It opened with little fan fare but Taste Café & Bistro is no longer Parksville’s best kept secret.
Tucked away at Oceanside Village Resort on Resort Drive, the little café started serving great food on March 1 and since then has received so much positive feedback it is already number one on Trip Advisor.
With Jason Hastings and Kirsten Ruryk at the helm, the bright and airy little eatery offers comfort food made from scratch with a modern twist.
Hastings isn’t new to the culinary world. He was a partner at Lefty’s dishing up fresh food for 15 years but then decided to take things down a notch.
“Lefty’s was great but as it grew it was a little too much. I wanted to do something smaller,” he said.
Preparing fresh simple food in a small intimate environment allows Hastings to focus on the little details.
The menu which continues to evolve is cleverly attached to a bamboo cutting board and has plenty of options without being overwhelming.
Hastings and Ruryk collaborated on their menu and after some research came up with specialty paninis, soups, fish tacos with avocado cream and a smoked cheddar waffle BLT for some of their savory offerings.
“We really thought about the menu and would research Pinterest on-line. We just wanted to take a classic lunch and put a modern spin on it,” he said.
Hastings didn’t get any formal culinary training. The cook and restaurateur is self taught and over the years he said he has become skilled in the kitchen.
“I learned on my own, basically cooking for family and friends. Then I got hands on training at Lefty’s where I learned to cook on line in a busy kitchen, everything from making pizza in our pizza shop to making full on dinners and I became the breakfast cook for a little while too. I didn’t go to school.”
You won’t find anything out of a jar at Taste. Hastings said they make everything from scratch.
“We make our pulled pork every day and we make our roast beef every day. Kirsten makes all of the desserts,” he said.
Ruryk who loves to bake said her specialty is New York cheesecake with a mixed berry coulis as well as Guinness chocolate cake with orange chocolate grand mariner butter cream icing.
“It is the best icing I have ever made. After a few tries with certain things, I found some that I really enjoyed doing and they tasted amazing so we kept them.”
The pair has been a couple for 15 years but it is the first time they have worked together and Hastings said so far so good.
“Kirsten used to work in a pharmacy. We see the best in each other throughout the day and we work really well together,” Hastings said.
“He is right handed and I am left handed so we stay out of each others way which is awesome,” said Ruryk.
With just six tables and the walls adorned with art work of local pastel artist Dan Gray the simple décor allows patrons to appreciate the beauty of the food.
They can also enjoy a glass of wine or a craft beer with their meal and on Friday and Saturday nights reservations are a must for tapas being served at 6:30 p.m.
Taste Café & Bistro (250-586-8676) is at 101-B 1080 Resort Drive in Parksville and is closed Sunday and Monday.