Every time I get to thinking that there can’t possibly be any more wonderful ‘stuff’ about the Cowichan Valley than all the marvelous discoveries we have already experienced, another great find surfaces. This time it was a new-ish restaurant that, clearly, has become a local favourite very, very quickly.
Bridgemans Bistro is suspended above the water at the Mill Bay Marina where views of the serene harbour and Mt. Baker, located in Washington State, fill the eye. We visited on a sunny January weekday afternoon and were amazed at how busy the place was. It didn’t take long to discover why almost every table was occupied though – the food and service were among some of the best we have enjoyed anywhere on the Island and the lovely location certainly adds to the experience.
Bridgemans opened in April of 2013. It has an industrial aesthetic, with lots of exposed beams and pipework, metal chairs, silver table covers. The high activity level and the design of the place mean it’s not a particularly quiet restaurant, but the background noise was far from disturbing – if anything it added to the ambiance. We were seated on the enclosed heated patio, which affords the best view of the activities in the bay along with plenty of natural light.
The bistro offers an eclectic menu that had us in pondering mode for quite some time. It offers a light-hearted tip of the hat to the working man (United Eaters and Drinkers of Mill Bay) but the selection is anything but pedestrian.
My husband ordered the Bridgeworker Club sandwich for lunch – a generous offering loaded with bacon, grilled chicken, havarti cheese, sunflower sprouts, avocado and tomato, served on a rustic peasant bread and topped with a deep-fried pickle. The accompanying side of fries was adequate but not overly large – a nice change from so many sandwich menu items in other restaurants where the spuds dominate the plate while the sandwich is sadly lacking in substance.
I opted for the shrimp gyoza, which came liberally filled with shrimp and other tasty ingredients, and a small grilled butter lettuce salad. Both dishes were beautifully plated, flavourful and proved to be a nice combination for a lighter meal. The gyoza wrappers were heavier and crunchier than anything I have had in the past, adding an interesting texture boost without any greasy residue.
We finished our meal by sharing a decidedly decadent (and decidedly delicious) flourless chocolate torte.
Thanks to experiences like this I am fast coming to the conclusion that we are never going to lack for delightful new surprises in the Cowichan region of the Island – it just keeps getting better and better. If you plan to head to Bridgemans though, reservations are highly recommended. Although we were seated immediately we also arrived after 1 p.m. when much of the lunchtime rush was over.
Further information on Bridgemans Bistro can be obtained at the website:
Bridgemans Bistro is located at 740 Handy Road, Mill Bay
GPS co-ordinates are:
N 48 38.990 W 123 33.193