Friends Dining Lounge Nanaimo

Friends Dining LoungeOne of Nanaimo's most unusual places to eat is Friends Dining Lounge, 621 Townsite Road, walking distance from downtown. The unassuming location between a beauty salon and a convenience store belies the exotic atmosphere inside. Egyptian chef Paul Gouda has cooked for a king, and he was once paid $10,000 to fly to Hollywood to prepare a meal for a movie star.

Friends' unique Mediterranean cuisine is a happy combination of spice and grill. The 332 choices are listed on the 40-page gourmet menu include exotic dishes like frogs legs, wild boar, and buffalo. If that sounds intimidating, a simplified "blue menu" with chicken, lamb, seafood, pork, beef, and vegetarian selections is at the end of the main menu. A two-course meal is in the $15 range, while the more elaborate meals are $10 more. Fish is $17, and three nights a week there's a special ribs dinner for $19. The portions are huge, so consider sharing a single meal with a partner.

The menu also lists lots of fancy coffees, teas, and cocktails, and even if you're not eating, the herb flavoured house coffee is worth a stop. This unforgettable restaurant provides sofa seating and a gas fireplace. A diadem-adorned deer hangs from the wall. Around 6 pm the first Saturday of the month, Friends Dining Lounge presents live belly dancing. Reservations are essential for the belly dancing and other special parties listed on the website. Call Paul at 250-716-0012 during business hours or at 619-7701 on his cell. The place opens Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm.