When my wife and I were looking for property back in 1999, we took several trips out to the Comox Valley with a local realtor. One of the first restaurants we visited was the Union Street Grill & Grotto.
This Comox Valley institution has recently been taken over by new owners, so Jim and I decided to see if there had been any changes. We had lunch and the first thing we noticed was their extensive menu. I decided to order from the Grotto menu and chose a Wild Mushroom Risotto and Pork Ribs with Sweet Chilli Sauce. My Grandson David works in the kitchen and he told me he prepares the ribs, so it was a must for his Granddad to try some. Jim ordered a spinach salad. Back on his diet I guess…
Because the food is prepared fresh, we had a bit of a wait, but we enjoyed an excellent coffee while I told Jim about the Project Watershed drone video of the recently completed Airpark breach and culvert, which will flush out the lagoon each tide. This massive project, partially supported by the City of Courtenay, will provide another route on the salmon highway, plus clean and cool the Airpark lagoon.
The ribs arrived and were outstanding; lean with a mildly spicy sauce. Also, the tapas serving size was perfect for me. The risotto was cheesy and served with a small salad. Risotto is one of my favourite Italian dishes and the dish I was served was substantial; when I asked what the wild mushrooms were, I was told shitake and oyster mushrooms. I used to work on the genetics of mushrooms at the University of Toronto and I am pretty sure the mushrooms used were not wild; both shitake and oyster mushrooms are considered specialty cultured products.
Some advice from the Blind Taste Tester to the Chef, unless these mushrooms were collected in the wild, I would suggest you delete wild and put in the type of mushroom. No matter, the risotto was spectacular. Jim’s spinach salad had artichoke, shaved Parmesan cheese, sliced mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes with a delectable dressing.
My ribs were served with a small finger bowl of water and what looked like a white mint. Before popping the mint into my mouth I asked the server what it was. She said drop it in the water, and presto it swelled up to be a moist towelette-sized face cloth, which was put to good use cleaning the sweet chilli sauce off my fingers! I could not leave without popping my head into the kitchen and asking my grandson to bring some ribs over the next time he came for a visit.
The Blind taste Tester ranks the Union Street Grill among the top eating establishments in the Valley and rate it at 4.5 out of 5 for this delightful lunch.