Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eats and Sleeps in the North

Barbara here. After two posts about our book adventures in the land of the midnight sun, I decided to write something different this time. Not a book blog, but a travel blog. Fellow author Vicki Delany and I spent 18 days in Canada's Northwest and Yukon Territories, participating in 16 book events and 5 media interviews. We had a wonderful time meeting book lovers of all stripes including readers, librarians, booksellers, and fellow writers, but along the way we also experienced the beauty and variety of the north.

Everyone should visit the north at least once in their lifetime, although I guarantee one taste will only whet your appetite for more. Not only is the scenery stunning and the wild open wilderness inspirational, but there is excellent food and homey accommodation to be had as well. This is by no means a definitive accommodation and dining guide, but rather a sampling of the hidden gems we discovered. If you have discovered others, please add them!

In Yellowknife, after running screaming from the KFC and the A&W, we were grateful to discover Bullock's Bistro in Old Town, proudly frontier in its decor and service but exquisite in its cuisine. We had wine in mason jars and arctic char to die for. The Wildcat Cafe also looked promising but was closed for renovations. For delicious fresh-roasted coffee and home-made sandwiches, the Javaroma on Franklin Street ranked among the best.

In Whitehorse. we stayed at the Historical Guest House, a heritage B&B built in 1907 (old for the Yukon) with much of the original decor and furnishings. Therein lay its charm. It had not been tarted up but left in the casual, 'make yourself at home' style typical of the north, and Vicki and I loved the opportunity to spread ourselves all over the house, including the kitchen. Owner Bernie and his wife Pam lived next door, unobtrusive but ready to help.

Also in Whitehorse we discovered three eateries to rave about. First, to get us cappuccino-loving southerners going in the morning, there was Baked, a coffee shop on Main Street with a mouth-watering array of fresh scones, muffins and croissants. I loved the raspberry/pecan whole wheat scones. Oh, and the cappuccino. For elegant dining, you can't beat the new Wheelhouse Restaurant overlooking the Yukon River and the green shores beyond. Their halibut and arctic charr (two rr's, don't ask me why) are perfection.  If you want something simpler but tasty like pasta, pizza or fusion dishes, try Burnt Toast on Second Avenue. The name is clearly ironic.

Whitehorse is home to half the population of Yukon, but Dawson City, home of the Klondike gold rush and unabashed tourist/tour bus town, has a couple of hidden gems for the discerning traveller. We stayed in the 5th Avenue B&B, which was delightful and owned by Tracy, who served a mean breakfast in the morning and performed as the cabaret singer from Diamond Tooth Gertie's Dancehall in the evening. The Drunken Goat (and its sidekick Billy Goat) was a delightful restaurant serving delicious food, and at Klondike Kate's Restaurant I had cranberry bison sausages with sweet potato fries better than I have ever had.

And for divine coffee, muffins, cookies, and lunch sandwiches, nothing beats the totally made-by-hand fare at Cheechakos Bake Shop on Front Street.

Food raves would not be complete without mentioning the fresh, hot cinnamon buns served by ex-biker Steve at Braeburn Lodge at the halfway mark of the Klondike Highway. It took
Vicki and me two days to eat one.

If you have discovered some hidden gems on your travels, I'd love to hear them.


Charlotte Hinger said...

What a great trip--and two of my favorite people to boot. Needless to say--wish I could have been there.

Donis Casey said...

Oh, how I wish I could have been there!