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Aug 14, 2008 10:52 AM

Parksville and Qualicum, BC recs

Hi there,
Will be there soon with the family and need some recs, other than the markets. Any regional specialities, must have, etc. TIA

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  1. You have to go to Coombs Goats on the roof for breakfast. If you want a bit of an old fashion meal there is a restaurant at columbia beach in parksville but I can't remember what it is called. It has that old school country club vibe and a decent beef dip. I was just there last weekend but I didn't eat out at all.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Bryn

      My in laws moved to QB a couple of years ago and found the resto scene to be a bit thin on the ground so I did up a list of restos there and nearby last September. My MIL is a great cook so when we visit we rarely go out but here's the list FWIW:

      Bistro at Merridale Cidery. We've had some lovely meals there.

      The Final Approach in Qualicum; It's a white tablecloth affair at the Qualicum Airport offering a gamut of dishes from burgers and pasta to steak and sticky pudding.

      Triskell restaurant at 3-220 Island Highway in Parksville as well for reasonably priced French bistro food.

      Deep Cove Chalet made-to-order Grand Marnier soufflé
      Blue Bayou - Cajun/Creole style restaurant on Brentwood Bay, waterfront location, crab/shrimp cakes, fisherman's basket

      Sushi-Mon - Located in Qualicum town center, it's a surprisingly excellent Japanese restaurant. Simple menu, daily specials. call ahead as they're not open every day.

      Kalvas - In Parksville (10-15 mins out of Qualicum). German fare, oysters, baked onion soup.

      1. re: grayelf

        Funny, I just spent a week outside of Parksville & Qualicum. I ate at Sushi Mon and enjoyed the udon. There wasn't much else of anything of note from our trip...tried to run away as fast as possible from the "Goats on the Roof" place in Coombs...too touristy and a crazy zoo (well yes, there are goats, but I meant the folks going crazy!). Food was nothing to write home about from there, but there weren't many bakeries around...we were searching for anything along those lines really...and mostly fell short. There was a decent little place right in Qualicum town centre. I'm forgetting the name, you'll find this bakery easily in Qualicum.

        That being said... we were crazy enough to drive to Nanaimo for food a bit, and found a fantastic little food shop (LOVE our GPS):

        Great little gem. A lady behind the counter directed us to a ship in the harbour selling the freshest seafood available too.

        1. re: hornvixen

          I fear you are right, hv, but if the OP is willing to drive to Nanaimo, that does open things up a bit... If you're interested, too_hungry, let me know and I'll post my Nanaimo list.

          1. re: grayelf

            Please do, grayelf, would love to have it for our visit next summer.

            1. re: grayelf

              Thanks for your recs. Yes please, post your Namaimo list. We'll be taking the ferry across from Van and depending on when we catch it and when get there, we'll need to nosh before we head up to Parksville.

            2. re: hornvixen

              They have good Nanimo Bars at McLeans.

            3. re: grayelf

              FYI - Being an Islander, I would no consider Deep Cove Chalet, Blue Bayou or the Merridale Cidery as Parksville/Qualicum places. The Cidery is about an hour and a half south, and the other two are on Saanich Peninsula, about 2 and a half + hours from Parksville.

              1. re: miss_bennet

                Thanks for the heads-up. With toddler in tow, road trips to nosh are in the plan the next time we're in the area.

                1. re: too_hungry

                  Yes, thanks for picking up my geographical spasm, miss_b. I have noted this in my file!

          2. The only place I can recommend is Lefty's. They make casual, fresh food. My family has had delicious lunches there.


            11 Replies
            1. re: miss_bennet

              Two more possibilities to add for QB:

              Red Radish for upscale burgers etc

              Araya's Amazing Thai -- there are two outposts of this resto now, original in Nanaimo (I’ve eaten here twice and it was well executed); the hours can be a bit odd so here's the URL for both

              1. re: miss_bennet

                And here's the Nanaimo list, culled from various places so can't speak for the quality of any except as noted, but FWIW none were included unless they were mentioned repeatedly...

                Mahle House 2104 HEMER ROAD (250)722-3621 a bit south of Duke Point/Nanaimo in Cedar (, good for Vancouver Island wines and local ingredients

                Gina's Mexican Café 47 Skinner St. Nanaimo, BC, (250) 753-5411; rice and beans Tex Mex food, cheap and filling, fish tacos not deep fried

                Blue Ginger 5769 Turner Road (250) 751-8238 Pan Asian, Thai spring rolls

                The Crow and Gate Pub 2313 Yellow Pt, 250-722-3731, Cedar, BC (outside Nanaimo, just south of it), nice grounds, self-serve, ploughman’s and other pubby food, always busy

                Saltaire Pub good burgers fries, bbq on w’ends, nice patio/garden, some say food here is better than Crow and Gate which is 20 mins away

                Sake House – sushi

                Delicado's - on Wesley Street by Woodgrove Mall - wraps, tacos, burritos (location in Ucululet too?)

                The Dinghy Dock - catch a ferry from the harbour over to Protection Island and kick back at BC's only floating pub; not sure the food is all that but could be big fun for the sprogs (summer only)

                Drift in downtown Nanaimo, pretty room, nicely lit with huge windows looking back towards Mount Benson, nice bar; “traditional cuisine reinvented” per the owner: seafood ceviche, lamb shank, soufflé, duck confit risotto, salade nicoise

                Basque 489 Wallace Street (250) 754-7354 features the nostalgic dining under ther stars lounge, Bodega Chef's table and tapas bar. Spanish and French inspired dishes, locally sourced ingredients

                Tania’s features a tapas bar and restaurant on one side and a live jazz bar on the other

                Bistro Taiyo offers home cooked Japanese food featuring foods that people eat on a daily basis in Japan

                Longwood Brew Pub They have a restaurant on the main floor with excellent food and a pub downstairs. They brew their own beer. They also have a private boardroom which you can also book as a private dining room. This room looks over the restaurant

                Modern Café Similar prices to Longwood but reportedly better food and service

                Wesley Street fine dining that has won awards for Van Island’s best, good list of BC wines, I’ve eaten here twice and it was very pleasant with attentive service

                1. re: grayelf

                  I've only been to Basque (very good) and recently Wesley Street (also very good).

                  Le Cafe Francais is also highly recommended by a few friends. There is a new high-end looking Thai place on Commercial St that was under construction a couple of months ago when I last visited - the owners are Thai (from what I can gather) and reportedly have a Thai chef.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Lovely sushi, fresh fist, great service, moderate prices. Best value is lunchtime specials. We ate there 3 times on our 5 day stay.

                    Bistro Taiyo Japanese Restaurant
                    321 Wesley St, Nanaimo, BC V9R2T5, CA

                  2. re: miss_bennet

                    Went to Lefty's last night and it was terrible. The service was off, seems teeny-bopper server never served a family with a toddler before. The food was mediocre to say the least. Starters ordered coconut shrimp and tomato feta soup. Shrimp were sauted and sprinkled with coconut served over a bed of some saffron mixed white and wild rice, the rice was disgusting. Soup was ok.

                    Entrees ordered Parmijano-Pesto Chicken and SO had the Steak & mushrooms. The chicken was tender, but the "creamy risotto-style rice" it was served on was the same rice the shrimp was on with some cream mixed in again disgusting. The side of veggies it came with were under cooked and the cook had an serious accident with the dry dill because they were all covered in it. SO's steak was tender, came with a potato (hard to screw up a baked potato) and the same veggies.

                    This little feast cost MORE than our meal at GUU the night before and for what we paid was sooo not worth going to there. I would have rather have eatten at the KFC or some other chain establishment back in Nanaimo rather than here. I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone.

                    1. re: too_hungry

                      Sorry to hear about Lefty's -- I had not heard recs for it apart from miss_b's above. MIL says very inconsistent, FWIW.

                      I will add fmed's recs to my Nanaimo list. I also hear the Black Bear is quite decent for pubby stuff (great liver and onions per my FIL) with lots of local beer on tap.

                      Looking forward to hearing about where you go in QB and Parksville.

                      Tthere are places on the beach near QB that you might hear recommended such as the Beach House which is only good if the German chef is cooking. Please resist. They have been uniformly mediocre and tourist trappy, in my experience.

                      Giovanni's is a new Italian run by a guy from Calgary. In laws have been twice and thought it was really worthwhile. It is packed at all times (only open for dinner) so be sure to reserve if you go. The space was formerly the Red Radish so strike that from the last list I posted.

                      The Final Approach at Qualicum Airport I mentioned above is owned by a chef from Louisiana; you will need resos here too but fine for kids apparently

                      In laws have found Kalva's disappointing.

                      The Landings just outside Parksville on the way to Fairwinds golf course might be an option for a nicer meal. It has a dining room with enormous fish tanks with great ocean views (the resto, not the tanks!). New chef though so caveat emptor.

                      If you're thinking of fish and chips, try Fish Tales. It has a really nice garden for when the weather cooperates, and MIL says it is the best F&C in QB, also decent chowder. I've been twice and found it quite tasty.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        One more just in from MIL:

                        I have thought of another place here that's quite good for lunch for families with kids. It's in Parksville, Stewart's on Harrison Cafe and Catering. It's a menu on blackboard, place your order at the counter type place, but the couple of lunches I have had there were good. Have also been to a couple of events that they catered and they were good. Apparently their soups are excellent and everything we had was freshly made on premises. No great ambiance, but that doesn't really matter in some cases.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          I can also vouch for Stewart's on Harrison Cafe & Catering. I had lunch there while visiting in November. The Salmon burger and soup were both delicious. I believe the soups are made on site and they have a few options everyday. Great little place for a quick lunch by yourself, with friends, or with your family. The staff were all really friendly too. They have a simple little website that you can visit should you need directions or want to look at a few pictures. ( Hope it's okay that I post that here... Happy Chowing!

                          1. re: chowguy76

                            Hey chowguy, thanks for the tip. The link doesn't seem to be working though...

                            1. re: grayelf

                              Sorry 'bout that. I think the link should work now... there was an extra ). in the address when I posted previously.


                              Give it a try!

                      2. re: too_hungry

                        I guess this will teach me to give specific reviews; i.e. Lefty's is good for sandwiches and other lunch foods. I have never eaten dinner there.

                    2. Qualicum and Parksville is nice place to relax, but sleepy and seriously nothing to write home about for eats. We ended up shortening our stay in Parksville and headed to Victoria for a night. We drove up to Cathedral Grove one afternoon, through Coombs, with was so kitschy that we didn't come back to try "Goats on the Roof". Headed to Qualicum for dinner. We originally were going to go to Red Radish, but decided we weren't hungry enough for burgers and went to Sushi-Mon.

                      We got there early, kiddo needed to eat. Ordered chicken teriyaki appy (for kiddo), breaded oysters (but they were out), kushi yaki, sake and ahi sashimi and sushi, maki, special "Qualicum Sunrise". The food took a bit, even though it wasn't very busy...though the servers claim Tuesdays are busy with them being closed on Sun & Tues.

                      The fish was fresh, had to pay a premium for sockeye sake where this is the standard (usually) at Ebizo in Victoria. The kushi yaki (shrimp & scallop) was small and we should have skipped. The "Sunrise" and maki were add-ons, as we were still hungry. That alone took almost 30 mins, the sushi chefs (Ky was working and one other) were sooo very slooow. The "Sunrise" was interesting, mixed greens and strawberries, on skewers tempura-ed maki with some smoked salmon, salad shrimp (?!), and a sliver of ahi. It was interesting, but in hindsight so not worth the wait.

                      This was the first time a sit down Japanese meal took over 1.5 hrs...without bevies! The service was ok, though the servers start to get frazzled when the place gets really busy. It was full when we were ready to leave. Considering the other dining options in Parksville, the drive is worth it if craving Japanese. However, considering the owners are commercial fishermans you'd think there would be a break in the food costs. For 2.5 ppl without bevies our meal came to $90 incl tip. Not good value, fish is fresh, cooked food I've had better. Red Radish would have been cheaper, but Sushi-Mon is worth trying but bring money.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: too_hungry

                        Thanks for the writeup, t_h, good to know. FYI I posted above that Red Radish is no more; it has been taken over by Giovanni's so despite the extra cost/time it sounds like you chose wisely!

                      2. I forgot to mention the Rod and Gun in Parksville. I was there again just before Christmas. They always have a price fixe menu that changes and a regular menu. I had their pork ribs, but they were out so I got pork shanks instead and they were so very good. My parents had the price fixe and they both enjoyed it. I ended up stealing my mom's dessert, the eggnog creme brulee and it was executed very well.

                        1. We're headed to Parksville this coming Friday, staying a week. Other family members own digs at Beach Club Resort, so we have the tough job of using their suite ;-)

                          Last time we were there (2008) the only "foodie" meal we had the chance to eat at was in the resort itself, at the Pacific Prime Steak & Chop:


                          Prices are actually reasonable and I felt we got decent value, given the beachfront view etc.

                          This time I'll check out Lefty's.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: LotusRapper

                            You'll be TOFTT based on the comments about, LR :-). Would be good to have a more recent update on Lefty's though. Have a great trip!

                            1. re: grayelf

                              still very spotty to put it nicely. Sam's Sushi at French Creek is good--The pub and reastaurant at French Creek are better left out. The Shady Rest which hangs over the water has every chance of being good but manages to blow it every time. This is a case where I think they hired a cook to be a chef and then would't let him make any changes. Heron's is trying but I recently was served frozen spot prawns i spot prawn season ( and they weren't even thawed). The Beach House has not been a good fit for me. Went up to Courtney to Locals recetly and it was very good but certaily a drive.
                              Part of the problem with Parksville, QB is that it is a retirement community and people are careful with thier money, eat early, really respect the liquor laws about drinking and driving and split the meals often. There are lots of foodies here not being catered to or even acknowledged so we eat at home or go out for the okay meal and save our big money for Vancouver or Victoria trips. Nothing more disappointing than paying for pretention in food or service.
                              Incidentlly service training in many of the restaurants here seems to be --are you young, cheap and know how to add a bill. You'll do--now get out there and try not to spill too much on the customers,

                            2. re: LotusRapper

                              Hey guys,

                              A quick report on Lefty's ............... overall disappointment.

                              Food was average. Mrs. LR had the spicy andouille "rainbow" rotini. It was spicy alright, but not much else going for it. With a side Caesar salad it was a $17 mistake in my view. Of course I made an even bigger mistake of ordering the $24 full rack of baby back ribs. I swear the ribs at Swiss Chalet is better (and more generously portioned too). Ribs were pre-boiled, then slathered with what would be best described as a coating of tasteless crushed tomatoes. I wouldn't be surprised if my napkin would have tasted better.

                              Service ...... lackluster and generally indifferent. Selltile's description below of wait staff isn't far from the truth.

                              Overall, for me Lefty's is an apt name for my experience: "I leftie Lefty's ...... never to go back again."

                              But hey, otherwise our time here has been great, esp. with the good weather. 2 more days to go ...... :-(

                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                Thanks for the update, will avoid Leftie's the next time we're over visiting the Parents in Law.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  Recent report from Van Hound on Gina's in Nanaimo: do not go.