The Water Street Cafe in Vancouver's historic Gastown has been welcoming guests since 1988 - a track record not shared with many other restaurants in the mercurial dining industry. Earlier this year - amidst mounting obstacles in the hospitality sector thanks to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic - Water Street Cafe owners Eli Brennan and Alan Tse opened up their second venture, this time across the water mid-Island in the seaside town of Qualicum Beach.
The Qualicum Beach Cafe launched in January 2021, but with most restrictions on dining now lifted in B.C. the restaurant is finally able to get into full swing for the busy summer travel season.
Echoing the Vancouver restaurant's menu of seafood-centric West Coast fare with heavy Italian influence, the QBC is a major addition to the area's dining scene, offering locals and visitors alike an elegant setting indoors and an expansive patio outside, with live music.
The restaurant is located inside the Qualicum Beach Inn and faces the ocean. The seaside property, which is steps from Qualicum Beach's sandy shore and seawall, was previously the Old Dutch Inn before undergoing a metamorphosis starting in 2015.
Now the Inn boasts the new restaurant, bringing a vivacious spirit to the venue and a great stopping point for cocktails, wine, and all sorts of seafood.
Like its Vancouver big sibling, Qualicum Beach Cafe celebrates locally-sourced ingredients and a B.C.-centric wine list. Frequent special features include ingredient-themed menus, like "Crab Fest" in June (4-27) which adds some pretty spectacular dishes to the already-impressive line-up of West Coast by way of Italy options on offer.
You'll always find golden-fried crab cakes on the menu, but then their kitchen can also turn out show-stopping specials like the Fisherman's Stew, which includes half a B.C. Dungeness crab with clams, prawns, and fish in a coconut cilantro broth with sweet corn. There's also half a B.C. Dungeness crab atop a dish of crab and prawn spaghetti, which comes in a creamy sauce accented with dill.
When it's not Crab Fest, the QBC regular menu is packed with seafood classics like prawn cocktail or steamed clams and lots of Italian items, including pastas, pizzas, and house-made gnocchi. The restaurant also has vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available.
The Qualicum Beach Cafe is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner daily. Reservations recommended. The restaurant is located at 2690 Island Highway West in Qualicum Beach.