It’s diner food, but it’s diner food with a difference. After a couple of years of incredibly hard times and bad luck, the Cassidy Country Kitchen has literally risen from the ashes to become a new landmark located just off the Island Highway, a little north of Nanaimo’s Cassidy airport.
The saga of the restaurant began in 2014, when it opened in a small, aging structure. New owners Donovan and Kristine Stauffer had done interior renovations and built a pretty new outdoor patio. They were forging ahead with plans when, six weeks after opening, fire destroyed the building. The patio was spared, but the rubble from the building remained for months while the owners and insurers sorted out details for a re-build.
There was no movement on re-building a year later, so the Stauffers set up a food truck on the site for the summer. We stopped in one day for a quick lunch in an effort to support them and found their stocks severely depleted – someone had broken in to the truck the night before and stolen much of their food inventory. Several weeks later we learned that the vintage tractor that they kept on the grounds had been stolen.
Not to be beaten down by adversity, the Stauffers carried on, and this year a classy new building has appeared on the site. We stopped in for lunch one recent warm autumn afternoon to check things out and were delighted to see the restaurant doing well.
We had a dog with us, which was welcome on the outdoor patio. So, settled in (complete with bucket of water for the dog, brought unasked by our kindly waitress), we perused the extensive menu.
The Cassidy Country Kitchen serves what it calls ‘classy country food with a Southern twist’, which pretty much hits the nail on the head. Pulled pork, jalapeno and Cajun flavours pop up throughout the menu, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.
I settled on the halibut tacos, served with polenta fries and an apple fennel slaw. The plate that arrived included a stack of gigantic flavourful and creamy ‘fries’ finished in corn meal. The apple fennel slaw was extraordinarily good, and the tacos were generously filled and plentiful.
My husband opted for the classic country mac and cheese, also served with a bit of a different twist – in addition to the usual cheddar in the sauce there was a distinct flavour enhancement courtesy of the inclusion of applewood smoked cheddar. The mac and cheese was accompanied by a flaky buttermilk biscuit.
Our friend ordered the steak sandwich. Served on thick-sliced French bread, it arrived heaped with sauteed mushrooms and onions. A generous portion of French fries accompanied this dish.
All three of us were full to the brim at the conclusion of our meal – there is certainly no lack of food served at this establishment. While their desserts looked pretty amazing none of us had room for another morsel. Next time we will probably split a main so as to have space (and inclination) left for a sweet treat at the end of our meal.
Overall, you will find good value for your money at the Cassidy Country Kitchen. The food is fresh and made in-house, service is attentive and the ambiance is relaxed. We are happy to see them up and running after all the misfortune they have endured.Further information on the Cassidy Country Kitchen can be found at the website:
The Cassidy Country Kitchen is located at 2930 Trans Canada Highway, between Ladysmith and Nanaimo.
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat.: 49.067426 Long. -123.877405
N 49 04.046 W 123 52.644