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Discover Squamish: Sharing food means caring in this town

But in an era when nourishment sometimes means scarfing down drive-thru sack food, some Squamish culinarians are celebrating the idea of relaxing with friends and genuinely savouring the food before us.
Andrea Bourgh and Jenifer Schulli make a toast at Salted Vine.

The term "breaking bread" is a figurative and literal reference to the centrality of food in human relations.

But in an era when nourishment sometimes means scarfing down drive-thru sack food, some Squamish culinarians are celebrating the idea of relaxing with friends and genuinely savouring the food before us.

Whether replenishing after a long hike or lingering over a leisurely midday repast, shared attention to what we eat — and who we share it with — is one of life's small joys.

When Pat Allan, director and sommelier of The Salted Vine Kitchen + Bar, dines out, he moves the plates to the centre of the table and he and his companions share the offerings.

"You talk about the food. It becomes a focal point, and it brings everybody together," he said.

At his own upscale Pacific Northwest dining room, no one will bat an eye if you move your plate to the centre of the table. But they also have plenty of items on the card that are explicitly designed for mutual enjoyment.

"We offer charcuterie boards, cheese boards, seafood platters, oysters on the half shell — they are all shareable items," he said. "People make a connection over food when they share it."

Sharing is cosy — and ideal for the colder months, when Salted Vine's kitchen turns attention to more braised dishes, root vegetables and mushrooms, always with an eye to seasonality and freshness, he said.

Salted Vine is the destination for a fancy evening out, but the Crabapple Café, up the road in Brackendale, is all about getting ready for the day ahead. 

Specializing in brunches and lunches, Crabapple's Chris Brook sees something special in the slow enjoyment of friends and food.

"If you're out for an evening meal, there is usually an agenda to it," said Brook. "More often than not, it's going to watch a game or to meet up with different people. Brunch is just … let's get brunch. We've got some time. It's super-social that way."

Beyond the food and the laid-back ambience, Brook says one of the attractions of his space is the barely-off-the-beaten-path location. 

"You have to come out and find us," he said. "But I think a lot of people like that because there's an opportunity to go further afield. It's also just off the highway, so when people are passing through Squamish or back down from Whistler, they like to stop in quite often and it's not very far — just off the highway."

His own favourite dish right now is the beef short rib hash, but his chef is always working on weekly specials.

"We just put a special out this morning," he said recently. "Philly cheese-steak sandwich. Oh my God, it's amazing. Maybe we need to put this on the permanent menu."

Although you wouldn't think French toast or pancakes are "shared" plates, Brook said he often sees couples splitting the jumbo orders.

He bought the restaurant in the midst of the pandemic, but he was philosophical about the challenge. 

"If we can make this work during this time we can make it work any time," he recalls thinking. "Let's take the risk."

Crabapple Café will be "winterizing" the menu as the weather cools. 

"There won't be huge changes," he said. "It's pretty cosy right now."

A similar vibe is on the menu at Timberwolf Restaurant and Lounge. "Welcoming and calm" are the words Mayson Lees uses to describe the place. The restaurant manager strives to make the place "a welcoming experience for guests of all age ranges."

Appetizers and shared plates are great for everyone to dig into, but she notices a younger crowd really eats up the platters of mixed snacks they offer.

"We're looking to do a share platter with different appetizers through the winter months, so some jalapeno poppers, different varieties of fries and wings … We've got a lot of different great appetizers that are great share plates."

Their pizzas – "I'm a little bit biased, but I think we have some of the best pizzas in town," she said – are perennial shareables.

Timberwolf is also a destination for group get-togethers. A recent evening saw a big birthday party sharing the space with an even bigger day-after-wedding wind-down. A California-based tour company stops by frequently with crowds of globetrotters on their way to explore the Sea to Sky.

"We are really looking forward to Christmas party season," said Lees."

**Editor’s note: Neither the writer nor the publication benefited financially or otherwise from featuring the businesses mentioned in this piece.

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