braised Beef Ribs came with Smoked Onion Potato Puree, and Heirloom Carrots. Desert was an Apple Tart with Oat Crumble and Candied Almonds. It was all yummy! The servers were attentive, friendly and helpful and well organized. You can text your drink orders directly to the bar from your table using your cell phone! We were alerted when dessert was delivered that the show would start in 15 minutes and it was right on schedule. The dinner theatre is small and intimate. They like to sit people 2 or 3 to a table so that all chairs are oriented to the stage. Our guess would be that about 40 people attended the show. It is a wonderful experience and in the Oak Bay tradition, cookies and hot chocolate were served in the lobby right after the show! Such a classy place! Part of every dollar spent in the Theatre is dedicated to the David Foster Foundation which supports families with children in need of organ transplants.

Oak Bay Dinner Theatre

Oak Bay Dinner Theatre

 

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2015
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Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival on the Port Angeles Waterfront

Well Victoria, and visitors to Victoria, its October and that means it is Crab Fest time. Hop on the Coho Ferry and take the 90 minute ride across beautiful Juan de Fuca Strait and enjoy one of the year’s premier events on the Olympic Peninsula. It takes place on the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend. The people of Port Angeles and the Dungeness Crab that sacrifice themselves in large numbers put on a great show!! Best of all, admission is free. If you want to enjoy the feast, you can purchase your choice from a wide selection, mostly based on seafood. My recommendation is… don’t miss the crab dinner. If you stay for a couple of days, you will have time to try everything! This festival is supported by a number of local businesses and they do it well. Something Canadians understand about Americans is that they know how to celebrate and put on a good show!

The Crab Festival

The Coho Ferry Run by the Black Ball Ferry Line

The Coho goes back and forth across beautiful Juan de Fuca Strait. Victorians really appreciate the beautiful backdrop the Olympic Mountains provide for our city. Victoria was voted #1 by Conde Nast magazine for environmental ambiance and a great part of that award is due to spectacular scenery, much of which comes from our view of the Olympic Peninsula. The ferry ride is a great opportunity to enjoy all that is Victoria. Getting out on the water provides you with a great tour of the Inner and Outer Victoria Harbor, one of the busiest marine transportation hubs around. The traffic in and out is intense, with frequent float plane service to and from Vancouver, whale watching vessels, private yachts and sailboats, commercial vessels, kayakers, water taxis, and of course ferries!

As you head across Juan de Fuca Strait keep your eye peeled for very fast moving boats. This is the first sign that you might be seeing whales. There are lots of Orcas (Killer Whales) and Humbacks in the Strait. We have seen Grey Whales and Minkes as well. To see all that is possible you need to spend lots of time out on deck. Always bring your camera and binoculars if you have them. It is a beautiful Strait to travel across and you never know what you will see. Pulling into Port Angeles is also interesting with close up views of the verdant valleys of the Olympic Peninsula as they rise to the peaks.

The Crab Festival

When you disembark it is a very short 5 minute walk to the Festival Grounds. Just follow the crowd!  Here you will find the massive Crab Tent where you can enjoy a whole Dungeness Crab dinner (or just a half for smaller appetites). This is likely the freshest crab you will ever eat unless you own a boat and a crab trap! If you don’t like crab, there are about a dozen other outlets in the tent where you can buy oysters, beer and wine, cheese, chowder, and other seafood prepared in a variety of ways. Just past the Crab Tent you will find over 75 vendors and crafters on the City Pier property. We discovered some out-of-the-ordinary and original work by many local artists that we had never seen before.  The Festival runs from Friday to Sunday. Saturday seems to be the busiest day. There are contests, races, demonstrations and more, something for everyone!  Any of course the local retailers and restaurants are ready to welcome you too.

If you have time, take a drive (or rent a bike)  into the fabulous countryside and see some of the sites available on the Olympic Peninsula. It is beautiful and diverse from the beautiful coast line to the mountain peaks. Stop by the tourism office for directions and advice.

This is a “no miss” event, so start your planning now for next year!  We talked to many people who make this a yearly event.  Things get booked up in PA well in advance and it is understandable why. We did the walk-aboard thing and went over and back on the same day. Many people from Victoria did this but a whole lot more went over for the whole weekend. Take your pick! Have fun!

Friday Night Flights at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort and Spa

Friday Night Flights at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort and Spa

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2015
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Friday Night Lights Wine Tasting at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort

Last night we were invited to the fabulous Bear Mount Resort to experience their Friday Night Flights. A group of people gathered at the host stand for the Bella Restaurant in the Clubhouse Building of the Westin Bear Mountain.

The first people we met were a young California couple visiting Canada for the first time! After experience a climb up Mt. Finlayson, they thought Canadians were pretty tough people. They went up one of the easier trails and found it challenging. They were ready for some wine and relaxation. Welcome to Canada.

Our Friday Night Flight to the South Okanagan

The Friday Night Flight special guest was Sophie Laurent sommelier and “Brand Ambassador” for Burrowing Owl Estate Winery located in the town of Oliver in the South Okanagan region of British Columbia. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery produces premium VQA wines and also has an 11 room guest house, a wine shop and a fine-dining restaurant on site. Sophie was incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining as she introduces the group to some of her favourite wines from Burrowing Owl Winery.

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – Photo Courtesy of the Winery

We tasted five wines and enjoyed some tasty hors d’oeuvres between tastings to give our taste buds time to recover from the amazing wines we enjoyed. The two wines that I enjoyed the most were the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2013 Athene, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This wine was one of the best I have had in a long time!

Wine Room Westin Bear Mountain

Wine Room Westin Bear Mountain – Photos Courtesy of the Westin

The wine room at the Westin Bear Mountain is absolutely luxurious and spectacular and is really worth a visit. The Cellar is nestled deep within The Westin Bear Mountain and surrounded by over 2,000 bottles of the world’s finest wines. You can book private tastings or dinners in the wine room with a party for ten to twenty. The Westin’s award winning culinary team will work with you to design the perfect meal and wine pairing for your most important occasions. Ron, Linda and Maureen were there representing the Victoria Guest Services Network.

Our Friday Night Flight

Our Friday Night Flight

Every Friday night from 6:00pm – 7:00pm you can experience Friday Night Flights and sample wines from around the world. Reserve your spot at the next Friday Night Flights or contact the Westin Team to arrange a private gathering (Call 250-391-7160 to book your reservation).

The Westin Bear Mountain

If you have never been to The Bear Mountain Resort pamper yourself with a stay in their rooms with amazing views of the Golf Course. There is so much to do there. Go golfing on one of the two 18-hole golf courses. I prefer the Valley Course, but the Mountain Course has one of the most spectacular views of all of Greater Victoria you will ever see. It is just after the 12th hole. You can hike Mount Finlayson, bike ride though the Bear Mountain bike park which was designed for riders of all levels, ranging from beginners to international competitors. The High Performance Training Centre for the Canadian National Team is at Bear Mountain. You can work out at the North Langford Recreation Centre



. Take care of yourself at the Sante Spa. The award-winning Sante Spa Victoria offers nurturing spa treatments including offerings for men, couples and golfers. Appreciate the surrounding views from the comfort of the spa lounge, or journey to the terrace and soak in the mineral pool. The staff at the Resort will take great care of you and make sure you find something to do that excites you. Check it out! You will be amazed. Just walking through the Westin is an experience in itself!

Visit the Wild Pacific Coast – Ucluelet, Long Beach & Tofino

Visit the Wild Pacific Coast – Ucluelet, Long Beach & Tofino

  • Posted: Sep 26, 2015
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It has been a few years since we have been in the Pacific Rim Region which is Ucluelet, Long Beach and Tofino! It is my favourite part of Vancouver Island. There are two parts to this trip. Part One is making sure that you don’t miss the special stops on the way there and Part Two is finding out how to enjoy all that is available when you get there. In most recommendations I am going to describe things that are generally short in duration, some however make take a stop of up to one hour. There are some things to do or see that require more time to enjoy, but heh, you can come back! Links have been provided to conveniently connect you to web sites with more information where available.

PART ONE: The Best of the Trip to Vancouver Island’s West Coast – Starting in Victoria!

As you drive north from Victoria you will pass exit 14 A to Sooke. Just a few kilometers down the road you will enter the Malahat Drive which takes you past Goldstream Park. If you want to see some of Vancouver Island’s large trees pull into the parking lot. If you visit Goldstream in the fall, you can experience the salmon spawn.

Goldstream Park, big trees, eagles and spawning salmon

Goldstream Park, big trees, eagles and spawning salmon

When you get near the Malahat Summit, you will come to a view point that looks down Saanich Inlet towards Victoria. On a good clear day you can see the Olympic Mountains. This viewpoint is particularly spectacular, particularly as the sun sets.

There are three places to stop along this stretch; the 2nd has a toilet facility that is solar powered. Big deal you say, well it cost a bundle when built ($110,000 I think!). However, this particular toilet is waterless and has an insulated compost chamber located below the ‘throne’ where oxygen, a carbon rich material and bacteria composts the waste. Continue reading

Exploring Victoria’s Restaurants!

Exploring Victoria’s Restaurants!

  • Posted: Sep 13, 2015
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Exploring Victoria’s culinary world can be interesting and for visitors to our city it is always a big guess. So, we will from time to time report on our experiences with restaurants in Greater Victoria. Following is a review of what we discovered over the last two weeks.

Nourish Restaurant

My visiting daughter has severe food allergies and my wife tries to eat ‘gluten free’. After our search, Nourish seemed like it would fill the bill and indeed we were not disappointed.

Nourish Kitchen & Cafe was created to simplify healthy eating & support active lifestyles and now operates two unique locations, Nourish in the Garden (at the Horticultural Centre) & Nourish in the Harbour (just 2 minutes from the Inner Harbour). The owners have strong beliefs when it comes to growing & sourcing the products they use and they take great care in the details of the experience and promise that:  guests will get lost for a moment of time; will eat meals with an abundance of seasonal ingredients and flavours; will be spoiled with the high quality foods prepared for rich nutrient density; will enjoy every minute you spend at Nourish; and will leave feeling better than when they arrived. We experienced all of that and were happy campers when we left. We have been there several times and every time we were delighted with the quality and taste of the food. It was a beautiful September day so we decided to sit outside on the patio. However, it is fall and those pesky wasps started showing up, so we moved inside. The Gardens at the Horticultural Centre are beautiful and all the plants are labelled so you can learn about them. Before or after your meal, check out the gardens. This is a great place to get some high quality food from people who love to welcome and serve you. Enjoy and be “Nourished”. Visit their website for details.

Nourish Restaurant

Nourish Restaurant

Sleeping Beauty Pan Cakes, Pad Thai, Pan cakes, Carrot Cake, Pancakes with bacon and poached eggs (clockwise)



Salty’s Fish & Chips

I recently had a craving for halibut fish and chips. I approached a “Salty’s” restaurant and decided to give it a try. There are chains of fish and chips all over North America and many disappoint! To my surprise the fish was sublime. It had a light batter and it was cooked to perfection and the size was ample. The coleslaw was fresh and delicious as well and there was an ample supply. I told the friendly young waitress that I liked my fries well done and crispy. They were anemic looking and far from crisp. They were more limp than crisp. I have had this problem a number of times at different restaurants. Maybe lots of people like limp, anemic french fries, but I am not one of them. Even when requested, some chefs just can’t bring themselves to creating what the customer wants. I am not sure if this is a problem with the timing of the meal and the chef can’t figure out that the fries could be put it a few minutes ahead of the fish. The meal seemed a bit pricy as well, but perhaps the price of halibut is up, everything else is.

saltys3

2-Piece Halibut & Chips with Coleslaw

Moxie’s Restaurant

The last visit was a birthday celebration and I chose Moxie’s because I know they offer gluten-free options for my wife. Well operated restaurants like Moxies produce special menus for people with gluten-free and allergy restrictions. This is very smart. The inside of the Victoria Moxie’s is very well decorated with high ceilings. It has a spacious feel. The staff was very attentive. As it was my birthday, I wanted to see if they did anything special for people celebrating birthdays. I dropped numerous hints to our waitress. It seemed like she was trying to ignore the hints, so I guess Moxie’s does not recognize special events! Moxie’s is another large chain restaurant, but I think it is one of the better ones. We have always had decent meals at Moxie’s. The prices always seem reasonable and the food is delicious. There was a bit of confusion over the drink that I ordered, however that was corrected immediately and in a very friendly and accommodating manor. “Making it right” is a nice business practice. I would certainly recommend Moxie’s to visitors to Victoria. Moxie’s is just minutes from most downtown Victoria tourism services. Check it out and take a look at their on-line menu.

restaurants-moxies

Red Thai Curry Bowl with Jasmine Rice (top right), Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs (Bottom left)

moxies2

Salted Caramel & Pecan Cheese Cake, Chipotle Mango Chicken, Trio of Deserts (taster)

 

Zip Line Fun With AdrenaLINE

Zip Line Fun With AdrenaLINE

  • Posted: Sep 03, 2015
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Soaring High Through the Trees with AdrenaLine Zip Line Adventure Tours

Two nights ago we had the pleasure of a night time adventure tour through the treetops of the Sooke Hills with AdrenalLine Zipline Adventure Tours. The proved to be very professional and capable. Our guides Genevieve and Stephanie did a great job of keeping us entertained and very safe. We started with our guides teaching us how to properly adorn our gear which consisted of a harness and helmet. The helmet had a light on the front. We used the red light for while we were flying through the treetops and the white light for walking.

https://youtu.be/iQMFBZ7CMFk

First We Train, Then We Play!

After gearing up we went to the training run at the bottom of the hill. This was a great way to get a feel for what was to come. It was easy and fun. Then we were loaded on to two ATV’s that were named “Jack” and “Jill”. I hope you get that! Then we had a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – type ride up the hill to the first zip run. This ride was exciting to say the least! Only one stop along the way to see a really old tree that was massive!
We started our zip runs high in the hills and approximately 150 feet above the forest floor. Before getting hooked to the overhead safety cable, we were hooked into a safety cable that was on every platform. Once hooked to the overhead cable, the platform safety cable was removed. That was to ensure there was no possibility of falling. The guides were at each end of every zip and the suspension bridge. They would communicate with radios and indicate when the catch guide was ready for the next zip-liner! Then one step and you were gone. It was suggested that we have our weight support by the overhead cable before we leave the platform. This takes out any feeling of falling and bumping the platform. The guides seemed to have all the bases covered.

zip-2
The longest run was around 1000 feet and it took just 30 seconds from start to finish. There was one suspension bridge. I have to say, I don’t like suspensions bridges, ever! Again I was supported by an over head cable and had two cables to hang on to. There is no pressure to hurry across and let me tell you I did not. I am not a high person, but the ziplines did not bother me in the least. However, the suspension bridge did. I did however survive it. This was our second trip out to AdrenaLine and it was really a lot of fun. Zipping in the dark, is a totally different experience. As each person came down the line, they looked like a cigarette flying through the night sky. All you could see was an orange glow flying towards you. It was not dark at the beginning, but by the time we were done, it was pitch black. The guides had portable lights to help us navigate the platforms and the trail back to the office.
The guides were very profession, high energy and lots of fun to be with. This is a well run organization that offers a great brand of fun and adventure. I suggest that you give them a try. You will not be disappointed.

Zipline Fun with Adrenaline

Zipline Fun with Adrenaline

Heron Day Witty’s Lagoon

Heron Day Witty’s Lagoon

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2015
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herons at Whitty's Lagoon

herons at Whitty’s Lagoon

 

Heron Watching at Witty’s Lagoon

I feel so lucky that I can get my morning walk in along the ocean in a beautiful park. I have discovered Tower Point which is on the eastern shore of Witty’s Lagoon. Right now around 8 am the lagoon empties with the ebbing tide. I can hear the water flowing like a river running but it really is the water draining quickly from the lagoon creating tidal wave going off shore. The lagoon is at the end of an estuary so it is shallow to start with and it does not take long before the birds that feast at low tide show up in great numbers. This morning I saw about 15 herons near where I was. I am sure there were a lot more around the lagoon. Thes large birds have a great wingspan as you will see in the video. They nest high in the trees and I find it amazing this would be their choice for a nest location. They are great at catching small fish which you will also see on the video. These birds also have amazing plumage. The feathers on their chest and neck seem like long hairs. They are lovely to watch. Enjoy part of my morning walk!

Glenrosa Farm Restaurant in Metchosin

Glenrosa Farm Restaurant in Metchosin

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2015
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Glenrosa Farm Restaurant is Now Open in Metchosin

Today was a special anniversary for us so we headed out to Pedder Bay in Metchosin to try out Glenrosa Farm Restaurant. We were driving by about a week ago and noticed the sign and the aluring big yellow farm house.
We arrived at about 12:30 and found the patio almost full and only a few customers sitting outside. It was such a beautiful day and the views from the outside deck were spectacular. From the deck you could see Pedder Bay and the Olympic Mountains in the background. It is a spectacular view and certainly reflective of bucolic Metchosin.

Lunch was outstanding!

We ordered a refreshing drink and pondered the lunch menu. Their restaurant is open from Thursday to Monday and the lunch is on from noon to three and the afternoon country tea is open from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Linda ordered the “24 Carat Soup” and the grilled cheese sandwich and I ordered the grilled sandwich of roasted Stillmeadow chicken breast, Comox Valley brie, caramelized onions, and mustard, served with a side of green salad and house made aioli. Both were absolutely delicious and certainly ample.
To complete the meal and make the event special, I ordered the walnut zuchini cake with carmel sauce. I am sure I don’t have to tell you how good that was.
For reservations call 250-478-6186 or email info@glenrosafarm.com. Reservations are not necessary but appreciated. Our guess is soon, they will be required. We certainly recommend that you give this new restaurant a try. You will not be disappointed.
This small farm also sells organic garden products, fruit, eggs and wool products. Check out their web site at http://glenrosafarm.com/index.html

 

Enjoy our video of the restaurant!

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