OK, I have no idea where the previous reviewer ate, but I have never had canned mushrooms at Chez MIchel and I think I can safely say they don't order cooked bacon bits either. What I have had here (often) is a better steak than I have ever had in Calgary. I eat here quite often and have never had a problem with my bill or drinks arriving on time, but I did notice a group grumbling about their cocktails taking so long when I was in last month. These turned out to be two paralyzers, sex on the beach and (wait for it) a mudslide. Please. This is a French restaurant not the Cactus Club. Try a martini (a real one) or a little Noilly Prat as an aperitif and you probably won't have to wait. This same pile of idiots then whined about their bills taking so long. My friends and I have never had this problem here either, but then again, we would never be so gauche as to ask for separate checks (for 5 people). The only problem we have ever had here has been sitting next to people who say things like "Ewww. I could never eat a snail". Stay home then!
Chez Michel is one of those places I would go, not to see or be seen, or take in a view, or be entertained by musicians, but when I want to spoil myself with just an incredible meal. The ambiance is simple but pleasant, the service was rather over zealous on my last visit but in an almost humorous way. However, all was forgotten once the appetizer arrived. Michel prepares esgargot that are the best I have ever tasted. I had to ask for more bread to soak up every last drop of garlic butter. Once onto the main course, chateaubriand that melted in our mouths, all my friend and I could say to each other was mmmmmmmm. Dessert was fantastic also but I am probably running out of space. The owner/chef, Michel, visited the dining room often to make sure everyone was happy. He's a riot. Very laid back for a chef! But in any event, the food is awesome! I wish I lived closer.
You might easily overlook Chez Michel if you were on a whirlwind visit to Victoria. It's not in the bustling restaurant scene downtown, but tucked into a cozy space in the largely retirement-age neighborhood of Oak Bay, on a section of Oak Bay Avenue which isn't teeming with pedestrians unless they're headed to or from a bus stop. A glance in the window at the unabashedly old-school decor or a caught strain of the French muzak might suggest to you a pedestrian menu and stodginess.
You would be wrong.
This is not a place to go for trendy "beet tasting" appetizers or mystery compotes, granted. The menu here is traditional French food, and its preparation reminds you why it became traditional to begin with. My lobster bisque starter arrived in a bowl too hot to touch, a flavourful garlic crouton floating in the creamy broth flecked with tender lobster bits and perfumed with cognac. My husband's pate, served rustic-style with generous portions of toast and cornichons, disappeared quickly.
The mains were even better: my duck confit was perfectly prepared, skin crispy and meat fall-off-the-bone delicious, tender but still moist. Husband's rare steak, generously sized, also did not disappoint. We opted for the pommes frites - always available on request - instead of the potato of the day and were glad we did. With perhaps only one exception I can think of, they were the best frites we've had in town. (Our server told us Chef had offered additional frites if we liked, and it only took a few bites for us to respond, "Yes, please!") Sides were nothing exotic - a half tomato provencale and green beans - but arrived piping hot, full of flavour, and beautifully seasoned.
Dessert led us to the crepe "french connection," filled with vanilla ice cream and drenched in chocolate sauce, whipped cream and almonds, and the profiteroles. Save the space: it's worth waiting for.
Is a meal here cheap? No, but you get everything you pay for: portions are extremely generous (at least 2/3 of my duck came home with us). For the same investment at many another Victoria establishment, your results will be much less in both quality and quantity.
Our server was attentive without being overpowering. And, since we were the only party in the restaurant this evening, we frankly wouldn't have expected anything less. We've been here before during Dine Around (a period of local discounts at participating restaurants) and had a less successful server experience, which we attribute to the extra temporary staff needed to cope with the additional volume. The moral of the story is not to wait for the Dine Around frenzy with its tightly-booked tables and limited menu. Pick an off-season weeknight instead to sample Michel's food - you'll have a larger selection and a much more leisurely experience.
Has the ambiance changed much over the years? Not really. But our meals out are more about the food than about granite-and-chrome glitz or the latest lighting fads. Real table linens and a little candlelight are all that Michel's food needs as a frame.
Chez Michel is a hidden local treasure. Come with an appetite on a quiet evening and you will leave impressed and satisfied.
I had heard good things about this restaurant and was expecting the best. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed, the food was good but not outstanding as many have said. I did enjoy the steak but the rest of the meal was lacking. The service was right down unacceptable and rude. When someone is paying this much for food, the service has to match. Our waitress actually asked us to leave after 1 hour (we had just finished our dinner) as they had a reservation coming in and "couldn't let them wait". UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!
I would never recommend this restaurant to any of my patients nor family members.
Canned mushrooms and bacon bits, NEVER!
Chez Michel is the best food in Victoria,
in fact the best French food,
and trust me the chef is also very French.
There is no time wasted on pyramids of pretentious
small portions of artistically presented food,
that taste ok(?),
simply absolutely satisfying flavours!
I finally have had a Caesar salad as good as mine! :)
Be sure not to stay after hours,
because Michel might lock the door and serve free cocktails until 1 am! LOL
Went for dinner expecting much more than was delivered. Service was slow and poor. Our waitress only had us to look after, yet we still had to wait over 10 minutes for our drinks to be delivered and even longer for our credit card to be rung through when we were ready to leave. The other wait staff seemed much more attentive to their clients. Food was ok. Not bad, not great just ok. I would expect higher quality of ingredients in Victoria based on what else is available in this city. Using bacon bits one can buy at the grocery store in a spinach salad and canned mushrooms in a mushroom wine sauce just doesn't cut it , especially for the prices being charged. Will definitely not have Chez Michel on our must visit list for when we are in the city. There are far too many other great restaurants to waste time on a mediocre one.
The food was perfect! It is evident that the Chef is very particular about the quality of the ingredients.
Honestly the best rack of lamb I've ever had in my life (and I've had many!!).
This is certainly a new favourite and I look forward to returning.
PS- the lobster bisque is another item that was remarkably better than any other I've had.