Comox Valley Food Reviews

Now that Steve and my two daughters have come to visit me while I look after the twins, we’ve had the opportunity to eat at some local Comox Valley restaurants.

Our first dining experience: Avenue Bistro, a very mod establishment that touts innovative cuisine using local ingredients. For starters we went with the very tasty  brandade fritters (cod potato cakes), and the Estevan tuna stack which was good but could’ve been better had it not been overcooked.  The kids menu has standard offerings (grilled cheese, mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, chicken strips), a bit surprising considering the regular menu looked pretty creative. However, this was our first foray into the world of white table clothes and shiny glasses, so I played it safe with the grilled cheese. The sandwich had a gooey mix of cheeses between slices of foccaccia bread. Nice, but with that kind of bread, the sandwich was about 4 inches in depth and way too big for a small mouth. We had to pull it apart and compact it so their little mouths could handle it.

 Everyone else ordered the pulled pork sandwiches. General consensus: the house- smoked Tannadice Farms pork was tender but lacked flavour, perhaps overpowered by the red cabblage slaw. The plates came overflowing with superbly cooked shoestring potatoes. Steve chose the seafood chowder soup as a side and once his palate adjusted to the strong smoky paprika, the flavours of the seafood were able to come through and the soup was given the thumbs up. Everyone agreed that my roasted wild mushroom and goat cheese pizza drizzled with truffle oil was the overall winner. Even the twins gobbled down a piece each. That’ll teach me for going safe; these kids would’ve have been much happier with a more adventurous dish like the thin crust pizza that had generous amounts of mushrooms and garlic.
Surprisingly, in this seafood-rich environment, we had a hard time finding a fish and chip place where we could take the kids. I really wanted to go to the Blackfin Pub whose menu boasted of West Coast seafood but we had to settle on the family side of the Pier Pub & Bistro.
The twins got excited at hearing about the spinach salad…unfortunately it wasn’t Siefferts Farms’ spinach, but nonetheless, I wasn’t going to say no. Us old guys had the fish and chips and had to settle for cod as they were out of halibut. The cod was as it should be, two big pieces done just right with a whack of fries but served with standard bottled tartar sauce. The view from the restaurant is stunning and offers a picturesque view of  the boats and marina.
Best part of the day though was stopping in at the Cumberland Village Bakery for a donut. The donuts were still warm and everyone oohed and ahhed over how fluffy and plump they were. Definitely worth the short drive from Courtenay.

From good to bad: we were disappointed with our purchases from Cakebread Artisan Bakery. At first I was thrilled to see a macaron this side of the Rockies but the excitement was shortlived as I bit into the oversized chocolate macaron and had it disintegrate in to a crumbly pile. There was macaron shrapnel everywhere. And to make matters worse, it was rock hard and had no taste. The same went for the hazlenut meringue (pictured above with the macarons), but the sourdough bread at Cakebread is stellar. Too bad about the macarons; I got all excited there for a moment.

Breakfast this morning was at the Union Street Grill and Grotto on 5th Street, and as it turned out, one of best breakfast experiences we’ve had in ages. The products are fresh, local and the dishes just edgy enough to be different. The Tannadice Farms pork sausage was so good, Steve ordered a second serving. My West Coast Benedict totally rocked with perfectly done eggs overtop fresh crab and spinach drizzled with a silky homemade hollandaise. The children’s serving of French toast is just a smaller version of the adult’s, made with artisan raisin bread soaked overnight in some magical mixture. Simply delcious.

Out of all these retaurants, I would go back to Union Street Grill with no hesitation whatsoever; the dinner menu looks even better.

The Comox Valley is a definite foodie’s destination and I am truly envious of all the local product that is available here. Within three miles of where I am right now I have access to grass fed beef products, free range chickens, organic fruit and vegetables of all kinds and Natural Pastures award winning cheeses. I could hop on a bike and do a loop of local food shopping. I’m definitely going to miss the area, especially knowing that I’ll need to dig out the snow shovel soon once I return to Edmonton. I suspect that a Comox Valley Spring adventure is in my future and on that trip I’ll get to do some winery exploring. Local wine, local food, great scenery…three more reasons to love BC.

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