Challenge: Best Sausage Rolls in Nanaimo

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Easy to make, difficult to master (at least we assume)

A little over a year ago, we had great fun preparing our list of the best ketchup chips. This time, we have sampled as many of the most-recommended sausage rolls as we could, and are now excited to give you our opinions on the best sausage rolls in Nanaimo!

#X – Columbia Bakery, $???

One of the most recommended sausage rolls to us was from Columbia Bakery. This is a family-owned bakery on the corner of Bowen and Northfield. We were excited to try such a hyped product but unfortunately, they just made it too difficult.

This is as close as we could get.

Despite how high quality and professional this blog is (lol), we still need day jobs to pay the bills. In this economy, that means working 40+ hours per week, Monday to Saturday. Columbia Bakery’s hours are 7-4, Monday to Saturday. This means it is normally impossible for us to shop there. Our big idea was to visit during the last week of December (while we were off work). We checked the open hours on Google and visited, only to find a sharpied note on the door that the bakery was closed until January 4th. Sigh.

So, we don’t have an opinion. We’ve included the bakery’s sausage rolls on this list only because so many people recommended them – perhaps more than any other. For that reason, you should probably check them out, even if we couldn’t.

#7 – Country Grocer, $2.50

So we had to include a grocery store on this list. We went to Country Grocer, but we’re pretty sure these are the same rolls as you’d get at Thrifty Foods, Save-On, or any other supermarket. This is because we’re also pretty sure they all truck them in from the same factory anyway.

Basic sausage.

So these were fine. Because they’re mass-produced, they were kind of flat and squished. The sausage was well-seasoned and had a somewhat coarse texture. The pastry was not great though. It was weirdly thick feeling and had a flavour of shortening. It wasn’t gross, but it wasn’t good like grandma’s pastry. Still, for the price, you can do worse.

#6 – Nesvog’s Meats and Sausage Co., $2

Another highly recommended sausage roll was from Nesvog’s. This butcher shop has a sterling recommendation and in fact sausage is right there in their name.

That’s why these were disappointing.

To Nesvog’s credit, they do offer some variety – a Greek chicken roll, coconut curry chicken roll, and a traditional pork sausage roll. Naturally, we grabbed one of each.

The coconut curry was a winner. The curry flavour was mild and the chicken had a pleasant texture. The Greek chicken was… mis-labelled and was actually just another curry roll. Dang.

The pork sausage roll was NOT good though. We both had the same feeling about it – the pork was underseasoned to the point that it did not feel like cooked sausage meat, but rather tasted more like raw pork meat – with lots of salt. It was also a bit slimy, which exacerbated the feeling that we were eating something… bad.

Gripes aside, the pastry was perfect and flaky on all three rolls. At $2 each, even though they’re a bit on the small side, we found these rolls to be better value than at least those from the grocery store. Stick to the chicken, and try the pork only if you dare.

#5 – Old Town Bakery (Ladysmith), $3.33

Yeah, yeah, they’re not in Nanaimo. We have to include Old Town Bakery on the list though because so many in Nanaimo hold this place in high enough regard that they are willing to drive down there for goodies.

Old Town also offers a variety of rolls – traditional pork, veggie, and salmon. You can see from the pics that they were all quite attractively presented. The pastry was flaky and good and was lightly dusted with herbs.

In terms of the filling, we found the sausage to be good, with some nice seasoning, but a bit too much salt. The salmon was a nice option, but the filling was a bit on the dry side. The veggie filling was excellent – really a delicious mix. We weren’t able to identify exactly what the makeup of the filling was, but rest assured it’s great. The only downside of the veggie roll was that Old Town was a bit stingy on the filling. You can see from the pic above what we mean.

All in all, these are great rolls at a good price, making it almost worth the epic lineup you will have to wait in to get them. (Seriously. We waited outside for 45 minutes. Yikes.)

#4 – Red’s Bakery, $4

So here’s an interesting one. Red’s is located on Commercial Street downtown and is a neat little scratch bakery. They have one sausage roll for sale and it’s a biggie. This bad boy was twice the size of many of the other rolls we tried, perhaps justifying its higher price.

The pastry on this roll was a winner. It was so buttery it was almost more like a croissant. You can see from the pick just how much air was in this thing.

It’s big.

The sausage was equally rich. This whole roll just tasted decadent despite the seasoning being unambitious. You will feel fat after eating this. We recommend eating it warm only as the fat content might make it a bit weird cold.

Go buy one, if only for the pastry. They aren’t messing around in that humble little shop.

#3 – Nellie’s European Deli, somewhere around $5

Now here is something truly unusual. Nellie’s would never have been on our radar for sausage rolls, but thanks to recommendations from the folks in the Eat Local FB group, we decided to give it a try, and are we glad we did.

First things first, these things come frozen. Don’t expect to just grab one as a snack, or to take a box to the office. We baked ours at 300 for about 45 minutes to get it just right.

Now what is immediately apparent is that these are not cylindrical like most, you know, rolls. They are actually a doublewide, and that is because Nellie’s jams in a scoop of mashed potatoes alongside the sausage! So it was almost like a rolled up pork cottage pie, and it was great.

The pork meat was actually very dense and coarse, like a meatloaf – and was almost beefy. We wondered if it was a actually a blend of pork and beef, but not so, according to the ingredient list.

The mashed potatoes were savoury but not garlicky and the pastry was at least as good as most on this list.

Over all, we really like Nellie’s’ sausage roll. It’s the sausage roll that eats like a meal. Thought it’s a bit more effort to actually get one in you, it’s worth it.

#2 – Brüd House, $4-ish

A few months ago we didn’t even know that Brüd House existed, let alone that it had amazing sausage rolls. Their shop is in the old Buzz location across from Country Grocer on Bowen. The funny thing is that we actually think of them as a coffee shop with some baked goods, rather than a dedicated bakery and yet, here they are with great bakery items.

Anyway, Brüd House had a veggie roll and a sausage roll on offer. Both had essentially perfect pastry in our opinion; buttery and flaky, but not too rich.

The veggie roll seemed to be based on veggie ground “sausage”, rather than just a blend of veg, which gave it a more meat-like texture. That was a bit unexpected, but the flavour was so good we barely noticed. There was an unusual seasoning in there – perhaps something Indian – but not the typical curry spices. Neat.

The sausage filling was also a bit different in that it tasted almost slightly charred. Think like the crispy bits around the outside of a meatloaf, or the taste of a smokie flame-broiled on your dad’s BBQ. It was different, but in a really good way.

Brüd House offers two unusual and delicious rolls with fabulous pasty. The only knock is that the price was a bit on the high side for the size, but to be honest, we’re gonna pay it.

#1 – Hearthstone Bakery, $4.40

Despite most of these contenders claiming to have the best sausage rolls in town, there is only one true winner in our minds and that is Hearthstone. You can find this tiny little shop at Southgate on the corner of 19A and Tenth St. (by the Smitty’s).

We tried Hearthstone’s pork sausage, chicken/turkey, and veggie rolls, and each one was better than the last. The pastry across all three was thick and flaky, just like grandma makes, and they were perfectly golden.

The sausage was perfectly seasoned and had a pleasing texture. The chicken/turkey blend was also nice and had its own unique flavour with the spinach and feta in there. But it was the curry vegetable roll that won the day. This thing was hearty and rich, like eating a really good curry, and it was the perfect complement to the buttery (but not overly) rich pastry.

These rolls were also quite large. Each one could almost be a meal – three is perfect for two people. The size and the amazing flavours easily justified the higher price. We 100% recommend Hearthstone for sausage rolls, and consider theirs THE BEST IN NANAIMO! Woo!

Thanks for reading this far! Did we miss any really good sausage rolls (besides the obvious)? Let us know in the comments!

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