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The Black Hat Restaurant (By Bistro 28)

The Black Hat Restaurant (By Bistro 28)

One of Victoria’s newer downtown restaurants, The Black Hat By Bistro 28 is a big restaurant with a cozy feel.

Situated in the gorgeously restored Rattenbury building, with salvaged wood tables and vintage lighting, The Black Hat By Bistro 28 caters to both casual outings and special occasions.

With a varied menu with entrees that include beef, fish, pork, lamb and chicken, most meat lovers should be satisfied here.

Speaking of meat, I highly recommend Black Hat’s “Grilled Spring Creek Ranch Striploin” ($29 for 10 oz) . Served with frites and a very rich truffle mayo to accompany them, the quality of this dish is up there with the best Steak and Frites in Victoria.

Inside The Black Hat

Inside The Black Hat By Bistro 28

For dessert, the “Chocolate Pate” ($9) with fennel sponge toffee was both unique and super tasty. The pate was deliciously smooth and the toffee reminded me of my childhood which is probably the last time I had any of its kind.

As far as service goes, we really appreciated our server Ryan’s professionalism and his knowledge of the food.

I also give two thumbs up to the servers’ uniforms of black shirt, white tie and black vest which definitely suits the theme at The Black Hat.

Though we weren’t entirely “getting” the music playlist (we loved the jazz, however, we aren’t sure that 50′s songs like “Johnny B Goode” suit the place) we enjoyed our evening at The Black Hat By Bistro 28 and will be back again.

IN A NUTSHELL…

Food: ★★★★☆
Atmosphere: ★★★½☆
Service: ★★★★½
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

 

The Black Hat Restaurant By Bistro 28

Address: 1005 Langley St., Victoria

Neighbourhood: Downtown

Phone: (250) 381-2428

Hours: Sun – Thurs 4:30 pm – 11 pm
Fri & Sat 4:30 pm – 12 am

Price: $$$ ($15 – $25 per entree)

Dress: Smart Casual

Reservations: Taken

Why come here: Excellent quality of food, very knowledgeable waitstaff

Website: www.theblackhat.ca

Grilled Striploin With Frites And Truffle Mayo

Grilled Striploin With Frites And Truffle Mayo




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Posted in BISTRO, WEST COASTComments Off

Santiago’s Cafe Restaurant

Santiago’s Cafe Restaurant

Arriving at Santiago’s Cafe Restaurant for the first time I thought I was going out for Mexican food.

I later learned that Santiago’s is actually a South American restaurant. It just also happens to serve some Mexican dishes.

Actually, it happens to serve quite a variety of other dishes that aren’t from South America or Mexico either.

(Santiago’s also have Thai and Indian items on their menu which makes me wonder if they might be having a bit of an identity crisis.)

Inside Santiago's Cafe

Inside Santiago's Cafe

When you first walk into Santiago’s Cafe Restaurant, you discover a very colourful, vibrant and cheery decor – consistent with many Mexican restaurants.

There are multi-coloured lights strung about the place as well as the odd fake parrot hanging from the ceiling.

There’s Mexican music playing in the background and even a “Corona St.” sign to suggest you have arrived in Mexico.

Taking a look at the menu you will notice some Mexican favourites including quesadillas, burritos, black bean soup and tortilla chips with salsa.

Famished when we arrived for our late lunch, my two dining friends and I quickly ordered the “Tortilla Chips With Fresh Salsa, Sour Cream & Guacamole” ($7.95) to tie us over.

Tortilla Chips With Fresh Salsa, Sour Cream & Guacamole

Tortilla Chips With Fresh Salsa, Sour Cream & Guacamole

The salsa and guacamole tasted pretty fresh, and the chips were okay. I wouldn’t say the chips and salsa were the best out there (not sure if any of it was made in house) but they were good enough to take our initial hunger pains away.

I was the only one who decided to order an appetizer before our entrees and this was the only diversion I made from Mexican food for the day.

As I mentioned, you will find A LOT of other non-Mexican items, including the “Cup of Seafood Chowder” (6.95) on Santiago’s menu.

Cup Of Seafood Chowder

Cup Of Seafood Chowder

Burrito

Burrito

I decided to try the chowder based on the recommendation of our server.

She said it was the best she’s had anywhere and I wanted to see if she was right.

The chowder was very hearty with carrots, onions, potatoes, celery, corn, halibut, salmon and shrimp in it.

I really enjoyed all the flavours and the chunkiness to the chowder. It was definitely a great chowder and up with some of the best ones I’ve had.

The only minor negative thing I’d say is that for $6.95, the cup was a bit small.

Anyway, moving on to the entrees. When I’m out for Mexican food I often like to order a Chimichanga or Enchilada but as they had none of these on their menu, I went for the “Burrito” ($11.95).

It was a decent size but I thought the taste was a bit underwhelming.

The burrito was filled with black beans, corn, red onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and “spices”.

Lots of ingredients yet there really wasn’t anything in it that stood out flavour-wise. If anything it felt like it was missing something.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Veggie Quesadilla

Veggie Quesadilla

I had my friend (and Mexican food connoisseur) Mark try it and he agreed. We also both thought it a bit weird that they put mushrooms in the burrito… I didn’t know they cooked with mushrooms in Mexico??

While I was taking a break from my burrito, Mark was spooning out some of his “Black Bean Soup” ($4.95 cup, $8.95 bowl) for me to try.

Again, nothing really exciting here for me. Maybe I was missing something?? I know what I was missing, and that was refried beans. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find them on the menu. :(

We also tried the “Veggie Quesadilla” ($12.95) and it was pretty good. The portion size was right for the price.

It was still a little odd with the mushrooms and zucchini in it (never had these ingredients in a quesadilla before) but it was still my favourite of the three entrees we tried.

Our dessert turned out to be the highlight of the afternoon.

The “Santiago Sundae” ($8.95) was big enough for all three of us to share and we gobbled it up quite quickly.

It was a fairly simple dish – vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate and caramel sauce.

Santiago Sundae

Santiago Sundae

What made this dessert so tasty were the sprinkled pecans and cashews and the big fluffy tortilla bowl it was served in. Highly recommended!

Overall I would have to say our experience at Santiago’s Cafe was okay.

The service, though very friendly, was not overly attentive, especially given we were the only ones in the restaurant.

If you come here looking for Mexican food, the menu might confuse you. I’m still not sure why a South American/Mexican restaurant has Thai and Indian food on the menu.

However, if you’re looking for a wide variety of food you can get at okay prices, along with a kid friendly and Mexican themed atmosphere, this could be your restaurant.

(Though you may also want to check out Puerto Vallarta Amigos, Cafe Mexico or La Fiesta Cafe.)

For us, if we venture out to Santiago’s Cafe restaurant again, it will be to try their “Amazing $10 Breakfast Menu”. In the meantime, I wonder what it would take to convince the chef to add some refried beans or tacos to their menu….

IN A NUTSHELL…

Food: ★★★☆☆
Atmosphere: ★★★½☆
Service: ★★★☆☆
Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

.
Santiago’s Cafe Restaurant

Address: 660 Oswego St., Victoria

Neighbourhood: Downtown

Phone: (250) 388-7376

Hours: Breakfast: Mon – Fri 8 am – 11 am
Sat & Sun 8 am – 12 pm
Lunch & Dinner: Open until 8 pm every day

Price: $$ ($10 – $15 per entree)

Dress: Casual

Website: n/a


Click Here To Get Directions

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Posted in MEXICAN, SOUTH AMERICAN0 Comments

Restaurant Ratings

Explanation of Eat Drink Victoria’s Star Rating System:

In general, we try to rate restaurants against others in the same category that exist in Victoria.

For example, if we give a Mexican restaurant 4 stars, we feel that it (whether it be its food, service, and/or atmosphere) is very good compared to other Mexican restaurants in Victoria.

We acknowledge that this rating system is subject to our personal opinions according to our dining experience and taste buds.

★☆☆☆☆ (1 Star) = Poor. The food was inedible, the service awful and/or the atmosphere was such that we didn’t want to eat there.
★★☆☆☆ (2 Stars) = Below Average. The food was bad, service was lacking and/or the atmosphere was quite disappointing.
★★★☆☆ (3 Stars) = Average. The food, service and/or atmosphere were average.
★★★½☆ (3.5 Stars) = Good. Nothing too spectacular, but slightly better than average.
★★★★☆ (4 Stars) = Very good. We were impressed and would definitely come here again.
★★★★½ (4.5 Stars) = Excellent. We would make plans to come again and highly recommend it.
★★★★★ (5 Stars) = Fantastic! We still talk about the food, service and/or atmosphere for weeks or months after. A must visit for everyone!

 

**NOTE: As a general rule, because Eat Drink Victoria’s goal is to highlight the best restaurants in Victoria, we do not list any restaurants with only 1 or 2 stars.

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The Local Kitchen

The Local Kitchen

There are few restaurants in downtown Victoria that are as well situated as The Local Kitchen.

Facing the lively Bastion Square and boasting views of the Inner Harbour, the outdoor patio here is not to be missed in the summer months.

But this restaurant and bar is not only meant to be enjoyed in the summertime.

Inside the Local Kitchen you will discover “… a grill that eats like a restaurant, drinks like a pub and feels like a place you want to come back to” (quote taken from their menu).

View of the Bar from Upstairs

View of the Bar from Upstairs

Local Kitchen prides itself on using fresh local ingredients and attracts both locals and tourists.

Personally, I love to come here to watch my beloved Vancouver Canucks play as I don’t think there’s any place in Victoria that has as many TV’s per square foot of space as they do.

There’s a great vibe here on game day, especially during the playoffs.

When I’m not at Local Kitchen to watch my favourite team play, I like to chill out on the patio with a few drinks and appetizers.

Blackened Albacore Tuna Tataki

Blackened Albacore Tuna Tataki

I have enjoyed many sunny afternoons out there, soaking in the fun downtown Victoria atmosphere.

Atmosphere aside, I must tell you about the food as well.

On our most recent visit, Mark and I ate our meal at the bar while watching a Canucks vs. Leafs game (always a classic game!).

I started off with a glass of “Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon” wine ($10 glass/ $34 bottle) while Mark ordered the “Blackened Albacore Tuna Tataki” ($16).

Having had Tuna Tataki at many other restaurants in Victoria, Mark said this one rated as one of his favourites.

Tailgate BBQ Pork RIbs

Tailgate BBQ Pork RIbs

The blackened part made the flavouring very unique and the slaw that it came with was very tasty as well.

While I was enjoying my Cupcake red wine (gotta love anything that has the word cupcake in it!), I perused the menu for something that might satisfy my growing craving for meat.

The bartender said their “Tailgate BBQ Pork Ribs” ($22) were really good so I decided to order them and see if he was right.

The ribs were slow braised, coated in maple BBQ sauce and came with a side of mac and cheese. The dish was not only “good” as the bartender had claimed, but it ROCKED!

Chef Jason Dark (better known as “Big Daddy” due to his 6’8″, 300 pound frame) makes everything from scratch and you can taste the care he puts into every dish.

Lava Cake

Lava Cake

My ribs were perfectly cooked and the mac and cheese, though just a side, turned out to be just as much of a hit as the ribs.

It was super cheesy, rich and creamy and had a perfectly baked crust.

It was so good I would say it was the best mac and cheese I’ve had in Victoria!

I finished off the evening with some scrumptious “Lava Cake”.

Any time I see this dreamy chocolate dish on a dessert menu I find it very hard to resist. I’m glad I didn’t resist at Local Kitchen as it turned out to be a great ending to my meal.

All in all both Mark and I loved watching the hockey game (Canucks won, yeah!) and eating at the bar.

We highly recommend checking out The Local Kitchen and we’ll be going back again soon to support Big Daddy and his commitment to yummy tasting local food.

IN A NUTSHELL…

Food: ★★★★☆
Atmosphere: ★★★½☆
Service: ★★★½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

 

The Local Kitchen

Address: 1205 Wharf St., Victoria

Neighbourhood: Downtown

Phone: (250) 385-1999

Hours: Mon – Thurs 12 pm – 10 pm, Fri & Sat 10 am – 1 am, Sun 11 am – 9 pm

Price: $$$ ($15 – $25 per entree)

Reservations: Taken

Dress: Casual

Website: n/a


Click Here To Get Directions

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Cafe Brio Restaurant

Cafe Brio Restaurant

Just a short walk from the downtown Victoria core exists a lovely restaurant that has quite a local following and recently I found out why.

Cafe Brio (from the Italian word “brio” (bree-oh) meaning liveliness, spirit, vivacity) is a place that truly lives up to its name.

Walking in on a Saturday night there certainly exists a lively bistro atmosphere, great for dining out with friends or family.

The dim lighting gives it a warm and cozy feel as well, which makes it also a perfect spot for date night.

Inside Cafe Brio

Inside Cafe Brio

With a menu that focuses on fresh, regional products, they make everything here from scratch.

The menu changes regularly so that they’re able to serve the best possible products in their freshest form.

I can personally vouch that freshness makes a difference and you can definitely taste that in the food here.

One of the menu items that my friend Mark wanted to try out right away was their “Salumi”. Mark loves these Italian cured meats, and let me help him pick two off the menu for one of our appetizers.

Salumi

Salumi

The two meats we chose were the “Brio Prosciutto” ($6), and the “Genoa Salami with Lamb” ($6). Both were served with some pickled green beans, olives and two types of homemade mustard on the side as well.

Not normally being a huge fan of meat in this form, I actually quite liked the lamb salami and its red wine, garlic and pepper flavouring. Mark obviously liked his prosciutto as it was gone of the plate in seconds.

To continue on with some appetizers, we got half an order of the “Roast Parsnip Soup” ($7 half/ $11 full), and half an order of the “Hand Cut Chestnut Maltagliata Pasta” ($12 half/ $22 full).

The parsnip soup, which had shaved black truffle on top, was incredibly smooth and creamy. It tasted just like parsnip but as Mark said it was “the best parsnip I’ve ever tasted!”

Hand Cut Chestnut Maltagliata Pasta

Hand Cut Chestnut Maltagliata Pasta

Needless to say we used the bread that we’d been served to sop up every last bit of this delicious soup.

The pasta was a bit different for me in that although I liked the unique shaping of the pasta and its feel in my mouth, I didn’t find there to be any one flavour that stood out or made me overly excited. It was just okay for me.

One thing I have to say I really like is having the option to get a half an order of anything on the menu. This gave us the ability to sample more dishes and I find it’s also just nice to not waste food in general.

Moving on to our mains… As we often do, Mark and I asked our server for recommendations. I was looking at having the “Tomato and Molasses Braised Beef Short Ribs” ($16 half/ $29 full), and Mark asked about the “Grilled Brio Steak” ($16 half/ $29 full).

Tomato & Molasses Braised Beef Short Ribs

Tomato & Molasses Braised Beef Short Ribs

But our server had not tried either of these entrees. I was quite surprised that he had not done so, as I would expect that at a restaurant of this caliber, the servers would be quite knowledgeable about all the dishes.

Oh well, we decided to go with these two mains anyways, as we were both in a mood for red meat and had already started into some tasty red wine we thought would go nicely with it.

Speaking of which, one thing Cafe Brio’s got going for it is its extensive wine list. Their list is comprised of about 300 selections from around the world, with an emphasis on wines of the West Coast of North America.

Grilled Brio Steak

Grilled Brio Steak

I was drinking some fabulous “Two Hoots” Cab/Merlot ($9.50/glass, $31/half liter) from the Fairview Cellars winery in British Columbia and Mark was enjoying some French wine from the Cotes Du Rhone region.

My red wine was going really well with my short ribs which were served with braised greens risotto and braising jus.

The meat was pretty tender, though perhaps not quite as tender as I have tasted elsewhere.

I liked the risotto however there was quite a bit of jus on top of everything which made it hard to taste the true flavours of the entire dish.

Mark’s steak was served with creamy blue cheese polenta, braised greens and balsamic vinegar jus.

He really enjoyed the polenta and the meat was done to his liking. Again though, there was a lot of jus on this dish which it really didn’t need.

Sticky Date Toffee Pudding

Sticky Date Toffee Pudding

As a side note, Cafe Brio’s website states that “Sauces are often kept simple or light as not to mask the natural flavours found in our local quality ingredients”. Maybe the two dishes we selected were exceptions?

We finished off our evening on quite a high note with the “Sticky Date Toffee Pudding” ($8).

We have had sticky toffee pudding at many restaurants around town and this one ranked up there with the best of them.

In summary, both Mark and I enjoyed our evening out at Cafe Brio. We really liked the atmosphere and owners Silvia and Greg were super nice and friendly. In talking with them they both seemed to have a true love and passion for what they do.

The food here was solid, and though I think there may be minor things to improve upon, both Mark and I would not hesitate to return here again.

IN A NUTSHELL…

Food: ★★★½☆
Atmosphere: ★★★★☆
Service: ★★★½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

.
Cafe Brio

Address: 944 Fort St., Victoria

Phone: (250) 383-0009

Hours: 5:30 pm – Close, 7 days a week

Price: $$$ ($15 – $25 per entree)

Reservations: Recommended

Dress: Smart Casual

Website: www.cafe-brio.com


Click Here To Get Directions

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Posted in WEST COASTComments Off

The Black Olive Restaurant

The Black Olive Restaurant

I’m always on the lookout for a restaurant that serves great lamb and since I had read that The Black Olive Restaurant was “internationally known” for its rack of lamb, I had to check it out for myself.

I have to admit that though I have lived in Victoria for several years, this restaurant has been off my radar, being just slightly off the beaten path in downtown Victoria.

Neither my friend Mark or I knew much about The Black Olive or its Greek/Mediterranean West Coast menu, so we were both very curious about seeing how it would stack up against other restaurants in Victoria.

Inside Black Olive

Inside Black Olive

Once inside, we were greeted by owner Paul Psyllakis and seated right away.

Taking a look around the restaurant, we noticed a faux olive tree in the middle of the room, as well as several beige linen-covered tables.

The room is softly lit providing a romantic atmosphere, and vibrant paintings are displayed on the walls that are for sale by local artists.

After a few minutes with the menu, we both agreed that before getting our entrees, we should try some of the delicious sounding appetizers first.

Feta Tiger Prawns

Feta Tiger Prawns

I rarely have a prawn dish that I don’t like so I decided to order the “Feta Tiger Prawns” ($12).

It was served with white wine, feta butter sauce and spicy phyllo chips.

For me, the predominant taste was that of the feta, which gave the dish a very salty taste.

Also, the phyllo chips were very spicy to me, and though they had been described as spicy on the menu, I had hoped they wouldn’t have been overly so.

Though I won’t be ordering this dish again, I will say that I thought the prawns by themselves were quite good.

Stuffed Roasted Red Pepper

Stuffed Roasted Red Pepper

It was just unfortunate that their taste got lost in the salty feta.

As Mark had ordered the “Three Course Special” ($35), his meal included a choice of appetizer so he chose the “Roasted Red Pepper”, which was stuffed with whipped goat cheese.

Mark was nice to let me taste his yummy appetizer and if they have it on the menu the next time we visit, I will definitely be ordering it!

I loved the creamy goat cheese filling, and could have easily eaten two of these….

But alas, I had to save room for my main course of lamb, which was the main reason I was here at the Black Olive in the first place.

Rack Of Lamb

Rack Of Lamb

The “Rack of Lamb” ($39 full, $26 half) is rubbed with Cretan spices and served in a red wine demi glaze.

Now I must be careful here not to offend anyone who loves this lamb dish as I thought it only to be “good”.

The meat itself was perfectly cooked however I wasn’t overly crazy about the spicing. In general, I prefer to taste more lamb and less spice and in this case I didn’t.

Again, for all of you who love the lamb at The Black Olive, I’m not saying it wasn’t good.

It’s just that I had been waiting for this amazing moment of mmmm when I took my first bite, and sadly I didn’t get that.

Halibut

Halibut

Continuing on with Mark’s three course special in which he had the choice of seafood or pasta for his main, he decided to go with the “market fish” which for today was Halibut.

The Halibut came with capers in a white wine and citrus sauce, and was served with wild rice and vegetables.

Mark was pleased with his selection and said that overall his entree was “solid”.

The fish was nicely cooked and though perhaps not the very best he’d tasted in Victoria, it was definitely worth having again.

To finish off our evening, both Mark and I ordered desserts.

As I often do, I went with the dessert containing the most chocolate which in this case was the “Flourless Chocolate Cake” ($8).

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

As far as this flourless chocolate cakes go, this one was as good as others I’ve tasted, though I preferred the one I had at Fiamo recently as it was a bigger portion and better presented.

Mark had “Creme Brulee” ($8) for dessert and was happy with it so overall we were both fairly pleased with our meals.

In general what we both liked most about The Black Olive was the comfortable yet elegant feel it had to it and the fact that our sever was attentive, yet not invasive.

The food was good, though our meals weren’t in the outstanding category so on our next visit I plan to ask for recommendations from owner Paul to see what else his widely varied menu might have to excite us.

IN A NUTSHELL…

Food: ★★★½☆
Atmosphere: ★★★½☆
Service: ★★★½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

.

The Black Olive Restaurant

Address: 739 Pandora Ave., Victoria

Phone: (250) 384-6060

Hours: Lunch: Mon – Fri 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: Mon – Sat 5 pm – 10 pm, Sun  5 pm – 9 pm

Price: $$$ ($15 – $25 per entree)

Reservations: Recommended

Dress: Smart Casual

Website: www.theblackolive.ca


Click Here To Get Directions

The Black Olive on Urbanspoon

Posted in GREEK, MEDITERRANEAN, WEST COASTComments Off

Muse Winery – Bistro Muse

Muse Winery – Bistro Muse

Have you ever been enamoured by the idea of going on a wine tour in France or Italy?

If you’re a wine lover like myself, you’ve probably dreamed of doing that at least once.

Maybe you’ve yet to take that big trip or maybe you have already and you’d go back in a heartbeat if you could….

Well if you want to know how to experience those same feelings of getting away from it all and having a wine and culinary adventure without having to fork out thousands of dollars to do it, Muse Winery is your answer.

Muse WInery

Muse Winery

I recently had the chance to spend an amazing summer afternoon at Muse Winery and let me tell you, it felt like I had been transported to Provence or Tuscany.

It was five hours of true bliss.

I’m not sure how many wineries have bistros or restaurants attached to them, but I have to say this is a real plus for me when I go wine tasting.

I mean, who doesn’t get a hankering for a bit of cheese or at least a little bite of something after you’ve sampled a few wines?

Well I sure do and that’s why I was so happy to see that Muse had added a bistro to its winery after it took over the Chalet Winery.

Fountain And Vineyard

Fountain and Vineyard

As usual, my “partner in crime” for the day was my friend (and cameraman extraordinaire), Mark.

He’s not as big of a wine connoisseur as I am, but he does have a taste for some white wines and definitely loves his charcuterie, so there was no arm twisting required when I asked him to come along.

When we first sat down in Muse’s outdoor terrace, aka Bistro Muse, we were both impressed with the flowers, trellises, fountain and vineyard that surrounded us.

It was an absolutely beautiful setting for a bistro.

When we were given the menu, our server recommended that we start with their special of the day which was the “Tropical Prawn Cocktail” ($9).

This turned out to be one of the most beautifully presented shrimp appetizers I have ever seen, and was equally as yummy.

We also decided to try all of their wines that they had open for tasting.. Yes, I said ALL of their wines!

Tropical Prawn Cocktail

Tropical Prawn Cocktail

Muse serves 2 ounce tasters and has nine reds and five whites to choose from, ranging from $2 – $4 each.

I tried the reds, and Mark tried the whites. I don’t think there was one taster I didn’t love, but my favourites were the “Cabernet Merlot” (2007) and the “Syrah” (2007).

I also really liked their “Grand Dame Rouge” (2007) which was a full bodied, traditional Bordeaux blend that’s apparently quite popular.

Another noteworthy red wine is the “Foch Noir” (2008), which is their own creation and recently won double gold at the “All Canadian Wine Championships”.

Mark also thoroughly enjoyed his tastings and said his favourites were the “Ortega” (2009) and the “Late Harvest Viognier” (2009).

Both of these wines also received awards at the most recent Canadian Wine Championships.

Speaking of awards, if there were awards being given out for the food we tried at Muse, they would have definitely come away with a few!

Red Wine Tasters

Red Wine Tasters

To accompany our lovely wines we ordered the “Vancouver Island Cheese Plate” ($16 for two, $30 for 4), and added the optional “Charcuterie” ($10 for 2, $19 for 4) to go along with it.

For the cheese plate, we had the option of choosing from three different Vancouver Island regions and we chose the cheese from Saltspring Island.

With the cheese came some delicious compotes, of which my favourite was the blackcurrant and shallot one (so yummy!).

The charcuterie, or sliced meats, included prosciutto, red wine salami and mild chorizo.

Everything on the plate, from the cheese to the compotes, to the charcuterie, was excellent and both Mark and I loved how our wines complemented the food.

Vancouver Island Cheese Plate

Vancouver Island Cheese Plate

To finish off our culinary adventure at Muse, I ordered the “Dark Decadence” ($8) and Mark ordered the “Chilly Vanilly” ($6) for dessert.

My dessert was basically like a chocolate mousse and Mark’s was a vanilla bean gelato.

Both were good but surprisingly Mark’s more “ordinary” sounding dessert was my favourite.

Wow, I know vanilla gelato sounds simple, but boy did this one ever taste amazing!

Actually, I loved it so much I ended up eating more of Mark’s dessert than he did! Definitely one of the best gelatos I’ve ever tasted.

As I was scraping the bottom of Mark’s gelato bowl, I noticed one of the resident dogs came up and sat beside our table.

Dark Decadence

Dark Decadence

There are two Australian Shepherd dogs living at this family-run winery and both are adorable and friendly.

It’s a really comfortable and relaxing atmosphere at Muse and I think one of the reasons is because it’s owners Doug and Jane really love and enjoy what they do.

Though knowledgeable and professional, the staff here are not stuffy or snobby like you might find some to be at other wineries.

I don’t know about you, but I have to say that I really appreciate that.

Another thing I need to mention is that incase you come during bad weather and the patio isn’t open, they do have the tasting bar inside and some tables to eat at as well.

Chilly Vanilly

Chilly Vanilly

They also have a cozy tasting room (room for max. 25) with a fireplace if you want to book that for a small luncheon or private tasting.

If you’re looking for something bigger like a reception, they also have the beautiful “Bacchus Room” that seats up to 80 guests.

Overall Muse Winery is a beautiful setting for spending an afternoon.

Whether you’re a wine drinker or not, I encourage you to come and relax on the patio, taste some of their culinary delights in Bistro Muse, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the vineyard.

I guarantee you won’t want to leave.

IN A NUTSHELL…

Food: ★★★★☆
Atmosphere: ★★★★☆
Service: ★★★★☆
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

.

Muse Winery

Address: 11195 Chalet Rd., North Saanich (Corner of Chalet Rd. and Tatlow Rd)

Phone: (250) 656-2552

Hours: Winery: Tues – Sun 11 am – 5 pm
Bistro: Thurs – Sun 11 am – 4 pm
** Closed Mondays, except on holidays

Price: $$$ ($15 – $25 per entree)

Website: www.musewinery.ca


Click Here To Get Directions

Bistro Muse (at Muse Winery) on Urbanspoon

Posted in BISTRO, WINERIESComments Off

Chandlers Seafood Restaurant

Chandlers Seafood Restaurant

** CHANDLERS IS NOW CLOSED **

For over twenty-five years, Chandlers Seafood Restaurant has not only been known for it’s fabulous seafood, but also for its great steaks.

Fortunately for my friend Mark and I, we got to discover first hand why this restaurant has been voted “Best Seafood in Victoria” in Victoria News’ Best of the City Contest, eight times out of the last twelve years.

Because of it’s excellent location on Wharf Street in the Inner Harbour, it’s wise to call ahead for reservations just to make sure you get a seat.

The Bar At Chandlers

Chandlers Bar

When we first walked in for our 7:00 reservation, the first two things I noticed were the bar and the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant.

The bar is made of dark wood and has a nautical theme which matches the restaurant’s decor.

The open kitchen at the back is neat as you can see the chefs preparing the various dishes, and every so often see a of a burst of flames coming off the grill.

The Chandlers building is quite historic which gives the restaurant a more unique atmosphere.

It’s a bit fancier with the dark leather chairs and white table cloths, but not so much that you feel it’s stuffy.

Once we were seated, Mark and I got a chance to look at the very extensive menu. Wow, there were so many great sounding dishes. I have to admit it was hard deciding what to order.

The Open Kitchen At Chandlers

Chandlers Open Kitchen

One word of caution: make sure you’re very hungry when you come here as the portions are a good size and if you start with an appetizer like we did, you may find it hard to finish your main course.

Speaking of appetizers, did we ever score on ours! When I read about the “King Crab and Shrimp Fondue for Two” ($19) on the menu, it sounded absolutely amazing so I asked our server if she recommended it.

She said it was one of her favourites and we soon found out why.

The fondue is made with Gouda and Reggiano cheese mixed with local hand peeled shrimp, shelled king crab, sauteed red and yellow peppers, and artichoke hearts. It’s one incredible fondue!

Both Mark and I loved how super creamy and rich it was. You just have to watch out you don’t eat too much bread with the fondue if you don’t want to be too full to finish your main course.

King Crab and Shrimp Fondue

King Crab and Shrimp Fondue

Oh, that reminds me. Just as a little note, I really like the fact that Chandlers delivers bread with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette to your table before your meal arrives.

It doesn’t take much to offer this, but when I get fresh warm bread served to my table, I definitely give bonus points to the restaurant.

Chandlers serves some of the best pre-dinner bread I’ve tasted.

So when it came time to order our main entrees, we decided that I would get steak and Mark would get seafood. That way we would get to sample both Chandlers’ claims to fame.

I ended up ordering the “New York Steak” ($33), and Mark ordered the “Blackened Halibut” ($28).

All the steaks at Chandlers are “Certified Black Angus”, are topped with sauteed mushrooms, and are served with seasonal vegetables and your choice of potato. I got mine with roasted potato fingerlings which were nice and tasty.

As I said before, the portions are a good size here, and the steak is no exception. They serve only one size, and it’s a 12 ounce.

12 Ounce New York Steak

New York Steak

I asked for mine to be cooked medium rare, and I would say it was cooked mostly the way I like it. When I’ve ordered steak at other steakhouses, I order medium rare and it comes red in the middle and pink throughout.

Chandlers medium rare was just pink throughout, so next time I would maybe try the rare as I like my steak pretty red.

In general I like steakhouses that have a chart to tell you how they cook your steak. That way you know exactly what you will be getting when you order, instead of hoping they do it the way you like.

I guess I’m being a little picky here, but I have high standards when it comes to steak, and restaurants who claim to serve great steaks.

Don’t get me wrong, Chandlers’ steak tasted really good. It was a nice thick cut and I really liked the mushrooms on top.

Blackened Halibut

Blackened Halibut

There was some sort of garlic salt seasoning on it that added to the flavour as well, but in my opinion there may have been a bit too much on it as it was quite salty overall.

Again, I am only saying this as I am comparing this steak to how other steakhouses cook theirs’.

Moving on to Mark’s entree. When you order any of the “West Coast Fish”, which includes salmon, ocean trout, halibut and sea bass, you can order it in one of five ways.

You can order your fish grilled, blackened, with a dijon cream sauce, with a teri-basil sauce, or with sweet peppers and mushrooms on top.

Mark ordered his halibut blackened because he thought he would like its spicy cajun seasoning.

He said that though the fish was nicely cooked, the cajun spicing got a bit lost. He felt you could only taste the blackened part, not the spicy part.

Next time Mark said he would order his halibut with the dijon cream sauce as many people say it’s quite good.

Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream

Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream

I have to mention that the side of carrots that both Mark and I had with our dishes were exceptionally sweet and tasty, and the asparagus were also perfectly cooked.

Although Mark was able to finish all of his fish, I was stuffed by the time I got halfway through my steak and had to get the rest to go.

Of course even though I was really full I saved a little bit of room in my stomach for dessert!

For that I ordered the “Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream” ($8), and Mark ordered the “Maple Creme Brulee” ($8).

I have to say my dessert was just average. Though there was nothing wrong with it, nothing really stood out about it either. Unlike our entrees, the serving size was not that big either.

Mark’s creme brulee was also average. We both agreed that the maple flavouring didn’t seem to go very well with it.

Even with the mediocre desserts, I would definitely come back to Chandlers.

Maple Creme Brulee

Maple Creme Brulee

They have a great menu with tons of selection in both the seafood and meat departments.

The appetizer we had was so amazing I would love to see if their other ones taste as good.

We also had great service from our server Amanda and enjoyed the atmosphere too.

The pricing may be at the higher end, but it is comparable to other restaurants in Victoria serving the same quality of food.

Overall I would say that the value at Chandlers is very good.

Too good to not come back again.

IN A NUTSHELL…

Food: ★★★★☆
Atmosphere: ★★★½☆
Service: ★★★★☆
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

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Chandlers Seafood Restaurant

Address: 1250 Wharf St., Victoria

Neighbourhood: Downtown

Phone: (250) 385-3474

Hours: 5 pm – 9 pm, seven days a week

Price: $$$$ ($25 and up per entree)

Reservations: Recommended

Dress: Smart Casual

Website: www.chandlersseafood.com


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