Brasserie L'Ecole is an cozy, unpretentious bistro that utilizes fresh, local ingredients to develop a daily menu of classic French country dishes.
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.
Last night was our first foray back to the Brasserie after a closure for renovations. Upon reopening, management have decided to implement a no-reservations policy and operate on a strict first-come, first-served basis (like Vij's in Vancouver). I have to say that I had some reservations (hah) about this policy but the Brasserie staff pulled it off. This has got to be the only place in Victoria that has a line-up outside the door prior to opening (on a Tuesday!!). My biggest concerns were 1) we wouldn't get a seat - we were pretty far back in the line-up and didn't feel like waiting around for a table to open up after the initial seating 2) the kitchen would be so slammed with orders - having a rush of people to sit down, fill your restaurant, and all want drinks and food at the same time would be a tall order for any high-end establishment. All my fears were quickly put to rest and I got the Brasserie L'Ecole experience that continues to bring me and a host of regulars back to the restaurant time and again. Food was delicious and executed to their high standards. Service was top notch and I was never without a drink or wondering where my server was. Bravo Brasserie L'Ecole.
Ordered the duck. took awhile but was well worth it. Very flavorful but a little chewy. Bread came after our meal as did our drinks which was odd. But all very good anyway. Cremebrule for desert of course and absolutely perfect.
Service was sincere polite and attentive.
Price was a bit high but typical for good french.
Beautiful decor and ambiance.
Would return and would recommend.
Between this bistro and the Matisse, downtown Victoria is blessed with two excellent french fare joints in close vicinity. Both offer great french food but offer very difference dining experiences. (Brasserie L'Ecole offers great pacific regional ingredients)
Great food, great drinks and a fun atmosphere.
Moules Frite were great as was their steaks. Duck confit is also perfect.
I only wish we could have these two restaurants in Vancouver!
We took my parents here when they were visiting from Alberta, in part because I'd hear good things about the seafood and had been itching to go for a good year now. We all had an oyster to start, and even the fearful among us admitted they were absolutely delicious. The tuna appetizer was perfect -- even the greens were gobbled up quickly. For mains, my dad ordered the rock fish, my husband the halibut, my mom the moules frites, and I had the steak frites. Divine. We even joked that had we been at home we all would have licked out plates clean. The frites are everything they're rumoured to be -- crispy, light, tossed in a lovely mix of salt, parm and truffle oil and served with a stellar aioli. The beer selection is intimidating, but the server kindly advised us on complimentary beers and they were much enjoyed.
Perhaps the best restaurant in town -- great food set in a classy but friendly locale.
This lovely French restaurant was recommended to us by our servers at two other establishments as a 'must try'. We were cautioned that the restaurant is small and popular, so we might encounter difficulty getting a reservation on short notice, or a long wait for a table. No worries, they assured us; the food is worth sitting at the bar. We arrived after 9 on a Friday, and had only a half-hour wait for a table. The staff was warm and welcoming. Althouth the menu offered some attractive choices, we ordered the steak and frites, for which the place is well-known. The food arrived rather quickly, thanks to the lateness of the evening, and it was two of the best steak dinners we have ever had. We had each ordered a $5 side of sauteed cremini mushrooms; our server suggested sharing one, as they were generous portions, and his recommendation was spot-on. Each and every bite of the steaks, a perfectly seared and crusted medium rare, caused a duet of 'mmmm's, eyelid fluttering, and other ecstatic exclamations. The sauces, as you would expect, were delicious. The steaks arrived with a red wine and shallot sauce, and the frites were dressed with garlic and parsley, paired with a savory sauce perfect enough to make you say, 'ketch-what?'
We pre-ordered the cheese course, and it arrived at the optimum temperature after our dinner plates were cleared and our tummies had settled for a moment. It was a lovely selection of six cheeses, mostly cow's milk, and predominantly from Quebec. The server was very knowledgeable about the cheeses, and better yet, an enthusiastic lover of cheese. She explained that the selection changes regularly, as well.
The restaurant was narrow, with tall ceilings and warm red walls. The seating was comfortable; the noise level was fine, even with a full house. The ambiance felt like fine dining. All staff was pleasant and inviting, whether or not they served us.
When we got the bill, it was almost embarrassing. We have paid so much more for so much less on more occasions than we care to remember!
We enthusiastically recommend this wonderful restaurant to anyone looking for a fine, well-priced meal in a warm, lovely setting.
A member of the wait staff at another restaurant recommended this place to us and what a nice experience. The food was reminiscent of the good cooking one finds in many small towns in France. It had the atmosphere of a neighborhood bistro and wonderful service. If you like to experiment with wine, this is a great choice. The owner of a local winery was in the restaurant, recognized us, and introduced us around, which made the evening more personal, eventhough we only spend one month a year in Victoria. This is a restaurant to which we will return.
BL is easily the best restaurant in Victoria. The menu is simple and the food is exquisitely prepared, served, and is consistently excellent! The staff are professional, friendly, and knowledgeable about the food and the stellar beer and wine list. The decor is warm and inviting. The value is also incredibly high - did you know that you can order any of their wines by the glass providing you purchase two glasses, and with no price increase for the luxury.
We visit BL at least once a month for our oyster and steak frites fix. They now also feature a hand-ground burger on Friday evenings, which is fabulous.
Reservations are really required unless you get there early or late and are willing to hang out at the bar and be served by the fabulous Steve!
Sure, as one reviewer from Toronto pointed out, a true French "brasserie" is just one step up from a café and wouldn't be as formal as this restaurant might appear. However, as the reviewer from Toronto might have noticed: this isn't France.
"Brasserie L'Ecole" is a delightful French restaurant located on Government Street across from Chinatown, and has been in business for longer than I can remember (I'm only 34, so who knows). I've eaten here approximately six times in the last five years and have never, ever been disappointed. The servers have always been friendly, helpful, and non-instrusive, yet attentive when required. The food is absolutely delicious, and is simple French fare. Most of the time I'll order a steak poivre (with a most tasty red wine sauce that I've been unable to replicate at home) with a side of garlic parmesan frites. The wine selection is good and the crème brûlée is likewise delicious. Though a fairly small place, the lighting is sufficient to keep the place intimate. I just wish I lived near so I could drop by for a glass of pinot noir every now and then . . . Really, this is one of the few restaurants in town (I was born and raised here so I know the selection) that I'd drop coin at to enjoy good food. Most entrees are under $30 and all told, a dinner with entree, dessert, and two glasses of wine will come in under $100.
Went there on a Saturday night and had an early reservation. There were four of us and all ordered a starter, main and dessert. The food was so tasty and I'm dreaming about the next time I can go back. I had the french onion soup to start (with bacon!!!) and the fresh Sooke trout for my main I just wish there was more gnocchi served with it because that was so tasty. Even the cauliflower with the fish was so yum followed by a warm rice pudding with fruit which I never order I always go for chocolate and boy was the rice pudding DELISH!! Two others ordered steak and frittes and I sampled both of there's and the tenderloin was my favorite but the frittes were SO good! One person ended with a cheese plate and quince which is my new favorite thing! You really must go.
I've lived and traveled in (and cooked in) some of the world's greatest food cities, so I am quite fussy. For the most part, in Victoria I'd rather eat at home. Brasserie L'Ecole is one place for which I would leave my home kitchen any night. The dishes are elegantly simple, and it's clear to me that whomever is in the kitchen knows their stuff. The mark of a great chef shows in their sauces. At Brasserie L'Ecole, the sauces I sampled were delicate and flavorful. I would have given it 5 stars straight across, but I thought someone would think I was related to the owner. (I'm not.). This is my favorite restaurant in Victoria.
8pm reservation and we were promptly seated. First time there having used these reviews to find a restaurant and we were not 1 bit disappointed. Limited in season menu but there's plenty of other items to choose from the blackboards throughout including the steak frites.Our server was Adrian ( I think) sorry if I misspelled your name. He knew every item and how it was served, suggested a Belgian beer, helped pick out our wine and cheeses.
Started with endive salad and eggplant appy, both were delicious and plenty of salad. I had the 12oz sirloin steak frites and my wife had the tuna served with roasted veggies, both were spectacular. The beef was cooked to perfection and was as tender as any filet I've had. Finished with a selection of chesses picked from our server and all were very good. The staff helps each other out I noticed and all so helpful and friendly. If you’re in Victoria you have to try this place.
I've eaten here eight or nine times over the last four years and they have been very consistent with regards to high food quality and good service. The ambiance is french bistro, including the music. Not a large place, pretty much every table is within fifteen feet of the bar.
The food is more simple french rather than over the top fusion stuff or exotic ingredients. Very fresh, mainly local stuff, executed flawlessly. Fair bit of seafood, always a braised dish and the steak frites. The steaks are usually the only thing over $20. On one hand their style of cooking really showcases the quality of the ingredients, but on the other hand I sometimes like some stronger flavours as an option. This is why I don't eat here a more often. The value for money is quite high.
Any wine here is available by the glass if you order two glasses and the somelier is good.
Lots of belgian and other interesting beers too.
And uncommon french cheeses for dessert if you want.
We were fortunate enough to add this gem to our dining list this visit to Victoria. The service was fabulous. Not overly pushy and not rude, just there enough to guide you through the menu if needed and to make sure your visit was a good one. Very helpful waiter in assisting me in choosing the perfect wine to go with my meal. The food was superb. Everything was delivered hot , presented well and tastes were out of this world. The trout was cooked to flaky perfection and the chicken moist and flavourful. Sauces added not over powered the food. It was obvious by the full house on a Wednesday evening in the off season in Victoria this place attracts a good local business as well. If you have not been make a reservation and go, you will not be disappointed.
A minimus place with maximus service, ambience, and food. Worth every penny! A cuisinal adventure which is highly recommended. It satisfies one's hankering for a meal in France without the fuss of travel.
This restaurant has a great selection of choices for those who like french cuisine, and although its considered a "french restaurant" they have many other choices on their menu-I tried the oysters and they were quite good, followed by the mussels and frites and creme bruele...the whole meal was quite enjoyable and I didn't find that the frites were overdone what so ever- I have suggested this restaurant to friends and family and they have only had good experiences there aswell
And the good thing about Brasserie L'ecole is that if you don't want to drop to much money, you could go for a few appet. for a fraction of the price and still enjoy yourself!
I really hate it when someone tries to create an authentic foreign restaurant and are not very good at it. For starters, a Brasserie is not a restaurant, it's the next step up after a cafe.
I'm not sure if the owner(s) have ever been to France because if they had paid attention, they would have noticed that a brasserie is morer casual than a restaurant.
This menu is for a restaurant, not a brasserie. I've never eaten oysters in a true brasserie in France.
I had the steak frittes and the chef cut my steak in 5 strips? what kind of chef cooks a steak this way? The frittes were not great either, they were so thin that they were completely dried up. Again, they have not been to France or again, they were not paying attention.
Nice try but? One last thing...
Brasseries in France don't have sommeliers
visiting from TO...