Recently went to Campbell River to visit some folks. They graciously invited us to dinner at THE DRIFTWOOD CHINESE Restaurant. The Driftwood is a chain of 4 restaurants located in Campbell River, Port Alberni, Parksville and Nanaimo. I have not tried the Parksville location, closest to home, but it has not been getting good reviews However, the Campbell River location is the Original and I had heard good things about it.
Well, we were not disappointed. This joint is on 19A just south Town. It is really good and really busy. It’s big and nicely decorated in Lacquered wood, very much Chinese. It’s busy so you know the food is fresh. I’m not a Buffett fan but this is a good one. The food is nicely presented with all the variety one could imagine. I particularly enjoyed the Chow Mein, the Ginger Beef, and the Spicy Squid. One popular dished was a baked Oyster in a cheesy sauce served up in individual little bowls. Delicious. Everyone at our table went back twice and all the dishes were devoured with gusto.
The service was also good and very friendly. Driftwood also offer Take Out and Delivery.
If you like Chinese Food and you are in the Campbell River area, you really must go. Open daily for lunch and dinner except Tuesday. You can browse the menu here: http://www.driftwoodrestaurants.com You can find them at 4329 Island Highway or call 250-923-5505
Now we might try the Nanaimo or PARKSVILLE locations. If we do you will get a full report.
After a nearly 5 year hiatus I visited Vancouver on the a Easter Weekend. Son Jackson was in town from Toronto on business and stayed the weekend to meet me. We settled into the SEASIDE HOTEL in North Vancouver on the site of the former Burrard Shipyard.
For 30 years or more I drove by the shipyard several times a week. At that time it was a waste space. Abandoned. Today it is a fabulous destination. Hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and marvellous public spaces have transformed the old shipyard. There is a public pier which would be a lovely place to stroll or sit and enjoy the ships in the harbour.
The Seaside Hotel is wonderful. Beautifully appointed rooms with large walk in showers and all the other accoutrements. Highly recommended if you want to overnight in North Vancouver. https://seasidehotelvancouver.com
Below the hotel is JOEY’S SHIPYARD RESTAURANT, on the water with a view to downtown Vancouver. We sat outside on the spacious and heated patio. Excellent food and service. A nice touch was the complimentary flute of Prosecco. https://www.joeyrestaurants.com/location/joey-shipyards.
After a walk about through LONSDALE Quay market we stopped at the Tap & Barrel which is in a former shipyard building. Impressive joint with several dozen beers on tap as well as about 18 wines on tap. We opted for a Blue Grouse Pinot Gris from the Cowichan Valley and were not disappointed. Not sure why a portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on the wall in the tap room. https://tapandbarrel.com
Later we met Jackson’s friends for dinner at the Jagerhof On Lonsdale, an old favourite. Schnitzel all around of course paired with an Austrian Sauvignon Blanc which was perfect.
Saturday morning was breakfast at the Pinnacle Hotel which was very good and once again great service.
For lunch we left the area and dtove with friends to Gleneagles Golf Course near Horseshoe Bay. It’s restaurant is run by the Boat Shed Hospitality Group who operate 3 food joints. The Orchard at the golf course is delightful with a view over the couse. Indoor and outdoor seating and a great but quite simple menu. We all enjoyed the offerings. They have two other venues, one at Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver and a most unusual POPUP Pizza place on the road to Cypress Bowl. A couple of reworked shipping containers form the galley with seating under canopies. We! at the insistence of friend Gail we drove up for a look. Fantastic views of English Bay and beyond. Friend David endorses the pizza as being the best anywhere.
Dinner was just a few blocks up from the Shipyard at my all time favourite Chinese Restaurant, RED CHILI. Had not been for about 5 years and we met old friends here. The food was as good as I remembered and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. The best Ginger beef anywhere.
Before retiring it seemed that a nightcap would be in order. Back to Joey’s where we sat at a very busy bar. For sure I was the oldest person in the place. Mostly 20 somethings here, but a happening bar.
We really enjoyed our time at the Shipyard. It’s fabulous. Planning a weekend in Vancouver? Consider North Van’s Shipyard.
A few weeks ago I had a call from an old friend, a guy who came to work with me about 4 decades ago. It was his first real job following university. Since then he has become very successful in the property development business culminating in the ownership of KINGFISHER OCEANSIDE RESORT just south of Courtenay. He invited me to come up some time for dinner and potentially an overnight stay. Well, this week I took him up on his generous offer.
Sheila and I had lunched in the bar a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. So we pointed the red Acura up 19A and headed out. Before checking in, some Calamari and a glass of wine in the bar seemed appropriate as we were a touch peckish. As we finished the amazing Calamari, Bill, the owner, joined us and he and I spent quite a while catching up. It had been more than 20 years since we last met.
After checking in to a fabulous room with a view overlooking the Resort’s stunning courtyard with the ocean, Cape Lazo and the mountains around Desolation Sound. As we stepped out on to our deck a broad Rainbow appeared right over Lazo. This resort has everything. Even Rainbows! Spectacular.
We met a Bill & Sabrina for dinner in one of the outdoor Domes. Quite spectacular. A table for 4 in the dome with heat, music, cozy blankets on each chair, LED lights above. Stunning. Bill introduced us Chef Richard who suggested we choose some favourites from the menu and he would prepare a tasting potpourri. Included were Seafood Chowder, French Onion Soup, Oysters on the half shell, Gnocchi, Sous Vide Beef, Scallops with Asparagus and Risotto. And more. Bill chose a fabulous Red Wine to share. Everything here is locally sourced and fresh. It was truly a dinner we will remember forever.
There are 5 Domes but they are only up during the winter. In Mid April they will be replaced with Tables and Umbrellas for summer dining.
Kingfisher Resort is a wonderful destination resort complete with fine dining, a Spa, Pool and Hot Tub, a shop featuring Tommy Bahama and Lulu Lemon. A feature in the Spa is the amazing Pacific Mist Hydropath.
This Oceanside Resort is First Class in every way. Having stayed in more than 300 hotels in my life, I know hotels. The rooms are perfectly executed. Fine linens, indirect lighting, stunning marble bathrooms with just the right soaps etc.
One wing is being upgraded this Spring and the reception area is about to be enhanced and new stone walls and and entry kiosk are to be installed at the highway entrance.
The Staff are excellent. Everyone we encountered was happy, friendly and gracious. Simply excellent service. Must be a good place to work.
If you are thinking of a get away the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort would be a good choice. It’s adult oriented too. We loved the resort, you will too. Plan well ahead because they are very busy. Or you may want to drop by for a lunch at which time you can look around the property. By the way, the Eggs Benedict for our breakfast might be the best ever. Yum!
Check out their website to find the special features, menus etc.
In 10 plus years on the Island I’ve probably driven past the KINGFISHER RESORT in Royston just south of Courtenay, a hundred times but for some reason have never stopped. Perhaps the timing was wrong, wasn’t hungry, needed to get to Costco? However, yesterday after cutting a swath through said Costco my friend Sheila suggested lunch at the KINGFISHER.
We chose to sit in the AQUA bar at a delightful window table with a view out to sea with Comox in the background. It’s a charming cosy sort of bar with just a few tables and seating also at the bar. Service was prompt and very friendly and we ordered drinks, Haywire Pinot Gris from Summerland for her, a local Beer For me.
After touring menu we both decided that the Seafood Chowder would be worth trying. What a perfect choice. The Chowder included, shrimp, clams, mussels, and fish in a really creamy delicious semi thick broth. Oh so good! Absolutely one of the most delicious chowders I’ve enjoyed. Kudos to the Chef. We agreed that we needed the recipe but at least would try and replicate the chowder at home. Asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu I simply asked if they had Creme Brûlée. They did. So we shared a better than good beautifully presented Creme Brûlée. It’s a dish I’ve had many times in many places and I’ve never met one I didn’t like.
Our server was a lovely lady who hails from Melbourne, and who has fallen in love with Vancouver Island. The service was friendly and very efficient, always a plus for me. Prices are what one expects in a good hotel, but not bad.
The KINGFISHER RESORT looks like great place for a weekend getaway. Some of the features include a Spa, a Hydrotherapy Walk, a beautiful Courtyard and Outside Sky Dome dining pods complete with romantic lighting, candles and cosy blankets. Perhaps a special event would work here. Birthdays, Anniversaries! Yes!
Last week, I met some old boating pals for lunch at SEASCAPES, a new joint in Schooner Cove. What a pleasant surprise. It’s on the site of the old pub but I think the building was gutted then rebuilt.
Seascapes is quite stunning inside. Very spacious, very modern. Big windows with a view over the marina and beyond. One area has a cosy fireplace with seating in front. There is also a very nice bar area.
The menu is very good with everything from Burgers to Seafood to Pizza. I opted for the Saltspring Mussels & Fries. The mussels were fabulous although the serving of fries was a bit wanting. A couple of the guys ordered burgers and their fries were cold. Eventually, two complimentary big bowls of hot fries arrived at the table. Seascapes has not been open for long and are still having some teething problems.
Our server was a delightful gal named Mandy. She was really charming, friendly and efficient. She even took our photo.
I liked Seascapes and will return. You may want to also. Open Wednesday thru Sunday for lunch & dinner. Reservations are a good idea. You can reach them at +12504680780. Check out their website at https://seascapedining.ca where you can scan the menu.
Found an interesting new place in Coombs today. The SPANISH KITCHEN Opened just recently on The Other Side, across the bridge past the Coombs Store. It’s the cutest little shop where the Chef & Proprietor, Jesus, sells his home made Paella, Spanish cheeses and other Spanish goodies.
Jesus hails from Barcelona and after working in New Zealand where he met his Beautiful Canadian wife Amanda, moved to Oceanside to start a business. Talk about courage. Not easy to start any business at any time but to do so in a new country takes some serious moxie. Jesus is the most charming young man I’ve met in a long time. We hope he has lots of success.
Have not tried the Paella yet but will soon. They come frozen in one serving packages with very good and easy instructions for cooking. There are different kinds including seafood and Chorizo. $20 per package. Jesus also gave us a taste of his Chorizo and a scrumptious Sheep Cheese.
I hope those readers who are in the area will make a path to the Spanish Kitchen and give it a try. You can’t miss it’s bright red door. Easy parking too. When you meet Jesus I guarantee you will be charmed! Check out their website: Spanish kitchen.ca
Went to Victoria last week to visit friends. Had not been able to overnight away for about 5 years as I was taking care of my favourite girl. There have been a few one day runs to Victoria to rescue some meat pies from the Dutch Bakery and to pick up a new car. But it’s been a long time since I had a real look at the city.
My hosts, Alice & Mike, took me on a several hour tour through Esquimalt, Vic West, downtown, James Bay etc. We covered it all. How has Victoria changed. The residential development is extraordinary. Condos, Condos! And high rises. Two towers going up right now near the old Bay store between Blanchard & Douglas. Not sure how many stories but they already look like the tallest in town.
Some areas like Fairfield and Oak Bay are still more or less like the old days. In Oak Bay many of the homes I remembered, including the one I grew up in, look the same as they did in 1950.
My old home has a new garage door and 4 new windows on the basement level. The rest is the same. Same colour, same plants, same steps. Apparently the interior has been remodelled recently. After all it was built in 1939. Hopefully they replaced the oil stove and wood & coal furnace at some point.
The buildings at the Estevan shopping area look much the same as they did when I delivered groceries for McLures Food Market in 1952. The store is now a restaurant. A good one I am told. The little Fish & Chip joint is still on the corner.
We drove around the UVIC Campus which is big. When I graduated in 1965 there were only 3 or 4 buildings on the Gordon Head Site. Now there are many. Very impressive.
A drive along Shelbourne Street was a surprise. I remember that street as wide, straight and not very busy. Now it seems narrow and crowded and badly in need of new pavement. Quite a change since University days.
I also had time to look around the town of Sidney, now very built up and busy. Town homes, Condos everywhere on mostly narrow streets that can barely handle the traffic. Residents in North Saanich time their trips into Victoria to avoid the ferry traffic as Highway 17 is really busy now.
Heading out of Victoria on Friday afternoon used to be a nightmare but I transited the new McKenzie interchange with ease. It has really helped the traffic flow.
There has been enormous growth in the Langford area and new homes on both sides of Highway 1 cover the hillsides. And some are just plain ugly. The architect that designed some of these should have to look at them every day.
Anyway, that’s some of what I observed in Victoria last week. Too busy for me now. Was happy to get home to FRENCH CREEK.
On my recent Victoria visit I met my old friend and former colleague, Neil, for lunch in Sidney. We have lunched frequently over the past few years but always in my neck of the woods. Since I am more flexible now it was nice to meet him at the SURLY MERMAID overlooking the Port Sidney Marina in his territory. It was Neil’s suggestion as he had been there often, and his daughter had worked there as a student.
The SURLY MERMAID is, of course, a seafood place and a good one too. The menu has a good range of appetizers, Rice Bowls, and entrees. Neil opted for the Chicken Chimichanga, a substantial serving that matched his enthusiastic appetite. I ordered the Seafood Chowder and Fish Tacos. Both were excellent! We washed this deliciousness down with draft beer. They feature Phillips Brewery beers like Blue Buck, one of my favorites.
Service was excellent, prompt and very friendly. We had a high window table looking out at the boats which, for me, is always a bonus. SURLY MERMAID is open for lunch and dinner daily and has a happy hour Tuesday to Sunday from 3-5 featuring some well-priced and good-looking appetizers. This would be a wonderful place to drop into after a day of shopping or sightseeing.
There is a nice bar inside and a big patio outside which would be perfect in summer. To get there, take Beacon Avenue to the very end and turn left. There is parking in front and if your timing is good you can use the free spots with Surly Mermaid marked on them.
Finally, after more than four years of not travelling, I made a short trip to Victoria for a few nights this week. I know its only a short drive but it’s a start. I was invited to stay with old friends (I’ve only known him for 76 years)at their waterfront home in North Saanich. They were wonderful hosts and the views and sunsets were spectacular except when the winter fog rolled in
In addition to an epic tour of Victoria, something Id not done for several years, we dined and a most interesting and historic joint in Sidney Right by the Victoria Airport is MARY’ BLUEU MOON CAFÉ!
It has taken me 81 years to find this place. It opened in 1939. I lived in Victoria for 25 years and don’t know how I missed it since Mary’s is definitely my kind of place.
MARY’S is open daily for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and the menu included genuine Diner favorites. My hosts ordered Seafood Crepes for her and Fish & Chips for him Both were generous and delicious. I chose Liver & Onions, with Bacon. Not many restaurants serve Liver any more and since it had been a long long time since I’d last had it my choice was a good one. Very generous portion with mashed potato, mixed vegetables and gravy. Only $16.95. Good food, Good Value. Service was very friendly and prompt to, always a positive.
Mary’s is decorated with all manner of aircraft memorabilia including aircraft models and some fabulous photos of WWll planes, pilots and news articles. Would like to go back and take more time perusing the photos.
If you are in the Sidney area and feeling a bit peckish, you MUST go direct to Mary’s BLUEU MOON CAFÉ. 9535 Canora Road. Sidney BC
Met two old business colleagues for lunch last week at the FINAL APPROACH, which is located overlooking the runway at the Qualicum Beach Airport. The restaurant is well set up for Covid protocol with semi opaque dividers between the tables which affords considerable privacy. Our server was prompt and charming an took our drink orders immediately. One of my friends ordered, to my surprise a Foo Foo cocktail, called ‘The Paper Airplane’. He then had a beer and so did I.
I ordered the Seafood Chowder which was one of the best I’ve ever had. Absolutely delicious. Went nicely with their excellent Fish & Chips. The Foo Foo drinker had a bowl of the chowder along with the steak sandwich both of which he declared outstanding. Our other friend had Calamari, which he claims are the best in the area, and a salad. All served promptly.