My intention of starting a restaurant blog was not to ‘judge’ the merits of one’s establishment, rather it is to showcase or at the very least acknowledge, the ones that have a left a mark on my memory and most importantly my palette.
I chose to start local with this endeavour. I have been residing in the Cowichan valley now for about 6 years. After alternating between the small town of Ucluelet and the city-hub of Victoria, I found the valley to be a happy medium amongst the two. I had always thought of Duncan as that town marked by gas stations and drive-throughs, snapping my glance as I quickly passed through. It was not until I moved to the area that I ventured in, and in doing so became privy to the charm and character the town had to offer.
Central to the charming centre, one will find The Old Firehouse Wine and Cocktail Bar. The décor infused with all the right elements to create a sophisticated, eclectic, yet at the same time, earthy and rustic atmosphere. I’m a bit critical when it comes to background music; I’ve been known to give up my place in the queue as a result from such irritation. However, it is here amongst a goblet of wine and dimmed lights, there is nothing more completing than Percy Sledge’s cooing of when a man love a woman, or something to that effect.
So what is it about this little jewel that has me coming back as frequently as I can? It’s simple really. I’m always left satisfied. When one enters the wine bar they are genuinely and consistently greeted in a way that leaves you feeling as though you just got time warped back into a time where a warm welcome was valued. Jeff Downie is no stranger to the hospitality industry, made evident by his efficacy in greeting his guests in a manner that is both inviting and authentic. Such an approach is equally engendered by his genuine and attentive staff. Jeff’s consistency is salient, as I am often greeted by his warm smile, while he is enthusiastically immersed in creating his libation of the night. If you are ever unsure what to order for a drink, Jeff and his staff will be sure to present you with something that you will inevitably love and wanting to order it again and again. And if its wine you are after, you can anticipate the coalescing of piqued curiosity and palette satisfaction. In addition, this menu aptly pays tribute to local wineries while also offering a vast international selection.
Now let’s get to the food. As a big fan of tapas and pinchxos, I am appreciative of the innovative selection of small plates curated by Chef Ian Blom.
While I could deconstruct each of these little plated mosaics, instead I will end with an overarching characterization; food that meets all the right components in a way that is both assertive in its taste and nuanced in its complexity.
So there it is folks! For all of you heading south island on the highway, pause when you hit Duncan and turn right. You wont be disappointed.