Last Friday, my partner in crime (we’ll call him the Big Red Dog) and I got up at the crack of dawn, drove an hour to Tsawwassen, and took the ferry to Mayne Island. I have wanted to go there ever since I moved to BC 2 years ago. I love the idea of an island… how each “corner” of it has its own personality… how the people are self-sufficient and friendly. As the Big Red Dog put it, “you have to be nice… it’s an island. If you’re not, you’re the island on an island.” Well said.
I had done some research beforehand, but it’s actually pretty hard to get an accurate view of Mayne Island unless you’re there. Online it appears that there are quite a few restaurants but in reality there are only two that are open for dinner (and they close at 8pm according to their posted hours). This means you have to plan your meals (and your hunger) carefully. We opted to try the Bennett Bay Bistro for our first night and it was so delicious that we went back on our third evening right before catching the ferry back home.
Admittedly, the view likely contributed to my love of this place. The restaurant sits on the edge of the island, overlooking some gorgeous water and mountains. You can see other islands (and a few small enough for the Big Red Dog to refer to them as “stones,” and birds dive into the water to catch fish while you eat your own meal. With that kind of environment, can you really have a bad time?
When we first walked in (both times) it took a few moments for anyone to acknowledge we were standing there. This place seems a bit understaffed. On our second visit there was literally one waitress working, which led to a significant delay in getting the bill. But the staff were extremely friendly and courteous. The only other iffy part was the fact that there were a few ants crawling on the floor and walls the first time we were there… but that’s just part of the island! I didn’t notice any the second time, which was a colder/rainier day.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a salad bar. A salad bar can be really small, but if it has the main ingredients – crunchy lettuce, abundant cheese, fresh looking ingredients, and at least three dressing choices… I’m happy. This salad bar had all of that, except there were only 2 dressings but the oil and vinegar dressing was so amazing that I didn’t even care.
The ingredients changed slightly on our second night (black beans instead of walnuts, and garden mix instead of iceberg) but remained delicious. Fresh, simple, and included with every entree. You can add it to any other meal for a little more than a toonie. It’s unlimited too!
The first night I ordered the mushroom linguine, and the Big Red Dog had some pasta dish with bacon and other dead things. To drink, I had peach black tea. They source their tea from my FAVOURITE tea shop in Sidney. Delicious. The pasta was incredible. It was perhaps a little TOO mushroomy, and because I really wanted to try dessert I didn’t finish it all. But the waitress informed me that they serve the leftovers to their turkeys which is so damn cute.
I have to say, I loved that when they say “wild mushrooms” they really mean it. None of this “hey look we threw some button and shiitake mushrooms in there and called it a day.” I ate mushrooms I couldn’t recognize and they were delicious. The Big Red Dog loved his dish too, but he hates when I take pictures of our food because I usually forget to turn off the flash and then everyone turns to look at the weird girl… so there’s no picture of his (because he threatened to steal my phone).
On the second visit there, I had the roasted vegetable quesadilla. I was dying for something gooey and cheesy and I have to say this delivered. SO MUCH CHEESE.
The fries were pretty amazing.
Here’s a close-up of what the Big Red Dog was eating. Lamb Lollipops.
I stole some of his mashed potatoes and they were delightful. As for the lamb… he said he wouldn’t order it again. It was the last order of lamb that they had in the kitchen, and he’s kinda paranoid about that stuff sometimes. It did smell kinda funky, but that could be because we’re not used to smelling lamb with blueberry compote on top. I know nothing about lamb or meat in general and he did love his first pasta dish, so we’re still gonna say we love this restaurant (’cause I’m writing this review not him!)
Now for dessert. There were only two options the first night (we didn’t ask the second time ’cause we were running late for the ferry). One was a chocolate something-or-other, and neither he nor I like chocolate so we went with the cobbler. I think it was peach raspberry. I know it was delicious.
It’s a restaurant on an island, so it’s a bit on the expensive side… when I stole a glance at the Big Red Dog’s bill it was around $50. But considering it’s the fancier option on the island, the view is amazing, the service is friendly, and that damn salad bar rocks my world… I’m giving this place 9 deer out of 10.