Matisse is located in Downtown Victoria, tucked behind wrought iron gates. Enjoy authentic French cuisine in a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. Savour the fresh bread, Rack of Lamb, Filet Bordelaise, Duck, Rabbit, Bouillabaisse, Seafood and what has been called the best Creme Brulee in the world.
This was a special birthday celebration. My husband took me away for a weekend get away and he made reservations at Matisse for dinner.
The ambiance would have been very nice if we had a different table but it is really distracting when the kitchen door is right beside you and it is being opened and closed all night. My husband asked if we could have another table but we were told that nothing else was available.
The service was okay. The host is very good with explaining all the dishes and how they are prepared. We had to top up the wine frequently ourselves. This should not happen with the prices that are being charged. One of the reviews commented on the white wine being warm by the time the entree was served. We had to request a wine bucket to keep the wine cold otherwise we would have had the same problem. An ice bucket is something that be presented automatically with white wine. We shared a appetizer of crepe of the day - white asparagus, bacon, spinach?? and cheese. It was very good and the serving was very generous. For entrees my husband had fish or the day (I forget what it was) topped with crabmeat. It was well prepared and very tasty. I went with the rack of lamb - 6 pieces of lamb perfectly prepared medium rare as requested. It was one of the better rack of lamb dishes that I've had. We split a creme brulee for dessert. The topping was nicely carmelized but not too hard.
It was a lovely evening but if we had a different table and the service was a bit better it would have been so much better.
I was here about a week ago. This time I didn't make a reservation, which was fine. I was seated at the same table as the time before that I was here - I guess it's the "corkscrew" table. I like that table, though - nice and cosy, particularly as I was alone.
I forgot to mention the amuse bouche in my review below. This time it was smoked tuna and caviar - what a wonderful taste explosion in my mouth.
I ordered the escargot bordelaise for an appetiser - red wine reduction, garlic and shallots. It was fabulous and a good-sized portion. The bread is amazing and I used some to sop up the sauce. (The butter was room temperature this time.)
For my main I ordered the boeuf bordelaise with brie fondant. Based on the website I had planned on ordering "Rossini" (with fois gras), but they had changed the menu before changing the website. I was offered the option of having fois gras, but decided to go with the fondant.
The beef was melt-in-your-mouth. A few times I closed my eyes while I was eating to savour the taste more fully. I found the fondant quite strong from the rind of the brie. It was very good, but I prefer less strong-tasting cheeses so I didn't finish it. There was also a square of potato that was a bit pudding-like, that was really good as well. There were baby carrots and baby asparagus in the bordelaise sauce, and even radish. I've never had cooked radish before, and I have since added some to steamed vegetables at home and will probably make this a regular practice. I didn't order wine this time, as technically I am on a diet until my high school reunion in May.
I also passed on dessert, but was brought four little madeleines, nice and warm. They were delicious.
I spent a week at Harrison Hot Springs in January and had bread pudding there twice, and regret not ordering the bread pudding at Matisse as it sounded really, really good. I have consoled myself by searching the Epicurious and Canadian Living websites for bread pudding recipes, although I am leaning towards trying some of the more savoury ones.
A great meal, though it would be better if I weren't eating alone. I'd be more likely to dawdle, with a drink before dinner, wine, and an after-dinner drink.
I went to Matisse for the first time 2 weeks ago with my boyfreind, and really enjoyed the entire experience. The service from the moment we walked in the door was amazing, The owners' passion for food was evident, and the menu was very difficult to choose from as there are so much great options. We shared the pate and Lobster Bisque to start, both were delicious. Then came our mains of lamb and duck. The lamb was tender and juicy with a great sauce and perfect sized portion, the duck was also good but I liked the lamb better. We finished the meal with creme brulee, and it was as expected, amazing! its a quiet and upscale atmosphere which is great for a date, I felt like I was valued as a customer and the food lived up to matisse's reputation, will definitely be back.
Have dined here a handful of times over 6 years now, and it is my favourite eatery in Victoria - which is saying something for a town that has arguably the best dining in Canada outside of Montreal and Toronto. It is just such a treat to have Parisian attentiveness and efficiency from the staff, an extensive mouthwatering menu with many rare continental items, and an authentic French atmosphere. You can comfortably relax and enjoy 5+ course meals over 3+ hours - the way food and tablemates' conversation should ideally be savoured. And it costs substantially less than Deep Cove for the same food and service - wow! The only improvement could be to broaden the wine cellar, but there are some good selections. The Foie Gras (actual liver, not a pate) is amazing, BTW.
Matisse restaurant located in downtown Victoria was a delight. The food was not exceptional all around. We came in from Vancouver and have dined at other French restaurants throughout Ontario, Quebec and France. So, we had some expectations going in. Our server recommended a Reserve wine, and if I recall it was Mission Hill and went well with our dishes. We ordered the escargot and butternut squash soup as appetizers. Both were good but not exceptional in our minds. My husband ordered the halibut and I ordered the filet of beef as main courses. I tried my husband's dish but thought it was average at best. The beef was excellent and cooked to perfection with complementing garnishes. For dessert, we ordered the bread pudding and it was full of flavor and is highly recommended. The service was good too. Would I go back? Yes, I would go back and sample some of the other dishes based on the quality and ratings of some of the dishes we ordered. By the way, our seating was @ 7:30 pm and we did not see a 2nd seating at this place. We didn't leave until 10 pm. The service is a bit on the slower side but I think it is done purposely. We enjoyed it.
For several trips as visitors, and now as residents of Victoria these past five years, we have yet to find another gem quite as special as Matisse. Both the exceptional food and the outstanding service set it apart as a dining experience. John, your host, is knowledgeable and engaging, inviting you into rather than simply explaining the menu and the nightly specials. If you can't decide on a wine with dinner...trust him. You won't be disappointed.
The food is excellent, prepared in sane and beautifully-presented proportions. The menu rotates seasonally, but if in doubt you can't go wrong with the seasonal fish offering, with a starter of lobster bisque or the house pate. (If one of your favourites has rotated off the menu...ask. John maintains that whatever your question might be, the answer is "yes" - and the kitchen agrees and delivers! You might be the one to set that evening' trend for steak au poivre.) Save room, though, for dessert. Whether you opt for a cheese plate, or the house-made ice creams, sorbet or truffles, it makes for a fitting end to a terrific meal.
Matisse isn't about f-a-s-t food by any means, so don't make this your first choice for a quick pre-theatre bite. And it is true that the seating area is small and you'll find yourself catching other tables' conversations just as much as your own, on a busy night. But the decor is tasteful and soothing, and if you happen to be there on one of this landmark's rare, quiet evenings, you'll find the ambiance a romantic, relaxing backdrop to a fantastic meal worthy of a painting by its namesake.
After reading all the reviews I had very high expectations of Matisse. I ordered the escargot and the seafood rague because I had a big seafood craving. The escargot was tasty but not extraordinary. The seafood rague was a huge disappointment. The lobster was tough and either really over cooked or just of poor quality. My husband had the gravolox and the duck. The gravalox was fair. The duck was okay.
I have to say the owner was a funny character and very nice. We ordered dessert to go which he even put on the house so that was very kind.
Unfortunately, the food was just ordinary. It was our 15th anniversary and just not that memerable.
I have to agree with other reviewers that this is a great restaurant with excellent food.
The owner, John, was quite entertaining and his knowledge of wine is extraordinary.
We ordered the prix fixe menu and the accompanying flight of wines. First course was a wonderful cream of white asparagus soup accompanied by an excellent Pinot de Charente Rouge. This was followed by a fromage de chèvre chaud and salad, accompanied by a very nice rosé. I choose the veal shank, which was heaven, and which was accompanied by a very nice, heavy Bordeaux, while my dinner companion chose the sole stuffed with shrimp, which was also excellent. Dessert for my companion was home-made cinnamon ice cream which was the way ice cream should taste. I choose the tarte tatin, which was very good but not quite caramelized enough for my personal taste, but it was accompanied by an incredible aged Calvados!
A very small, cozy restaurant that is a must for anyone visiting Victoria.
A dinner adventure we saved for a momentous anniversary. A big plus- the meal was truly amazing.
A little minus- the lighting was a bit too bright for a romantic meal... and unfortunately, the well-intentioned head waiter hovered and lingered at our table, speaking too much.
My husband and I went to Matisse several weeks ago and entered the restaurant through an iron gate into a small elegant room with a white washed brick wall, light yellow painted walls and fresh flowers everywhere. We were greeted by the owner, Mr. Phillips who brought us our menus and took our drink orders. What sets Matisse apart over and above the incredible food is Mr. Phillips and his vast knowledge and love of French food and wines and his willingness to share it with his customers. He will spend a lot of time going over wines to pair with specific foods which adds a wonderful dimension to the dining experience. My husband had the lobster bisque and the steak au poivre and I had a salad and the slow roasted duckling. Everything was perfectly prepared and brought immediately to our table so that it was served at precisely the right point. The sauce on the steak au poivre was so good my husband was wiping the sauce with his bread so not a drop would escape. My slow roasted duckling is a house specialty and it was succulent and flavorful. My husband and Mr. Phillips then began an in depth discussion of Calvados and to our delight Mr. Phillips brought us 3 glasses of Calvados of varying qualities for us to taste and savor the differences along with an explanation of each of the different selections. This was truly a magical dining experience in every aspect and we have eaten all over the world; Matisse stands out as a true gem in Victoria. We will make many return visits.
I have had the pleasure of dining at Matisse on three occasions, and each time has been a culinary experience to rave about. From the moment you walk in the door and into the softly lit intimate dining room, you know you are in a true French Restaurant. If you want the full experience, go for the Prix Fixe 4 course meal ($49), or the Chef's 7 course tasting menu ($85). You can have the latter paired with wines for an extra $40, which is what we had, and it is incredible. John, the owner, gives personal attention to each table and his passion for food and wine is delightfully infectious. Matisse is truly a hidden gem in Victoria: an absolute must try.
My wife and I discovered this place on our honeymoon and it's been our favorite since. We go at least once a year, more if we could.
Consistently perfect classic French food. Rich, decadent and satisfying every time.
Service is attentive yet discreet, professional yet personable.
John, the owner is a foodie, passionate about what he does and he presents the night's offering personally every time we go.
Once, when we made reservations to include our 3 y/o daughter, we found out he went out and bought a high chair to accommodate!
Prix Fixe at $49 is outstanding or a la carte prices are great value for what you get.
The dining room is small, reservations are a must. Well appointed and comfortable.
PS: I have to add that their Chocolate Truffle cake (flourless Belgian chocolate) is simply amazing. It was so good I called from the hotel the following night and John had prepared a takeout portion for us to enjoy on the house!
Went for dinner, was surprised to find such a small space. we had a reservation, only waited a few minutes for the table, server was excellent, excellent knowledge of both the menu and wine. All of our dishes were well executed, Lamb was perfect, well seasoned, cooked to perfection. halibut was also cooked perfectly and the sauce was very nice. The best Creme Brule we have ever had. Will be hard to find one better, but we will keep looking.
recommend this for any occasion, staff is unpretentious and knowledgeable.
Seems I never hear much about Matisse but whenever I am in Victoria, that is where I choose to dine. The owners are really foodies (the last time I visited, I caught the owner reading through The French Laundry cookbook during the quiet evening) and I like the small intimate room. Very good high quality fare.
We went to Matisse to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, and it was really the best dining experience we've had in BC to date. We opted for the Prix Fixe with wine, and John personally brought over each glass with a short explanation on why it was selected for a particular dish. The food and wine pairings worked incredibly well together. The service was excellent; polite, friendly, timely, attentive without being overbearing. The decor was simple and tasteful. The only thing I would change is the lighting - make it somewhat dimmer, candlelit, and hence more romantic! The bill was more expensive than usual, but absolutely worth every penny. I can't wait to go back.
This is a popular spot and it was busy when we arrived for our reservation. We were greeted and seated promptly. The service was friendly throughout the evening. However, we had to ask for water and bread and you have to wait a long time for the food. We arrived at 7:30 and the first course did not hit the table until 9:00! We were not alone in this regard as the party at an adjacent table were visibly and vocally upset about this issue. Apart from the wait, this interfered with our enjoyment of the first course food/wine pairing. In addition to the bottle of wine that we ordered for the main course, we ordered glasses of rose and white wine for our first courses. They were served chilled, as they should be, but were room temperature by the time the first course arrived. The main courses of lamb and duck were competently prepared but both were served with the same bland sauce. Desserts were OK. All portions were on the small side and prices are high. I would mention two things about the ambience. First, the lighting is very dim. For a restaurant that trumpets the quality and presentation of its dishes, you can barely see what is on your plate. Second, this is a small room and can be very noisy. Not a place for quiet conversation. Over-all, our impression is that Matisse is highly over-rated and not a good value. Won't be back and would not recommend.