Saturday Coast Post: Battle of the Nanaimo Bars

Hi guys! Last post in my Sunshine Coast Series here. 😥 These were so much fun to write, and looking at the pictures, I can’t stop thinking about how amazing the weeklong getaway was. Travelling with family is truly a worthwhile adventure.

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Breakfast was enjoyed at Bread and Honey, a newly-opened restaurant in Parksville. The atmosphere was lovely even though I arrived at 8:00 sharp, when it opened. The server, Angela, was the friendliest waitress I’ve ever met. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I don’t think she ever stopped smiling. 🙂 Thanks to Angela and her husband (ze chef) for brightening my morning!

I was served a little water as I waited for the sandwiches (one for me, one for Dad).

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Spanish-style breakfast sandwich: egg, manchego cheese, caramelized onions

This was my sandwich, which was made with a super sunny egg, onions, a parmesan-like Spanish cheese, and a smear of mayonnaise. The fillings in this sandwich were so good, but I would prefer a biscuit or whole wheat toast instead of the chewy English muffin.

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Blueberry-lemon streusel muffin

The muffin, from Goats on the Roof bakery where we went last night, was just okay. It was a bit cake-like and had a bright lemon flavour. I wish there were more blueberries! I got a little carried away with nibbling the streusel. 😉

Bacon, egg, and cheese english muffin breakfast sandwich, hash browns

Seline’s sandwich came with hash browns and homemade ketchup. She loved the fried potatoes and found the English muffin a bit too hard.

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We dined at Le Cafe Francais after driving for an hour to Nanaimo. This was one of my favourite lunches. The interesting thing about this place? There was ONE chef and ONE waiter – a father and his son. They were both born in Paris and spoke perfect French and English. We loved conversing with them, as the restaurant was quite empty. Actually, we were the only customers! What a hidden gem 😉

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Garlic baguette with emmenthal cheese

We ordered these on a whim, because I knew Dad and Seline both have a major soft spot for hot pieces of crispy, garlicky bread. This didn’t disappoint! Dad and Seline each had two slices, and Mom stole a couple bites in between. I’m not a fan of plain breads based on white flour, so I passed on this one. But the smell was amazing!

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The service was rapid, considering we were literally the only customers here. We all decided to order crepes. For myself, I decided on a seafood crepe (their speciality!), while Dad had a garlic chicken crepe and Seline and Mom shared the daily special, with soup. All the dishes came with fries and a very simple salad (greens drizzled in olive oil). We also received garlic aioli and ketchup for the fries.

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Beef, pork, and vegetable crepe (daily special) with French onion broccoli soup and fries

Seline liked the crepe, but it wasn’t her favourite because of the “green bits” (broccoli and beans) inside. Mom enjoyed the savoury beef flavour and noted that there were some sausage chunks. Seline pointed out that the fries were slightly sweet.

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Creamy seafood crepe with broccoli, salad, French fries

My crepe was AWESOME. I’m so glad I ordered this one! The crepe itself was cooked with a practiced hand, and was perfectly thin with the right amount of crisp (on the corners) and delicate butteriness. The creamy sauce inside was like a seafood-based béchamel, though thinner, flavoured by shrimp and clams. I also had some zucchini and broccoli inside, which was a nice surprise! This was made with emmenthal cheese, like the garlic bread. Yum! I finished my crepe, tried the soup (a bit salty for my taste), and ate most of the salad. Gave the fries to the table to share.

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Gluten-free hazelnut cake with chocolate drizzle

We visited the bakery next door, and I was desperately hoping they’d have some almond croissants (I know I’m addicted!) or a chocolatey, creamy dessert. Maybe a danish? Some scones? Anything? Nope. They were all sold out, except for a couple tarts and this hazelnut cake. Since I do like hazelnuts quite a bit, we gave these a try.

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It was about 2:00 in the afternoon, and the bakery was practically empty. Most of the goodies in the counter were sold out. 😥

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The cake was good, but not great. I ate less than a quarter of it and was disappointed in the flavour. It seemed like something that had been in the fridge for a couple of days. Do you guys know that “fridge flavour” that I’m trying to describe? It was a little plasticky and didn’t taste fresh. What a disappointing dessert.

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Dinner, however, was certainly NOT disappointing!

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Astera’s Greek Taverna, in the heart of downtown Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter,

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Pita bread

I had a tiny sliver of pita bread, because I was saving my stomach for the entree (Greek entrees are MASSIVE, aren’t they?!). The pita was fluffy, yeasty, and not oily at all. The outside was not too firm and chewy like some pitas. This was very good dipped in tzatziki.

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LEFT: Chicken souvlaki with roasted vegetables, Greek salad, lemon potatoes, rice

RIGHT: Shrimp souvlaki with roasted vegetables, Greek salad, lemon potatoes, rice

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Both of the dishes here were excellent. Both were served with Greek salad, roasted zucchini and carrots, lemon-roasted Greek potatoes, Greek rice, and a blob of tzatziki. I think the highlight of the dinner was the feta they used on the Greek salad! It was so fresh, and they were very generous with the amounts. I believe it was a goat feta, rather than a cow’s milk feta, because it was less salty and more creamy. The cheese melted in my mouth, along with the super fresh vegetables. I also loved the roasted zucchini and carrots. They were flavoured just-right and were not too salty or oily. The rice was fluffy and cooked very nicely (although I would appreciate some little vegetable chunks and herbs).

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MacLean’s Specialty Foods Nanaimo Bar // Bocca Cafe Nanaimo Bar

This was battle of the Nanaimo bars! MacLean’s and Bocca are both famous for their Nanaimo bars, and since they were both on Fitzwilliams Street in the Old City Quarter, I had to try both! MacLean’s is on the left, and Bocca’s on the right. Bocca’s bar is slightly larger, as you can see.

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MacLean’s Specialty Foods Nanaimo Bar

  • $3
  • semi-frozen, prepackaged in saran wrap for customers to choose
  • slightly smaller
  • soft chocolate ganache, milk chocolate (sweeter)
  • custard filling was extremely (almost overwhelmingly) sweet, strong vanilla flavour
  • base was coconutty and made with WALNUTS, did not crumble
  • cut easily, was softer overall and stayed intact as we enjoyed it

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Bocca Cafe Nanaimo Bar

  • $4
  • in a plate behind the counter, handed to me by a server
  • slightly larger
  • chocolate layer on top was less of a ganache and more firm, difficult to cut into with a fork
  • chocolate was darker (not milk chocolate)
  • thin layer of custard, not as much flavour. Definitely less sweet, which I liked
  • base was very thick and made with larger chunks of coconut and ALMONDS (not walnuts)
  • the almonds in the crust were halved, so they were very large and made it difficult to cut
  • crust had a complex flavour, reminded me of espresso
  • this bar crumbled and broke as we ate it

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Overall, Seline and Dad preferred MacLean’s because it was sweeter and easier to eat. Mom liked Bocca’s bar better. She’s a big fan of almonds and found MacLean’s too sweet. For me, I liked the chocolate ganache of MacLean’s, but not their custard layer. It was too sweet, and there was too much of it. For the custard, I’d prefer Bocca’s – and I wish we could “cross” the crusts to make the perfect crust. 😉


That’s it for today, everyone! I’m going to take a shower and then make a goat cheese vegetable frittata for dinner (leftovers for lunch tomorrow!). Have a wonderful day. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Saturday Coast Post: Battle of the Nanaimo Bars

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 You lovely ladies literally have me smiling at my desk right now!
      It was really yummy – and I’m not usually the savoury breakfast type. This totally reminded me how much I love cheese, eggs, and onions. Yay!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Girl, you should be a food critic! I love the way you describe the foods and meals you document–so sophisticated and mature for your age! 😀
    I would love to try savory crepes—I only had sweet! I bet they taste amazing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww! Thank you! That would actually be something I’d LOVE doing because I’m pretty analytical and like to think deeply… only about food though 😀
      I think you’d enjoy it! It’s totally different, and I bet you’d make an incredible healthified version at home. If you give it a try, I’ll make your recipe!

      Liked by 1 person

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