Nestled amid the vibrant scenery of Cowichan's wine country, Arbutus Ridge Golf Club's 18-hole, par 71 course weaves through 6,193 yards of fairways and greens kissed by breezes moving inland off the waters of the Saanich Inlet. Named one of Canada's Ten Best Golf Courses for Value by Westjet's Up! magazine in 2009, the course's front nine weaves alongside the seaside community of Cobble Hill before ascending a ridge to a plateau on the back nine, where players can soak in sweeping views of Salt Spring Island and name new constellations in the divots peppered across the course below. Though players encounter many par 4s and reachable par 5s, Arbutus Ridge concludes with three treacherous holes, including the 214-yard, par 3 17th hole, where golfers must overcome swirling winds to land tee shots on an island green. Golfers can prepare for rounds with a stint at the club's driving range or by scouting sand traps' self-defence mechanisms while watching the club's online course videos.
Arbutus Ridge cares about the condition of its course and the nature that surrounds it, and because of its efforts toward sustainable practices, the course has been certified by Audubon International. After rounds, course patrons can retire to the Satellite Bar & Grille, which overlooks the Satellite Channel and serves a seasonal menu of West Coast?influenced French bistro fare, with offerings that include halibut, salmon, and tenderloin steak, which pairs well with a glass of Jean Van de Velde's tears.
Course at a Glance:
For patrons bound for Steeples Bar and Grill, the experience begins before the restaurant comes into view. A scenic drive over the Malahat and through Goldstream Provincial Park offers a feast of vistas, and then the restaurant's steeple—an artifact of the restored church where it has taken up residence—peaks through the trees like a giant toddler playing hide-and-seek.
Beneath it, beams that were hand-hewn generations ago hint at present-day staff members' attention to detail. Amid casual, cozy surroundings including shuttered windows, guests dine on upscale dishes such as steak encrusted with black peppercorns, seared tuna, and creamy tarragon fettuccine replete with king prawns. The drink menu complements meals with daiquiris, martinis, and draft beers.
While expecting their last child, Janet Docherty and Rick Pipes decided they wanted to spend more time together and thus embarked on a mission to open their own business. This choice led them to purchase Merridale Ciderworks Corp., which they soon expanded with a larger cellar and new cider tasting room. Today, the couple and their staff lasso trees and pick apples across an approximately 13-acre orchard, which mirrors the soil, climate, and alveolar trills of European cider regions. After pressing the fruit into 100 per cent pure apple juice, they ferment ciders inside stainless steel tanks using chemical-free, sustainable practices. They use this process to craft seven unique cider varieties along with three dessert wines and a motley crew of spirits. Janet and Rick also invite customers on behind-the-scenes tours to discover their cider-making process and favourite stunt cars. They host events such as weddings and complement drinks with hearty bistro fare crafted from local ingredients.
Today, the structure occupied by River Rock Bar + Grill invites hungry diners and Travelodge visitors to rest their weary bones while recharging with pub-style meals or intimate evenings around bottles of wine. But long ago in 1893, the building rose as a magnificent dwelling for Ashdown Green, a key player in the development of Cowichan Valley. Despite its transformation from home to hangout, the building, much like a water balloon filled with aged scotch, continues to burst with history and heritage.
Now, bartenders yank the levers on 10 draft beers and servers dish out pulled-pork sandwiches and wings. Seven high-definition TVs ensnare eyes with sports games, and a heated patio beckons guests outside even on colder days.
Making sushi is an inherently quiet and intense process. Chefs tightly roll seaweed and rice around fish and veggies at One More Sushi. The meditative calm is cut by the sounds of crackling grills covered in teriyaki sauce and meats. Hot oil bubbles up around tempura-battered veggies and even bananas, and pots of miso soup pour forth steam like a fax machine built in the 1800s.