For those travelers who are rushing through Port Alberni to the west coast of the Island (and for the umpteenth time, I encourage you to linger a day or two in Port and then head to the west coast) there is good news. You don’t have to rely on the fast food outlets on the main drag that takes you in the direction of Long Beach. There is good fare to be had just a quick hop off Johnston Road, the major artery that slices down the hill and connects with the Pacific Rim Highway.
The Clam Bucket Restaurant is a local favourite, always busy at peak hours. If you are traveling and can’t make a reservation best to try to get there when there isn’t as likely to be a crowd. But, if you have to wait a bit for a table it’s worth the time to do that. The first time we wandered in it was 5:15 p.m. on a Saturday in June. We didn’t have a reservation, but the accommodating staff squeezed us in prior to the arrival of a party that had a later reservation, and were we ever glad they did! We have been back to eat several times since and have never been disappointed.
The atmosphere at The Clam Bucket is very casual and family-oriented, but it most certainly is not the kind of chain ‘family restaurant’ that most of us envision when that term is used. The interior décor is a bit of a mish-mash and tends to be dark-ish – I’ve never been too sure what they were trying to accomplish there – but it’s comfortable enough, and has many fun aspects to it that keep diners entertained. There is a large outdoor covered patio that is open during the fine weather for those who prefer to dine al fresco.
The menu at The Clam Bucket is large and varied, offering typical ‘family restaurant’ style options. What’s great, though, is that the actual food is several cuts above anything you might consume in most family restaurants. Their calamari is some of the best I have eaten anywhere, the French fries are hand-cut, the burgers ooze with all sorts of good fillings and sauces, the fish arrives fresh and crisply battered, and the wraps offer up interesting, tasty combinations. Portions are more than generous, service is reasonable considering how busy the place is, and prices are in line with the quality and quantity of the fare delivered. This is not what anyone would call fine dining, but if you are looking for good food that is well-prepared and fresh, be sure to try it out.
The Clam Bucket is located at 4479 Victoria Quay. Turn left at the bottom of Johnston Road and drive a block – the restaurant will be right at the corner of Southgate and the road you are on.
GPS Co-ordinates are:
N 49 15.375 W 124 48.737
Price rating: $$