Life-long dream achieved as Chef Ian Blom opens The Ainslie

Duncan restaurant promotes Cowichan Valley food, produce, wineries, breweries and distilleries

  • Jun. 10, 2019 11:30 a.m.

Story by Angela Cowan Photography by Don Denton

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

For Chef Ian Blom, opening his own restaurant has been a long dream in the making, and it was always meant to be a family affair. He and his wife, Kimberly, met in culinary school, and it quickly became a mutual goal; this past November, that dream became a reality when The Ainslie opened its doors in downtown Duncan.

Named for their five-year-old son, the couple’s restaurant is a tri-generational business, co-owned by Ian’s mother, Heather, and propped up by Kimberly’s tireless efforts behind-the-scenes.

The Ainslie offers up a unique fusion of fine dining menu items in a relaxed atmosphere, something Ian says hasn’t really been available in Duncan before, and it has been met with great support from the community in its first few months.

“There’s been a couple restaurants that have been ‘fine dining,’ but as far as downtown goes, it’s a lot of pub food and sushi restaurants,” he said.

The lunch menu in particular has a lot of comfort-food based dishes that offer a delicious twist, like the Fried Chicken and Waffles, marinated in soy buttermilk, with an aged cheddar waffle and thyme-infused honey. Or the Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese, made with heirloom tomatoes and caramelized fennel, and a sandwich of house onion bread, caramelized onions, Haltwhistle cheese and pesto.

“I’m testing out what people like to eat in the Cowichan Valley,” he said. “Sandwiches, really good burgers, comforting foods. People can come and feel like they’ve been filled up without a lot of grease.”

And with a menu that changes regularly, any dish on offer is guaranteed to include the freshest and most seasonal ingredients available.

Ian, who grew up in the Cowichan Valley, wanted to highlight the incredible abundance of his hometown as much as possible in designing the dishes.

“I really wanted to try and promote the Cowichan region and the produce we grow here, as well as support the breweries and distilleries in the area,” said Ian. “That’s our scheme — to put the Cowichan Valley on the map.”

“Working in Victoria, even when I was in Calgary, we were importing stuff from the Cowichan Valley,” he added, explaining it just made sense for him to focus on developing a business here. “I love living here and I wanted to give back. I love the community.”

With summer just around the corner, the team at The Ainslie is excited to promote their newly opened patio, a gorgeous, tucked-away spot surrounded by the restaurant’s gardens. It’s the perfect spot to drop in, relax and indulge in some amazing food.

“I just want to show people that you can have great food and not be overwhelmed by the restaurant itself. You can come in and be completely relaxed in an environment where you’re treated like family, with food that can stand up to any food in the world,” he said. “Flavour and fresh and seasonal, those are always our keys and passions. And it’s definitely a passion-based business.”

Soy Caramel Sauce

2 cups granulated sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup lime juice

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup sambal Olek

1/4 cup fresh ginger, rough chopped

8 cloves garlic, rough chopped

1/2 stalk lemongrass, rough chopped

4 star anise, whole

Add sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed pot and cook on medium heat until sugar becomes caramel in colour.

Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the sugar all at once. This creates a lot of steam, so be mindful not to burn yourself.

Simmer on medium heat until mixture reduces by one third.

Strain and serve warm over grilled meats or vegetables, roasted and spiced sweet potatoes, etc.

Check out The Ainslie here.

BC Craft beerBC WineCraft beerFoodFood and WineRecipe

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Queen Margaret’s School graduates celebrate

Queen Margaret’s School held their Speech Day (convocation) with 15 graduates on site

Community pride always showed in Mansueti’s work

Retirement reflections revolve around so many projects and successes

Cowichan Valley rower takes aim at the moon

The 14-year-old took part in the Row to the Moon Challenge

BLM sign vandalized at Sylvan United Church

Minister hopes to have conversation with vandal

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Victoria police investigating possible hate crime on BC Transit bus

A young Black man was randomly struck by a Caucasian man who he did not know

UPDATE: No COVID-19 at Nanaimo shopping centre as memo mixed up mall identities

Woodgrove Centre sent memo to tenants Tuesday advising them of positive case

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

Most Read