Tag Archive for tofino

Spotted Bear Bistro, Tofino

Earlier this week, I put up a recipe for chocolate cake using Tofino Brewing Company’s Kelp Stout. To round out the week, I thought I’d share with you an amazing dinner I had while in Tofino.

Located in the main town part of Tofino, The Spotted Bear is tucked away around a corner. It’s a tiny space: it seats just under 30, but the atmosphere is warm and cozy. On the night we were there, there was just one server, the chef and the sous-chef.


I like places like that, though. I like being able to have a conversation with the chef about the food and his inspirations. The night we were there, the executive chef from the Wickaninish Inn, Warren  Barr, came in for a drink and a snack. It’s always a good sign when chefs come to your restaurant.

The chef here is Cameron Young, and he’s been the head chef here for about a year, and was the sous prior to that. Cam is just one of the young, upstart chefs that are leading the food scene in Tofino. The Spotted Bear is all about upscale comfort food, and seafood, like many restos in the small fishing town, figures heavily into the menu.

Instead of ordering, I put myself in Chef Cam’s hands, and was not disappointed.


The meal started with the Tuna Tartare. Now, trust me when I say, this Tuna Tartare is legendary. I had no less than three chefs while I was in Tofino tell me how much they loved it. It is amazing. Albercore Tuna, topped with pickled shallots and enoki mushrooms, tossed with a soy truffle vinaigrette, served over a schmear of avocado. It comes with absolutely perfectly crisp toasts made from baugette sourced from the bakery just down the street.


Next up: Scallops and Octopus. Perfectly-seared scallops, caramelized just on one side, in a cauliflower puree with a dollop of carrot puree and perfectly-seasoned crispy fried cauliflower. One thing I remarked over and over about Chef Cam’s food was how perfectly seasoned it was. There’s no need for a salt shaker on the table at this restaurant!





The main was a beautiful piece of Ling Cod. Ling Cod is plentiful right now, so you’ll see it lots. It was served on a bed of green lentils, which added such richness to the dish, and were cooked to a perfect al dente consistency. The lemon sauce was out of this world. I could have licked it off the plate–again the balance was perfect–tart but not too puckery.



Finally, dessert. There were two: a beautiful lemon tart, and a flourless chocolate cake with a dark chocolate mousse. The chocolate was my favourite, as the cake was rich (but because it was a small piece, it wasn’t too overwhelming), and the mousse was full of rich, dark chocolate, but was a gorgeous, light consistency, not too bitter, and full of depth.

Sneaky Pete

The Spotted Bear isn’t the biggest or fanciest place to eat in Tofino. But for me, I felt like it struck exactly the right balance: the atmosphere was really laid back and casual, but he food was top-notch. The service was attentive, but friendly, and it’s always a joy to watch a chef at work in an open kitchen. If you don’t get the chance to go for dinner, they are also open for weekend brunch. At the very least, slip in for a Sneaky Pete and to try the Tuna Tartare the next time you’re in Tofino…

Chocolate Beer Cake

I just got back from a glorious long weekend in Tofino. Everything was perfection.

Normally, when you go on vacation, you hope for good weather. But Tofino might be the one place in the world where people go hoping for bad weather. I spent quite a long time just staring at the ever-changing colours and surf just outside my window, and never felt even remotely bored.


The Tourism Tofino people were extremely kind. They showed us around, and we got to eat at some really great places (I’m still writing that blog post). One of the places we had to visit was the Tofino Brewing Company. Craft breweries are all the rage right now, and Tofino Brew Co, housed in an industrial park just outside the main town, has been making a name for themselves for nearly 3 years.

They do small batches that are seasonally influenced, and they take risks. One of the brews currently on tap is the Kelp Stout. Seaweed is used in all three stages of brewing, the owner Bryan told us. Yup, that’s right. Seaweed in beer. But the end result is this kind of salty-sweet-dark combo that I thought would pair really nicely with chocolate. Plus, the carbonation in beer makes cakes light and fluffy. I would love to try this with Tofino’s Coffee Porter, as well, if anyone knows where I can get my hands on some.

chocolate beer cake.jpg

Chocolate Beer Cake

(recipe adapted from the Butter cookbook)


  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Tofiino Brewing Kelp Stout or Coffee Porter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or soured milk–add 1 tbsp of vinegar to it and let it sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Mix together the coffee and cocoa until they are well combined, and then allow to cool a little.
  2. In the mean time, in a large bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, oil and buttermilk. Add in the beer and the vanilla.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients all together, and slowly beat them into the wet.
  4. Pour into two round 9″ cake pans that have been lined with parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Brown Butter Stout Icing:


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup stout
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar


  1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter until it starts to brown. Remove from heat, and add the brown sugar, mixing well to combine, until the sugar melts into the butter. Allow to cool. Add in the beer.
  2. In a mixer, place the butter/sugar/beer mixture, and add the cinnamon and vanilla. Add the icing sugar in, 1/2 cup at a time, until the icing becomes your desired consistency.
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