I meant to do this earlier, but I’ve had a month of reflection, and these are the results:
I’ll start with the positive accolades first!
Gold Stars for…
Most memorable- Camille’s in Bastion Square- Hands down the best dining experience I had all last year. The service was outstanding, and the food was playful and delicious.
Made me a believer- Red Fish Blue Fish- For the longest time I swore off shellfish, but after trying the scallops at RFBF, the world was a different place. Scallops can be beautiful, this experience then prompted me to think of how many donkey chefs had served rubbery shrimp and scallops to me in the past.
Affordable Luxury- Relish on Pandora- Homemade everything it seems, very affordable, and the quality exceeds the pricepoint.
Best Burger and Best Dessert- Aura Waterfront in the Laurel Point Inn- I eat a lot of sweets, but nothing like the dessert platter I had at Aura. The burger was decently priced, but it had a lot of refined toppings, very nice.
Fresh and Simple- Hernandez- Simple food prepared with fresh ingredients is a recipe for success. This is a staple for lunchtime. They should take interac and credit cards though, who carries cash anymore?
Favourite Vegetarian- Lotus Pond on Johnson- This is a gem in Victoria, Buddhist Chinese food, some of the friendliest service I’ve had, and always flavourful. Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring, try out Lotus Pond!
Best Breakfast- Blue Fox- Blue Fox goes the extra mile for breakfast. Despite a couple of negative reviews, I don’t see any other competition in town. I didn’t like the breakfast at Floyds, Shine, or John’s Place. I love the bread and homemade jam at Blue Fox, sure there is always a wait, but I believe it’s warranted.
Trail Blazer- Ulla on Fisgard- Ulla is run by a young couple, and I admire their courage and creativity. This restaurant has the potential to become one of the top restaurants in Victoria.
French Comfort- Brasserie L’ Ecole on Government – Simple French Bistro eats, not too expensive, great wine list, but good luck getting a table without waiting, wish there was a better system in place.
Mediterranean Delight- Nar in Oak Bay- This is the only place I’ve found in Victoria that serves Turkish food, and tasting their borek and lentil soup was a pleasure. The flavours are authentic, and the interior is cozy, definitely a unique experience.
Favourite Sushi- Japanese Village -Although I haven’t eaten sushi in over 6 months (due to the realization of what the state of the world’s oceans are, especially the tuna fishery), Japanese Village was the best sushi I’ve tried in Victoria. I like the sushi bar, I’m not a huge fan of the grill. The fish is really good quality, and the guys behind the bar are experts.
Best Thai- Baan Thai- I go here at least once a month, either in Oak Bay or downtown on Blanshard, the service is always quick, the flavours are great. I love the Thai Iced Tea and the deep fried banana. Their peanut sauce, fermented chili sauce, and curries are great.
Best Vietnamese- Green Leaf Vietnamese- I like the interior of this restaurant better than all the other Vietnamese places I’ve been to. The family is very sweet, and the pho was really good, the summer rolls were O.K.
Best Ambiance- Bengal Lounge in the Empress- I love chilling out at the Bengal Lounge, the cocktails are top notch, the service is impressive, and the food, although it is overpriced, is very good quality.
Biggest Flavours- Veneto Lounge- I’ve been to Veneto over four times now, and they consistently deliver great food. The Mongolian ribs are to die for, the wine list is extensive, and the tapas are a fun idea. Beautiful interior.
Exciting ingredients- Cafe Brio on Fort St.- I have had a lot of “firsts” at Cafe Brio, so I love it for that. Sweetbreads, fiddleheads, Foie gras, the chef inspires me with his range.
Best Bakery- Murchies- I don’t buy many baked goods, and when I do, it’s usually at the Market on Yates. But occasionally, well special occasions, I will buy one of the beautiful cakes from Murchies. They’re expensive, but they are a real treat.
Tiny place, Big taste- Ayo Eat- Indonesian-style food in Market square, the little guy cooking in there cooks with love, and you really taste it in the food. I like that even though the menu is small, he really puts pride into the way he presents it to you.
And now for the restaurants that made it onto my naughty list:
Room for improvement
Beirut Express- perhaps one of the most talked about restaurants in town, and the idea is great. We really do need some fast Middle-eastern food in Victoria. Unfortunately the falafel was one of the worst things I ate all year. I hope they get to turn it around, and change the food, to bring customers back.
Bard and Banker- the most horrific service I’ve ever experienced, I really hope the girl who served my family and I was canned.
Whitebird Lounge- appalling service, lazy kitchen, the whole place smelled like burnt oil, and the food was almost inedible.
Pig BBQ- another very ‘hyped’ restaurant, both times I was left wanting more, not in a good way, like in the way that you feel like you were ripped off.
The Tapa Bar- I’ve stopped going here. The food each time I went was bland, expensive and boring.
Zambri’s- There are some things I like about Zambri’s. I like the interior, and the idea of serving fresh and local food. The service and execution on the food didn’t match the price tag. I spent over 50 dollars on lunch, and I didn’t feel like it was worth that much.
Canoe Brewpub- I love the interior, but the last few times I ate there the fish was overcooked, or the burger was dry. Just shows me that the kitchen has no quality control. The beer is good.
J&J Noodle House- I had high expectations for this place and felt really let-down. Maybe I should have tried the noodles.
Milestones- This place is all over the place. Sometimes the food is good but the service sucks, or the service is good but the food sucks. Get it together!
Side Dish- I was excited to eat Persian food in Victoria, but the bread let me down, as did the vegetables and the service, and the tea. Actually the only good thing about the meal was the kebab which was flavourful, but everything else was a slap in the face.
The Keg- Expensive, half-ass service, not worth going.
I’m excited for what 2011 will bring. I look forward to sharing my opinions on all the eating adventures I plan to go on!