Re: the tea part. I haven't done tea at Murchies - but their food is fabulous - and the back tea area is nicely set-up. You'll pay for the Empress - and while some of it is paying for the food (the curry chicken, smoked salmon and egg sandwiches are really good, as well as the sweets and mini scones with cream & jam) the rest is paying for sitting in the hotel lobby - so if you want to shell out the bucks for the "experience" - go for it - it's definitely an experience (but it's high season now - so tea must be close to $60 a head? ouch!). James Bay tearoom has a tea service as well - very quaint, in behind the Legislature. Four Mile Restaurant (not the pub side) also has an afternoon tea - nice setting, about a 10min drive from Spinnakers.
The Tapas Bar in Trounce Alley just off Government.
Enjoy the view from the pub in Spinnaker's.
Take a short cab ride and enjoy the view of the Juan de Fuca Straights, feed the "resident" seals and get good seafood at the Marina Restaurant in the Oak Bay Marina.
Excellent rustic northern Italian fare in a quirky, semi-cafeteria like setting in the strip mall adjacent to the Yates Market at Zambri's [full service dining in the evening]
Head up to the top of the Victoria Executive Inn [I think that is the name] to Vista ?, the only roof top restaurant in Victoria. I intentionally stayed away despite many visits to Victoria because of the old adage to avoid revolving or roof top restaurants. I was wrong. Very "dated" decor. Desperately needs a "makeover" but my sablefish was delicious. Decent wine list and brilliant panoramic view of the area.
Surprisingly good food at the Irish Times pub in the restored bank building on Government just above Bastion Square.
Brasserie L'Ecole. Just on the fringes of Chinatown. French brasserie fare. Excellent. Superb wine list. Well priced and selected by co-owner, Marc Morrison who is a good guy to boot. Co-owner and chef Sean Brennan makes outstanding duck confit. We are there every visit to Victoria.
Cafe Brio. A little further up on Fort Street. Busy, fun restaurant. Operated by Sylvia and Greg. Solid, often outstanding food. Another must go restaurant during our visits.
Rosemeade. In the Olde English Inn in neighbouring Esquimalt. Beautiful surroundings and restaurant. Probably the most modern and well put together restaurant in the city. Good service and food.
Camille's. Old time favourite just off Bastion Square. Friends from Vancouver just got back from a long week-end on the Island and said they had a very good meal there.
Paprika. Excellent charcutterie and European influenced flavours in this spot in the Estevan Village toward Oak Bay.
There are many others. Lots of options in Victoria.
Sorry, not a tea drinker so will have leave those recommendations to others.
re: Bob Mac
re: Bob Mac
All of Bob's recommendations are sound - you won't go without good food in Victoria!
For tea, I recommend Murchies. It's about half the price of the Empress and in fact the Empress serves Murchies' tea. I can't say whether the tea sandwiches, cakes, etc. are comparable because I've never been to the Empress but Murchies' are fabulous.
Another recommendation for lunch or dinner is Noodle Box - two locations, one on Douglas at Courtney, and another on Fisgard between Douglas and Government. Asian fusion noodle takeaway place - really delicious, and a lot of food (if you have a fridge in your hotel you could eat it for lunch the next day).
Second the recommendations above.
However, I would also consider "the Mark" in the Grand Pacific Hotel...
"Temple" for a trendy spot downtown;
If you're here on a weekday, try to brave the crowds to eat at "Hernandez," a small hole-in-the-wall place that serves authentic Mayan cuisine (including delicious house-made corn tortillas).
If you go to Brio, talk to the owner Greg about wine recommendations. He has what is probably the best wine program in the city other than the Sooke Harbour House.
"The Superior" in James Bay is a fun spot that is dedicated to serving dishes made exclusively from local ingredients, also BC wines (although the wine list is not that great).
Funny that so many people here rave about Brasserie's wine list. I mean, Brasserie is probably your safest bet in terms of sheer consistency of the food, but the wine list is not all that, especially compared to Brio, Il Terrazo, the Rosemeade, and so many others.
For something different, you might want to try out Sanuk, which is a new-ish Asian fusion restaurant. I had a delicious lamb shank when I went there.
Where is Hernandez located? That is a new one to me. I do not have a clue ... many have said that before ... about "Mayan cuisine" but am always up to try something new.
Agree wholeheartedly about your comments regarding Greg at Brio. It is a terrific list with many hard to find Canadian wines especially from Kettle Valley or the island's Alderlea.
With Marc and his wine program it is more its affordability and pricing given the the wine by the glass option for all of the list apart from the "bubblies". I do not think I have ever ordered a bottle at Brasserie but have had many glasses.
I agree that it does not compare with what Greg does at Brio or with the trophy wines in Il Terrazzo.
I think it is well chosen for the type of food they serve. For example I tried all of the Joie wines there on Marc's recommendation [pinot noir rose, unoaked chardonnay with a splash of pinot blanc and I think the third was noble blend or something to that effect] last Fall whereas except for the rose which I had earlier in the holiday, I probably would not have bothered with all that white wine.
Mind you, did not do me much good since despite being on their mailing list they decided not to ship to Alberta this year.
Simple bistro type wines like Chateau Pey La Tour were given another "shot" when I left it to Marc to select and it has become [especially the reserve] a "house wine" chez nous.
Had a terrific minervois La Cantillene which I would ordinarily have skipped over apart from his recommendation, that was terrific. As with other trips I thought I had a "find" and was anxious to get some in before it became too popular and cost increased and availability deceased. Imagine my "surprise" [?] when I got home to Alberta to find the issue of Wine Access awaiting featuring best values under $20 or $25. Yes you guessed it, the best French and best Red categories went to the minervois we had enjoyed. Drats!!
Surprised by Temple. It was simply dreadful the time we tried it. Do you eat there or is it more later evenings for drinks and nibblies? I know a chef out on the Island who I met via these "foodie" sites who, unprompted, made the same comment as I initially did, "what is with the %&*(# bed?". Oh well liked the fireplace [smile].
Enjoy your posts and issues of EAT magazine to keep up on what is happening in Victoria. We'll be out in the Fall again