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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When my meal arrived I was thrilled by the gorgeous bun, generous hamburger patty, and fresh veggies. Well done 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.
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!
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?