Happy news for lovers of good food – Port Alberni’s new Starboard Grill raises the bar for mid-Island dining

Starboard Grill special

One of the flavourful specials at the Starboard Grill – chicken, wild mushrooms and walnuts

Waterfront location. Pretty views of mountains, fishing boats and the Alberni Inlet. Clean, modern design.  Wonderful  service. Indoor and outdoor dining.  Linen tablecloths and napkins. And great food. Finally, Port  Alberni has an upscale restaurant with all the ingredients, both culinary and aesthetic, to launch it into the big leagues.

            Chef Brad DeClercq spent several months re-designing and updating the bright, airy space at Harbour Quay in downtown Port Alberni prior to opening in October, 2012. Since then there has been no looking back for the talented and dedicated staff at The Starboard Grill.

Starboard Grill calamari
The Starboard Grill offers a different twist on calamari


            Our recent mid-week visit for an early dinner found the place busy, even at 5 p.m. – always a good sign, especially for a newer dining establishment in a community. It didn’t take long for us to figure out why things were hopping – the food is, by far and away, the most interesting to be found in Port Alberni.

            Chef Brad offers an innovative and very eclectic menu focussing on a west coast contemporary theme.  Diners can order everything from good old (but far from average)  hamburgers to roast lamb or a hot pot dish, all presented with flair, an eye for appealing flavour combinations and fresh, local ingredients.

Candied Salmon Chowder

The to-die-for candied salmon chowder – a local hit, and with good reason

Between the five of us we managed a pretty good taste test of several of the menu items, and none disappointed.  One of our starters was a tasty combination of crisp, tender Cajun-marinated calamari tossed with tomato, red pepper, onion and jalapeno. Instead of the traditional tzatziki sauce for dipping we were treated to a cilantro lime yogurt, which helped cut the little bit of heat found in this dish.

            My husband scarfed down a bowl of candied salmon chowder – a sublime combination that left me hankering for more after a single spoonful.  It’s no wonder that it has won a ‘people’s choice’ award at the Pacific Rim Chowder Chowdown.

Starboard Grill Roast Lamb

Roast lamb sirloin with a local blackberry demi – cooked to perfection

            Our main courses ranged from fish and chips for the youngest member of our party to a couple of wonderful chicken dishes, the hot pot and the roasted lamb – all tasty and well-appreciated after a two-hour ramble along Port Alberni’s beautiful Log Train Trail. My pecan pesto chicken and prawn entrée left me with a happy tummy and in a very happy frame of mind. The roast lamb, finished with a local blackberry demi, was cooked to perfection (not to death) and my husband’s ‘daily special’, an amalgamation of chicken, wild mushrooms and walnuts, was a lovely flavour combination that had him raving.

            We have to offer a tip of the hat, too, to the Starboard’s very welcoming and efficient wait staff. Although we had never eaten there before the staff treated us as if we were regulars, with warmth and conviviality. I really like that in a place – it’s the sort of thing that will bring me back through their doors, along with the lovely food and great location. All-in-all, the Starboard looks to have a bright future, and deservedly so.

            The Starboard Grill is located at 2- 5440 Argyle Street, right in the heart of Harbour Quay in downtown Port   Alberni. Further information can be obtained at the website:


wheelchair-mPrice rating: $$

 GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat. 49.234812633827715  Long. -124.81614589691162

N 49 14.089  W 124 48.969

Starboard Grill 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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2 Responses to Happy news for lovers of good food – Port Alberni’s new Starboard Grill raises the bar for mid-Island dining

  1. Bill Irvine says:

    Hi Shirley,

    We sure like what you write. My wife, Bernice & I just spent Wednesday night at Cedar Wood Lodge B&B in your fair city. I cycle but Bern doesn’t so I left my rides at home in Victoria and made this one-nighter a strictly reconnaissance run. After learning much (and promptly forgetting most of it) about the Alberni Valley Log Train Trail, we wound up Wednesday at noon talking to two lads doing repairs at the E&N Alberni Station. We asked where the best place to eat was and after being directed to the Starboard, we learned the lads were correct.

    When we asked our server where the best place to stay was, we wound up at Tom & Marla’s Cedar Wood Lodge on Golden St (off River Rd). What a friendly and helpful citizenry you have in Port Alberni! I’ve been in few ‘friendly towns’ in lifetime but can’t remember anything being like the good folks in Port Alberni.

    Anyway, Bernice and I did get to walk a few kilometres up from Hwy-4 on the access road to the Log Train Trail (LTT) before heading back home. We plan on returning in a couple of weeks to ride the Mothers’ Day Steam Train and cycle parts of LTT. My cause celeb on this one is to produce a video of the entire useable length of this interesting trail. Thanks for what you have written about it and other highlights in the Valley.

    Bill & Bernice Irvine

    • Shirley Shirley says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words. Although I no longer live in the Alberni Valley I still have a very soft spot for it, and for the folks who live there – it is, indeed, one of the friendliest towns you will find anywhere, and it has much going for it. The steam train rides with the Alberni Pacific Railway are great, and the McLean Mill is also something else again (you can also read about it on the blog). Did you know that you are able to access the Log Train Trail through the mill as well? We recently enjoyed a long walk on the trail after hiking up through the mill site – a better access point, we found, with bicycles – not quite so rough going.

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