We love the concept of farm-to-table food and all the fresh goodness it brings to dining out. The Cowichan Valley is rife with delightful finds of this genre, including Alderlea Farm Café, perched in the bucolic Glenora area.
Alderlea started out 13 years ago as a biodynamic farm under the stewardship of John and Katy Ehrlich. They developed a popular CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) produce box program, then progressed to opening the organic café six years ago. We found it recently, awash in evening sunlight and bursting with all the colours and fragrances of a new growing season.
Alderlea’s café is very, very casual, featuring sunny yellow walls, rustic ambiance and unadorned wooden tables and chairs. There is a lovely covered outdoor patio that offers sweeping pastoral views – a perfect spot for a quiet meal or gathering with friends.
The café was very busy when we arrived on a Friday evening. We perused the daily offerings and settled on a hamburger made with Alderlea grass-fed beef for my husband and the Love Bird Roasted Chicken (also raised at Alderlea) for myself. We started with Happy Weekend Leek and Mushroom Soup and Beltane Nettle Soup.
The menu at Alderlea is pretty extensive, featuring wood-oven fired pizza, veggie burgers, soup and salad combinations, vegetarian plates, grilled cheese sandwiches, a soup taster option (you can try all three soups on the daily menu for $10), sweet treats and a variety of alcoholic beverages.
Both of the soups were extraordinarily good, full of unique flavour combinations that left our taste buds (and us!) in a very happy frame of mind. They arrived with home-made buns – the better to sop up the remnants in the bowls.
There was a bit of confusion over our entrees – my husband’s beef burger got served to another patron, so he had to wait for his main course. My roast chicken dinner arrived at the table in good time however, accompanied by a sweet pickled pepper and the most wonderful mashed potatoes (grown at Alderlea, of course) that I have had in years. The spuds had that lovely old ‘potatoey’ flavour that seems to have disappeared in so many of the newer varieties.
When the beef burger did finally arrive – on a home-made bun – my better half deemed it very good.
We fell victim at the end of it all to a slice of chocolate zuchinni cake that was so good it felt almost immoral to consume it.
While Alderlea Farm Café is far from what anyone would call fine dining it is, nonetheless, reasonably-priced good, simple food served in a cheerful, casual setting. I loved the rural ambiance, the bustle of the place and the entire concept of offering true, home-grown food.
Alderlea Farm Café is only open Thursday through Sunday during certain hours, so best to check out their website at :
Price rating: $$
Alderlea Farm Café is located at 3390 Glenora Road, Duncan
GPS co-oridnates are:
Lat. 48.758128 Long. -123.730982
N 48 45.488 W 123 43.859