After a week of dining at all the touristy places, this Pub was such a breath of fresh air. Although not really - they had a real, honest to god wood fire going in the fireplace and you could smell the wood burning. And I guess that's the point of this place - it's authentic, it's real. It's not like the other four restaurants I ate at this week. They were all cutesie, tourist BS joints, with cutesie tourist meals. I walked in and the server asked if I wanted a menu - and offered that the special was a burger and a local beer for $12.50, taxes in. I skipped the menu and was not left wanting. The burger was huge - huge - and appropriately cooked. A large portion of fries, a large salad with no skimping on the ingredients and a pint of local lager. For $12.50, for god's sake! Taxes in!
You know, the way this site rates places, I'd give Garrick's Head a "solid" rating across the board - because that's the best rating I think a pub could have. Honest, straight-forward, solid. But that would be 3/5, and you'd go to one of the poncey tourist dives instead. If you must, go to the rest of them - but save a night for Garrick's Head. There's no pretense here, and it's well worth the while.
Food: Having eaten here all of once, it was decent, clean, nutritious, generous portions - no fault at all. They did the burger, salad and fries perfectly.
Service: She didn't fuss over me, but the server too was what I'd call solid: Do you want to look at the menu, or do you want what I'm recommending you have? I appreciated that. She - and the Pub - deserved the tip.
Value: All week, I've paid $6.50 a pint for local beer. $7.50 by the time taxes were in. So $12.50, taxes in, for all of the above? I'm not sure how they do it and break even. Exceptional value. Incredible value.
Ambiance: Delightfully, refreshingly, NOT touristy. Real. Appropriate. It's a pub. Not a dressed-up-North-American-version-of-what-an-English-pub-might-be-if-it-were-on-television, but a pub. No pretense, real food.
Garrick's looks to seat around 40. The crowd was mixed while I was there, about half full - 20-somethings, perhaps the college crowd, a couple artistic types, three middle aged guys with beers...just a decent place to hang out.
A note to the traveller: Garrick's is not easy to find. They do not have a storefront on Government St, although that's their address. Coming in off Government, you go through a building lobby and wonder if you took the wrong turn - I took two tries to find it. Don't go without the address, and pay close attention. There's only one sign hanging on Government Street. But it was dark, windy and raining when I went out - so that didn't help.
If you're visiting, and you're tired of the tourist stuff, treat yourself to one real meal in downtown Victoria. Go to Garrick's.