Craft Fare is Nanaimo’s newest food and beer spot. It’s a tight space along Commercial Drive in Nanaimo’s downtown. The front is all windows and inside, it’s decorated with textured whitewashed walls, mirrors, and a small succulent garden. There’s bar seating, a few tables for two, and a couple long tables with benches for groups. They’ve got 16 beer taps (sometimes cider) that rotate on Wednesdays.

Their menu is mostly appetizers, which I have absolutely no complaints about, with a few sandwiches for their mains. I ordered a Pint o’ Fries, deep-fried pickles, and marinara meatballs. 

Fries can tell a lot about a place. They came in a glass beer mug (hence the “Pint o’ Fries), with a small side of ketchup (presumably Heinz). Skinny fries, but not too skinny, crispy, and just salty enough. The saddest part was that they came in the mug though, because this caused the fries at the bottom to steam and lose their crisp. The question arose in my mind: is it worth it for the name to have soft fries if consumers can’t consume fast enough?

I know better than to eat a deep-fried pickle as soon as it hits the table. Those juicy fermented cucumbers need time to cool off—I’ve only made that mistake once. After munching away on some fries I felt confident that I’d waited long enough to indulge in what is easily my favourite pub fare. Two thick dill pickles sliced into a total of eight spears, served with a tzatziki-esque dip on the side. The crunchy bready exterior did its job; it didn’t fall apart like a puzzle, but held onto the pickle. They were everything I hoped for, and I know I won’t be able to resist ordering them again on my next visit, and probably the next after that. 

The marinara meatballs came from the butchers at Meat Craft in Nanaimo’s north end. The homemade marinara was from Craft Fare’s very own kitchen. When I order solo meatballs, I expect a meatball bigger than the average spaghetti-and-meatballs-sized meatball. They may have been smaller than I expected, but there were five of them and I definitely appreciate an odd number, so in the end, I would rather have five medium sized meatballs than four large meatballs. The meat was herby and perfectly salted and the sauce complemented perfectly with an acidic kick and hint of sweetness. The whole deal was topped with a handful of fresh arugula. If you’re really looking to get a meal out of this appy, they offer it as a sandwich as well on their mains menu. 

As much as I would love to review the two beers I ordered (“Would Crush Raspberry Wheat Ale” by Twin Sails and “Blackstone Porter” by Driftwood) the taps are ever-changing and that’s more of a brewery review anyway. I highly recommend this new Nanaimo venue on Commercial Drive. There are a lot of other great food options that would be wonderful eaten alone or shared, and a beer for everyone! (Everyone 19+ who enjoys beer, that is.)