Popular local restaurant group launches online market

Now you don’t have to dine-in to enjoy a popular Vancouver Island restaurant group’s farm-to-table fare.

10 Acres Group, which includes three restaurants and a 10-acre farm, has launched a cafe and online market to allow customers to bring its signature seasonal meals home.

“In this day and age, where we completely understand why people are hesitant about dining out, we’ve provided a way to bring 10 Acres cooking and wine choices either to your door or to pick up,” says general manager Simon Gillett.

During the COVID-19 shutdown, the restaurant group did a trial run of the online market.

“It went really well, and the demand outpaced what we were able to offer,” Gillett says.

“It was a lightbulb moment that we were going in the direction of what people are looking for.”

As part of its new Sidney cafe, 10 Acres has built out a bakery, offering daily fresh baked bread, as well as produce from the farm including berries, potatoes, herbs and flowers.

“We also have some things that we sell from local partners, such as Saltspring cheese,” Gillett says.

Available in the market are many of the products used in the restaurants themselves including pickles, hot sauces, salad dressings. Wines selected by 10 Acres’ award-winning sommelier, Adriano Cartuliares, are available at liquor store prices with the purchase of a meal or groceries.

“This is something that we think will last past the pandemic. People want to eat at home, but don’t want those old-fashioned microwave meals,” Gillett says.

“They want something good, where they know where the ingredients have come from and that local people have made it.”

From the online market, customers are able to order a variety of options available for pickup as early as the next day in either Sidney or downtown Victoria. Not only are ready-made entrees and fresh-made pastas available, so are meal kits that require some cooking and assembly as well as wine, produce, honey and select groceries.

For Thanksgiving, 10 Acres offered a special holiday meal for order that included free-range organic sliced turkey, stuffing, farm-grown Brussels sprouts and parsnips, mashed potatoes, sweet potato puree, cranberry sauce and gravy. All available meals sold out.

“I’m sure six months from now, we’ll have even more products,” Gillett says.

The success of the new venture, Gillett says, comes down to the support for the local community.

“I know that this has been a tough year for a lot of people and I think that the whole team is very thankful that we have places to work and that the vast majority of the community have been wonderful and open to what we’re doing,” he says.

“We can’t say thank you enough to our local community. Without people making the choice to spend local and put their money back in the community, we wouldn’t have made it.”

Everything offered by 10 Acres is seasonable and sustainable. Its North Saanich farm is just 25 minutes from the downtown core, and its twice-weekly harvest offerings mandate the menu.

This means guests enjoy fresh foods grown right on Vancouver Island, enjoyed at its peak of flavour. The restaurant’s omnivore approach means that nothing is wasted—soups and stocks are made with bones from ethically raised farm animals, pastries are made with lard rendered from pasture-raised pork fat, and preserves are menu staples.

“We grow anywhere between 15-25 different types of products of herbs and vegetables and fruits. Some of our biggest crops are the local year-round ones: sunchokes, kale, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkins,” Gillett says.

“We’ve probably comically made every mistake you can make in our ten years, but every year we get better and better, and each year the quality of our farm produce gets better.”

What 10 Acres can’t grow and ethically raise on its farm, it sources from other like-minded Island farmers, food purveyors and fishers.

10 Acres’ commitment to sustainability also extends to its restaurants’ food waste practices.

“And when it comes to our restaurants, we’re intense about how we compost and what we do with the food waste,” Gillett says.

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