In Part 4 of our Cowichan Valley road trip series, we continue to sample the local cuisine and get to know the kind folks dishing up our grub and putting us up for the night at the Farm Table Inn.
As we rolled up the winding driveway to the Farm Table Inn–a B&B, restaurant and farm just 15 minutes outside of Duncan–we were greeted by a friendly motley crew.
First came Oliver, a sassy tabby cat with a full belly that was eager for us to put down our luggage and stroke his soft orange fur. Next came a friendly brood of clucking hens at our heels.
“I see you’ve met our chickens,” laughed Evelyn Koops, who runs the farm, restaurant and B&B with her husband George Gates.
“They are very entertaining and lay the most tasty eggs, too!”
Spoiler alert: she was right.
As we checked into our room, we discovered that the Cowichan Valley couple moved to the Farm October of 2016 and opened the restaurant the following New Year’s Eve.
“The building sat empty for a couple of years so we had lots of renovations to do,” explained Evelyn.
“We renovated the restaurant first, then the B & B., which opened last April.”
There are two rooms on site--ours was The Cedar, which was cozy, clean and furnished with two twin beds put together side by side with lush linens, an ensuite bathroom with walk-in shower, armoire, desk and chair.
The next morning we headed to the restaurant onsite for Sunday brunch — we were early to arrive, but the seats filled up fast.
“Oh we would never miss a Sunday Buffet Brunch here, ” said a woman at the next table who drove in from Duncan with her husband to satisfy their craving for George’s famous Eggs Benedict.
As we lined up to fill our plates, the options were endless. From freshly rolled sushi and the most decadent seafood chowder to a cold seafood platter, traditional hot breakfast offerings and desserts galore, it was clear we’d have to be carried out to our car after this feast.
George, a Red Seal Chef, is known on the island for serving up local, organic and homemade fare–putting the ‘farm’ in farm-to-table experience.
“Our concentration is to source local products, add some love and put art on a plate,” said George, who has been cooking since the age of 14 and went to culinary school three years later.
After 15 years of experience working in various fine dining restaurants and hotels with world class chefs as mentors, he took the Canadian Federation of Chefs and Cooks’ Chef de Cuisine Masters certification training.
The Farm serves local, organic and homemade food and offers a leisure dining experience, so do expect a minimum of two hours for dinner, which is minimal compared to the hours that George logs in the kitchen — a true labour of love.
“My favorites are slow and low cooking,” he said. “Our short rib or lamb shank are glorious. The sauces are all made with reductions and no flour or starches.”
Many dream of starting a bed and breakfast in a beautiful house and getting to meet interesting people from all over the world on a daily basis, but what if you also throw in a farm and a restaurant?
“Did I ever think we’d own all three? Nope,” laughed Evelyn. “But George and I are entrepreneurs so anything is possible!
The Farm is on the Pacific Marine Circle Route and many hiking trails, including the Trans Canada Trail, exist near the Farm. They are also minutes from Cowichan River Provincial Park. The B & B is open 7 days a week and includes a gourmet breakfast. The restaurant is open Wednesday to Saturday nights and on Sundays for a Brunch Buffet at 11am. Reservations recommended.
For more information, visit www.farmtableinn.ca.
Disclaimer: While our stay and breakfast was complimentary, all options are my own.