Submitted Monday, April 6, 2009 - 1:28am [Dine in]
Saturday was my second trip to this venue and my husband's third. It is definitely one of our favourites in the Victoria area. Situated in a former sports bar in on the border of Langford, the ambiance is enhanced by the low lighting and the crowded hustle. (There was a table of 28 with some exceptionally cute kiddies there last night but somehow the servers kept up with the crowd and we waited only a few minutes for a high table in the miniature lounge area.)
My husband ordered a creamy sweet and subtle beer and I tried the Woodford Reserve off the extensive whisky and bourbon list. This is the only restaurant in which I ever order whisky but somehow I feel the food here cries out for this lusty smokey accompaniment. Maybe it's all those shiny pick up trucks in the parking lot too....
We shared the Steamer Bowl, steamed clams and mussels in a lime infused buttery herb broth. It begged for crusty french bread to sop up the juices but the only available choice was the hearty cornbread dotted with crispy kernels. This did the job but the kid in me would have loved some Rogers Golden Syrup to finish off the last pieces in the basket.
For an entree my husband had his favourite, the meaty pork ribs, perfectly sauced and barbequed to a moist perfection. Dieting, I opted for the Seafood Jambalaya. The salmon bites were fresh and juicy and the bite sized oysters plump and silky. The dense slices of sausage were guilt inducing but rationalized as a smokey and enriching food experience. The pepper slices were plentiful in the sweet spicy sauce.
Each entree comes with a couple of sides from a lengthy list. This restaurant specializes in using local foods and the special side changes with what's available. On my first trip here we had fresh tomatoes in a balsamic reduction with goat cheese that was heavenly. On Saturday I opted for grilled golden beets that were flavourful and perfectly al dente. I also had a surprisingly simple presentation of collard greens that had me feeling virtuous as well as well fed. My husband had the more manly grilled red potatoes and a creamy savoury coleslaw he adored.
I went off my diet to share a crunchy slice of the mud pie with my husband. This isn't like a lot of franchise restaurant mud pies. A slim river of creamy chocolate did run through it but it was basically a bitter sweet densely chocolate brownie that was entirely satisfying.
The wait staff is young and very hard working. While we had some waits for glasses of water and the cornbread ordered as an afterthought, our waitress, a young women with strikingly beautiful eyes, was apologetic and got to us as fast as she was able given the demands of the table of 28.
We've told all our friends in Victoria that they should definitely make the trip to Langford for this gem.
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Submitted Monday, April 6, 2009 - 12:30am [Dine in]
Having experienced dining out in Victoria as a truly mediocre yet expensive experience on many occasions, we were apprehensive about where to spend a special birthday. We decided to go with something within walking distance of our hotel and liked the intimations of a food centered experience on line. Niche is very much about the food but it has many other pluses. Located in a funky old house on the corner of Quebec and Pendray, the decor is simply modern with some great happy art and a beautiful glass bubble chandelier in the foyer. The service is attentive without being overbearing. And the food is fabulous!
Dinner comes as a choice of three or six courses with the option of wine pairings for each course or choosing from a fairly minimalist wine list that ranges from $45 to $400. We opted for the wine pairing menu at $30 for the three courses and were very happy with the B.C. Riesling, California Pinot Noir and the Muscadet and Tawny Port that rounded out the meal.
Our three course dinner began with an amuse bouche, a little hushpuppy battered chunk of white fish and a tiny salty chip with a tasty dap of tomato infused tarter sauce. This was followed by a sweetly hearty white bread served with a luscious black lentil and apple compote. I do much to get my hands on the recipe for this clever spread.
Our first courses were a pureed onion soup accompanied by a dense tasty brioche slice grilled with cheddar and a heavenly creamy Gorgonzola laden risottos.
We both opted for the halibut and it was grilled to silky perfection and served with roasted savoy cabbage, pear compote and a subtly sauced and bacon laced pilaf of plump and chewy Israel cous cous.
There were three choices for dessert and we opted for the cheese platter=an aged cheddar and a reprise of the fabulous Gorgonzola served with crispy cranberry toasts, and the chocolate sampler. The chocolate mousse with preserved hazelnuts was dark and perfectly bitter, an excellent match with the tawny port. The white chocolate presentation was lighter with vanilla and almond accents. The third chocolate treat, presented in a shot glass, was just too much chocolate and was abandoned as surplus to requirements. The overall experience, however, was one of sensual pleasure and hopefully will be repeated.
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