Epicurean: A taste of Victoria

A guide for foodies to the best restaurants, food, chefs and more

  • Jul. 1, 2019 8:30 a.m.

Stories by Sean Mcintyre Photography by Lia Crowe and Don Denton

Known as a haven for foodies, Victoria offers beautiful and bountiful flavours to indulge every palate. And revving the motors of this city’s food scene is a collection of chefs, owners and creators, who take immense pride in their contributions to the culinary experience here. Over the next few pages, Boulevard presents insights from some of the people creating great tastes in Victoria.

“After close to 10 years as a staple in the cocktail and dining scene in Victoria, the Hotel Rialto’s restaurant and bar has embraced its Italian heritage to become Veneto Bar Ristorante. Using the freshest bounty of the Pacific Northwest, Executive Chef Jamie Huynh’s take on Northern Italian cuisine is bright, bold and thoughtful, using the best organic ingredients when possible to create dishes that are both approachable and engaging. The Veneto Bar program, managed by Brant Porter, continues a tradition of exciting and inventive cocktails, paired with a well-curated wine list, local craft and international beers and attentive and personalized service by some of Victoria’s friendliest bartenders.”

venetodining.com

“This is our 30th year in business.

For three decades we’ve tried our best to make people happy by creating and baking the best quality goods. A hugely important and most amazing part of our business is being involved in our customers’ special moments and occasions. They come to us with requests for their favourite cake for special celebrations and, along with it, requests for some very meaningful words written in chocolate on top. For 30 years, we have been honoured to be a part of some huge events in peoples’ lives.”

cakesetc.ca

“Sustainable seafood starts here. We are a commercial fishing company that also operates a small, boutique-style fish market and food truck. Our mission statement is really rooted in our fishing practices, and those are reflected in the products we sell. At Finest at Sea, consumers will find the finest quality seafood on the West Coast, 100 per cent wild and caught by our own Victoria-based fleet of vessels and fishermen using sustainable fishing practices. Our Boats. Our Fish. From our fishermen direct to you. We are proud British Columbians striving to be leaders in sustainable fishing practices.”

finestatsea.com

“Food. Service. Room. These three things are all important and must work together to create an exceptional food-and-drink experience. Our food reflects where and when we are and is truly ingredient- and chef-driven. At OLO, the room is a huge part of our atmosphere. We’ve designed our space in a historical building to be warm, vibrant and functional. Approachable, knowledgeable, warm and inviting. When it comes to service, we want guests to feel as though they’ve been welcomed into our home and that we’re sharing our passion with them. No one of these elements is more important than any other; they must work together to offer a unique and exceptional experience for guests. We definitely couldn’t do this without our amazing, passionate and dedicated staff. We are so fortunate to have gathered an amazing team to form our OLO family. They are a small yet mighty pack.”

olorestaurant.com

“Looking for a shot of Spain in the heart of downtown Victoria? As new owners, we fuse friendly service, a cosy setting and delicious Mediteranean flavours in a fun and unpretentious environment. Our extensive and impressive beverage list complements a menu that changes with the seasons. Be it a round of authentic tapas for the table, a house-made paella or one of our signature sandwiches, the vibe at Chorizo & Co. will have you returning for lunch or dinner time and time again.”

chorizoandco.com

“A core principle of our philosophy at 10 Acres is actively managing a working farm on the outskirts of the city. Ingredients grown at our farm and other local farms become the foundation for dishes served at the Bistro, Commons and Kitchen. No matter where you eat, all our restaurants are seasonal, so our menus are always changing. And seasonal items mean fresher, tastier, one-of-a-kind dishes that represent local flavours. We have so much excitement surrounding our produce throughout the year. The great thing about being a seasonal cook is the emotions that arise from different produce. My food excites me and builds so much passion and creativity.”

10acres.ca

The Courtney Room’s Co-Chefs de Cuisine Chris Klassen and Brian Tesolin are passionate about showcasing the finest local ingredients and working with many local farmers. Using classic cooking techniques, they offer a modern approach to Pacific Northwest cuisine. “We love to customize the dining experience — from special occasions in the dinning room with the perfect wine pairings, to fun gatherings around shared plates in the brasserie or inspired cocktails at the bar,” says food and beverage manager Adrian Gatt. “Our new cocktail list is inspired by the season and what’s happening in the kitchen, and it uses many local spirits.”

thecourtneyroom.com

“My mission statement is ‘personal not business.’ A few years ago, while trying to define what I wanted out of my working relationship, I looked back on my career as a chef. Distilling those experiences that were positive and negative, I came up with my personal raison d’être: I want to be involved in the production of high quality comestibles in an artisan fashion. I think the most important aspect of the food and drink experience is the interaction between the producer, the ingredients and the people you share it with. I’m excited to share the experience of being here at the winery and tasting the wines. Everyone will like a different wine, but we will all share the beauty and majesty of the Cowichan Valley. Blue Grouse collectively has been on a soul-searching mission as of late, and I believe it is coming to light. We are planting more grapes and transitioning to organic farming practices in an effort to be sustainable stewards of this amazing land.”

bluegrouse.ca

“At Bear Mountain, we love to let the ingredients speak for themselves. Too many ingredients will hide a dish’s true flavours. We pride ourselves in using quality ingredients that showcase our surroundings, and the great things that the farmers and food producers can bring to the table in Canada. We need to support our local farmers and food industries. I’m really excited about our seafood dishes this season as we offer OceanWise sustainable seafood. My favourite dish on the current Bella menu is our Wild Sockeye Salmon accompanied by warm fingerling potato and arugula salad, tomatoes, pancetta and lemon dressing.”

bearmountain.ca

“At the Blue Fox our mission is simple: to consistently provide a variety of good-quality, delicious food paired with good service, good value and good cheer, which can always be relied upon. We are excited this summer to showcase our latest menu featuring many new and healthy vegetarian and gluten-free options along with all of our decadent old favourites. Reservations (and interventions!) are welcome Monday through Friday, although on holidays and weekends it’s survival of the fittest. Blue Fox Cafe has been loyally serving Victorians since 1991.”

thebluefoxcafe.com

“Our team is passionate about cooking and serving the food we love in our restaurant, as well as treating our guests as if they were family. Creative, fun and approachable food reflects our local surroundings and shared adventures. From sourcing, preparing to plating, we believe in finding local food and looking to our global adventures for inspiration. We believe in the idea of irreducible complexity when it comes to our food, and we try to focus on the clarity of flavour by letting ingredients shine, serving only what’s necessary to really tell the story of our products.”

boomandbatten.com

“We’re all about locally sourced and locally made. The satisfaction each guest experiences when we deliver an amazing product and an amazing experience is our highest priority and constant goal. Exciting changes for the coming summer season at Marina Restaurant are an à la carte plated brunch on Sundays. We are still offering our feature holiday buffet brunches throughout the year. Changing up our brunch program has helped us better support our local farming community, bring in superior products, be more environmentally conscious and remain faithful to our commitment to diner satisfaction.”

marinarestaurant.com

“Charelli’s cheese mongers and specialty food merchants (since 2003) is a place where your search for the best has not gone unnoticed. Online or at our shop on Foul Bay Road (between Lansdowne and Fort Sreet.), find a European flair here unparalleled in Victoria. Our catering brings tastes of the world to your parties. Stop by for lunch and pick up must-haves for a picnic, unique cooking ingredients and cheese to satisfy any discerning palate. Join the cheese of the month club and have finely crafted cheese delivered to you, sign up for a wine tasting, order a custom cheesecake for your special occasion or send a gift basket for any occasion.”

charellis.com

“Located in a 105-year-old heritage building in an historic area of downtown Victoria and steps from the Inner Harbour, we offer a memorable, unique and truly authentic Italian dining experience. Being a trattoria, it’s the perfect spot for any occasion. Enjoy rustic, fresh, house-made Italian cuisine using locally sourced seafood, produce and meats, along with herbs and edible flowers grown in the garden patio. Chef Rafael Laouini. offers timeless classics and daily features, all of which combine fresh, seasonal ingredients to provide a memorable dining experience.”

ilcovotrattoria.ca

“The goal when we built the shop was to provide a whole experience. The restaurant is gorgeous; the desserts that the chefs create are beautiful as well as delicious, and we serve them with intent. I strive to hire people who excel at what they do. The ladies of the all-female La Roux kitchen are wildly talented and front of house staff are engaging and lovely. I want our guests to always feel like they’ve had a very nice visit with us when they finish.”

laroux.ca

“A new tradition for Q at the Empress — The Sunday Roast! Sunday dinners are about breaking bread with family and friends, enjoying good company, food and drinks. We are excited to offer an ever-changing Sunday Roast at Q at the Empress, carved tableside by one of our chefs from our gorgeous silver carving trolley. As chefs, we enjoy the time-honoured tradition of cooking a beautiful roast and preparing the accompanying sides. We look forward to becoming a family tradition for many in Victoria.”

qattheempress.com

“We constantly strive to exceed the expectations of our clients while supporting our local communities. We do this by providing an unparalleled experience that includes personal attention, exceptional service and superior culinary ingenuity. We do this by focussing on local food. There is such an abundance of locally grown product here on Vancouver Island, and we are fortunate to be able to offer this to our clients. I love letting the food come through and showcasing how beautiful it really is on its own. For example, all of our fish comes from Haida Gwaii. It’s such an amazing product that you don’t have to do much to it for it to be the centre of attention on a plate. We also have farmers showing up two to three times a week at the kitchen with fresh vegetables picked a day or two before. Making that connection is always the best part of our day.”

toquecatering.com

“At Farm+Field Butchers we only carry well-sourced, ethically raised meat and poultry. You won’t find anything else on our shelves. It’s important to us to have transparency and integrity so customers can trust in the product they are receiving. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff can help with any questions. We have a full-service, fresh-meat counter, in-house dry-aged beef, fresh sausages as well as great cooked and ready-to-eat products and rubs and sauces made right here. You will also find a well-curated local charcuterie section, cheeses and local free-range eggs. We love helping people find what they need, was well as being part of the city’s local food community.”

www.farmandfieldbutchers.com

Facebook & Instagram @farmandfieldbutchers

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