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Looking for those "hidden gems" in Vancouver and Victoria

I have been researching my upcoming trip to Vancouver and Victoria for some time and there seems to be some consistency with the restaurants that have been recommended. That is great. I have a list of places I really want to try (like Murchie's for Afternoon Tea and Vij's for a great dinner ... and I'll be going back to the awesome Maple Delights Bistro I found on my last trip to Vancouver.)

I just have a hunch that there are some really great places that aren't being mentioned. I am on a tight budget, so I am in search of those hole-in-the-wall, divey kind of places that a true Chowhound loves. - I think the reason I haven't seen many threads on here about those places is because it is mainly tourists asking where to go eat ... and maybe one would think someone doesn't want to eat so casually on vacation. (Just a thought)

I am in search of great inexpensive food! I don't care if it is a street vendor or a 5 seat shack (I do care that it is clean though. I don't need botulism on vacation!)

Please, someone point me in the right direction ...

I think I saw someone on the Internet mention a Jamaican place in Market Square (Victoria) does anyone know anything about this?

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  1. I really like Cafe Vieux Montreal on Government Street (Victoria).

    6 Replies
    1. re: twinkienic

      Hidden Gems:

      I can't speak to Vancouver, as I do not live there, but I know of a few hidden gems in Victoria.

      1) Hernandez. It is very hidden (but very popular with locals) and serves what the owner describes as "Mayan" food; that is, hand made corn tortillas, authentic Mexican drinks like Horchatas, you get the picture. It is in a walkway between Yates Street and View Street INSIDE A BUILDING. I think the building is called St. Anthony's Square, but I could be wrong. If you can, go at 11 or 1:30 for lunch because the place gets insane with downtown office workers at noon-1:30. Anyway, the building is on the south side of Yates St in the block that runs between Douglas and Blanshard.
      2) Estevan Fish and Chips--aka "Willow's Galley." These are the best fish 'n' chips in town, IMHO. Really dense but moist halibut, a lighter batter, fresh-cut fries. The place, like Hernandez, is very small, but there are stools, and if the weather is nice, you can take the meal down to the beach. This is in Oak Bay, not downtown.
      3) Zambri's. Not cheap, but if you go for lunch, not too bad either. Dinner isn't so expensive (entrees around $25). It used to be a lot cheaper for Americans to eat here before your dollar tanked. Anyway, Peter Zambri is an Italian fellow who cooks rustic Italian food using almost exclusively local ingredients. I remember a server telling me once that everything on my plate was produced within a 30 km (20 mile) radius of the restaurant, excepting the durum semolina used in the pasta. Anyway, Zambri is a good spot, almost all locals would agree, and although well known is off the beaten path (downtown, but in a strip mall with London Drugs. Corner or Yates and Vancouver streets).
      4) The Superior Cafe. In James Bay, on Superior St, just a short walk from downtown. Dinners-only, I think. They use mostly BC ingredients and serve BC beers and wines. A fun place that often has live entertainment (esp. music).
      5) Choux Choux Charcuterie. The ultimate foodie hole-in-the-wall. These guys are serious about their charcuterie and make their own delicious sausages and pates. They have an excellent selection of cheeses (mostly European) and cured meats. They sell a lot of interesting imported condiments, and they also have a daily lunch special for about $10 that is generous in portion-size and invariably good quality food. This would be a good place to amass ingredients for a picnic in Beacon Hill Park. By the way, they are on Fort ST between Blanshard and Quadra. They are easy to miss because they are so small (it is the North side of Fort ST, but that might not help if you are from out of town).
      6) The Parsonnage. In Fernwood (a 20 minute walk from downtown), hidden on a little side st (North Park, I believe). A hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood cafe that makes great soups and terrific scones, sandwiches, and other lunch items. Not too expensive, and the emphasis is on healthy food, although they do use cheese and non-vegan ingredients (not any meat, though, as far as I can recall).
      7) PIg. This is a tiny hole-in-the-wall that does three things: pulled pork sandwich, beef brisket on a bun, and smoked chicken on a bun. You're from Atlanta and can doubtlessly get way better and more authentic BBQ; however, these guys charge just $5 a sandwich. And you know what? It's a very tasty sandwich. I find their sauce leans more toward a spicy vinegar flavour rather than a sweet or smokey flavour. They have good sides for $1.50 each, especially the baked beans or the kosher pickle on a stick. I've yet to try the cornbread with the thyme and honey drizzle.
      8) Italian Food Imports: This is on Blanshard, I believe between View and Fort. This is an extremely popular lunch spot. They do a $5 pasta on a paper-plate, and the type of pasta and sauce changes daily. I'm particularly fond of their rose sauce on serpentini. They also do tasty grilled panini.
      9) Ottavio's: On Oak Bay Avenue, in "the village." They are a bakery/cheese shop extraodinaire, but they also sell grilled panini, salads, and light lunch items. I wouldn't make a trip to Oak Bay just for this place, unless you were assembling a picnic basket (they have an amazing cheese selection and a great selection of imported cured meats, olives, and all manner of olive oils, organic butters, you name it...).
      10) I think the Jamaican place you have heard about is the "Jamaican Jerk House" which is acutally across the street from Market Sq, on Pandora at Government (actually in the same building but around the corner from a large strip club called "Monty's"). I have not eaten there since they moved away from their Esquimalt location. The food is not as good as some of the Jamaican I used to get when I lived in Toronto, which has a large Jamaican population, but it's not bad either, and it's reasonably priced. Tasty jerk chicken, good housemade ginger beer (they'll add a shot of Appleton's rum if you ask for it), fried plantains; the usual suspects for a West Indian restaurant. The service can be very slow.

      Well, that's a start for you. There are many other great hidden gems in Victoria, and an even larger number of tourist traps that serve garbage on a plate for exorbitant prices. As with all tourist destinations, beware the guide books. I am always alarmed when I see the shlock that the major guidebooks recommend in the cities in which I have lived. Shameful.

      Have a great trip!

      (And by the way, while Murchies is not bad for afternoon tea, their baked goods are pretty skanky and it is a tourist trap, much like the Empress. You'd be way better off at the White Heather tea room on Oak Bay Avenuen [again, not downtown]. This was discussed in an earlier forum on this site, and nearly every poster who had been to the White Heather gave it rave reviews).

      1. re: anewton

        WOW! What a list!! Thank you so much -exactly what I was looking for.

        I have to say, I am really surprised about Murchies. I was under the impression that it was the anti-tourist trap. Thank you for letting me know. I guess the idea of Afternoon Tea is touristy in itself, but I LOVE it. (Ever since my first time in England ... back then I called it "High Tea" like the rest of those people who don't have tea in their culture, but they set me straight. HaHa) I know I don't want the Empress (Even Harrod's doesn't charge those prices for what they give you!)... I will try the White Heather.

        1. re: anewton

          All of those suggestions are excellent, anewton. I would also add to the list the very hidden (in Colwood) Smoken Bones Cookshack.

          I have to disagree on Murchies. I think it's the anti-tourist trap at least compared to the Empress, and I've never had a cake or cookie there I didn't like. But to each his own.

          1. re: anewton

            The suggestions above are great however, I would specifcally disagree with the 'Parsonnage' characterization. I have been turned off each time I have been there.

            The first time I couldn't find a seat and nobody seemed interested in helping me. When I did find a little corner it was covered in newspapers and magazines which I cleared away as all the hippies dining there glared at me.

            The second time I met a bunch of middle aged new-age ladies there with my small child. I thought surely I can feel welcome this time, not so. I got the passive aggressive treatment from the 50 something waitress. Firstly my meal wasn't delivered with everyone else's. Upon inquiring the server played dumb with nairy a wince of embarrassment. My meal then arrived without my drink. I decided to let that slide, but when I went to pay they still tried to charge me. I got the same shameless "too bad" look from the server.

            I would have overlooked everything had the food been remarkable. It wasn't. Perhaps there is some special appeal for vegetarians that I just don't get. I did have a very nice soup and that's about it.

            I personally wouldn't endorse the Parsonnage as representative of a great Victoria eatery soley based on those experiences. Your experiences may be better.

            A few other really great places I can recommend are Smokin' Bones Cafe in Colwood/Langford. BBQ in the style of the American South, a little upscale but quite authentic flavours mmm.

            Also Baan Thai on Blanshard and View (downtown) for wicked Thai food.

            There a a few places at the Ocean Pointe resort/hotel (ie. The Boardwalk) that are surprising for hotel venues.

            Zap Thai in Esquimalt is a true hole in the wall treasure.

            The Mint on Douglas (Nepalese/Indian - downtown), great martinis.

            San Pan (Quadra and McKenzie in Saanich) for white glove Chinese (Cantonese). The Lemon chicken is a stand out.

            And Tacquitos (Mexican) which has moved and possibly changed names?

            Good eating.

            1. re: John Folse

              Just to add to what you've said, John, Baan Thai now has a second location at Fort & Foul Bay, and Las Taquitos has moved to lower Yates St. and changed its name to Casa Tequila.

            2. re: anewton

              BANG ON, BABY! The White Heather is the way to go. Couldn't agree more with your other reccomendations..

          2. Victoria - I love the Mint for late night eats
            And For a FUN lunch in Vic I love Japanese Village. I know it's not true Japanese but it's tasty, lots of food, fun, and a wonderful deal (I eat for about 9 bucks when I go for lunch)
            One tip - You HAVE to get the steak sauce on your rice (soooooo not japanese, but I don't care). They expect it, everyone (almost) does it. The sauce is to die for. I have come up with a reasonable copy of it. The chef holds the recipe very close. I have know him for about 7 years and he STILL refuses to give it up LOL.

            Vancouver (where I live now)
            Slickety Jim's Chat and Chew for brekky. Expect a wait, but usually not long. The last thing I ate there - "If Stalin had a Rubber Ducky" Cross between Huevos and a benny. Very tasty. Main street and Broadway

            Aurora - Nice place, not a dive but casual and not SUPER expensive ( I can afford to eat there about once a month). Extremely fresh food, and BC only Wine list.

            Water street Cafe - Gastown right across from the water clock. Good food, good prices, great atmosphere and people watching.

            Salt - In Blood Alley (yes I spelled it correctly) Wine list, charcuterie and cheese

            I can name some other upscale places but those there are my faves for affordability

            2 Replies
            1. re: starlady

              I don't suppose you could be enticed to reveal your version?

            2. Vancouver:

              One of my new favs is Jules Bistro in Gastown. Casual French bistro. My French friends (living in Vancouver) always go there and close the place down. Their Filet de boeuf with morel cream sauce is to die for!


              Hapa Izakaya or Kitanoya Guu is a local fav for izakaya - Japanese tapas.

              1. If you're on a really tight budget a person can dine for around $10 or less at most of the places below (except Rex as noted)

                1. If you're adventurous check out the Richmond Night Market - Asian street food galore!
                2. The Kolachy Shop 888 Beatty St near BC Place. Kolachies for breakfast.
                3. Gyoza King on Robson Street.
                4. Au Petite Cafe 4851 Main Street for excellent banh mi.
                5. The 3 course table d'hote at Rex in Bentall Centre downtown for $25 is excellent value
                6. Go Fish near Granville Island next to the fisherman’s wharf for good fish and chips and fish tacos.
                7. Phnom Penh Restaurant, 244 E Georgia St.
                8. Dona Cata, 5438 Victoria Drive tacos/Mexican on Victoria Drive. One of the more authentic Mexican places in Vancouver.

                You can get basic contact info, map and a sense of what people have to say about these places at dinehere.ca. Note that you have to take many of the reviews with a grain of salt. Note also that a few of these places - Dona Cata, Au Petite and Richmond of course - are some distance from downtown and would be best accessed if you have a car.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Wonder

                  Go Fish is absolutely incredible. It is very hard to find if you don't know where you are going, and I made my family chase around a lot looking for it when we were there, and they were pretty annoyed until they tasted the food. These are the best fish and chips in the known world.

                  1. re: Anne H

                    Ok, How do I find it? - I don't want to get lost ;-)

                    1. re: rachelfromatlanta

                      Search "Go Fish Ocean Emporium" in Google Maps.

                      1. re: Wonder

                        Some of the folks from Go Fish have just opened up "Red Fish Blue Fish" in Victoria

                      2. re: rachelfromatlanta

                        I assume this is way too late, but-- it is across the bridge from Granville Island, on the mainland (my first mistake in trying to find it) along the water, right next to a fishing dock-- turn right off the bridge and walk along the water, I believe. There is also a street you can drive along-- mapquest it! Just don't do what I did the first time, which is assume I could find it, and leave the directions in the hotel room!

                        1. re: Anne H

                          During the summer, all you had to look for was the large, 1-2 hour lineup.

                  2. Rachel, I was in Victoria about three weeks ago and can offer the following comments

                    I'm not sure Choux Choux Charcuterie can be described as a hole in the wall place. Yes, it's small but you can easily spend some $$ there. If you can swing it, they will pack a great picnic lunch for two for $45.

                    I did not get to Estevan Fish and Chips but I've heard it's good. I can personally recommend Haultain Fish and Chips, a very simple place on Haultain near Cook Street. The food was outstanding and the service very friendly. I'm told this place has been around for almost 50 years so they must be doing something right. I would choose Haultain over Barb's Place which is at Fisherman's Wharf on the Inner Harbour. The latter is good but it's always swarming with tourists. It is so busy that there are two lines - one to order and one to pick up your order. Then you have to find a place to sit at several communal picnic tables.

                    For tea, also consider Point Ellice House though it can also be touristy. Another good tea room in Oak Bay Village is The Blethering Place at the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Monterey - www.theBletheringPlace.com

                    For breakfasts, check out this recent link for some good spots: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/418704

                    1. in vancouver...
                      do you like vegetarian food? try the naam on 4th ave w

                      there is a fantastic burger joint on commercial dr. i think it was called stormin' norman's. norman will make you a plain burger (pick your animal) and you get to go up and help yourself to all the homemade fixins.

                      sandbar on granville island is a good place for seafood- but it's not really "cheap"

                      if you're around english bay beach (davie and denman) go to falafel king(?) on denman and get a falafel sandwich to go for 4 bucks, made by a guy who has mastered the art of preparing food without looking so that he can watch sports while working, and go sit on a log at the beach.

                      the best pizza ever is at white tower on robson.

                      i wonder if the cambie still has the burger and a beer for $5? even if they don't it's still dirt cheap. and you'll probably make friends with some aussie backpackers. (cambie and west cordova st)

                      rugby club on west broadway has unbelievably cheap alcohol. like, $2 beers. and it's the good stuff. food can get pricy because sides with mains are extra. but it's good food and with what you save on drinks you can afford some nice apps.

                      if you nead any "fast food"- head into a capers (organic food store) or bread garden (cafeteria style). actually, if you like ginger go to capers (there are a bunch of locations) and get a dozen of their ginger snap cookies. trust me.

                      i haven't lived in vancouver for two years, so i hope my info isn't outdated. have a great trip.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: excuse me miss

                        Stormin Norman's location on the drive closed and now he's only serving at Wreck beach (clothing optional)

                      2. A few years ago, when there was a hamburger club thread going on on eG, there was a mention of a food counter in the back of a meat market. We tried it and they made a great burger and fries for a rediculously cheap price. The market was in a seedy part of town next to the Gaslamp if I recall.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: kirkj

                          Kirkj - If you would like to give me the name of the place (or at least a little more info) that would really help. Do you think it is still there?

                          1. re: kirkj

                            There is no Gaslamp in Vancouver. You're thinking of Gastown. Save-on Meats is located in the heart of Vancouver's seediest area, but it's the place you're talking about.

                            1. re: kirkj

                              definetly Save-On-Meats down on wastings st....

                            2. must be the no name one in the back of save-on-meat on e. hastings and its still there, not always for the faint of heart but being from a large american city you should be well used to it

                              1. If you like Sushi then go to Sushi King House on Granville by 64th(it's on your way to downtown from the Airport. The portions are large,the price is cheap & it's quality. On a cool damp day the Seafood Ramen soup is to die for. My friend & I go there regurly even thought it is a long drive from out in the valley to get there. To us it is worth it!!

                                1. Oh! I completely forgot to recommend Daidoco (Victoria). It's a little family-run Japanese deli with really fresh salads and daily specials (marinated salmon on rice and yogurt cheesecake... yum!). They're only open M-F for lunch, though.

                                  1. hole in the wall divey, Phnom Phen, Au petit Cafe (great pho, but unbelievable sandwiches) but get there before 1 oclock or the sandys are gone

                                    1. For a hole in the wall treat, I suggest Red Fish Blue Fish. It is in a shipping container on the inner harbour. They serve beautiful fish tacos (they call them tacones because they're cone shaped), curry chips, and fish and chips (which my foodie friend, teh best cook I know, says are even better than hers - this is a feat!). Just discovered them this week (I think they've been open a month) and I will definitely be going back.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: victoriafoodie

                                        Is there a relation between Red Fish Blue Fish and the Vancouver Bin Enterprise (specifically Go Fish)?

                                        1. re: kirkj

                                          The article I read about in the TC said it was "inspired" by Go Fish, but I don't think there's a link. Is Go Fish a low-key place? This place doesn't have any seating - you sit on the wharf. They recycle and compost everything - it's almost a no-waste enterprise, and everything is locally sourced.

                                          1. re: victoriafoodie

                                            Go Fish is a shack by the public fish wharf outside of Granville Island, but by Granville Island's street entrance.

                                            1. re: victoriafoodie

                                              Victoria's food scene seems to be improving. I haven't visited in a long time since learning that your city dumps sewage raw into the Sound. Have you built a treatment plant yet? I'd like to start visiting again.

                                              1. re: victoriafoodie

                                                There is a link, Kunal Ghose, the Co-owner and Chef for Go Fish worked at Red Fish Blue Fish right after it opened for about 6 years.

                                                Original article is here: http://www.redfish-bluefish.com/04may...

                                                Red Fish Blue Fish
                                                1006 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W, CA

                                              2. re: kirkj

                                                There isn't an official relation, but the partners (one of whom is the chef) all worked at Go Fish. As did the manager.

                                              3. re: victoriafoodie


                                                When you say, "...in a shipping container on the inner harbour", can you be a little more precise about where on the inner harbour? In what general location? The seaplane depot, with the competition at Fisherman's Wharf, ?

                                                I love good fish tacos so sounds like the kind of spot I would walk my dogs out to for a quick snack if the weather is co-operating.

                                                1. re: Bob Mac

                                                  Bob, I think the address is 1006 Wharf St. It's right next to the Harbour Air and West Coast Air terminals. To get there you have to walk down a driveway behind a pink/red building (sorry about the vague directions).

                                                  And kirkj, I agree that Victoria's sewage practices are embarrassing. However, in 2006 we started planning for a treatment facility. I don't know when it will be built or where, but anything would be an improvement! Please do come back - I think you will be impressed by the food.

                                                  1. re: victoriafoodie


                                                    Those directions will work just fine. I know what and where you are referring to now having taken Harbour Air in the past. We will see if it still going when we are next out your way after Thanksgiving.

                                              4. The Superior-again-at James Bay, Victoria. Best restaurant I've eaten at since Paris-and just as good. 2 nights in a row, we just spent $$$$-worth every cent. 2/3s vegetarian. Different music nightly. So relaxing-and best decor anywhere.
                                                Go when Oliver Swain is there-he's the reincarnation of 1968 Tim Buckley

                                                1. I just returned from Victoria, and The Superior was definitely a highlight, fantastic food, great service and live music and an unsurpassed atmosphere made the night. The wine list did feature some nice Canadian selections, although I was underwhelmed by our server's recommended Canadian Shiraz, but I should know better.

                                                  We also checked out Red Fish Blue Fish and enjoyed both the wild salmon and spicy fish tacones, but the fish and chips were a little overpriced for what they were - $16 for two pieces of fish and chips.

                                                  I'd recommend either restaurants highly.

                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: hammer14

                                                    I was a little underwhelmed by the Superior last time I checked it out. I think I'll have to give it another try.

                                                    Another tip - try Niche. I had one of the best meals of my life there a couple of weeks ago. The chef is French trained and he does a West Coast menu with locally sourced ingredients that changes based on what's available. There is a fantastic tasting menu at $28 which has full size portions, and for another $15 you can have the wine pairings which are stellar.

                                                    1. re: victoriafoodie


                                                      When we were out your way a few weeks ago we almost headed to Niche but in the end decided to try out Stage instead. Niche seemed a tad too "precious" to me ... we were pretty tired and did not want to get dressed up ... but that is what happens after a couple of weeks in Tofino....you are so mellowed out that a sweat shirt and sweats seems "overdressed" [smile]

                                                      We'll put in on our list for a return visit come February.

                                                      The price you described for the tasting menu, particularly with wine seems very reasonable and the look of the dishes I saw I think in EAT were quite nice.

                                                      Are those 2 oz pours at that price. How many courses for $28. 2 or three at that price and portion size?

                                                      1. re: Bob Mac

                                                        Bob, we have to stop meeting this way and actually meet in person for some food the next time you're in town! ;)

                                                        How was Stage? It looks wonderful.

                                                        We dressed up to the nines for Niche because it was a girls' night but I think you could just as easily go in more casual wear - it is Victoria, after all; the land of fleece and Birkenstocks.

                                                        I think the wine was about 2 oz probably but honestly I'm not good at estimating - the dessert wine was a little smaller than the first two courses. There were three courses including dessert.

                                                        *note, I just realized that the suggestion of Niche may have been misplaced in a thread aimed at inexpensive eats but it was in response to the post about the Superior, so my apologies*

                                                        1. re: victoriafoodie

                                                          LOL...that sounds like a "plan" victoriafoodie. We are back out your way likely in late February.

                                                          A few years back my wife and I were in Calgary's Divino Wine and Cheese and got to chatting with a woman who was dining solo at another table because we seemed to have similar "foodie" interests.

                                                          Turns out she was from Victoria and posted here or at that "other" foodie web-site [smile]. The next time we spoke was a few months later when Marc Morrison at Brasserie L'Ecole mentioned that she was having dinner there as well. Small world.

                                                          You inquired about Stage. This is what I said to EdiblePrairieJennifer in another post upon our return:

                                                          "Mixed feelings about Stage.

                                                          It is quite a casual spot with a neighbourhood feel directly across from the Fernwood Inn which also was recently renovated. About 40 or so seats with a few more up at their bar.

                                                          Not a bad wine list with a chalkboard for the dozen or more by the glass

                                                          I was initially luke-warm. Our bill seemed high for what we had ordered and due to the pacing as the kitchen did get their food out quickly, we seemed to be finished quicker than expected so it differed considerably from our two nice dinners at Brasserie L'Ecole and Cafe Brio.

                                                          Small plates. Not tapas per se but similar.

                                                          However, then when my wife and I discussed what we had ate, there was not a poor dish among them.

                                                          Our lamb stew with a wedge of baked polenta was quite good as was the duck confit served over a sauce that included crunchy brussel sprouts and grainy mustard. The fried octopus was delicous simply coated with flour and cornstarch and served with a lemon. Simple veggie plates of brocolli fried in olive oil, garlic and chili peppers and then roasted winter squash with brown butter and sage were excellent.

                                                          I am glad that we tried it but I am not sure that I would "rush" back during our next visit."

                                                          I guess I had better not "hijack" this thread anymore.

                                                          Maybe we'll get together when we head to the island to break up an Edmonton winter. So far so good. Dusting of snow yesterday but it was gone by early afternoon and replaced by big blue sky and bright sun.

                                                          1. re: Bob Mac

                                                            I live right around the corner from Stage and have been twice. I love the concept, the food is always amazing, but the portions are so ridiculously small for the price you pay.

                                                            1. re: loop


                                                              I think we are on the same page.

                                                              The food was good. The octopus in particular was brilliant and my non-seafood eating "significantly better half" raved about how good the broccoli fried in olive oil and peppers was despite...or perhaps because of...its simplicity.

                                                              I think the tendency is to keep ordering more of the plates given the modest portion size. I am all for that but it can end up to be a pretty "heavy hit" at the end.

                                                              I know I mentioned this to someone at another restaurant and he remarked that he had been part of a group that had gone out one evening and had had a good time but the bill was several hundred dollars as a result.

                                                      2. re: victoriafoodie

                                                        Awesome tip victoriafoodie !!!!

                                                        I'm here visiting Victoria and have been reading much of the Western Chowhound boards to find out which places to check out during my stay.

                                                        The tasting menu you suggested sounded really good so the two of us ordered from that, as well as one wine pairing. As you mentioned, the menu changes frequently (every one or two weeks said the waiter). The choices for the tasting menu were off the regular menu:

                                                        Appetizers -
                                                        We both chose the warm sunchoke salad with apple, goat cheese, and a soft-boiled quail egg. Yummy.

                                                        Mains -
                                                        Two choices were available so we each took one.
                                                        The veal dish was described as the best ever tasted! I was able to steal a few bites and agree it was very very well done. The meat was so melt-in-your-mouth tender and the sauce complemented it very well. We both savoured every bite. Served with two crispy turnip croquette and blue cheese/apple dressing.
                                                        The cod fillet was served on a bed of white beans and wilted greens. The fillet was cooked well... not overcooked at all. Also came with 4 clams, which I can't comment on because I gave them away :) Overall, veal dish is recommended.

                                                        Dessert -
                                                        Creme brulee with mandarin slices on the side was delicious. Nice thin crispy layer and smooth filling inside a pastry crust, rather than a traditional dish.
                                                        Small gingerbread cake with walnuts and maple dressing and a scoop of apple glacee was alright, but creme brulee was more enjoyable.

                                                        Wine pairings were good and as victoriafoodie mentioned, the dessert wine was a smaller serving than the first two, but they were decent pouring sizes. $14.

                                                        Service was great... not intrusive, but overall attentive.
                                                        There were only two other tables on this quiet Sunday night.
                                                        Price was very very good for what you get. $70 before tip and tax.

                                                        Niche is definitely a recommend for anybody in the Victoria area!

                                                        1. re: sumashi


                                                          We'll have to add Niche to our "should try" list for the next venture out to the Island.

                                                          1. re: sumashi

                                                            Excellent, I am so glad you enjoyed it. I think it's a real hidden gem.

                                                            1. re: victoriafoodie

                                                              I am back on the island and looking for some good places to check out =)
                                                              I heard so much good stuff about Brasserie L'ecole from other threads that I went there for dinner on a weeknight. I made reservations for 6:30 and the place was already packed when we got there. Menu looked good (I already checked the net menu) and we ordered the rockfish and the lamb. We ordered wine and beer and they came. Then... we waited..... and waited... and waited... not even a sign of bread to tide us over. Were we supposed to get bread? We wondered, but thought that if our food came soon it's alright. The waiter never came back and finally we flagged him down and asked if we could get some bread. He said.. "OH". He left and then came back and said he forgot to place our dinner order, thus we didn't get our bread! Little glitch, but we were offered salad starters, so all was well. The salad was good.
                                                              We finally got our food about 1.5h after we ordered. The dishes were pretty decent. Not bad at all, but nothing really that great. I also ordered another glass of wine to accompany the food and it also didn't show up until I asked about it again and the waiter said "You ordered wine... right? What was it again?"
                                                              Service was so sloppy from this waiter, and he tried to act overly friendly/casual to make up for it, but I just found it off-putting.
                                                              At a bill of $92 for two, I expected better.
                                                              I think I'll go back to Niche, hopefully it's as good as last year!

                                                              On another note, I've found a few places that I really like around Victoria :

                                                              - Daidoco for Japanese food... it's a shame they're not open for dinner. Only people working downtown can enjoy it!

                                                              - Ottavio in Oak Bay and Pure Vanilla in Cadboro Bay for paninis and bakery stuff.... I think I like Pure Vanilla more than Ottavio, but both are good.

                                                        2. re: hammer14

                                                          Red Fish Blue Fish DEFINITELY. Expensive but amazing quality.

                                                        3. I always eat at Tomahawk Diner in North Van. Great ambiance and amusing if not tastey food. Terrible coffee.

                                                          1. In Vancouver:
                                                            The Charlatan (for drinks - the food isn't fantastic)
                                                            Rinconcito Pupusareria (for Salvadorean pupusa)
                                                            Dona Cata Tacos
                                                            Phnom Penh Cambodian
                                                            Taco Mexico Rico
                                                            Goldilock's (Filipino pastries)
                                                            Josephine's (Filipino restaurant)
                                                            All India Sweets
                                                            Ho Tak Kee (Chinese BBQ - best BBQ Duck in the universe)
                                                            Number Nine (in Richmond - Chinese)
                                                            Japadog (Japanese Hotdog stand)
                                                            Modern Club (for Okonomiyaki - a bit overpriced)
                                                            The Lion's Den (Jamaican Roti and strangely, Japanese Okonomiyaki)
                                                            Nor Boo (Korean Homestyle)
                                                            Thr Richmond Public Market (Asian Streetfood)
                                                            Szechuan Chong Qing (on Commercial)
                                                            Lombardo's Pizzaria
                                                            Sha Lin Noodle House (hand stretch noodles - what a show!)
                                                            Hawkers' Delight (Singapore street style food)
                                                            Belgian Fries
                                                            Pho Van (they now have Vietnamese Subs just added to their menu)

                                                            I could go on.....

                                                            6 Replies
                                                              1. re: Pollo

                                                                Main St at the south entrance to Chinatown. It's on the second floor.

                                                              2. re: fmed

                                                                pho van - i have always looked up at that place, but was scared to go up as i couldn't see how busy it was or anything - i live just north of chinatown, and would really love to be able to go there for pho as there is only one other alternative in the area. can you tell me more about the place?

                                                                1. re: fmed

                                                                  pho van - i have always looked up at that place, but was scared to go up as i couldn't see how busy it was or anything - i live just north of chinatown, and would really love to be able to go there for pho as there is only one other alternative in the area. can you tell me more about the place?

                                                                  1. re: stelbo

                                                                    Sure. It's kind of run of the mill Vietnamese Pho place. (Vietnamese variety shows on large Plasma screens...impersonal, but prompt service). The location is quite bright since it is on the top floor with windows all around. It's always busy at lunch.

                                                                    The broth is good (not too rich, not too light, not too salty, a good hint of star anise, a generous amount). Good selection of Pho toppings and other meals. They have just added Vietnamese subs (Banh Mi)...I still have yet to try these.

                                                                    The entrance is a bit sketchy - you'll see what I mean when you encounter the badly engineered and nearly collapsing pedestrian bridge covered with bird guano.

                                                                    There are a few Pho places in the area - there's one next to the Phnom Penh..but it isn't great.

                                                                    1. re: fmed

                                                                      thanks fmed - will give it a try. by the way, the pho place beside phnom penh is long gone. the place now sell eggs, sprout and mushrooms - odd mix.

                                                                2. list looks good but if we're thinng of ho tak kee on e. broadway then its been gone for a while

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: vandan

                                                                    What!?!!?!! Nooooooooooo!!!!! When did this happen? (I guess it's been a while since I I've indulged...)

                                                                    The duck hunt begins.

                                                                  2. I haven't quite read through this thread...but in case no one has mentioned it yet: the Richmond Night Market in the summertime. Asian food hawkers galore.

                                                                    1. Canteen Mitra at 3034 Main Street, Vancouver (next door to Yek-o-Yek, the Persian grocer). Had a pretty good falafel with soup combo there for about $5.50. They do a nice take on mirza ghasemi too.

                                                                      1. Opera Sushi (W. Broadway). Simple and delicious, but looking at the decor you'd probably never want to eat there.
                                                                        The opera videos, and the records adorning the walls give it a certain weird charm. They also have a crackpot display extolling the benefits of "black sushi", which uses grains other than rice. I only had the normal rice, myself.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: 23skidoo

                                                                          Not too many people mention it but Sapadillo on West Broadway by BCAA is pretty good. Their steaks are priced well and it's charcoal grilled. Not the highest quality cut but good bang for your buck. Their prime rib is good too for about $12 but I prefer their steaks. They also offer a good breakfast for a reasonable price too. Note, this is not fine dining and they don't pretend to be either.

                                                                          Huang's Beef Noodle isn't too bad either if you like beef noodles. They also offer other treats like green onion pancake, 5 spice tofu, XLB (not the best) etc. Relatively inexpensive. They're located on Victoria Drive and 54th Ave.

                                                                          Pearl Drops on Willingdon by Hastings offers great bubble tea at a reasonable price. I love it here because of the variety and they use REAL TEA. The wait is longer due to the tea steeping process, they make it when you order. They even make their own pearls and jelly, various flavours too!

                                                                          1. re: gourmet wife

                                                                            A new one to me is Anatolia's Gate (Turkish) in Burnaby (across from Middlegate Mall on Kingsway).

                                                                            It's a little hole in the wall that looks like a run of the mill pizza joint. They make all their flatbreads fresh in a brick oven and the Turkish specialties taste fresh and very nice. The proprietors are Turkish who recently moved from NY where they own and still run a Turkish restaurant. (I guess their kids or relatives run it now.)

                                                                        2. Recently went to Sunrise Pizza on Commercial by Venables. The food is awesome and the prize is amazingly cheap. Nope this is not gourmet food. Without exposing my age, it's the old school italian/mediterranean food that I grew up knowing during my youth. Bake spaghetti & lasagna, fried mushrooms, pizza, french onion soup. If anyone remembers Dino's on Broadway many moons ago, this place serves the same type of food.

                                                                          The pizza we order is just wonderful, thick crust, the kind that the edges are crispy, not too doughy or soggy, layered with tons of mozza. I noticed a lot of people ordering the lamb, haven't tried it yet but maybe soon. The baked spaghetti was so tasty. Better than a lot of other places.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: gourmet wife

                                                                            Haha. My kids love this place. We were there recently. Forgot my phone and camera...no pics! We had the pizza and it was as you described it. I haven't had the lamb either.

                                                                          2. Here's a tip I just picked up the other day. Thrifty Foods (the grocery store) has wonderful pizzas (gas fired super hot oven) and they are CHEAP. $9.49 for a pizza big enough for 2 people. Nice toppings too - we had spinach, chicken and caramelized onions.

                                                                            1. Over the weekend, I was craving greasy diner food, especially bacon and eggs. First thought was Helen's on Main. Hubs didn't want to drive out there so we stayed in the Burnaby Heights area. We ended up at Jane's on Hastings by Madison (next to fire station, too bad they weren't washing their truck that day =) ). Anyways we've walked by Janes many times and they have a signage promoting their $3.50 breakfast but never ever tried it out. Well last Saturday was the day to be adventurous. The food is typical mom and pop diner/cafe style. My pet peeve was the potatoes were deep fried but for $3.50, I ain't complaining. I had the special and hubs had the corn beef hash, his potatoes were pan fried =) Surprisingly it's not bad, not great but you get you bang for the buck. Oh it's not very greasy either making it an extra bonus for us. It's pretty busy in there and lots of regulars of all ages.

                                                                              1. For unexpectedly good, fresh fish in large quantity and good prices, I can vouch for both Samurai Sushi on Davies (downtown) and Sushi California at Lougheed Mall (Coquitlam)

                                                                                Samurai Sushi
                                                                                2011 Innsbruck Dr, Whistler, BC V0N1B2, CA

                                                                                1. Pho Vy on Fort Street has the city's yummiest pho. I was addicted to their pho when i lived in Victoria. They are fast and the food is consistently good.

                                                                                  1. Rebar and the pink bike - two must goto spots IMO - plus, a nice drive out to Sooke - thats where I live - its a 40 min drive from Victoria, here we have "The Edge" old chef from the Sooke Harbor House, very famous place, now has his own spot - amazing food and worth the trip!