Some places have a history that overrides the trends of the day. Rather than trying to rewrite it, it's sometimes best to use the past to one's advantage. That is what the new owners of Sunwolf have decided to do. After an extended period on the real estate market, the outdoor river adventure centre in Squamish was bought last year by four young river guides and entrepreneurs who have spent the past eight months refurbishing cabins and improving infrastructure while offering various kinds of water tours and eagle floats. In keeping with the tradition of the riverfront spread, partners Jessamy and Jake Freese, Tanya Burke and Andrew Slater decided to offer up unpretentious, healthy eats out of the property's historic Fergie's Café.
"The café has been open on and off over the years so it's had various different names but we decided on Fergie's because this whole place used to be Fergie's Fishing Lodge - all the locals and all the fishermen still call it Fergie's so it's quite an emotional name for some people," said Jessamy, a former actuary who gave up a fast-paced lifestyle in London for the peace of the Coast Mountains. "We have guys with grandkids whose grandfathers used to take them here.
"What we love about the café is that it does relaxed, home-style cooking with a lot of really local ingredients."
Walking through the doors of the Fergie's is akin to walking into a friend's kitchen - it's cozy, casual and welcoming with fresh coffee offered up within moments of arrival. Though the inside is small, a covered porch extends the eating area outside under the stunning triangular peak of Alpha Mountain in the Tantalus Range. On one side of the café a huge blackboard describes the various breakfast and lunch offerings available and there is something for every palate. After a little deliberation, Alex (my gastronomic partner in crime - AKA Le Fiancé) and I went with the Skipper and the Dubliner on the recommendation of chef Hilary Pink. A trained sommelier with a degree in permaculture, Pink revels in any food-related discussion that involves flavour and freshness.
"I'm really looking forward to having a garden here for the café and having everything be as fresh as possible, to be able to wake up in the morning and see what's ripe and ready and bring it in and incorporate it," she said. "The blackboard menu has been conceived with quite a bit of flexibility in it. It's going to change as we get a feel for what is really working."
Music to any carnivore's ears, the café's specialty is sausage - a new flavour will be made each week by chef Katherine McTavish. Last week's special was a Moroccan beef sausage with apricot and almond chutney. In its brief, pre-digestion state on my plate it was accompanied by the Skipper, a breakfast of toast, poached eggs, bacon, fruit and greens.
"The idea is really quality homemade sausages that are still very affordable," said Jessamy. "That's kind of the aim of the menu, keeping it really affordable while keeping it really quality."
The Dubliner, which I stole from Alex when a business call came through, was an excellent eggs benedict served on homemade buttermilk biscuits with caramelized onion, Dubliner cheddar, sliced apple and a side of yam and potato hash browns and fruit. Both breakfasts were hot, fresh and met the range of foods required when hungry in the a.m.
Lunch at Fergie's is no delicate thing either - not one to shy away from big flavours, garlic lovers will love Pink's Gangsta Caesar and the garlic cilantro sauce she serves in lieu of tzatziki on the lamb and Portobello burgers.
Fergie's menu is friendly towards those with sensitivities and food allergies. Gluten-free options are available and Pink and McTavish will work with customers to ensure a healthy meal for each.
As Sunwolf is located at the convergence of the Cheakamus and Cheekye rivers and close to a number of mountain biking and road riding routes, it's not only fishermen, rafters, kayakers and hikers who will end up basking under the sun on Fergie's front porch. With the culmination of the 180-kilometre Sea to Sky Trail, which ends close to Sunwolf in the Paradise Valley, pedal-hungry bikers will value this refuelling station at the end (or beginning or middle) of any ride.
Fergie's is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and holiday Mondays. For more information go to www.sunwolf.net .