Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday. Since I am off today and not tomorrow, I offered to take her to one of her favourite places in town to eat – The Mad Chef Cafe. It’s a really great place for fresh food made from locally sourced ingredients. The menu has all kinds of weird and wonderful food but every single thing I have tried has always been incredible.
The Mad Chef started in a really small location in downtown Courtenay. Honestly, I don’t know how people worked there without going a bit mad themselves! Fortunately, they made a move about two years ago around the corner into part of what locals will recognize as the old Leung’s grocery store. They now have a lot more space, a funky and fun style, and an amazing menu. I have always had great service there as well, even though the girls can get pretty darned busy sometimes.
A quick peek at the website shows how fun the concept is and the menu can be found here. To be honest, the place received some really nasty reviews not long after moving two years ago, but we have yet to have a bad experience and have never been met with rude service or bad food. Today our food took a bit longer than we might have liked considering how quiet it was, but this is definitely NOT fast food and as a former server, myself, I am aware that many things can impact how long it takes to get my food, including take-out. No doubt many of the local business order take out for the entire office!
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. We were pretty hungry, or at least we THOUGHT we were. I tend to forget just how generous portions are at the Mad Chef. Upon perusing the menu, my daughter decided to act on her real Canadian side and order the poutine burger. OMG, they have a POUTINE BURGER!
For those who are not up on this strange but amazing French-Canadian dish, poutine is made with fries and sauce (in many cases, gravy, but traditionally an orange sauce that is similar in thickness and look to gravy) with cheese curds which melt like heavenly bits of wonder from the heat of the gravy. This was served on a home-made burger (Yes, these taste like they make them on site!) with a side of curly fries. Now, curly fries are a preference thing (not really mine – but she LOVES them) and there are other options for sides all of which are great choices. I kind of wish I got a picture of her face when this came! She is photographing her burger to show her American friend who has discovered the magic of poutine in the last couple of years.
I had a tough time choosing. The menu is really fun, in my opinion. Finally, I settled on the Dr. Dynamite burger. It features a home-made style burger patty with peach habanero jam (yes, I like it hot) bacon, and goat cheese. OMG…
I was SO ready when it came.
The peach habanero jam had just the right amount of bite and the goat cheese smoothed it all out beautifully. I probably could have just skipped the fries because this burger is big enough for a girl like me and it’s packed full of flavours. Every bite had a slightly different combination of the flavours, sometimes the spice was stronger and other times the creaminess of the goat cheese. We could NOT finish, but we had noticed on the way in that the dessert of the day was a pumpkin cheesecake. I love all things pumpkin, so I knew before we ordered that I wanted to try it. After a short discussion, we decided to take one home to share.
I should have known that this would be nothing like any other cheesecake in town. To be fair, we don’t usually order dessert here, but we may start doing so more often!
It came looking like this…
Looks a bit strange, right? Well, stay with me. This was the most heavenly thing I had tried in ages. If you are expecting traditional pumpkin cheesecake, you will be surprised and possibly even disappointed but I was absolutely thrilled to try this creation. The cheese was very creamy and a bit spicy with some caramel drizzle. There as no crust which is fine by me as I had already eaten too much bready stuff for the day. I will make a point of trying more desserts and giving feedback in the future.
So, check the place out if you haven’t already. If you are new in town, you can find it at the top of 5th street. It’s not the easiest place to find, to be honest, but ask a local. We all know where it is.
I do have some suggestions, however. For people who are hard of hearing, this place might not be the best choice. As the child of a mostly deaf person, I know that the background noise and the warehouse style cielings make it nearly impossible for her to hear. Lunch might be better if you are sensitive to background noise as I have heard that the music is turned up at night. If this isn’t a problem for you, rock on and enjoy the Mad Chef Cafe! I highly recommend it!