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.
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.
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.
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:
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.234812633827715 Long. -124.81614589691162
N 49 14.089 W 124 48.969