A delightful place tucked in Brentwood Bay near Butchart Gardens
We have passed by this unassuming place for years without really taking notice of it. Apparently it has recently changed hands. Someone told my wife that the food was very good but expensive. Not wanting to gamble, I asked the proprietor of my local neighbourhood diner if she had ever heard of it. Her reply was that "It serves the best lamb on the South half of Vancouver Island if you don't mind sitting on plastic chairs." That was good enough for me and last night we took two friends to dinner there. We were not disappointed.
It is a little rustic, perhaps one might call it funky. Not only is the decor 1940's cabin style but the washrooms are located outside in another building. But it does not have plastic chairs. The recently added hardwood chairs are very comfortable.
The service was very very good, bordering on excellent, Our waitress was young and not as experienced as one might expect in a top end restaurant, but she was knowledgeable about the food, very friendly without being familiar, and enthusiastic about her work. She was a compliment to the entire experience.
My wife and started with the lobster bisque while our friends each had a different salad. The lobster bisque was flavourful but a tiny bit too spicy for me to consider perfect, Our friends raved about their salads. The presentation of all the dishes was beautiful and the portions ware generous.
For the main course, my wife ordered the rack of lamb. This was a rack of 7 chops and was large enough for two moderate eaters, so she split it with one our guests. There was a $7.00 charge for this to cover the extra plate and trimmings. Reasonable, we thought. Our other guest had the shrimp curry while I tried the sesame Parmesan chicken. Everyone commented how perfectly the dishes were cooked and how the flavors of the individual ingredients came through so well.
The lamb.... oh the lamb!. My wife shared a bit with me and it was extraordinary. Without doubt the best I have tasted on three continents.
We won't go into detail about the deserts except to say that they were decadent, with large portions and beautifully presented.
In summary, our meals were as good as those we have enjoyed at good restaurants in several countries around the world. We agreed that the average cost at $50.00 per plate including a bottle of wine was worth the money. The Carden Street West is the perfect place for a quiet intimate meal and we are delighted that it is only a 15 minute drive away.
In the past, the Carden St. Cafe was always one of our favourite restaurants. I am a vegetarian and my husband is not and we always found the best of both worlds in the fabulous food and service offered at Carden St. Ownership and the menu of the restaurant has changed recently though. In the past, there were always several excellent and interesting vegetarian options for every course. This time, I had the option of one soup starter (none of the salads or other appetizers were vegetarian) and one entree. The vegetarian entree included goat cheese, a little heavier a meal than I desired. When I commented to the waitress that I was surprised by the limited options for vegetarians and not particularly desiring a heavy cheese entree (and indeed she surely had heard this from other former customers), she replied that they were not "a vegetarian restaurant." Most restaurants I have been to on the westcoast give the option of customizing other menu selections to be vegetarian but Carden St. did not. We were acutally both taken aback by the waitress' unapologetic response. My husband and both found our herbed mashed potates tasteless, although nicely presented. The prices also seemed to have been raised in the ownership change. My husband found his duck entree was "okay" but not worth the price. We will not be returning. We were so disappointed with the lackluster service, limited menu options and so-so food.
This was our 2nd time and it was a dissapointment for both of us. We both thought for the price it should have been better, there was no WOW factor for us, had the meals been cheaper then I think we would have felt that we actually had a decent meal but at the price it was decent isn't good enough.
Once again we were taken aback by the suberb food, service and atmosphere at Carden Street. In my last remarks I gave 4's for service and atmosphere but that is only because the disclaimer says that 5 stars straight across may not make on the review. This time I am not holding back. It IS possible for a cuisine to be all 5's, and that is Carden Street. Again I had the Beef Tenderloin and my review for that entree has not changed. It is nothing less than superb. My husband had the Rack of lamb and for the finickey eater that his is, Chris and dDane can do no wrong. His lamb was presented just as ordered and the portion was significant. We have yet to walk out without an over full belly. We love the care and attention that Chris and Diane give to their patrons and the dishes that leave their kitchen. I have to say that after reading the most recent review I was shocked. Though as the server originally stated, this is not a vegetarian restaurant. The menu is posted outside for viewing. Therefore, anyone who may not see the menu fit for their liking would know so prior to entering the establishment. Once again Carden Steet has surpassed OUR expectations and left us speechless, other than muttering...what could be our next excuse to coming back??? Needless to say, we will be back!!
My husband and I experienced Carden Street West in Brentwood Bay last night and it was incredible. I had the red curried prawns, which came with a wonderful assortment of vegetables. I love spicy food and the curry exceeded my expectations (they also have a mild curry for those who don't enjoy heat). The portions were generous, and the options available were great, especially for someone like me with a wheat allergy. My husband had the beef tenderloin and loved it. We had the chocolate mousse for dessert and it was served beautifully in an entirely edible chocolate dish. The service was amazing, and both the owners are hands-on, yet leave you to enjoy the great food and ambiance. They cater to their customers and were accommodating and flexible with special requests. We hadn't been out to eat in awhile as we have a young one, so the expectation was high and it was exceeded. This should no longer be a best keep secret, I know we will be telling our friends and family and will definitely return to enjoy it all again!