Restaurant Review - April 9, 2010 - Joanne

Cafe Brio
Victoria, BC
Visited October 2009 - Dinner

Bustling on a Monday night. Dark with a slightly romantic bent. I could see less sophisticated locals finding it great. Certainly not a tourist destination, and we're certainly not planning a return visit.
what we had:

Local Oysters: shallot, red chili & mint mignonette
Generally when you order oysters the mignonette comes on the side. Imagine Jack's surprise when his 1/2 dozen come bathed in mignonette and chili masking any nuances of the oysters.
Local Corn Soup: charred tomatillo salsa

Roast Wild Mushroom & Corn Ragout: garlic sautéed spinach, poached egg
A dish crying for seasoning, it ran flat. Texture could have been improved with crispier mushrooms. 4 elements without a marriage.

Cacciucco (Tuscan Style Fish Stew) shellfish, local fish, soffritto and herbs
Sounds good. The reality is chunks of overcooked white fish and a number of clams. The broth was ok. Not a winner.

Pancetta Wrapped Ireland Farms Chicken Breast: mushroom stuffing, corn and scallion risotto, marsala jus
The Risotto was good. The chicken was on the drier side - the boneless breast was rolled, stuffed with mushroom puree and rolled in pancetta. Not crispy just dry.
Crispy Beer Braised Sloping Hills Farm Pork Belly: braised greens, green onion-potato purée : Where's the fat? No succulence to be found. The belly was on the drier side, not very crispy.

Dinner at
Sooke Harbor House

Fairmont Empress
Victoria, BC
Empress Room Afternoon Tea -
visited October 2009

The hype is pretty high here. The tea was in teabags, but ok. The sandwiches and pastries were made with a deft hand but somehow there isn't a lot of passion in this tea. Scones really should have clotted cream and there is no excuse not to procure it at the price charged. The price of entrance is pretty steep for a good but not great tea, nevertheless we enjoyed it. The decor is nice but not special and we didn't feel pampered, but we did get our picture taken and free (ha!) tins of "take-home" teabags to complete our "experience". Next time we'll save our bucks for London teatime.

Butchart Gardens
Victoria, BC - visited October 2009- Afternoon Tea:

Bottom: Egg and Watercress on brown, cucumber (with a hint of ginger), curry chicken pinwheels, smoked salmon, warm cheese buns with chopped ham, sausage rolls and mini roasted vegetable quiches on bottom
2nd tier: sponge cake, chocolate macaroons, lemoncurd tarts with raspberry, grand marnier truffles served in a signature box
Top: ginger scones with strawberry jam and lemon chantilly cream
Loose leaf teas with tea strainers table side.
We actually enjoyed this tea almost as much as the Empress (more in some ways) and at half the price.

Red Fish Blue Fish
Victoria, BC
Visited October 2009 - Lunch & Dinner

The ambiance of eating dockside sounds lovely – but the setting is more utilitarian than romantic. What’s novel is the location is sort of hidden – so it’s more of the in-the-know kind of spot. We love the sustainable fish choices and the overall theme of the shipping container on a dock restaurant serving up fresh, clean food. That said, the tacones were as good as they sounded other choices were good but not to rave about. We managed to eat there twice in two days – so that says something about the call of the fish. Watching seaplanes was fun too.

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