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.
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.
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.
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:
N 48 55.307 W 123 43.006