After sitting at my computer for far too long the other morning, and with three straight days of paperwork behind me, I jumped in my Jeep and hit the road. Not exactly the open road, or the long and winding road, or the yellow brick road, or…… forget it! I was in need of chocolate!
Not just any chocolate. I wanted one of those gorgeous Easter Eggs that Darkside Chocolates had been tormenting me with on Social Media. You know the ones – silky handpainted golden eggs filled with coconut and drenched in dark chocolate. The coconut won me over. Ok, the chocolate won me over.
As I drove into Cumberland, however, I realized I had missed lunch as well. No worries, right? I would be a responsible adult and grab a quick bite to eat before I hit the chocolate shop. Right……. Well within a 5 block span, there are at least 14 options for a snack. 14! And I am sure that I missed a few (insert apologies here).
If you must know, I settled on a chicken burrito from Biblio Taco before giving in to my chocolate obsession. I had set a very realistic goal for myself, planning to return home with my goodies and enjoy them on the patio. Ha! Who was I kidding? 30 seconds down the road and I found myself embracing my failures and referencing Brené Brown’s “Rising Strong” in my mind. I never made it to the first set of lights in Courtenay before both bags were empty!
I have done my best here to provide an inclusive summary of foodie stops in the small village of Cumberland – in no particular order. Admittedly I have not made it through the entire list myself – yet! But at the same time, I have yet to have a bad meal or a bad experience.
Biblio Taco – Opened in 2016, Greg and Emilie work with local food suppliers to create amazing Mexican food. All menu items are prepared on site from scratch except the tortillas, which come from our own Abuelo’s in Comox. Huge burritos & tacos, fresh seafood, homemade hot sauces, and oh yes – Cervezas and Margaritas! Si, por favor!!
Darkside Chocolates – The team at Darkside handcrafts all of their products in small batches, using the finest organic, fair trade chocolate. Truffles and specialty products (like my short lived Easter Egg) are works of art, and as they claim, each experience is a “personal encounter with your chosen decadence”. Need I say more? Well worth the drive!
Cumberland Grind – A cute little coffee shop right on the main street of Cumberland, where the “always enthusiastic” staff serve a creative selection of coffee drinks, out of the ordinary concoctions (Dirty Chocolate Chai anyone?), and tasty smoothies.
Riders Pizza – Some say that Riders serves the best pizza on Vancouver Island. A great crust, an extensive choice of toppings and sauces, friendly service, and Cumberland Brewing Co. beer! Must be tasted to be appreciated.
Mar’s on Main – Mar’s is best known for hearty breakfasts and good home cooked meals. The café opened in 2012 in a beautiful heritage home built in 1896. Owner Marlene Hamilton takes pride in retaining many of its original features, decorating with antiques to add a bit of elegance to the otherwise casual atmosphere.
The Waverly Hotel & Pub – The historic Waverley Hotel is a pub located in the heart of Cumberland. Known for its live music, it also has a reputation for fresh, local pub food. Bikers, hikers, skiers, riders love the food and ambiance at The Wave, and it really is unlike any other small town hotel that I have visited!
Wandering Moose Café – The Wandering Moose is a family operation run by Cumberland locals Bill and Lisa Ransom, along with their daughter Meghan. Their goal is to offer quality casual food and drinks in a friendly and efficient manner. Located in the Historical Post Office (built in 1907), there is ample space for children or for curling up in the lounge area with a magazine or board game on a rainy day. Soups and sandwiches, baked goods, coffee, tea, blended drinks, gluten free – the list goes on.
Tarbell’s Deli – Housed in the original CH Tarbell & Son Hardware store, Tarbell’s features rustic, made to order deli sandwiches, house-made soups, and fresh baked goods. Really fresh, and really good – a perfect combination of a coffee shop and a café, with friendly staff and such a cozy little outdoor patio.
Village Meats -Village Meats is a local butcher’s shop providing top-quality meats, sourced primarily from local and Vancouver Island farms. The locally-made, thick-cut, double-smoked bacon is a must try!
Narutor Korean Fusion Cuisine – Narutor opened in 2015 in the Cumberland Mini Mart building. Bibimbap and Kimchi might not be what you would expect from this eclectic village, but they have developed a loyal following and are known for consistently good Asian cuisine.
Cumberland Village Bakery – As the sister of Church Street Woodfired Bakery in Comox, Cumberland Village Bakery is probably most well known for incredible breads, pizza by the slice, and donuts. World famous donuts! Everything is made from scratch using real ingredients – only butter, no margarines. Think croissants, cookies, struedel, sausage rolls, meat pies, danish, cinnamon brioche, sticky buns, carrot cake, lemon loaves, muffins, scones, and of course, did I mention the donuts
Seeds Food Market – Seeds is the Cumberland version of your favourite corner market. It is a full-service, fully stocked local grocery committed to reducing the ecological footprint created by food consumption. They do this by providing a place for Cumberland residents to shop without having to leave their community and by supporting local growers and food processors.
New Creek Café – Cumberland was once home to the fifth largest Chinese settlement in British Columbia, where two 400-seat theatres hosted touring Chinese singers and acrobats. It is said that the former Chinatown was modelled after the village of Canton in China, hometown of most of the Chinese miners. While not much of Chinatown remains, New Creek Café prepares traditional Chinese as well as spicy Szechuan dishes. Every town needs a great Chinese café!
Cumberland Brewing Co. – The Cumberland Brewing Company has been pouring pints and filling growlers since December 2014. Their beer is awesome, their menu pairs perfectly (think hearty lamb meatballs and beer), and they have a great outdoor patio where you can sit amongst the hop vines to hide from the world and enjoy your pint.