Login or Register
Do a search below using the city or postal code search box if your city is not listed above.

dux23Victoria, BCSince May 18, 200941 Reviews
Average Rating
3 (3.1)
  • Food3.5 (3.4)
  • Service3 (3)
  • Value3 (3.2)
  • Ambiance3 (2.8)

Reviews

Displaying 21 - 40 of 41 Reviews Found
Irish Heather210 Carrall Street, Vancouver
Sad end of an era.
Submitted Thursday, September 3, 2009 - 9:23pm [Dine in]

I would tell my friends from all over Canada about the Irish Heather in Vancouver - that it was the closest thing anywhere in the country (as a musician I've been to many pubs across Canada on tour and search for things like a genuine pub experience when asking locals to take me out) to the experiences I've had while living in Scotland. The back greenhouse and courtyard (and the whiskey bar across the way) were an outstanding environment.

When last I went to Vancouver I was horrified to find they had relocated across the street and are "reinventing" themselves as a gastro-pub. The tradition pub menu seems discarded for items like any other boring gastro-pub in Vancouver. Part of the former venue's charm was that it was nothing like Yaletown or Kitsilano bistros.

So now we have to wait for the Bard & Banker in Victoria to get a "worn in" feel to it to approach anything close to what Irish Heather once was.

Whether the bar has been sold to new owners, or they're trying to be something they're not - the Irish Heather has sold out. Lame.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Vista 18740 Burdett Ave, Victoria
Great value, Great view!
Submitted Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - 5:18pm [Dine in]

I will admit I haven't dabbled in Vista 18's menu proper, but as a place to start an evening out, or a place to meet some friends for drinks and appies, this is easily the best value in Victoria. With a rare 18th story view of downtown Victoria, and tasteful decor - Vista 18 has amazing ambiance without being ostentatious. You could show up in casual (well, maybe not ripped jeans casual) or formal clothes and fit in. The after 10pm appetizer menu is a great deal: 2-for-1 and the items are already reasonably priced. "Naan"chos, Hickory Sticks (like the chips but fresh made frites), BBQ Duck Quesadilla and the Popcorn Chicken all stand out. I don't know how they make any money on olives as you get more for $3 than you would getting a tub of olives at Thrifty's - with the 2-for-1 deal it's quite amazing.

Drinks: an excellent range, not on the cheap side, but nor are they on the astronomically expensive side. You're looking at spending about the same as Smith's or Irish Times pubs here, maybe a bit less. They have some pretty unique revivalist French cocktails with absente and other obscure things that would get the nod from Hemingway (who once noted that all the strange liquors taste like licorice).

This would also make a nice date spot, especially if your partner hasn't heard of it yet. Entering a hotel lobby to get to it, you don't really know what you're in for - and then the elevator doors open onto such a wonderful and intimate room.

Service wise they are fairly attentive and the turnaround on appetizers is less than 10 minutes from ordering.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Smith's Pub777 Courtney St, Victoria
Turn down the tunes!
Submitted Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 8:12pm [Dine in]

Smith's is a great pub environment before 8 or 9pm at night, when DJ's go on and make the music obnoxiously loud. Don't get me wrong, the DJ's there generally play good music - it's just at a volume and EQ setting that interferes with conversation and grates the nerves after awhile.

Drinks are on the pricey side, but I don't know of any other bar in town to carry the Unibroue Ephemere on tap, or Sapporo. Food is solid, especially the curry chips and lamb burger. Keep an eye on their daily specials, and you can easily make up for the extra $1 or so they charge for "pints" (see the other review).

I tend to go with the local draft, which you can get jugs of for about $1 more than most of the other downtown pubs, if I'm running on a budget.

Service wise, it's hit and miss. I've gone there and had fabulous service some nights - and other nights will be completely ignored despite the pub being 2/3rds empty.

Overall not bad. I'd like to see how it shapes up once the furniture and fixtures get a worn-in feel to them.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Pink Bicycle, The1008 Blanshard Street, Victoria
Finally: quality not quantity in a burger
Submitted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 - 10:19am [Dine in]

If you're looking for an American fatty-boom-bah grease shack burger, this might not be the place for you. This is a restaurant about quality, not simply giving a customer colon cancer with large portions of meat and fries to match.

I guage a burger joints overall commitment to their craft by their veggie burgers, and Pink Bicycle does not disappoint with three home-made versions (blackbean, moroccan/garbanzobean/portabello), each of them unique in their own right. Their regular fries are solid, although not exceptional - but I highly recommend upgrading for a dollar to their truffle fries. They're not the frites at Ecole Brasserie but they are the closest thing to it in town. I saw some of the other "real meat" burgers on other tables, and they looked equally delectable. I look forward to trying their mutton burger among their other offerings.

The ambiance is quirky - and I could care less if they borrowed from an asian restaurant that existed in the space before them. I've never been to this particular venue before, and nothing in the place seemed out of place with what they are trying to achieve in the overall ambiance. The restaurant also seemed cool on a blazing hot afternoon, which was welcoming, and although we were seated furthest from the front window (it didn't seem any hotter up there) it didn't feel cavernous either. And did I mention they have decent draft beer on tap (Phillips- but not the fancy stuff - Blue Buck and Phoenix - what you would want with a burger)?

Service-wise, they were on the tail end of a massive lunch rush, and one of the employees seemed quite fatigued. While she dropped the ball a couple of times (with us and another patron), there was another woman - possibly the manager - who realized this and picked up her slack. Overall the service was decent and I'll forgive the downside on account of how busy it was.

I look forward to returning to this restaurant many times more. You know it's good when you're thinking about what you'll try the next time, and knowing that you have quite a few next times to finish off the list.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Barb's Place Fish & Chips310 St. Lawrence Street, Victoria
Maybe the best fish but definitely not the chips
Submitted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 - 5:02pm [Dine in]

Barb's prides itself on 25 years of business and being named the "Best Fish & Chips" several years in a row. I'll get to the food in a minute...

First off, the pager system is a pleasant convenience for people who'd rather mill about on the scenic docks of Fisherman's Wharf rather than the picnic tables and banquet tenting adjacent to the restaurant. While they'd get 5 stars for "location," dirty picnic tables at which you find yourself sitting with random people do not for great "ambiance" make.

While making my order, I overheard a woman who I suspect was a manager, name-tagged Sandra, talk about a piece of fish that had been sitting on the counter for over 5 minutes and the customer had not come back. She instructed her underling to use the fish in another order. Granted that a piece of deep-fried Haddock is going to have a quick turnover. However, if you're going to re-use someone else's order, at least don't talk about that fact right in front of customers.

I went to the side where they have unlimited fountain pop, and watched the kitchen in action. Production seemed smooth and they had ample employees. Despite the ostensible efficiency of pagers, the people being called were erratically out of sequence compared to the order they were in the line. If their service was based on how elaborate the order was, then my 1 piece of deep-fried halibut and fries should have taken less time than the 15 minutes it did. While waiting for the order, I witnessed someone ask a patio attendant where the recycling was and he replied that they don't recycle. I didn't confirm this, but I did note that despite being in the midst of "fresh-off-the-boat" seafood, Barb's Fish & Chips is not an Oceanwise Restaurant.

When my order was finally called I went over and turned in my pager. The counter girl, Gina, proceeded to give me two double orders of Haddock (the type of fish which was sent back earlier). I corrected her mix-up, and she was turning around to grab what was my actual order - a simple mistake - when Sandra, who was done sending back old fish for reuse and was now up in my face as if the double order of 2-piece haddock dinners was correct, and that I was wrong. She asked me to produce a receipt to prove otherwise. If I hadn't remembered my pager number, we may have been at some sort of bizarre impasse. Sandra as a manager might want to take some cues from her counter-girl, who realized the wisdom of the "customer is always right" when it comes to a mistaken order. It's not like I was someone who ordered a single piece of fish and was trying to scam myself two double-orders for one!

So finally: the FISH itself! Barb's Fish & Chips DO have the best deep-fried fish I've had to date in Victoria (although I've only been to Salty's, RedFishBlueFish, James Bay Fish & Chips and Fifth St Fish & Chips in Sidney). The batter was perfect and light on the oil saturation. The halibut inside was perfect. They get 5 stars for just the fish, and the fish ONLY.

The fries had the texture of freezer fries and had clearly been sitting out, and not even under a heat lamp as they had a sogginess to them that heat lamps tend to dry out. Flacid, flavourless, sandy-soggy freezer fry texture do not complete the "Best Fish&Chips" in town. I won't even get into the dill-laden coleslaw (was that a mistake on the part of an employee, or do they always make it like that) which was a total anti-climax to meal. If you nail the fish so perfectly, why can't you put a little effort into the rest?

There is an upside that, unlike other places, you can get individual pieces of fish without the fries and coleslaw - and if you want to try the best deep-fried fish in town - this would be the way to go. And take it up above fisherman's wharf away from the Barb's Fish & Chips dining area where there's tree-shaded areas far more pleasant to enjoy your meal.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Street Level Espresso714 Fort Street, Victoria
Ken Gordon knows his Coffee!
Submitted Thursday, May 21, 2009 - 10:49am [Dine in]

Coming from Habit Coffeehouse, Ken Gordon installed a much-needed decent coffeehouse right in the heart of the Fort/Douglas district. Quite possibly the best Africano in town, or should I say Boonah. The space is small, suggestive that it's more a take-away type spot (and what better spot - across the street from one of the main bus stops downtown, perfect on my way to UVic) - there's not much that could be done with that given the size... but either way the coffee and service (and good price points too) make it more than worth the while.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
5th Street Bar and Grill1028 Hillside Avenue, Victoria
Best value in Victoria - nice all-rounder restaurant...
Submitted Thursday, May 21, 2009 - 10:43am [Dine in]

I am an Toronto expatriate living in Victoria, and I love the whole West Coast fusion thing... but when my parents come out - it's always been tricky to find a restaurant that is decent and suits both their traditional anglo-american unadventurous palatte and my foodie whims. No more is this an issue since discovering 5th Street!

Portions are generous and there's tremendous value with $5 / $10 / $15 and $20 plates. The selection is great and you can get everything from tuna tataki to pastas and pizza. Drink selections are solid and they have some of the more inventive Caesars in town.

The westside patio with fireplace is the spot to be in the summer. I'm not sure what it is about 5th Street, though - the inside can get rather loud at times. They should maybe look at adding screens or something to deflect sound, because if you get a table that's going to town on the drinks it can be rather disruptive. Generally though, it's a nice environment - nothing fancy, but neither lowbrow on the restaurant side. If you want total casual - go to the pub - which has the same menu and drunk offerings, but a TV etc and more modest decor and furnishings.

Service can be a little inconsistent as they are smoking busy a lot of the time, but while I've had minor neglectful experiences on the part of staff, no major complaints.

All in all, this is a great restaurant, and probably the best value for a sit-down meal in Victoria.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Brasserie L'Ecole1715 Government St., Victoria
One of the best in town...
Submitted Thursday, May 21, 2009 - 1:19am [Dine in]

Where to begin...?

Well, I'll start with the downsides - and they were really minor. We showed up without reservations at 8:30pm on a Wednesday, so I can't knock them on the service - and really it was only to their disadvantage. Traditional French cuisine ends with Cheese and Cognac - and the service was of the perfect amount of attentiveness until we got our entrees - at which point it was past 10pm and they seemed more preoccupied with setting the restaurant up for the next day. They simply brought the cheese out, which after all the attentiveness felt like they were rushing us a bit (although I'm sure that wasn't their intention). When I asked if we shouldn't have creme brulee first the runner seemed to backpedal and say how she likes to have both at the same time - dabble in each. Not so convincing as I really don't view brulee and cheese as a pairing. Forgiveable... but I was surprised that after the entree the waiter didn't check back with us - especially with the brulee and cheese - if we wanted another drink. It was only at the very end that he asked if I wanted coffee - but by then we were ready for the bill.

That's really the only fault - only so slight at that...

Cocktails: great job with the Absinthe (Monkey Gland) and Chartreuse (Champs D'Elysees) drinks.. unique and named with a good dose of humour.

The food was phenomenal.... and expecting small plates (which the vegetarian entree seemed to be but everything else was well portioned) we ordered way too many appetizers. As good as the frites are - they gave us way too many and we realized half way through the first round that we'd ordered to much and had them take them away. The Chicken Liver and Cognac Mousse was superb - amazing olives pickled in chilies and fennel seed... but then the mains!

Braised duck legs atop stewed fiddleheads, olives, preserved lemon and white beans - blew my mind. My girlfriend had a chef's special (they make special plates based on what's in stock for vegetarians) but the sauce seemed similar to one of the cheeses we had afterward - a not quite blue - Fourme D'ambert. She hates blue cheese but loved the sauce.

The sommelier came through on a red wine to pair perfectly with all but the brulee (D'omaine de L'ameillaud 2007).

The Creme Brulee is the best I've had in Victoria to date (better than Matisse) but was cool beneath the crust suggesting fridge batched. My girlfriend makes better creme brulee than anywhere I've had, except tied with one restaurant: The Black Trumpet in London, ON.

The cheese plate was not what you get at the Mint or other places... very small pieces of cheese but by that point I was grateful as it was starting to feel like the "wafer thin" scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life.

The best part was the bill: we were bracing for $200 what with a bottle of wine and everything - but the total was $153! Considering the freshness, culinary skill, service (which wasn't that bad really - I'm just a traditionalist who likes the cheese last), a beautiful, dark (but not too dark) room... this is amazing value for when you want a special night out.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Da Tandoor1010 Fort St, Victoria
Best Indian in Victoria?
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 3:21pm [Dine in]

Unless you want to go for cheap (in which case go to Sabri Naanwich across from Tillicum Silvercity), there is only one Indian Restaurant in Victoria worth writing home about. There are other restaurant such as The Mint who have begin to rival Da Tandoor in individual dishes - but if it's an East Indian dining experience you seek, this is the place to go.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Sips Artisan Bistro425 Simcoe Street, Victoria
Nice addition to James Bay!
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 3:16pm [Dine in]

With all the gentrification viz-a-viz condo development in James Bay, and the tourism that passes through when the boats dock - Spinakkers has made the wager that James Bay is ready for this unique wine-tasting and 100-mile diet culinary roost. The wine is certainly pricey (I had a glass of Clos de los Siete from Argentina for $12 when the adjacent wine store sells bottles for less than $30) but the food is good value. My suggestion would be to skip the alcohol and get some San Pelligrino instead. The pairing itself was nothing mind-blowing... it was good, but not what I was expecting (especially given Spinnakers' fabulous beer and cheese/ beer and chocolate pairings in Esquimalt).

The food though - wow. Locally produced cheeses, elk salami, great breads... this is probably the best sandwich joint in town. And they run all seem to run under $10. Service is attentive and speedy, and they seem to have genuine interest in what you think of their product. The decor is modest, but suited to their purpose. I'm curious to see how tourists will take to it this summer.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Cup Of Joe Caffe230 Menzies Street, #1, Victoria
Carbon Crumbled Eggs
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 3:05pm [Dine in]

I gave this place a couple of tries as it's in the neighbourhood and one of the few breakfast joints in James Bay. The atmosphere is nicer than the Beacon Drive in or the Crepes joint across the street (both feel like fast-food restaurants), and not as touristy as the James Bay Teahouse. The first experience was average - although I found the food a bit pricey for what we were getting, and the service a bit slow on the draw (especially getting simple things like requested coffee refills and ketchup to us). The second time I went will take awhile to wear off though.

There were maybe 5 patrons in the restaurant at the time, yet the waitress seemed preoccupied with this one male in the corner, someone who was clearly well-known to her and probably wasn't a paying customer! When a restaurant is slow, I have no problem with the staff hanging out with friends, but sitting at a table in the corner with your back turned to the floor is not the best way to stay on top of your game. When your restaurant employer advertises coffee refills, you should make a practice of at least offering said refill at least once during a patron's visit.

To add insult to injury, the eggs were discoloured by old grease and had carbon bits stuck to them. Again, if things are slow - I don't mind if you slack in the kitchen - but there's no excuse for not cleaning the grill!

Needless to say, it's going to be awhile before the sting of this experience wears thin enough to try Cup of Joe again.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Green Cuisine Vegetarian Restaurant560 Johnson St, 5, Victoria
Thanks for the Mochi!
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 2:50pm [Dine in]

I buy Green Cuisine products (Tofu, Tempeh and Mochi) for my own cooking all the time. They also make Amazake, yum. But when it comes to dining out - with the exception of the occasional soup or chili - I find Green Cuisine's value has slipped in light of all the new restaurants that have opened around it. When filling a plate in this cafeteria style restaurant that charges by weight - you're going to be looking at a $15 meal unless you want a salad without dressing (they weigh condiments as well). I can do better at Cafe Bliss or Mo:Le - an easy saunter across Pandora Street from Market Square. In light of the new competition on the scene, Green Cuisine has done little to reinvent the wheel - but it's still a solid place, and probably the best option in town if you have kids and want to eat out at a healthy restaurant (they have a toy room). It's also a nice place in the summer when there's more activity in Market Square.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Rebar50 Bastion Square, Victoria
Is it ok to flog the horse if it ain't dead yet?
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 2:44pm [Dine in]

Wow. Rebar. Like Green Cuisine, they've been doing exactly the same thing for years. It works, and clearly it works well given their on-going success... but after the release of their cookbook, I rarely feel the need to go down to Bastion Square when I can accomplish the same thing at home for less. I really wish they'd change up the menu every now and then - but I left Victoria in 2000, came back in 2005 - and everytime I've been to rebar it's been the same-old, same-old. Solid same-old - but I know there must be creativity in that kitchen still - so please bring it on!

If you're visiting Victoria, and are vegetarian / health-conscious - this is definitely one of the restaurants to check out (as well as Cafe Bliss, Mo:Le and Green Cuisine).

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Black Stilt Coffee Lounge, The1633 Hillside Avenue, #103, Victoria
Best Americano in Victoria
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 2:32pm [Dine in]

It's too bad they can't get consistency with their second location (where the coffee seems not as good) - but so long as Hillside remains open with the same folks involved, Victoria will continue to have superior Americanos at it's leisure. Check "Habit", "Cafe Fantisto" and "Street Level Espresso" for equally good coffee (but masters of different drinks - like the "Africano / Boonah"). Artigiano makes the best Macchiato.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Pho Vy Restaurant772 Fort St, Victoria
There's a reason the neighbouring Pho joints are empty!
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 12:31am [Dine in]

Pho Vy rules the Vietnamese Pho Soup market in Victoria. It can sometimes get really busy, but the turnaround is quick and the food well worth the wait (longest I've waited there is 15 mins for a table). Totally fresh ingredients and a stock that the other restaurants in town will have to do some Tampopo-style hoop jumping to figure out the magic of.

Get the 20 (steak and brisket) and the spring rolls.

A liquor license (beer) would add tremendously to the experience, but I can see licensing resulting in slower turnaround of tables... so it kind of makes sense.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Hernande'z735 Yates Street, #130, Victoria
Who would have thought a corporate mall would offer this?
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 12:17am [Dine in]

Hernande'z is this quirky taco stand nestled incongruously inside a corporate mall at the foot of an office building. Smart location for getting the lunch crowd, but it makes for a strange ambiance. With that said, this is probably the most authentic Mexican / El Salvadorean fair to be found in Victoria. They have a "fast food" menu which involves white flour tortillas - or if you have the time you can be rewarded with the "slow food" menu which involves corn tortillas made on the spot.

I was excited enough to order the Tacos de Frijoles and a Huarache Classica. The tacos themselves would make for a light lunch ($5) and the Huarache would have sufficed for a solid portion. I left their having spent $13 and was completely gorged. Also, if this is slow food (ready within 5 minutes) - I wonder how lightning quick the "fast food" is. I'll probably never try it as the corn tortillas are some of the best in town (Mo:Le does well on their Huevos Rancheros).

The ambiance is a tricky call because this sort of fresh food isn't exactly take-away - you want to eat it upon delivery. So I suggest putting up with the mall in exchange for what ties with RedFishBlueFish as Victoria's best value for lunch.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Mo:Le544 Pandora St., Victoria
Losing its charm?
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 12:04am [Dine in]

When Mo:Le first opened they had their game on, and the results have been apparent ever since - with lengthy waits for breakfast seatings if you get their during their rush. Fortunately they have a unique solution to this problem, and have since their inception, invited patrons to wait for their table in Habit coffeeshop next door (which serve some of the finest coffee in town).

The first time there I spent 30 minutes in paradise reading their breakfast menu - that fusion cuisine had finally come to roost in a Victoria breakfast joint. I ate breakfast and got a text message from an out-of-town friend that she'd like to meet for lunch and wound up staying at Mo:Le for a second round.

I'm not sure if its the complacency of success, staff turnovers or fatigue from trying to be a dinner restaurant as well - but the Mo:Le experience has been slipping as of late. From tepid pesto hashbrowns to inconsistent service... i've had good and not-so-good experiences there - when they all used to be fantastic.

I still have faith that they'll pull together the old charm now that they've stopped their dinner service and will probably get their focus back.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Blue Fox Cafe, The919 Fort St, #101, Victoria
Lost the Crown
Submitted Sunday, May 17, 2009 - 11:53pm [Dine in]

The Blue Fox used to be my favorite breakfast restaurant in Victoria, but a handful of negative experiences with their service combined with the opening of Mole and The Superior rendered them a fading memory.

The food is solid, outstanding even - don't get me wrong there. But they seem to have one table too many, which makes for inconsistent service and long waits. The last time I was there I was ignored by the waiter for the first 20 minutes, not even an inquiry if I'd like some coffee. Needless to say it will be awhile longer before the sting of this experience abides (it's been a year already!). Besides, there's equally creative restaurants now.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance
Superior, The106 Superior Street, Victoria
One of the more unique dining atmospheres in Victoria
Submitted Sunday, May 17, 2009 - 11:49pm [Dine in]

What can I say? The entire dining area is a work of art, and their patio is a paradise. Tables have been modified so each one is like a unique artpiece... from taxidermed crows nesting to a fountain built in the centre of a table outside.

The Superior offers a menu that aspired to the 100-mile diet... locally sourced, preferably organic... we went for brunch and had the chicken sausage scramble and their sinatra flatbread (which the runner denigrated by calling it "pizza" when it was served). There's a lot of care put into these small plates.

A full review will follow the dinner experience there. I have a feeling this is a restaurant I'll be returning to regularly.

  • Food
  • Service
  • Value
  • Ambiance