4 Days in V & V with a 1st visit foodie
I'll be in Vancouver and Victoria for 4 days in early April. I'm taking my girlfriend for her first visit (I've been in love with Vancouver for years, since my first meal at Rain City nearly 15 years ago). I've got 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners to plan. I'm looking for some fabulous hole-in-the-wall places that will really knock her socks off. We're on a moderate budget but I'd like to do one splurge dinner. We're staying in Gastown but we'll have a car and we'll go to Victoria for an overnight. Any thoughts from the BC foodies would be geratly appreciated.
P.S. I'm also a homebrewer/beer fanatic so craft breweries and brew pubs would be appreciated.
You are right in a great restaurant zone in Gastown. (Boneta, Chambar, Medina and a few others are right there.
Beer: the best for local and area craft brews is The Alibi Room right in Gastown. For Belgian - Stella's on Commercial or Chambar if you want to stay within walking distance.
Breakfasts - Medina, Artigiano (coffee), (I'm not a breakfast guy so I'm hoping others chime in)
Lunch - (see Sam's recs below), Peaceful (Chinese), Saravanaa Bhavan (South Indian Veg buffet), Phnom Penh (highly recommended)
Dinner - Guu with Garlic/Hapa/Zakkushi/Kingyo (izakaya), La Buca
Splurge on Fuel, Gastropod, Chambar, Chow or Boneta...or supersplurge on Parkside, Voya, Diva.
Lots to choose from. We can help you narrow it down.
For Victoria, there's a place called Spinnaker's Brew Pub that you might like. It's got decent food, but nothing amazing. Nice view of the Inner Harbour and the mountains in Washington on a clear day :)
For splurging, I think Niche would be a great place to take your girlfriend. It's set-up in an unassuming old house in the James Bay area, but the inside is modern and there is lots of space between tables. I went there in late 2007 and posted a review of it on CH. I'm hoping to go there again sometime soon. Service and food was excellent.
During the day, there are a couple places you could check out in and around Victoria.
If you're in the Oak Bay area, Ottavio is a kind of cute bakery/deli, but it's always been very busy and crowded whenever i've been there. It's kind of cramped inside, but they have a patio if it's warm enough to sit outside. In Cadboro Bay, just a little north of Oak Bay, there's Pure Vanilla. I like the panini's at these two places. The pies/cakes/tarts at Pure Vanilla look really good, but I haven't tried them yet.
In downtown Victoria, there is a small Japanese place called Daidoco. It's located in Nootka Court off of Douglas St. I like their small plate servings for $2 or $3. It's open at 11 and closes whenever things run out, which turns out to be around 2:30 or 3:00 from past experiences.
If you want to do the high tea sort of stuff while you're in Victoria as well, I hear good reviews about James Bay Tea Room, which is very close to the Inner Harbour.
Since you have a car, definitely do the scenic drive starting from Ogden Point, where the breakwall is, along Dallas Rd to Clover Point. Keep going along the water front and along Beach Drive to Oak Bay Marina. Stop by to say hi to the resident seals! There is also Cattle Point if you keep going further north along that road. You'll get some awesome views of the mountains in Washington. Have fun!
Spinnakers Brewpub & Guest House Restaurant
308 Catherine St, Victoria, BC V9A, CA
225 Quebec St, Victoria, BC V8V, CA
Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen Ltd
2272 Oak Bay Ave, Oak Bay, BC V8R, CA
Pure Vanilla Bakery & Cafe
2590 Cadboro Bay Rd, Oak Bay, BC V8R, CA
633 Courtney St, Victoria, BC V8W1B9, CA
James Bay Tearoom & Restaurant
332 Menzies St, Victoria, BC V8V, CA
As a tourist and occasional Victoria visitor I much prefer Spinnaker's to Swan's.
I have eaten at the former fairly often and the food is decent but the views and beer excellent...and the wine list surprisingly good as well.
Swans is definitely worth a visit if for no other reason than to enjoy the first nations art displayed throughout.
Canoe? Depends on who is cooking IMHO. Have had some very good visits and others, quite hum-drum although the vangage point from the 2nd floor of the restaurant through one of the "portholes" overlooking the Gorge can be nice.
If you are inside in the pub there is not much to look at. Beer is ok.
I think Phillips is a Victoria home brew isn't it? If so, it would be my recommendation if you can find it. Especially the double chocolate or double espresso Porter or something to that effect. Delicious beer.
re: Bob Mac
I'm a homebrewer too! For beer in the area, fmed got it right, your best bet is the Alibi Room in Gastown. 19 or so taps, with a rotating selection all the time (you can see the kegs of the moment at www.alibi.ca). 16 of those taps are only allowed to be local beers and it still astonishes me that they have so much diversity. The other three tend to be Pacific Northwest microbrews like Rogue and some northern Californian beers. The bottled selection is superbly curated as well. Absolutely essential for the beer geek.
Though I've never been, Central City Brewing in Surrey has brewed up the most balanced, aromatic imperial IPA I've ever had. It's on tap at Alibi (look for the Red Racer Imperial IPA), but they do have a brewpub of their own in Surrey.
Six Acres is in Gastown. Though there are no taps (and these days I would just walk the extra two blocks to Alibi), but they do have a large bottle selection from all over the world. However, it's a fun place to hang out, have some snacks and people-watch.
In Victoria, the best beer to be had is Phillips. If you like hops, their IPA or their Amnesiac Douple IPA are both excellent. As Bob mentions, their chocolate porter is also fantastic. Spinnaker's beer is also quite good. I haven't had Swans. Canoe is mediocre for beer quality (or was a few years ago, may have changed). It is a nice spot though.
Thanks for the info, and I think the only one who will be sorry is the SO -- no Alibi Room for him unless he goes with some other beer swiggin' types :-).
Now to try to make up for freeloading on the OP's thread, here's a link that may be of interest (note the Alibi Room win):
Aw shucks, ma'am... but word birding aside, I'm wondering if a beer tasting might not be a worthy Chowdown. I heard talk of a wine-centred event at the Greedy Pig 'down on Tuesday which I'd be all over, but why not a hops-centric one? Maybe that would give me the chance to develop a taste for the stuff?? What say, all?