estled in the dense forest of Galiano Island, B.C. is an understated, cottage-like building—if you were travelling by too quickly you might miss it—blending almost seamlessly into its wild surroundings. With its timber shell and amber lit inside, the warmth alone draws you right in. And you’ll want to stay for the food, people, and especially their stories.
The indoor 25-seat space is the perfect setting for small or intimate gatherings, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. With greenery spanning through every window view, wooden finishes, hazy lantern lighting and antler adorned walls, the decor at Pilgrimme can only be described as a “not-your-father’s” hunting lodge. This translates to the food too: ingredients are grown, caught, foraged, or baked.
After a stint at Copenhagen’s famed Noma, Chef Jesse McCleery returned to Canada looking for the perfect place to put down his roots, or better yet, a place to pull up his roots. He settled on the island because he knew the city couldn’t provide the sources necessary to make his dream of Pilgrimme a reality. The farmers, millers, fishermen, and even the ceramicists who helped create the space wouldn’t be nearly as accessible as if he were working with them on the actual island. And he was right. A short ferry ride from Tsawwassen, Galiano Island is an abundant resource for the chef, who regularly forages in the woods or along the shoreline for ingredients.
He also works closely with farmers Pat and Kristen at Mount Sutil Farm in Galiano to grow the restaurant's produce, describing the process as full circle.
“Pat picks up our food compost a few days a week and turns it all into soil and uses it in his gardens. It’s a pretty cool cycle to see our waste used to grow vegetables that we then use on the menu."
McCleery sources goods from other local farmers and artisans that help keep the spirit of the island alive, all while creating a one-of-a-kind dining experience through his thoughtfully designed menus. He manages to highlight the harmony that exists in each tasting plate while using minimal ingredients to provide texture, warmth, and brightness.
Experiencing Pilgrimme is the privilege to experience something subtly intimate.
Its hidden locale feels almost like a well-kept secret, despite the restaurant’s critical acclaim. The tasting menu, which changes regularly season to season, sometimes week to week, feels like an exclusive look at the best nature could offer up and a peek into the masterful mind of McCleery.
Since its opening, Pilgrimme has become one of the top places to eat in Canada. Multiple critics, columnists, and self-proclaimed foodies have written remarkable recounts of their time there for people all over the world to daydream about. McCleery and his partner Leanne don’t let any of this get in the way though. They’ve kept their roots right where they want them—grounded in Galiano, B.C., among the quiet stillness of its surroundings.