Ottawa residents have often told me how they love to take a trip to Wakefield for a little R & R. “It’s just a thirty minute drive.”
When Roberta Bouchard of Wakefield’s Solstice Bookstore asked if we’d pay a return visit for a tasting at her store and a local restaurant, we said yes very quickly. Wakefield could be called the perfect village. Good looking and good fun. It consists of about fifty buildings strung along the west bank of the Gatineau River, each offering delightful individual expression. A delicious blend of hippy, folksy and new age.
• Restaurants – the local favourite café, Chez Eric (where we conducted a tasting/ dinner in the garden) is a simple place with a big heart. Café meets bistro – you make it what you want. Good food, good wine prices and an invitation to chill out. A couple drinking wine on the patio who were there when we arrived were still doing it after we left.
• Food Store – the jazziest General Store I’ve ever seen – selling beer and wine of course. Complete with licensed restaurant and terrace overlooking the river. Can’t beat that.
• Coffee Shop – Café Molo is set in a rambling house with a New England-style cozy verandah. Perfect for hanging out with a book.
• Bars – there two great ones. The funky and friendly Kaffé 1870 – a village pub with an urban atmosphere. Perfect for a nightcap and a dance after Chez Eric. Local bands on the weekend (the owners band is called FIFTYMEN). The other bar, The Black Sheep/Moulin Noir, is a Canadian institution for live music. Every Canadian musician worth hearing has played here.
• Bakery – Pipolinka is the kind of bakery that makes me want to live next door. Organic and oozing down home goodness.
A bank, a church a bakery and a few other shops and restaurants round out the strip. Wakefield is also the resting place of a few great Canadians, Lester Pearson and the photographer Karsch (not bad company). There’s a local hill-walk that will take you past the cemetery. On weekends in summer a steam engine comes down the main drag bringing visitors from Ottawa. And creating quite the stir.
Wakefield is a great example of how to be an ‘alternative’ destination by offering something different and very personal. And with the Gatineau river in the background, something very pretty. Highly recommended for sure. I couldn’t help noticing that Roberta has made Solstice, her bookstore, the social centre of town with events scheduled almost by the hour. Be sure to visit her – for the low down on the bars and books.
P.S. I picked up a bottle of CONO SUR 08 RESERVE PINOT NOIR, Chile ($19) at the SAQ. A gorgeous summer red – flavourful and fun.
More photos are posted on the Billy’s Best Bottles facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4718&id=100000021158673&l=4630486c0d