The Odika Café in Chemainus doesn’t put on airs. It offers a casual atmosphere and friendly service – just what you would expect in a ‘café’ setting. The place is unpretentious, but bright and spacious. And the food – well, the food could be put on any restaurant table, high or low-end, and be perfectly at home. And that, no doubt, is why this relatively new mid-Island dining spot is gaining in popularity and recognition.
We first heard about The Odika from a couple dining at a table next to us at another of our favourite spots, Riso in Lantzville. We had plans to visit Chemainus anyhow so The Odika got added to the ‘to visit’ list when we ventured out one recent sunny Saturday afternoon. We were so glad that it did, and so happy that the chance encounter at Riso led to another great dining find.
We arrived for an early dinner and were greeted by Marina Kereliuk, who with her husband Murray owns and runs the café. The Kereliuks opened The Odika in Chemainus two years ago after running a restaurant in Gold River on the Island’s northwest coast for six years. We were seated at a bright window table where we could enjoy the streetscape (complete with historical murals and buildings) while we waited for our meal.
Our dining adventure at The Odika began with a shared order of tiny panko-crusted crab cakes served with a lovely mild chipotle mayo that complemented, rather than overwhelmed, the delicate crab. There were four crab cakes layered between wafer-thin pappadums – certainly enough for a shared starter for two, for a very reasonable $12.
Our main courses offered up more internationally-inspired delights. My husband ordered the day’s special – a hefty tender pork chop stuffed with figs, apricots, raisins, cherries and pear. The interesting combination of dried fruits with the pork presented a visual as well as gustatory delight. My Penang Prawn Curry featured a silky coconut milk reduction and flavourful prawns served atop basmati rice, accompanied by warm pita bread. Both meals arrived with perfectly-cooked tender-crisp vegetables.
One of the things we love about The Odika is the huge variety of ethnic flavours interwoven with domestic specialties. For us, one of the hallmarks of a good restaurant is really interesting food, well-prepared and presented. The Odika hits the mark on that front, as well as in the service and ambiance departments. No doubt about it – Gold River’s loss has been Chemainus’ gain. What a treat to find a dining spot of this calibre in a village of 3,900 residents!
The Odika Café is located at 2976 Mill Street (yet another great palate-pleasing find on an obscure side street) in ‘uptown’ Chemainus . Further information can be found at the restaurant’s website at:
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 48.92186478709836 Long. -123.71736288070679
N 48 55.312 W 123 43.042