A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge

by torontogirlwest on September 10, 2011

For a while now I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Island Lake Lodge, located in the outskirts of beautiful Fernie (British Columbia).

Rumour had it that Island Lake Lodge has fantastic hiking in the summer (confirmed by the Husband), out of this world cat skiing in the winter, and a beautiful lodge that serves wonderful meals. It was those wonderful tales that brought us to the Lodge this summer.

Lodge and Mountain A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake LodgeThe Lodge Building A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge

Resto A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
Recently, Island Lake Lodge was again named to National Geographic’s list of “Best Places to Stay.” Such a high honour combined with the rave reviews meant that I had decidedly high expectations.
Mountains A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake LodgeHiking Terrain A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
To access the Lodge you drive approximately 15 minutes on a gravel road, after leaving the main highway to Fernie. But no need to fret, the road itself is quite good with only a few switchbacks. After your journey, your reward is a spectacular setting located inside what can best be a described as a mountain bowl.
The views are spectacular. With its deep forest groves, gorgeous mountains, and lovely lake, Island Lake Lodge is reminiscent of Canada’s natural parks without the masses of tourists.
People I A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake LodgePeople II A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
Our original plan had been to have brunch at the Lodge but when we were informed that it was only for guests, we opted for a leisurely patio lunch instead.
Menu A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
After browsing the menu, I chose the 100 Mile Burger; I have to give major bonus points to Island Lake Lodge for featuring local and ethically produced ingredients. That’s the kind of thing that keeps me going back to a restaurant time and time again.
Water A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake LodgeBig Beer A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
This is the part where I unfortunately have to tell you about the disappointing bit of our experience: our waitress. She was bad to the point of appalling. In fact at one point we had no choice but to start laughing.
When we first arrived the place wasn’t very full. She sat us down at our table and kind of abandoned us for a long time. No taking drink orders. Nada. When she returned I inquired about the sandwich and soup of the day. With a completely “I’m bored of being here voice” she plainly told me it was a squash soup and “a sandwich with some veggies.”
We ordered our meal and one of my dining companions ordered a Fernie Sap Sucker beer. A while later she brought our waters and my friend’s beer. Some time passed yet again (with no water refills – in fact not once during our hot summer meal did our water get re-filled) and she came back to ask what my friend thought of the beer.
When he replied she liked it she surprisingly said “REALLY!?!?!” and made a funny face. My friend laughed and asked her if she didn’t like it to which she replied “No. In fact, I think it’s DISGUSTING.”
At various points during the meal she was rude as well. But that’s not to say that all the waitresses were like that, in fact the ones we overheard were incredibly professional and described each entree with the flare called for by a luxury lodge.
Meal A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
When my meal arrived I was thrilled by the gorgeous bun, generous hamburger patty, and fresh veggies. Well done Island Lake Lodge.
Burger1 A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
Overall the burger was juicy and delicious. Everything just seemed to work together perfectly, my only criticism would be that everything was piled so high that it made eating the burger quite difficult. But then again, there are worse things than a yummy but messy burger.
I was pretty full after my main course but decided to split a dessert with one of my companions. You know, for the blog’s sake.
Dessert I A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake LodgeDessert II A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge
Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture of the dessert menu but the description made the dish I chose sounded elegant and delicious. When the plate arrived, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed.
The chocolate bit tasted like pudding, whomever cooked the brittle didn’t wipe his or her hands and then touched the ramekin, leaving it completely dirty. The only reason you can’t see the mess in the picture is that I cleaned it off before taking a picture.
The pudding like concoction was tasty enough but it wasn’t anything special. And the messy plating was amateur hour. The restaurant would have been better off keeping it simple.

Bottom Line? My hamburger was yummy but the dessert and service were underwhelming. Still, I won’t hold it against Island Lake Lodge and plan on making a return visit in the hopes that I hit them up on a bad day. But for now, I say go for the views and if you get a good meal out of it – consider it a bonus!

biglink A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge

Question: In your experience, do most restaurants live up to their hype? Ever gone to a place that was even better than you expected? How about one that underwhelmed you?

pixel A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole September 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm

The pictures of this place are amazing! I’m a sucker for organic/environmentally responsible restaurants. What a bummer that your service was so atrocious. That can really make or break a dining experience.

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Toronto Girl West September 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

To be honest, we took the service in stride. We still had a really great time! :)
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Marianne September 11, 2011 at 1:00 am

I hate poor service. I know people have bad days, and sometimes it truly is hard to deal with the public, but at least be professional. The burger looks amazing, and I like the sounds of the Island Lake Lodge Sandwich :)
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Toronto Girl West September 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

The burger was totally YUM!!! And I was so pleased to see it was all local!
Toronto Girl West recently posted..A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge

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Paula September 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

Your photographs are stunning as always. Just want to add that places such as Island Lake Lodge depend on tourists to keep their doors open. Often their staff is augmented by students (some studying in the hospitality industry). It was unfortunate that you had such an unprofessional waitress *serve* you on that day. A quiet word to management after your meal would have been quite appropriate, in fact you would have done the Lodge the waitress and her future customers a service.
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Toronto Girl West September 12, 2011 at 10:38 am

I considered it but I could kind of tell she was a student and I didn’t want to get her in too much trouble. For the most part, I figured the season would be coming to an end soon and she would likely not return (it was kind of obvious she didn’t enjoy it).

All in all, I’m holding no grudges and look forward to a future visit. :)

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Jo (livingmintgreen) September 11, 2011 at 8:33 am

I’m so happy to have found a blogger who lives close to me – now I can check out restaurants/trails I haven’t discovered! : )

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Toronto Girl West September 12, 2011 at 10:38 am

Oh yaaayyy!!! I’m totally going to have to check your blog out too! It’s always fun to read blog entries you can relate with! :)

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty September 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for the honest review.

I typically don’t enjoy eating out, most of the time the meals are sub par and underwhelming. but at the same time, sometimes it’s nice to eat out and not have to cook or clean. )
:)

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Toronto Girl West September 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

You know my parents feel the same way (about meals out being underwhelming). In some ways though, I consider eating out entretainment. So I enjoy it . . . but yes there’s a lot of meh food out there!
Toronto Girl West recently posted..A Brutally Honest Review: Island Lake Lodge

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Helene @healthyfrenchie March 16, 2012 at 9:13 am

I’m sorry you had a bad experience at Island lake! I usually only go there for the trails, never have been to the restaurant! But I know htey have staffing issues all the tome
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Toronto Girl West March 16, 2012 at 10:11 am

The manager of Island Lake actually contacted me right after I originally wrote this post. He told me the issue with this staff person was addressed and kindly invited me back so that they could make it up to me.

I’ve since moved away but we’ll be back this summer and I intend to take him up! I’m optimistic that the experience will be much better! :)

I’ll let you know in a future blog post . . .
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Jennifer July 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm

As a restaurant owner, I really appreciate when people tell me about my staff – regardless if it’s the end of the season or not. This server probably carried on providing bad service to numerous other customers before she left the restaurant – who then told everyone they knew about it (or wrote it in a blog where thousands can read it and it is permanently documented). She might have even come back for another season! Please, please.. tell the management about it when you encounter bad service. I know you felt that she might get in trouble, but people really should be held accountable for their behaviour.. don’t you think?

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Toronto Girl West July 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Jennifer,

I actually had the manager of the resort contact me immediately after I wrote the post. He asked me to describe the girl, I did, and he knew who it was immediately. To his credit, he assured me that the situation would be dealt with. I also found out that this was not the first complaint they had received about her terrible customer service.

I also have to admit I learned my lesson. Now I always make sure to make managers aware of terrible service.
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Jennifer July 4, 2012 at 9:56 pm

That’s great. I’m sure they appreciate it – and the servers will learn from it. From what I have gathered from almost every server that I’ve hired, there is not enough training done. It’s also hard to gather what kind of quality they’re providing – without hovering, which is never welcomed! I once went to a restaurant where the manager (I think) was standing behind the server while she served us because it was her first shift. Not awkward at all!! :-)

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