The Brute

After a hiatus of at least 8 years I paid a visit to a BOSTON PIZZA restaurant with my media mogul son from Toronto who was visiting this weekend. We hit the Parksville store on Saturday night along with just about everyone else in town. It was busy. Fortunately the Hostess was efficient and found a table for us quite promptly.

We had been talking BOSTON BRUTE before we arrived so we both ordered one and a small wings appetizer to share.  The Honey Garlic wings were excellent!  The Brutes were epic!

The Boston Brute is a meat sandwich in a hoagie bun and features Salami, Pepperoni, Smoked Ham, Mozzarella, Pizza Sauce and Onion. If you are going all in, you should also order the Bolognese meat sauce to dip it in.  It really is a good sandwich but it does tip the scale at 800 calories, not including the sauce.  However, the sodium content is truly off the chart.  3060 mg of sodium. Thats about a two day supply. Not really good for one’s blood pressure. But I guess once a decade the heart can handle it.img_6730

Boston Pizza is not a restaurant I’d visit again any time soon, but if you feel like a meal out and a chance to watch some sports too, you might head to BP.  They have acres of big screen TV’s in the Bar and the Dining room.

Just saying…

Bistro 694

Possibly the best restaurant north of Victoria, Bistro 694 in Qualicum Beach

continues to live up to its reputation.  The small, intimate Bistro is just excellent and certainly worth trying if you have not done so.

i visited on the weekend with my Okanagan Brother and Wife.  On their last visit to OCEANSIDE we could not get a reservation so this time I secured a table well in advance. They were really impressed. They both ordered the small house salad which looked beautiful and apparantly  tasted wonderful. I chose the pita and Humus which is always good. She chose the Seafood Crepe and he the 5 ounce Filet. I chose my usual Butter Chicken. All three dishes were delicious to say the least. My Brother said it was the finest restaurant meal he’s had in years.

The ambiance, the service and the food is simply perfect at Bistro 684. I asked our Hostess/server if her husband has help in the kitchen. No, she replied, but I help him with the prep work in the afternoon. They do have a dishwasher. That’s it. The Chef, his wife the Hostess, and one waiter, a charming Scot from Edinburgh. What’s he doing in Qualicum Beach?  Met a Canadian girl, of course.

If you are looking for a romantic dinner with your partner, or a special event with friends, think Bistro 694.

Phone at least a week in advance for a reservation.  They are busy.

check out the menu at


just saying…


Anyone who knows me knows that we are enthusiastic fans of Quality Foods, especially the store in Qualicum Beach.  We like the layout, the staff, and the STEP ABOVE, the coffee bar and kitchen/giftware department.

Well, Quality Foods have definitely ‘kicked it up a notch’ at their newest store across the street from Victoria General Hospital.  Wow! The store is huge and really well designed.  It is the Qualicum Beach store on steroids.  I had lunch in that Step Above yesterday.  The space is huge, twice as big as Qualicum Beach and much less cramped.

The food is similar but they feature two different Thai Chicken Soups.  I enjoyed a cup of the regular while my friend and future in law, Carol,  ordered the Green Thai Soup which she pronounced as delicious. I also tried a perfect grilled cheese.  They also serve Chili, Reuben’s and several other sandwiches.

Best of all, unlike The hospitals of Island Health, the WiFi signal is strong and free.

On your next trip to Victoria, check out the new Quality Foods.  Just take the View Royal exit and follow the hospital signs.

Just saying…




Corvettes, the ships not the cars

Today I was doing a little research for our friend Mary, whose father, served as a skipper of a Royal Canadian Navy Corvette during World War II.  Canada had more than 125 of these ships most of which were built in Canadian Shipyards. Yarrows in Victoria, Burrard Shipyards in North Vancouver, as well as yards in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

These ships were designed for convoy duty in the North Atlantic chaperoning merchant ships from Halifax to the U K. They were not large, 205 feet with two guns and 40 depth charges. They were steam powered so they had stokers who shovelled coal to keep them moving. With a 16 knot top speed they were slow but had a range of 3500 nautical miles. They were known for being very rolly  in rough seas which caused a lot of seasickness.  But they were remarkably seaworthy. Typically the wartime crew consisted of 5 Officers and 61 men. Many of the crews included young men from the prairies. One business friend of mine was from Saskatoon and he fulfilled his wartime service shovelling coal on a Corvette.

These little ships made countless return trips across the North  Atlantic. Most of them survived,  a few were torpedoed by German U boats but the majority lasted until the end of the war. When they were decommissioned most  were scrapped, but a few were few sold to other countries and a few sold and turned into freighters and whaling boats.

One of the most famous Corvettes  in our waters was the HMCS SUDBURY,  which after decommissioning, was converted to a salvage tug owned by Victoria based Island Tug and Barge. SUDBURY  made one epic tow saving the Greek freighter Macedonia  by towing the disabled vessel for 40 days in the North Pacific through some of the roughest weather imaginable before arriving safely into Vancouver to a hero’s welcome. The incident made headlines around the world.



HMCS  Agassiz, built at Burrard Drydock in North Vancouver in 1940. Photo below


The Corvettes were immortalized in a 1953 film, THE CRUEL SEA, starring Jack Hawkins.

Sturdy ships, gallant crews!  No Safe zones for those brave young men.

Just saying…



Fish & Chips

As you may have noticed, your writer likes Fish & Chips. Lantzville Pub, Shady Rest, Rocking Horse Pub, Black Goose, and Black Fin Pubs all have pretty good Fish & Chips.

But, yesterday I joined a former colleague for lunch in Nanaimo at the venerable WHITE SPOT.  Right now they are featuring a special WINTER MENU.  $12 for any entree on the sheet.  Meatballs & Spaghetti, Chicken  Pot Pie and FISH & CHIPS  as well as several other items are all available for $12 each. A good deal.

We both opted for the FISH & CHIPS. The best I’ve had in some time. Two generous pieces of cod in a light but very crispy tempura type batter were cooked to perfection. The fries were, of course, standard White Spot fries which have always had their own uniqueness.  Regular White Spot Cole Slaw, but a generous portion. A wedge of lemon was the finish.  Simply stated, these were really, really good Fish & Chips  for $12.  Unbeatable value, in my mind.

Thinking Fish & Chips?  Head to the White Spot while the winter menu is still in effect!

Just saying…



Freighter Traffic in BC Waters

BC ports, particularly Vancouver, are so busy now that there are 9 ships anchored in the Gulf Islands awaiting berths. 3 are in Navy Channel near Saturna Island, 4 near Cowichan Bay, and three on the west side of Valdez Island. Two more are at anchor ourside if Nanaimo harbour.

One of the ships, the HANJIN SCARLET has been here since last fall as it is a victim of the HanJin bankruptcy.  Local folks have been taking supplies and gifts to the crew who are shipbound.

The anchored ships on the map below are noted as bright green squares.

Just saying…


Pub Fish & Chips

The other night I sashayed down to the FRENCH CREEK MARINE PUB for dinner. Didn’t feel like cooking at home plus I had a craving for Fish & Chips. I ordered the two piece Cod and it was not bad. Not as crispy as I like it. Chips were ok but too plentiful. Alas, Cole slaw is not included. One must order separately.  However the Tartar Sauce was excellent.

For me, the Fish & Chips at the Lantzville Pub are better,  as they are at the Black Goose, the Blakfin Pub in Comox, and, Good Grief, even the White Spot.

For some reason I just can’t warm up to the FRENCH CREEK Pub. It has no atmosphere. Or at least it has atmosphere that doesn’t do anything for me. It needs a Robert Irvine ‘Restaurant Impossible’ makeover. Too bad, because it’s so handy to where we live. On the plus side, the staff are very pleasant and efficient. I might try it again.  A second chance.

Meanwhile, the Lantzville Pub had a special Super Bowl Menu. I watched the first quarter there and enjoyed a really good bowl of chilli. Then I tried the STADIUM DOG! Not a foot long but pretty big, with caramiized onion, bacon, cheddar cheese and sauerkraut!  Too much for me but delicious.  Too bad the weather and roads were so bad on Sunday  the pub was only about 1/3 full for the big game. Here is the Stadium Dog.


Just saying…

Duncan’s Doghouse

Right on the highway through Duncan, BC, is a family restaurant known as the DOGHOUSE. It originally was a drive thru kiosk with a limited menu which included Hot Dogs and more importantly FOOT LONG HOT DOGS.

Over the years as Duncan grew and the volume of traffic on the Island Highway increased, the kiosk morphed into a full blown family restaurant. It’s a pretty sizeable one too. The menu is vast with Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner items.

However, my visit today returning from Victoria was to check out the FOOT LONG. More than 20 years has passed since my last encounter with a foot long and although I have driven by many times I have not stopped until today. Usually I’m with my favourite girl who is not a fan of hot dogs. It seems she is interested something more sophisticated when we reach Victoria. The Oak Bay Marina perhaps, or the Bengal Lounge at the Empress. So we bypass the Doghouse.

Today I was alone as she is hospitalized right now, so I pulled in and parked in front. No need to peruse  the extensive menu. I told the server I had come with a Foot Long  craving. She laughed and said that was pretty common phobia there.



The Footlong arrived with a side of pretty good fries and the dog was pre dressed with mustard, relish, and onions. I was hoping for fried onions but these were chopped sweet ones which were quite acceptable. Unfortunately, my appetite was compromised since a Dutch Bakery meat pie had already been consumed while cruising over the Malahat. In any event, I did a pretty good job on the dog, leaving on about a quarter of it on the plate. Was it good? Well, it’s possible that my palette as become more refined over the past 25 years so I did not enjoy it as much as I anticipated. My BBQ back yard dogs are better for sure.

Apart from that I saw a lot of food being distributed around me. Great looking sandwiches, wraps, Fish & Chips and soups. Good service too.

If you are going through Duncan and find yourself a bit peckish, try the DOGHOUSE. Good fare and reasonable prices. Footlong and Fries were $9.00.

As a side note, the Duncan White Spot, that burned down a year or so ago,  has been rebuilt, and is open once again.

Just saying…


Tribute to the Meat Pie!

I admit to being a fan of Meat Pies. Have been since I was a kid. So here are a few of my recommendations for meat pie sources.

EAT FRESH  in Parksville does a great job on meat pies including individual French Canadian TORTIERE’s, Steak & Mushroom & Chicken pies. They are delicious and enough for two diners. Country Pies in Coombs makes good ones too. They supply pies to many of the pubs in BC. You can buy them at their home location or pick them up at Quality Foods.

Another spot for outstanding Steak & Kidney and Steak & Mushroom Pies is the CROW & GATE PUB in Cedar. They make their own, deep dish with a puff pastry top. Superb!

But, my all time favourite meat pies come from my personal Meat Pie Mecca, the Dutch Bakery in Victoria. Since 1956, this family owned bakery has been turning out Beef Pies, Chicken Pies and Turkey Pies. And I’ve been eating them since 1956 since my mother often bought them way back then.



The Dutch Bakery Meat Pies are consistently delicious. They seem to have excellent quality control. I’m thinking that if you make the same item using the same recipe for over 60 years you certainly got through the learning curve long ago.

I like these Pies cold or warmed up. In my other life I visited Victoria every two weeks for about 20 years and frequently bought some Pies to take home to Vancouver. Six in a box and two in a bag. The latter were to devour in the Swartz Bay Ferry lineup. Yes, you can enjoy them, manually, right in your hand out of the bag. How many of these crusty bits of deliciousness have I enjoyed? Hundreds over 60 years!

If you are fond of meat pies, try the DUTCH BAKERY in the 900 block of Fort Street in Victoria, just around the corner from CACTUS CLUB. You will be tempted by some their other specialties like Marzipan coated Dollar Rolls, Ribbon Cake and a wonderful assortment of cookies. There is also a restaurant serving lunch. It must be good because it is always really busy.

One thing to remember, when you enter the bakery, take a number from the machine on the counter. This way you will avoid the elbow jabs by the little old Victoria ladies in line.

Just saying…


My neighbour Murray, knowing I have batching recently, invited me to join him for breakfast the other day. “I’ll pick you up at 8 AM” he said, so I was ready to go at 8. He selected THE FINAL APPROACH at the Qualicum Beach Airport. We had been there for lunch a few years ago but never for breakfast,

Well, I was impressed. This cozy joint has tablecloths, a view of the runway where you can watch the not so jumbo planes landing and taking off. The breakfast menu is excellent with Traditional Eggs Benedict priced at only $8.99. We both chose the Benny and proclaimed them DELICIOUS!

The service was very good with frequent coffee refills. I will certainly be back with my favourite girl. The lunch and dinner menu also looked very inviting. Our friend Joan says the appetizers are excellent and on Tuesday night they have happy hour with half priced drinks and appetizers.

Check out the menu at

Thanks to Murray for introducing me to the FINAL APPROACH for Breakfast and thank you also for paying. Door to door service and complimentary breakfast to boot. Very nice indeed. We are so fortunate to have so many fine neighbours.

Just saying…