Genoa Bay Cafe – worth the trip!

Waterfront dining at its best

If you love superb food, splendid surroundings, great service and a casual atmosphere, get thee, sooner rather than later, to the Genoa Bay Café. I promise you won’t regret it!

The cafe’s West Coast Fry Bread with roasted garlic hummus – unique, light and definitely not your average bread offering!

           Genoa Bay is a miniscule marine community tucked away down a winding country road slightly southeast of Duncan.  It’s a bit of a journey to get there, but the lovely drive bordered by verdant farm fields and forests really just adds to the pleasure of an unhurried lunch or dinner. The journey sets you up for the leisurely pace at Genoa Bay– a delightful retreat from the harum-scarum world that comprises so much of modern life these days.

            Our first visit to the Genoa Bay Café stretched over 2 ½ hours. We enjoyed the lovely early-summer evening on the café’s outdoor deck. Dining al fresco always seems to make food taste better, somehow – although I doubt the flavour sensations that we marveled over would be diminished by eating indoors at this waterfront restaurant.

The best calamari – ever!

The café has only been open under the ownership of Stacey Johnson and Gord Rumley since early 2010, but it has garnered a faithful local following as well as being popular with the sailing public – seafarers can tie up right at the docks below the restaurant, courtesy of the café.

            While some of our readers may look askance at the fact that our dining experience consumed 2 ½ hours from start to finish, please rest assured that it most definitely was not due to poor service. Freshly prepared food (locally sourced, I might add) takes time, and it is patently clear that the folks at Genoa Bay want to give you every opportunity to enjoy the ambiance and the most excellent fare that appears on your table.

Grilled pork chop with smoked apple butter, nestled on garlic mashed potatoes

            And the food? Well, hands-down this place has the very best calamari that I have ever had the pleasure of ingesting . The geniuses in the kitchen marinate it in ginger, which makes it extremely tender and gives it just a hint of bite; it is finished in what I can only describe as a tender-crisp coating, and it’s served with a mild lemon aioli.  It’s one of the café’s signature dishes, and rightfully so. Our main courses were equally excellent, featuring innovative twists on core ingredients that can be pretty mundane in a lot of eateries. The dessert menu isn’t large, but offers first-rate sweet finishes.

A sweet finish – decadent chocolate terrine with espresso creme Anglaise and crushed hazelnuts

We discovered at the conclusion of our meal that our waiter was Stacey Johnson, one of the café owners. I always like to see that – it is an indication to me that there’s a real dedication and interest on the part of those who are the money behind it all.  The hands-on approach seems, always, to render up some of the best dining experiences.  There can be no doubt that’s true in this case!

            When you head to Genoa Bay, be sure to set aside a little extra time to wander down on to the docks and take a look around.  There are some charming houseboats, a gallery, and one of the most interesting walks between boathouses you are ever likely to see. It will add to the pleasure of your trip and leave you with great memories of one of the best hidden treasures on the Island.

The calm, protected waters of Genoa Bay serve as an ideal home for some pretty funky houseboats, adding to the charm of the view from the cafe

               Price Rating: $$ – $$$

            Genoa Bay Café is located at Unit #9, 5000 Genoa Bay Road, in the Duncan area.

            Hours vary depending on the season, so best to check out their website at:


            Reservations recommended – phone: (250) 746-7621 or 1-800-572-6481


GPS co-ordinates are: Lat: 48.758968430639456  Long. -123.59865367412567

N 48 45.538  W 123 35.919
Genoa Bay Cafe on Urbanspoon


About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers.
In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.

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2 Responses to Genoa Bay Cafe – worth the trip!

  1. Dan Caird says:

    Hello Shirley,

    On behalf of my partners at the Genoa Bay Cafe – Stacey Johnson and Gord Rumley – let me first apologize for taking so long to reply to your post in the WHERE TO EAT section of VANCOUVER ISLAND BEYOND VICTORIA . We are all scratching our heads as to how we missed it, but, on the positive side, we are really happy we discovered it and we are delighted that you found your dining experience with us so pleasant and tasty! Your photographs were great too!

    Please accept our sincere appreciation for your kind comments and wonderful review of our restaurant – we are always appreciative of feedback from our guests, and it’s especially rewarding when the feedback is as complimentary as yours!

    You may be interested to know that we have just introduced a terrific feature for Fall:
    Two Can Dine for $50 ! Your Choice of an Appetizer, two Entrees and a Dessert – all from our Regular Menu.

    In addition, our Fall menu has just been rolled out, and on Sundays from 10am beginning September 30th, BRUNCH is BACK!

    So if you are in our neighbourhood again anytime soon, please drop in and say hello, and enjoy some of our new features!

    Thank-you very much again, Shirley!

    Dan Caird
    Genoa Bay Cafe

    • Shirley Shirley says:

      Thank you Dan – we greatly enjoyed our visit to your great restaurant, and are always happy to tip off our readers about special places here on the Island. It’s what we are all about!

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