Westwood Lake in Nanaimo is a man-made recreational oasis with 5.5km of hiking and walking trails, a playground, a dog off-leash area, and a sandy beach. It’s located just up the hill from the Harbour City, across the highway and at the base of Mount Benson. On its shores you’ll also find the Westwood Lake Tennis Club (established in 1977) and the Westwood Lake Bistro which opened in August of 2011.
Featuring West Coast cuisine, BC wines, and fresh Vancouver Island ingredients, the bistro is a local favourite with gorgeous patio views of the lake. When we first drove up to the tennis club I had no idea what to expect inside the A-frame lodge beside the courts but was delighted by the bright and colourful sun-soaked dining room.
While the sun poured in through the floor-to-ceiling windows it was still a bit too chilly to enjoy the patio but I could only imagine how lovely it would be to enjoy my dish outside with good company. During our stay, groups of trail walkers made their way up the path from the lake and into the dining room behind us, rewarding themselves with lunch in the bistro. A very bright idea that I would copy if I were in the area.
The lunch menu — prepared by Chef Kenneth Casey and his team — featured mouth-watering dishes like Dungeness Crab Cakes, Walnut-Crusted Cod, Salt Spring Island Mussels, Gabriola Island Beef Panini, and an Open-Face West Coast Shrimp Sandwich. I decided to go with the Baked Tomato, Mushroom, and Okanagan Goat Cheese Tart.
The warm, crispy, buttery tart was the perfect vessel for the soft and sweet tomatoes, and the creamy goat cheese. The greens on top completed the full range of textures in each bite — and it was a lovely pairing with the white wine we ordered.
Gaetan Brousseau co-owns the Bistro at Westwood Lake with his wife Linda Allen and they also run Mon Petit Choux in downtown Nanaimo and the Wesley Street Cafe. I’m very glad that I went with something baked for lunch at the bistro, having enjoyed Mon Petit Choux (Nanaimo’s “Little Corner of Paris”) on a previous trip.
Follow the Bistro at Westwood Lake on Facebook and Twitter for more information about their menu, weekly specials and offers, and their beautiful location. They have reasonable price points along with weekly specials like “Casual Wednesdays” with small plates and a selection of wine to pair for $4 per 3oz glass. They are also open for Mother’s Day next weekend, offering up a prix-fixe menu to treat that special lady in your life.