If you’ve ever driven from the Victoria airport to downtown Victoria, you have probably seen that section of highway 17 with the big billboards advertising various things to see and do in this great city.
One sign that I’ve noticed many times is that of the Tapa Bar Restaurant in trounce alley. I may not be a huge fan of those signs but I have to admit every time I drive by I think to myself, I have to go there some day.
Well, “some day” finally came and am I ever glad it did.
From the second we sat down on the patio (a great place to sit on a summer evening if you are lucky enough to get a seat), Mark and I fell in love with this restaurant.
With great Spanish music paying in the background, good indoor and outdoor lighting, and lots of people, the atmosphere here is just one of Tapa Bar’s selling points.
This restaurant has a great menu with lots of selection, even for those vegetarians out there.
The great thing about Tapas is that you often get to try more than one dish as most plates are smaller than average.
We decided to work our way through the menu and under the “Sopas” (soup) category of the menu, we chose the “Cream of Roasted Garlic Soup” ($6).
I have a hard time describing amazing soups like this one ’cause I think people will say, it’s just soup, how good can it be?
Well all I can say is you just have to try it. I absolutely loved it and can only describe it as “heaven in a bowl”.
Next up on the tapas menu was the “Ensalada” or salad category. We ordered the “Ensalada de le Casa” ($7.50) which was recommended to us by our server.
As far as house salads go, this had to be the most unique one I’ve ever had. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it but after a few bites it grew on me and I realized my initial reaction was probably just because I’d never tasted anything like it before.
The salad itself was pretty typical and there were huge chunks of avocado and cucumber mixed in it which I really liked.
It was the dressing that was the unique part. It was a warm lemon caper with black butter dressing.
I’d never had a warm dressing on my salad, let alone one with these flavours but it actually went really well with the salad.
Next up on the menu was the vegetarian tapas section. From here we ordered the “Chile Relleno” ($8.50).
Both Mark and I have had this dish before, but at Mexican restaurants so we were curious how this one would compare.
The dish was a roasted pablano pepper stuffed with cheese and salsa on a corn tortilla. It was pretty typical of what we have had elsewhere, but very yummy and very fresh.
If you’ve never had chile rellenos, I highly recommend you try one at the Tapas Restaurant.
I should mention that Mark and I were sharing pretty much everything we ordered so that we could try as many tapas off the menu as we could.
Some of the dishes on the menu are full portions but others give you the option of ordering a half order incase you want to try more than one dish (which is the whole point of tapas).
If you’re unsure about the serving size, just ask your server.
In the seafood category, we decided to order two tapas as the portions were a bit smaller.
I ordered the “Gambas al Ajillo” (Garlic Prawns, $11) and Mark ordered the “Portuguese Sardines” ($7.50).
I love shrimp and I love garlic so I often order garlic prawns. This dish did not disappoint and I was super impressed with the amount of garlic they put it in it. YUM!
Just make sure you share these with your honey if you want a kiss later on!
I didn’t share Mark’s order of sardines as those aren’t really my thing, but he said they were fantastic, and since he’s had his fair share of those guys, I would take his word for it.
I forgot to mention the red wine that both Mark and I were enjoying with our meal.
We ordered a half liter of “Las Rocas” ($24) red wine from Spain and it seemed to compliment everything I ate.
As we were working our way through the menu, we decided to skip the pasta section as we were starting to get a bit full and both wanted to try some of the meat dishes.
From the pollo (chicken) menu I ordered a half order of the “Pollo Armanda” ($11 for half order, $15 for full).
The sauce on the chicken was unlike any other I’ve had on chicken before.
The boneless chicken breast was served with artichokes, sundried tomatoes, capers, lemon and white wine.
Though it was different and new for me, it actually tasted pretty good and I can see why it’s a popular dish here.
For Mark’s meat tapas, he ordered the “Almond Stuffed Dates” ($6.50) off the pork tapas menu.
These were dates wrapped in bacon, with blue cheese crumble and balsamic reduction.
I guess Mark really liked them as he described them as “little piggy heaven”!
Well after making it through seven tapas and a half liter of wine, we were getting quite stuffed.
We were enjoying the food so much we didn’t want to stop eating but then we realized we could just try the dishes we missed next time.
So on to my favourite part of the night, dessert!
This was an easy choice for me, as they had “Chocolate Lava Cake” ($8) on the dessert menu and this has traditionally been one of my all time favourite chocolate desserts.
Mmmmm, what can I say? This dessert was the highlight of the night for me. (The picture I took doesn’t do it justice, as we were in dim lighting by that time of the night).
From the warm chocolate sauce flowing from the cake to the berry sherbet that was served with it, the entire dish was superb.
All of the tapas we tried at the Tapa Bar Restaurant were great, but it would be worth coming here again just to have the lava cake!
Overall I would highly recommend this restaurant, especially for a summer visit so you can eat on the patio, though the inside has a great atmosphere and vibe to it too.
We had friendly and efficient service even though it was packed, and with such a big and varied menu, the Tapa Bar is sure to please anyone.
THE TAPA BAR RESTAURANT
Address: 620 Trounce Alley, Victoria
Phone: (250) 383-0013
Hours: Mon – Thurs 11:30 am – 11 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am – 12 am, Sun 12 pm – 10 pm
Price: $$ ($10 – $15 per entree)
Dress: Casual or Smart Casual