Family owned and operated heritage building converted into a restaurant.
Hiking up the Interurban Trail on a recent March Mid-Winter's day I stumbled upon Tia's quaint and charming country diner which really is more of an old-school, home-cooked-feel, contemporary rural diner rather than a cafe. And yes, the freshly made coffee was an amazing treat after a long trek in the freakishly cool weather for this time of year in Victoria.
Plus I had roughly 50 pounds of gear on my back, and so this little Heritage diner seemed like a Holy Oasis for my tired body and weary soul.
I sauntered into this place with no prior knowledge and only one goal in my mind - eat, drink, and rest for a while (and hopefully not upset any of the locals). To clarify the comment in parentheses, I knew that my own visual presentation was not going to be a good one - I was tired, dirty, sweaty, and smelly. I probably looked like a wandering hobo, a vigilante on the run, or a Vietnam War Veteran named John Ramboni who just fell through a random time-space portal in the jungle and landed outside this Heritage building which has been converted into a restaurant. I wonder if the French Situationists or the Theater of the Absurd Crowd would approve.
No time to worry over social niceties when the body needs to refuel, so I bee-lined straight for the back, dumped my gear on the floor and tried to act natural. What was the result?
Well, aside from a few curious double-takes from locals, a woman named Sophia (who turns out to be the owner) made me feel right at home.
She immediately brought me a pitcher of ice water, and chatted with me about the journey, and then made sure I received an outstanding meal in a timely fashion.
Being the good vegan carnivore that I am, a bacon cheeseburger like you might find at the family barbecue, a nice portion of poutine French fries on the side, and a can of chilled fizzy liquid (gourmet pop in reality) became integrated with my body real-quick-like, and suddenly I had that wondrous sensation of - yes! I just rediscovered God in a plate of seriously good Canadian food.
Was it my hunger that made it seem so divine? Was it the wonderful people at this family owned and operated diner that made me feel welcome even in the midst of my visual and olfactory poverty? Or was it just great food at a very affordable price?
My fair, unbiased, and highly subjective (haha) opinion is that the poutine was exactly how I like it and could not have been improved. The burger was excellent quality in terms of ingredients, and well prepared - the only thing I would change here is that I like a lot of seasoning for any type of beef dish, burgers included.
Many culinary artists are moving towards a less-seasoning-is-better approach in order to satisfy the largest possible audience. The reason is that, for dietary restrictions and personal tastes, people who like more can add more, but people who like less have a hard time scraping the barbecue sauce out of the burger patty!
Overall - excellent people, excellent food for the price point (burger, poutine, coffee, and pop for under $15), lovely atmosphere, great location if you want to escape the city, and I must rate this as an outstanding casual dining experience.