Tradition of fine hospitality endures at Cowichan Bay’s Masthead Restaurant

Masthead exterior duskWe got lucky – very lucky. We were wandering along what acts as the ‘main drag’ in Cowichan Bay village one recent summer Saturday night, debating what to do about dinner. We paused to peruse the menus posted outside The Masthead restaurant, liked what we saw and decided to ask if there was any chance of getting a table without a reservation on such a fine evening.  The answer was positive – and our luck continued as we got shown to the best table in the place, overlooking the deck, the bay and the marinas.

Spot prawn pasta

Spot prawn pasta

Our evening at The Masthead came at the end of several long, harrowing months filled with a lot of stress. So the addition of a pair of musicians playing cool jazz in the background helped us shake off the problems that had been consuming our lives; the time spent contemplating the mouthwatering menu completed the job.

Pretty views, even from inside when it is too cool for patio dining

Pretty views, even from inside when it is too cool for patio dining

The Masthead building was actually constructed in 1863 as a roadhouse.  In those days it took a full day to travel from Victoria to the area.  Things have changed now, of course (the trip takes less than an hour by car) but the building continues to retain its 1860s charm, aided and abetted by dedicated owners Luke and Denise Harms. Both of them have had extensive backgrounds in the fine dining field, continuing that dedication to great food since taking over The Masthead in 2004.

We were delighted to sample a variety of fine dishes, with my husband opting for the very reasonably-priced three course Table d’Hote, which included succulent pan-seared Island Farmhouse chicken. We shared a delectable spot prawn bisque and then I savoured the spot prawn pasta – a beautiful combination of fresh local seafood and broad egg noodles served atop wilted vegetables.

Live music on Saturday nights adds to the casual-but-elegant ambiance

Live music on Saturday nights adds to the casual-but-elegant ambiance

The Masthead changes its menu with the seasons and availability of fresh, local products – an indication that the folks there take their food seriously and are willing to go the extra mile in providing new, interesting and flavourful dishes for the diners who flock to their unique and lovely location. The service is impeccable, the location superb – there isn’t much more that you can ask of a restaurant than what The Masthead already provides,  The residents of  tiny Cowichan Bay should count themselves very fortunate indeed to have such a marvelous place to enjoy a good meal.  I only wish that we lived closer!

            More information on The Masthead can be found at the website at:

wheelchair-mThe Masthead is located at 1705 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay.

GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat. 48.74028230956493  Long. -123.61864303750167

N 48 44.417   W 123 37.119

Price rating: $$

Masthead Restaurant 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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