Andrew Gregory

Andrew Gregory

Firehouse Grill takes top prize

Firehouse Grill voted best overall restaurant in Nanaimo in the 2012 Best of the City survey.

It’s hard to quantify what makes a great restaurant.

The food had better be good for sure, but it also has to be a place that lets people feel at home while they’re enjoying the experience of being out on the town with friends, a date, or a ball team. A place where staff and atmosphere invite you in and make you welcome and comfortable while you’re there.

Mike Atherton wanted to do something new after working in a casino for nine years. He’d never owned a restaurant, but he teamed up with Dean Andrichuk, a chef from Calgary, and they opened the Firehouse Grill in 2007, in historic Nanaimo Fire Hall No. 2.

“I liked a lot of the other restaurants, but I also wanted to try something a little bit different and that’s what we’ve done here,” Atherton said.

The Firehouse Grill has built some local fame for its sushi that won the 2012 Best of the City best sushi category. There are 91 seats in the restaurant, but regulars fill up the 10 bar seats first because that’s where the sushi chef hands out samples of new ideas he’s experimenting with.

But the restaurant’s unique main menu – Atherton describes it as West Coast fusion and features pastas, steaks, seafood and jambalaya – helped win the 2012 Best of the City overall best restaurant category.

For nine years, Andrichuk was the head chef of a successful Louisiana, Cajun, crab shack-style restaurant in Calgary.

“They went down to New Orleans and got a lot of their menu items from down there,” Atherton said. “So now we’ve got a smoker here and a lot of the food out of the kitchen comes out smoked and we’ve even included that into the sushi, so the sushi is very fusion style. It’s North Americanized sushi. It’s not traditional.”

The red brick walls, wooden floors of the fire hall, built in 1893, augmented with fixtures and photographs from the period contrast with modern black and white furnishings.

You can hold a private meeting in the restaurant’s loft and a party downstairs, but a couple can find a quiet corner for dinner and drinks.

Weeknights are busy. On weekends you’d best make a reservation.

photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Potters Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter present their joint exhibit ‘Dig It’ at Art 10 Gallery until the end of June. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Potters show pieces for home and garden at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter’s show ‘Dig It’ on display until end of June

Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)
Next phase of borrowing approved as Nanaimo fire hall construction ongoing

City of Nanaimo CAO says construction on Fitzwilliam Street hall on schedule and budget

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

A view of the outside of St. Andrews Roman Catholic Cathedral on Victoria’s Blanshard Street. (Don Denton/News staff)
Vancouver Island bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon of the Diocese of Victoria voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Most Read