Comox- Courtenay foodie sights?
We spent the summer in the Comox Valley and we never ran out of delicious options. The farmer’s market is a great place to get familiar with all the local producers. The Saturday market has moved indoor for the season and I don’t know if the selection is as good as in summer, but it is an excellent place to start.
Natural Pastures Cheese Company has many award winning varieties of cheese – the brie is our favourite. Fanny Bay Oysters sells all types of seafood including their world famous oysters. This summer we really enjoyed the extra small “kushies” with nothing more than a little squeeze of lemon. This seafood shop is located at the Buckley Bay Petro-Can next to the ferry to Denman and Hornby Island. Brambles Market in Courtney features all B.C. products, especially the local producers. It is the place to go when you miss the Saturday market.
Most of the restaurants really embrace the local farmers and feature their ingredients prominently in their menus. My favourite is “Locals”. It is high end (for Courtenay) and the food is always amazing and inventive. I also like “Thyme on the Ocean” in Comox. I am totally addicted to their gnocchi. Another nice place is “The Anderton Bistro” where dinner is awesome, but they also feature a tapas menu which is perfect for a lighter snack when chicken wings and nachos won’t do. There are a couple of good Thai restaurants in town, but the best in my opinion is “Kinaree”. Even when prepared “hot”, the curries are flavourful and tasty. We always get takeout as my husband glows (sweats profusely) when he eats spicy food!
Other good restaurants in Comox include Toscana’s, Avenue Bistro , and Martine’s. In Courtenay there is Atlas Cafe, Bisque, Tita’s Cantina to name a few. Why the Comox Valley is not more a foodie destination is beyond me. Not only is the food exceptional almost everywhere, but the people are so warm and friendly.
Not a lot of time for detail but here is the brief report on our trip:
Natural Pastures cheese is phenomenal esp. the cheese curds.
Avenue Bistro in Comox, excellent; it's sister (same owners) in Courtenay called Atlas was lousy. They burned the duck and refused to acknowldge it. They forgot my appy and entirely ignored us the entire meal. All the meals were well below par. Never again
The donuts at Cumberland VIllage Bakery were amongst the the best - if not THE best - donuts I have ever had. Airy and light, perfect sweetness, fantastic.
Union Street Grill, great food and service.
Tannadice Farms meats, fantastic (esp. their sausage).
Siefert's farms spinach amazing.
Cakebread Bakery....oh my. Some cookies good, most of the rest of the product deplorable.
Brambles market really great.
Sorry for the brevity..
Island Scallops in Qualicum. 5552 West Island Highway, Qualicum Beach, Phone: (250)757-9811. They will retail from their office store open mon-fri where you can buy a tub of shucked scallops or a bag of live ones in shells. Just fantastic scallops. As for any other destination recommendations, there is a recreational oyster reserve 5 mins north of the Denman Island ferry. If you have a license and the tide is low, you can grab a dozen oysters right off the beach to go with your scallops. The reserve is just north of the oyster leases, which are private.
Seconding Anderton's. Had an amazing dinner there a couple of years ago. Also, thanks for that reference, fmed. Martine's deserves all praise it gets.
Other things to check out:
1. The dock. Buy amazing fresh seafood (prawns, cod, oysters) directly from the boys and girls on the boats.
2. Quality Foods. A grocery store rivaling Whole Foods or Jensen's (a high end grocery in Palm Springs - the best I've ever seen for mass quality) in a more general way and easily surpassing the flagship stores of most of Western Canadian chains without pricing themselves out of the market.
3. The Black Fin. A gastropub in downtown Comox - not a great one, but fun.
4. If you're there in the summer, any number of food-oriented festivals.
5. Sturgeoner Brewery. Only two beers, but brilliant ones.
6. Interestingly, farmed scallops from Qualicum Beach (I believe). Supposedly sustainable (maybe? It's not like salmon farming.), but in their infancy as an enterprise. We'll see how that goes, but worth a look or taste. Can't remember the name, though.
7. On a down note, I've had poor experience with Portuguese Joe's - a fish monger. They seem to import a lot of things available locally and most are frozen and overpriced.
Really, if you're in Comox, throw a rock. You'll find something great.