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Stage: Small Plates Wine Bar - Victoria

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I am in Victoria for the weekend and then off to the Comox area next week. Not much chance for fine dining but did make it out to Stages last night for a fabulous dinner. I had wanted to go on my last visit but just never made it. We originally thought we had reservations at La Brasserie but found out when we arrived that we did not. Even though I left my cell number because I knew we would be out shopping all afternoon they chose to email me instead. Oh well – I will have to try again next visit. They were very nice about it and redirected us to Zambri’s, which was very busy as well. This was Saturday evening at 6:00! So a word to the wise, dining in Victoria requires reservations.

We called Stage and they kindly held a table for us as we raced over from downtown. Stage is located in a residential area with a very diligent ticket agent so do not park in the signed residential areas. Stage is a warm and cozy wine bar, a bit on the loud and busy side but just enough to be lively. They offer many lovely wine selections including an impressive array of BC wines. Our server, Hayden, seemed very knowledgeable about the wine selections and made some excellent selections. We enjoyed a cheese plate with olives for an appetizer and then had the mussels, curry chicken, ravioli and a gorgeous salad with pears for dinner. The meal was served in a timely manner and each and every dish was spectacular. Truly! Even dessert was impressive. A slice of Boca Negra impressed us and so did the Crème Brulee with a very nice crunchy crust of sugar.

I see that some people have mentioned about the portion sizes at Stage but we had no issue with that. The quality and flavours were super so no complaints from us. We were definitely full when we left. Our bill was $120 (plus tip) and that included two glasses of wine each so it seemed fair to us. My only complaint was the bread, which took a while to arrive and sucked when it did. After waiting for more than 10 minutes for a bread basket to sop up the sauce from the chicken and the mussel dishes we convinced ourselves that it would be fresh baked. It was not! It was stale and unimpressive. The other thing that bothered me, and I have to admit it is a personal pet peeve, was the paper napkins. Yikes! Fine, gourmet, impressive, fancy dining at a wine bar and they use paper napkins?! This is inappropriate. Only fine white linen napkins will suffice.

The food, the restaurant, and the menu were all otherwise very impressive so I would definitely recommend Stage. Look for Hayden, he was very knowledgeable, efficient and cute too!

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