Hole-in-the-wall eateries are always an adventure, and Ladysmith’s Appetit-Food For Thought is no exception. We first ate there several years ago when we enjoyed a quick, cheap ($4) and hearty dinner when we were in town for the annual Christmas Light-up Festival. It has taken us all this time to get back there and sample the fare in less hurried and less crowded circumstances. There were absolutely no regrets.
Chef-owner Martin Tang has been operating his 15-seat restaurant for 17 years in the mid-Island town. Appetit’s appeal is its smallness. Bright orange and green walls and a small bay window looking out onto Ladysmith’s main street can’t fail to improve the spirits of anyone who walks through the door. That lift is further enhanced by Martin’s cheery patter as he visits with patrons from his wide-open kitchen, discussing everything from local affairs to sailing as he chops and stirs.
It takes a special kind of place to build up the kind of customer loyalty that Martin obviously enjoys, and it is pretty clear that a combination of factors has helped in that direction.
For starters, the food at Appetit is memorable for all the right reasons. Great flavour combinations united with reasonable prices and large servings keep patrons coming back. The diverse menu – I suppose you could call it a fusion menu, although not in the truest sense of the word – also encourages folks to return. At Appetit you can enjoy hearty traditional North American breakfast offerings, Asian-inspired lunches, perogies, soup and sandwich specials, one of the daily specials or something off the ‘value menu’ (smaller portions for $6-$7). So, ‘fusion’ for sure – of all sorts of ethnic specialties allowed to star in their own way with no messing around.
We managed to engineer our most recent visit to Appetit so as to arrive at lunch time. My husband ordered one of the daily specials – a Thai pork stir fry in a mild coconut curry sauce, jammed with noodles and vegetables. The stir fry was accompanied by the house-made soup of the day, which was a flavourful sweet pea and bacon combination. Both dishes were beyond scrumptious, packed full with pleasant surprises for the palate. The stir fry was large enough for both of us to share, for which I was thankful – the flavour combinations had me swooning with delight.
I ordered the acclaimed Beef Wor Wonton Soup (accompanied by Caesar salad), thinking that it would be just enough to top up the share on the stir fry. Well, I was wrong on that front – the soup, brimming with a tasty broth and chock-full of meat, won tons, vegetables and noodles, had me defeated by the time I was half-way through it. The remainder got packed into a container for later consumption.
I suppose it should come as no surprise that Appetit has had such a successful long run. Martin trained in Germany and has worked at some top-flight hotel restaurants over the years. His passion shines through in everything that hits a plate in this tiny delight of a place. The welcoming ambiance, Martin’s cheerful presence, efficient service and wonderful food at very reasonable prices ensure that we will dine at Appetit at every opportunity when we are in the Ladysmith area.
Appetit is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Appetit doesn’t have a website, but the restaurant is on Facebook under Appetite Food For Thought.
Price rating: $-$$
Appetit is located at 534 First Avenue, Ladysmith
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat.: 48.993634 Long.: -123.818168
N 48 59.618 W 123 49.090