Amazing Experience at Solomon's in Victoria
Hi all, it is rare that I post anything since moving from Montreal to Victoria, as I've not really found any places that have screamed out "amazing." A few weeks ago, I had what is probably the best food experience of my life at Solomon's (542 Herald Street - downtown Victoria, (250) 590-SOLO)
It started with a conversation with Matt, the sous-chef who came out to discuss some food sensitivity issues with my girlfriend. She has some allergies that make eating out very tough (didn't stop us from going out a great deal in MTL though...). Turns out that he was trained in NYC to do just that, deal with sensitivities and still produce very excellent French-inspired gastronomy. The restaurant was not very busy as we had just missed second seating, so we had loads of time with him to talk about all kinds of tasty options. Then...the head chef Justin came out to see what was going on. After some conversation Justin said, "hey, why don't we just do a little tasting menu, 5 courses maybe? I just cut some local salmon sashimi and misted it with absinthe...want some to start?"
Yes. Yes I do.
Before the first course, Matt came out to also talk about price, and I had set out to have a relatively low-key and cheap night as I had only just found work that week and wasn't a rich man. I won't tell you how much it was, but it was probably the cheapest high end tasting menu on the planet that day. It was a one time thing I'm sure, and were I to go back for something similar, I would not hesitate to pay a lot more.
The food was all so good, highlights included absinthe-misted local salmon sashimi, Chicago-style beef fillet with espresso jus and delicious homemade fruit leathers topped with Galliano-flambe banana scallops on warm house-made walnut milk (my girlfriend can't have dairy, but this was so creamy and good, I don't want to call it a dairy-substitute, rather it is just ... deliciousness in a jar).
Each of the 5 courses was expertly executed, presented with care and fully explicated by each chef that prepared it. The interaction with the chefs was amazing and fun, and the food well worth it.
Then of course, we have the cocktails. Solomon's has a large selection of top shelf stuff, and he paired cocktails with some of the courses. The highlight was his "Esquimalt" cocktail that was paired with the salmon. It was a very nice mix of strega, vodka, vermouth, and iris-scented gin ...with a piece of smoked salmon on the side or in the drink as you like. So very very tasty and perfect with the sashimi. I chose to drop it in the drink where it soaked up all the flavours like a ceviche.
I won't describe any of the other courses as my memory would probably not serve me well and I'd miss a detail that the chefs tried so hard to include. All I can say is go there for a drink and some delicious food, and hopefully it isn't so busy that you can't talk to Solomon and get a quick history of the cocktail as told (and mixed) by a master.
Isn't "Solomon" the son of the fellow who owns/operates Pagliacacci's.
I have read some good things about it. More the drinks than the food but yours sounds like quite a nice surprise.
Glad to hear some good news since the Herald Street Cafe fell on some hard times during its past incarnations. Sounds good for us since it is close to the Delta where we usually stay.
re: Bob Mac
Glad everyone was motivated by my post! The place really was great, and their attention to detail regarding my girlfriend's sensitivities was a welcome change. She is avoiding a lot right now, wheat, sugar, dairy, MSG, alcohol...and a few others in an attempt to figure out which is the culprit. With all the above in mind they still managed to make dessert! You just don't find that kind of service many places. I look forward to reading some reviews when you all eat there! I am hoping to have brunch there sometime soon, brioche french toast with Cointreau!