Portlanders in B.C. (Reviews, Victoria/Vancouver)
The girlfriend and I just got back from our week in Victoria and Vancouver. Had a lovely time and ate some wonderful food. I figured I'd try to give back a bit by passing along some reviews:
Veneto, Victoria: We got in Sunday evening, and trios at a lounge seemed like the thing to do on our first night in. Veneto was just what the doctor ordered. We shared the beef and crab trios; we both thought the beef was the stronger of the two, although we disagreed on our favorites. Bonus, on Sunday they do a "build your own sharing board" thing, where you can pick two cheeses, two meats, and two fishes and create your own board. I believe it was $15, or thereabouts, and was a great way to start off the meal. In particular, I'd like to applaud them for not getting chintzy on the accompaniments, which many places do.
Wharfside, Victoria: Understand, in my relationship, I pick the restaurants while my girlfriend picks the things to do. It's a nice separation of responsibilities. Unfortunately, Monday was a very bad day for me. FUTURE VICTORIA VISITORS, A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: EVERYTHING IS CLOSED ON MONDAY. Basically, I'd picked out a couple places for lunch without checking their hours, and they were closed. Given a deep reluctance to pay international data rates on my phone and a failed attempt to drive around and just recognize a good place for lunch, we ended up at the Wharfside. All I can say is that it's kind of an anti-Chowhound sort of place. It has OK, overpriced food. They're trading on their view. You're probably better going somewhere else.
Ferris's Grill, Victoria: Continue the Monday madness for dinner. I spent about a half hour that night picking a place and then finding it was closed. Finally, the girlfriend got fed up with my frustrated searching, and we headed to Pizzeria Prima Strada ... which was closed for an employee event. Argh! After that, we headed to Ferris's grill, choosing the down-scale lower level because neither of us were in the mood for upscale at that point. The food was great, however. My smoked tuna sandwich was very good, and my girlfriend enjoyed her burger. Portions were huge. The brownie we had for dessert was good, but over-hyped. In the end, it was a nice dinner, and I'd recommend it. But just to continue the Monday anti-BroAdam theme, when we walked out we discovered a parking ticket for parking in a taxi zone. So other Victoria visitors, watch out for the parking signs.
Pizzeria Prima Strada, Victoria: After missing out on this place twice on Monday (first, because I went to the wrong location for lunch, and second because of the employee event mentioned previously), we ended up there for lunch on Tuesday. All I can say is that it's just as good as people say. Visitors should pick the Cook street location, by the way. The Bridge street location is in a fairly ugly industrial zone. The Cook street location, however, is in a nice little residential neighborhood right near a fabulous waterfront park. So eat your pizza and then work it off with a stroll along the water. SO GOOD.
Cafe Brio, Victoria: Our anniversary dinner. We ended up doing the Brio Family Meal, a.k.a. the chef's menu. Everything we had was good, but I have to admit I left just a little disappointed; I wanted it to be a little bit better than it was. Oh well, I still recommend it. Particular items I recall: the corn soup was amazing. The tomato spaghetti was good but needed more garlic. The halibut was just a tad overcooked, but the sauce that came with it made up for that. The salumi course was delicious.
Choux Choux Charcuterie & Chocolat, Victoria: Our plan for Wednesday was to take the BC Ferry over to Vancouver, so we grabbed a picnic lunch from these two spots for the trip over. We were not disappointed. Everything that we got from Choux Choux (coppa, a turkish salami, and bresaola) was delicious; I just wish I'd had a pounds to grams calculator, as I had trouble calculating how much I wanted of each! Oh, well. The manchego we got from there was equally good, as was the loaf of bread. The chocolates from Chocolat were also amazing.
Miku, Vancouver: Many thanks to chowhound (and NoMoreSnuggles in particular!) for this recommendation. We ended up going here twice. Partially because it was ridiculously close to our hotel, and partially because it was so darn good. Really, really good. Converted my girlfriend into someone who likes sushi good. I will warn newcomers that the place is a bit intimidating: our first night, the waiter rattled into about ten minutes of specials when we sat down, and the second time they were so busy all the waitstaff seemed a little frazzled (albeit, still helpful). So, let me help you out. First, get the aburi sashimi trio. Then, get the aburi salmon oshi sushi. Granted, everything else will be downhill from there, but you've done well to start. (The Aburi Chicken was also startling good, but the tempura soft-shelled crab was a bit greasy.)
Jade Seafood, Vancouver/Richmond: Honestly? This was our most disappointing meal on the trip. We went here for dim sum. I found the menu a little bit limiting -- it was long but a bit repetitive -- and the food we got out was good but, frankly, didn't wow us. Actually, leaving, I was wondering if we went to the right restaurant. In Richmond, on Alexandra, near a huge mall? The only thing we had that was really impressive was a baked mushroom pie type thing. Compared with our dim sum experience at Yank Sing in San Francisco earlier this year, we were pretty disappointed.
Peaceful Restaurant, Vancouver: Our day started with being disappointed at Jade, and ended with being over-the-top happy at Peaceful. GrayElf, thank you for your cheat sheet, it was very much appreciated. We left extremely full and extremely happy. The blade-sheared mu-shu noodles were amazing. We could not stop eating them. We also got their dan-dan noodles, which were more soupy than I'm used to them being but still really, really good. We also got a beef roll, which my girlfriend thought had a little too much hoisin, but which I could not stop eating. The only disappointment of the night was the pan-fried pork dumpings, which were merely "pretty good." (That night, I couldn't remember if GrayElf recommended the pork buns or pork dumplings, and guessed wrong. Still, no real loss.) Frankly, the only reason we doubled up on Miku instead of Peaceful is because Miku was physically closer to our hotel.
One thing for newcomers to Peaceful: They're cash and CANADIAN debit card only. I had to do a quick ATM run due to a misunderstanding about this. Worked off a little bit of that last piece of beef roll, I guess.
Oh, and for locals: we were at the Davies location, because it was convenient to us. Obviously I can't compare the two locations directly, but I would be stunned if the Broadway location was much better. How could it be?
Bella Gelateria, Vancouver: Very good, particularly when it's on the same block as your hotel. I will say, I was a little disappointed not to see a Pistachio flavor on their menu, but the Chocolate Noir was exceptionally good.
We also stopped at Refuel for a burger one day. Good burger, I have to say, but the fries were a little weak. I can see why people were raving about the burger, though. For other tourists like us, however, I might recommend going somewhere else. Don't get me wrong, it was a good burger, but it wasn't a change-your-life burger. For us, though, we both really felt like a burger that day so it hit the spot.
I think that's it. We had a lovely time in both Victoria and Vancouver, quite beyond the wonderful food. Thank you so much to those who responded to my earlier threads with recommendations. We didn't get to everything due to full bellies and the occasional lack of willpower to drive across town, but I'm sure we'll be back to try the rest at some point.
532 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z1E9, CA
Choux Choux Charcuterie
830 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8R, CA
Pizzeria Prima Strada
230 Cook St, Victoria, BC V8V3X3, CA
1055 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9, CA
The Jade Seafood Restaurant
8511 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X1C3, CA
944 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V3K2, CA
Ferris' Oyster Bar & Grill
536 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8W1K8, CA
944 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V3K2, CA
1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G6, CA
Glad your trip went well!
I will add on about the debit cards - a lot of cards in the US are Visa network debit cards as far as I know, which act as debit cards in the States, but are accepted as credit outside of the US. Cards have to be Interac network up here to work (and that's a Canadian system only).
Glad you enjoyed yourself, Bro Adam. Should have warned you that Mondays in Victoria can be tricky. I wish I had recommended Stage in Fernwood as I think you would have been very impressed with the food there. You did find some great places, including Chocolat and Choux Choux, two of my favourites. Choux Choux sells bread from Fol Epi, which is a great bakery, so that's probably what you had.
Burgers are always dicey in Canada. For one thing, they're almost always cooked to well done, which ruins them. The only exceptions are places like Refuel (and Brasserie L'Ecole in Victoria) that grind their own meat.
Love your city and visit frequently because of having family there. We've had so many good meals in Portland...everywhere from Pok Pok to Le Pigeon to Cafe Castagna to Pambiche. Love the chocolates at Sahagun. I wanted to try the pizza at Ken's but it was closed when we tried to go there. Would be fun to do a comparison between Ken's and Apizza Schulls (sp?)
Anyway, hope you find yourself back in our fair cities again sometime. Sounds like you enjoy Chinese, so next time you're in Vancouver you gotta schlep out to Alvin Garden in Burnaby to sample their uber-spicy, super flavourful Hunan cuisine.
4850 Imperial St, Burnaby, BC V5J, CA
Neither Victoria nor Vancouver are places you can safely just stumble across somewhere decent, sadly. And the Monday thing is a perpetual problem that we should have warned you about, our bad! I run into it on our trips to San Francisco as well FWIW. Usually can be avoided by hitting Chinese restos instead which tend to be closed on a different weekday for some reason.
We hit the Davie Street Peaceful last week and it was as good as the Broadway one. We did have one weak dish, however, which is a pitfall of having such a large menu. They replaced garlic shoots with yellow bell pepper (argh) without warning us (double argh) in the Sichuan noodles. That was lame, but they did apologize when we pointed it out. The tofu salad was tip top as was the potato roll. Glad you enjoyed it as much as we did.
I'm not a fan of Jade either, having been twice for dimsum. Sounds like the mushroom dealie was the dish they won the Chinese Restaurant Award for a couple of years ago. Next time you're up, check out Good Choice on Fraser. Really decent prices, reservations, solid execution on every dish, though some of the steamed dumplings are a bit oversized.
Yes, great report, thanks for posting. I shudder that you were at Wharfside. It is the anti-chowhound. They've been known to have a "locals" menu (with different pricing) than the regular (slam the tourist?) one. A few Victoria restaurants are breaking the Sun/Mon closing thing (Zambri's, Ferris' but still - slim pickins'). Prima Strada Bridge st. is (sometimes) easier to get into vs. Cook St (sometimes hunger pains have to trump neighbourhood ambiance needs; FYI Bridge St also hosts long-table dinners from various regions of Italy).