Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro adds a happy new element to dining in Chemainus

Crab and scallop cakes

Crab and scallop cakes, accompanied by roasted garlic aioli and a crispy apple slaw

There’s more happy news for lovers of good, interesting food on Vancouver Island – the little town of Chemainus has a new addition to the dining scene that, just six months in, is looking like a roaring success. We found the Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro thanks to a tip from fellow diners in another restaurant. We arrived late one morning on a wet, blustery Saturday to a cheerful, bustling environment packed with patrons of all ages. The warm butter-yellow walls, innovative décor and weekend chatter couldn’t help but lift our spirits, as did the tasty early lunch that we dug into just a few minutes after placing our order.

Roasted chicken paninin

Roasted chicken panini

Kara and Jacky Lai are the young couple who took on the challenge of ‘making it’ in a small town and by all appearances they are doing just fine.  The Owl’s Nest has a cheerful vibrancy to it that attracts folks from all walks of life. The place is well-staffed, with efficient service provided by a host of young servers that bring a special energy to it.  The chalkboard menu, while fairly limited, lists interesting and flavourful options (including many gluten-free offerings) that had our mouths watering almost as soon as we glanced at it.

The Lais are both formally-trained chefs who work well together to provide a varied and balanced menu.  Kara’s training as a pastry chef shines through with the many tempting sweet choices beckoning from the pastry display case, while husband Jacky works the savoury side with everything from the Holy Cowichan Bowl (sweet potato hash, braised beef brisket, two poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce) to the daily soup offerings.

Interior of Owl's Nest Bakery and Bistro

The interior features innovative decor and plenty of cheerful energy

My husband opted for the roast chicken panini with a flavourful arugula pesto, while I savoured two scrumptious crab and scallop cakes, accompanied by a roasted garlic aioli and a crunchy apple slaw. And then we fell victim to the best cinnamon roll I have ever sunk my teeth into. The blissful combination of perfect dough and that gooey brown sugar topping has my salivary glands going full bore at the mere thought of it.

The Owl’s Nest is not fancy or high-end.  It is a casual spot flooded with lots of natural light and full of good vibes. A great spot to meet friends for breakfast, brunch or lunch or just a special coffee. The bistro seats about 40 indoors and in the good weather there is an elongated, shady outdoor patio area that seats another 20 patrons. We love this place, not just for the good food, but for the ambiance – it’s the epitome of what a favourite neighbourhood café should be.

Cinnamon roll

Cinnamon roll – ’nuff said!

The Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro is located at 9752 Willow Street in Chemainus. The Bistro does not currently have a web site, but can be found on Facebook under Owl’s Nest Bakery Bistro.

GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat. 48.92178723939826

Long. -123.71676743030548

N 48 55.307  W 123 43.006

wheelchair-mPrice rating: $ – $$

Owl's Nest Bakery Bistro on Urbanspoon


About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers.
In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.

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