Signature Flavours in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Chefs in Parksville Qualicum Beach are exercising their creative muscles with unique signature dishes.

A restaurant’s signature dish is carefully crafted to highlight the culinary vision, expertise, and creativity of a chef. This dish becomes synonymous with the restaurant and creates a lasting impression on diners. Restaurants in Parksville Qualicum Beach are certainly familiar with the term, using local ingredients to create signature menu items that set them apart and keep their customers coming back for more.

In 2016, the current owners took over a food truck in the region called Extreme Eats, and in 2019, they turned the eatery on wheels into a brick-and-mortar destination called Extreme Eatery. A quick scroll through their social media pages and you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly for yourself what their signature menu item is: their Caesar.

“We take like your regular everyday Caesar and top it with either like our signature burger sliders, chicken wings, dry ribs, and even more,” manager Kat Giakoumakis says. These extreme Caesars push the boundaries of the foodie world, something they’re proud to do. Per the eatery’s name, “We’re always seeing what we can do to make things a little more extreme.”

“ It's nice to have something to keep everyone talking about, something for people to know is going to be good every time. ” Kat Giakoumakis | Extreme Eatery

They use local ingredients where they can to build these epic Caesars, including the buns and burgers on the sliders that can top the drink. They also make their own mix that rims the glass. It’s a dish that is equally wild to look at as it is delightful to eat. “It's nice to have something to keep everyone talking about, something for people to know is going to be good every time.”

Of course, in a community-minded region like Parksville Qualicum Beach, there’s going to be some friendly competition, like with Q Burger. “They’re definitely one of our really good friends,” Kat says.

Credit: @Nanaimonoms

Q Burger also offers burger options that push the boundaries of culinary creativity, with a chef that has been cooking up smash burgers for 15 years. “We are known for crazy, big, awesome burgers. Just creating something fun and unique and different that you'll never get anywhere else,” says owner Kevin Munroe. But what, exactly, is a smash burger? “We scoop all the meat and then we'll smash it on the grill with another small pan. And I just smash that burger nice and thin. You want to create a real nice crust on the outside of your meats, but still hold all that juice inside,” he explains.

One of their most popular signature burgers is their Royal Q, a burger burrito (“a whole burger wrapped in a tortilla baked in the oven”). Another is their Q Boom Burger, a best-seller since they opened. “That one was featured on top five best burger restaurants in Canada in Canadian Living Magazine,” Kevin says proudly.

For lovers of seafood, Ship and Shore restaurant is a great option. With locally sourced fish and house-made sauces, their dishes are truly representative of local flavours. “We’re known for our fish and chips,” manager Ashley Sipos says. Part of the reason they’re so popular? “This is gonna sound corny,” she laughs, “But it’s because melon cooks with love!” That, and the consistent recipe that produces a fluffy, light batter resulting in a perfectly crispy piece of fish. Accompanied by the hand-punched Kennebec fries, it’s no wonder that they have regular customers who return time and again for an order of fish and chips.

“I will literally have some regulars come in and the first thing we do is hug,” Ashley says. “So I think that was the intention from the start, was just to make a nice place in this small community that we really needed.” People from within walking distance, to neighbours on Denman and Hornby who make a boat trip over, and visitors who kayak over for lunch, can all enjoy the dish in the restaurant that immediately makes you feel like you’re part of the Ship and Shore family.

Realm Food Co. knows what it’s like to be a community hub as well. The restaurant, known for being a farm-to-table eatery, provides “healthy food that people feel good about eating and feel good after they eat,” according to co-owner James Hannah. Their signature dish is a rice bowl. “It's kind of been around since the beginning and it's been a long-time favourite for everyone. It has fresh tortilla chips, kale, cabbage, carrots, and chicken, a chipotle sauce. And yeah, it's super tasty,” he adds.

“ My ideas usually come from foods I'm craving or the kind of foods that I eat that I really enjoy. Or just cuisines in general that I like really enjoyed myself. ” James Hannah | Realm Food Co.

This bowl—and really, the entire menu—is built off of what he enjoys eating himself. “My ideas usually come from foods I'm craving or the kind of foods that I eat that I really enjoy. Or just cuisines in general that I like really enjoyed myself,” James explains. And as a farm-to-table restaurant, everything he makes is fresh and made with locally sourced ingredients and products.

It should be clear by now that whether you want a Caesar of epic proportions, a juicy smash burger, a plate full of mouth-watering fish and chips or a colourful bowl of local produce, you’ll find plenty of options for memorable signature dishes at restaurants in Parksville Qualicum Beach. As a region that fosters creativity, encourages supporting local and gathers as a community, it’s the perfect place to find deliciously unique menus with unforgettable signature dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.