If it’s fine dining you’re asking for, this is a restaurant in Ucluelet that TripAdvisor suggests.
TripAdvisor recently unveiled its Best of the Best awards for 2022 and Pluvio Restaurant and Rooms topped the list of the best fine dining restaurants in Canada.
Warren Barr and Lily Verney-Downey opened the intimate 24-seat dining experience in 2019 and were thrilled to see their creation quickly become a TripAdvisor darling with a 5-star rating based on 553 reviews. The restaurant also has has accumulated a list of accolades as long as its booking list, with the recent fine dining award adding to an already well-stocked trophy cabinet that includes a spot on Air Canada’s enRoute magazine’s Top 10 New Restaurants in Canada list, the www.canadas100best.com’s Best New Restaurants list and fourth place on TripAdvisor’s Best Date Night Restaurant in the World.
“Between Canada’s Top 100 and TripAdvisor, we feel like we’ve had a truly spectacular year and we’re truly grateful to all of the wonderful guests we’ve met and are so supportive of us, whether they’re from afar or of the community that joins us so often,” Barr told the Westerly News. “It’s very rewarding. We get lots of cards, letters and even gifts from guests after they leave to thank us for having a wonderful evening. It’s pretty amazing to be able to have such an impact on people through a restaurant. It’s awesome.
Verney-Downey said they didn’t hear about TripAdvisor’s Best Gourmet Food award until her phone started buzzing with messages from customers and enthusiastic supporters congratulating them.
“It really comes from our team making that connection with the guests. It’s worth having that relationship with guests and having that personal connection and for our team to have that personal connection with people and having that level of impact that people choose to go online and write reviews,” she said. . “We are not asking for opinions. We don’t reward reviews, so it’s really coming from people wanting to share their experience and it comes down to the work our team does here.
She added that one of the first people to congratulate them was Richard Norwood, who operated the former Norwood’s restaurant in Ucluelet in the same location that Pluvio is now.
Barr noted that Norwood also cooked up a long list of awards in his time.
“Obviously there’s a horseshoe somewhere in this building,” he laughed.
He added that he and Verney-Downey are “very active” and work hard to ensure that restaurant staff are as happy as their guests.
“When we first designed Pluvio in our brain, the focus was always going to be on the team. If the team is happy, the guests will be too. A miserable server is not going to deliver a truly happy experience and positive, so we wanted to focus on a positive team environment,” he said.
Verney-Downey explained that the 17-member crew is critical to the restaurant’s success.
“We wanted to create a restaurant that we would want to work in and that people want to be in for the long haul,” she said. “It is notorious that the hospitality industry has a very high turnover and ideally we would like to never have to hire again, we would like every member of our team to be here forever.
Barr added that the welcoming and rustic charm of the community provided a solid foundation for building the restaurant’s menu.
“We certainly try to deliver a world-class experience to the best of our abilities here, but we also want to make sure you know you’re in Ucluelet and on the west coast of Vancouver Island. So we try to marry those two things,” he said. “As thoughtful and meticulous as it is, we try to keep it a bit rugged, because that’s exactly what I think of the coastline here. It’s a bit rugged along the waterfront here and there’s that feeling when you’re walking along the Wild Pacific Trail; everything is beautiful and gorgeous, but it’s still quite raw and untamed, so we try to convey that feeling through the food program as much as possible.”
Verney-Downey added that community support has obviously been strong since day one.
“That warm welcoming service and that connection that our team makes is a reflection of the community here,” she said. “From the moment we opened our doors, we felt so supported by the community. People we had never met showed up at the back door to drop off flowers they had grown in their garden, people contacted us and said, “We have an abundance of red currants” . Would you like to come down and pick some for the restaurant’… There are a lot of guests that we see quite regularly and then there are guests that we see once or twice a year to celebrate those really big special occasions and it’s so wonderful to be able to have that here. We feel very supported.