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Sep 4, 2011 08:55 PM

Fine Dining in Victoria?

My husband and I are coming up from Seattle and are looking for a dining experience similar to that of Canlis and Rover's in Seattle. I am finding mixed reviews about the following restaurants: Pablo's, Cafe Brio, Matisse, Camille's, Brasserie. Can someone please rank these as I'm looking for 5 star service and food for a romantic dinner out? Thank you!

Cafe Brio
944 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V3K2, CA

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  1. lisawmarie:

    Based on your expressed specific criteria and admitting that I have not been to Seattle so am not familiar with those two restaurants nor have I eaten at Pablo's while visiting Victoria:

    1. Matisse; 2. Camille's; 3. Cafe Brio; 4. Brasserie; ? Pablo's.

    Based upon my own criteria of a relaxed, fun environment but with interesting west coast focused food and friendly service where I can eat and drink well:

    1. Brasserie; 2. Cafe Brio; 3. Camille's; 4. Matisse; ? Pablo's.

    Cafe Brio
    944 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V3K2, CA

    1. Seattle is a much larger city than Victoria, so I can't say that Victoria has anything in the same league as Canlis (maybe Sooke Harbour House back in the day, but I'm not sure that even it has maintained the same standards in recent years).

      You say you want romantic, and thus I would steer you away from Brasserie (noisy and crowded) or Brio (ditto). Pablo's is a non-starter.

      I think either Matisse or Camille's would be a good choice. Camille's has a menu that is more seasonal and innovative. Matisse's menu does not vary much, though they do have good specials. The food at Matisse is far from innovative but it is usually very good. The only thing I ever had there that I did not care for was a piece of halibut that was overcooked.

      Both places have intimate dining rooms (definitely no views in either place, though). Camille's is sort of underground and something of a rabbit warren of dark rooms. Sometimes it can be a bit hot in Camille's (not ideal for red wine). Matisse looks out over a parking lot and thus the blinds are kept drawn. I definitely give the edge to Matisse on ambience, though.

      Why not check out both menus online? Have fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: anewton

        Sorry to double post, but I forgot to suggest Paprika Bistro. While more casual than Matisse's or Camille's, it is quite reasonably priced and consistent too. I like the looks of their summer menu. And I prefer the ambience at Paprika to either Matisse or Camille's. It is simple fair (somewhere between casual bistro and fine dining) but the execution is solid and the ingredients used are top notch, as evident by looking at their current menu.

        There is also a resto that you might want to check out called Bistro 28 on Cadboro Bay Rd. The owners are opening up a new place called The Black Hat. Bistro 28 serves more contemporary French fare than either Matisse or Brasserie L'Ecole. I'm curious to try it.

        Paprika Bistro
        2524 Estevan Ave, Victoria, BC V8R2S7, CA

      2. Pablo's is very pricey, but is vitually unknown among locals, and appears to be a place designed to separate tourists from their $$$. I would second either Matisse (superb service) or Camilles. These would be very good places to dine at any city. At Matisse, you can have the four-course prix fixe dinner for $52. But forget the "fixe" part -- you can basically choose any two starters, any entree, and any dessert off the al a carte menu. However, for some items, there may be a modest supplemental charge added to the $52, such for the foie gras starter. They also have a decent wine list with 3oz and 5oz pours, in addition to full bottles. The service is both friendly and professional.