'One of the draws is the food': Top places to eat on Bowen Island

Bowen Island, a short hop on the ferry from Vancouver, makes for an easy day trip from the city.

CBC's food columnist describes some of her favourite spots on the small island

Bowen Island is just a short ferry ride from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. (Bridgette Watson/CBC)

Bowen Island, a short hop on the ferry from Vancouver, makes for an easy day trip from the city — and is all the more fun for foodies looking for something different, says CBC On The Coast's food columnist.

The small island with a population of less than 4,000 has everything from community festivals like the annual Bowfest this weekend to quaint little restaurants.

Here are a few of food columnist Gail Johnson's top picks for places to eat on Bowen:

Branch and Butter

Branch and Butter is known for its seasonal toast and ice cream. (Branch and Butter)

"You'll see it literally as soon as you get off the ferry," Johnson said.

"This is a quirky seasonal spot that's part gift shop, part so-called snack club."

The star of the show is toast, she emphasizes, inspired by one of the owner's childhood memories of tagging along with his dad and eating toast downtown.

Some of the possible toast toppings include wild smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese and shaved nori; almond butter and Salt Spring Island seasonal jam; and  ricotta, blueberries and Salt spring island blueberry basil jam.

Artisan Eats

Artisan Eats serves all kinds of French favourites. (Artisan Eats)

"It's a casual café but don't let that fool you," Johnson said.

"The chalkboard menu changes all the time, but you will find items like croissants, pain au chocolat, apple beignets and cruffins."

The café is run by a team that includes a baker straight from France and French favourites like quiche, gooey Croque Monsieurs and Parmesan truffle fries.

Alderwood Farm

A breakfast basket from Alderwood Farm. (Alderwood Farm)

"This is not a dine-in spot but a place to pick up food to take home," said Johnson.

The farm has chickens for eggs, a heritage apple orchard, assorted apple and pear trees and a raspberry patch.

The specialty food shop sells everything from  house-made pizzas and organic pies to sauces and dips.

Cocoa West

The smell of chocolate from Cocoa West wafts across Artisan Square, says Gail Johnson. (Cocoa West)

"You can smell the chocolate from far away," Johnson said.

The master chocolatier at the shop makes drinking chocolate, truffles, and bars. The most popular chocolate  is the "Unbelievably Good Egg," made of liquid caramel and toasted almonds.

"If you take one back with you to Vancouver, I bet it'll be gone by the time the ferry docks in Horseshoe Bay," said Johnson.

With files from On The Coast