One Night Out in Victoria - can't decide!
We regularly come to Victoria to visit family and friends but we're usually, well, visiting with family and friends and have our young kids in tow as well so haven't eaten out alot in town for years. Over the Christmas holidays we will be in Victoria and the family has offered to babysit!
There will be 4 of us and we'd like something a bit upscale but it doesn't have to be too fine-dining. Just good food and drink and good service, but somewhere we wouldn't bring our little ones. Somewhere that takes reservations would also be a plus.
Right now I'm leaning towards Stage Wine Bar, although Cafe Matisse, Camilles and Cafe Brio are also contenders. Any thoughts on these choices or others we should consider?
I thought I'd report back. We decided to go with Stage Wine Bar and booked for the VIP tasting so we could secure a reservation. Over all, we had a great experience. The atmosphere, food and wine were all perfect for what we wanted. The new owner, Graham, came over and introduced himself which was a nice touch. Obviously someone very passionate about his business.
The tasting menu is a great way to sample lots of the great menu offerings without having to make any decisions. We were all very full by the end and felt the $70 per person was excellent value for what we received.
Amuse Bouche: marinated squid, roasted red pepper, preserved lemon
1st course (paired with a glass of bubbly - Prosecco?)
*duck rillette (usually they serve a duck liver parfait but we had requested a non-dairy menu; the rillette was excellent), *cheese plate with manchego and a soft cheese of some sort.
2nd course (paired with deVine Viognier):
*local Saanich greens, bosc pear, spiced pecans with a lemon & thyme vinaigrette
*edamame with garlic, shallots, chili & lime
*gnocchi with roasted squash and an apple reduction
3rd course: (paired with Le Vieux Pin Pinot Noir Rose)
*Sooke trout, green beans with house bacon and smoked almonds
* sablefish with smoked paprika, tomato, nicoise olives and pinenuts
*Crispy fried octopus
4th course: (paired with Le Vieux Pin Syrah "cuvee violette")
*plum glazed pork belly, braised kale & pommes maxim
*lamb merguez with house flatbread
*duck confit with white beans and tomato
* chocolate terrine with creme fraiche
* carrot cake with candied walnut praline and raisin coulis
All of the food was great, highlights being the gnocchi, sable fish and pork belly.
Given how great the experience was there were just a few flaws that could have been improved. Each dish came to the table and needed to be shared between the 4 of us but no serving utensils were included which was a bit odd and not great given that it's cold and flu season. I did point this out to the server at the end and she looked surprised but said she'd make a note for the future. The restaurant was also great at accommodating the request for a dairy-free menu (the only exceptions being the cheese and chocolate dishes of course) but the pommes maxim that accompanied the pork belly were loaded with butter, so much so that I could smell it before tasting and so avoided a potentially unpleasant experience. And we were asked if we wanted coffee or tea when our desserts were served but we assumed these were not included in the tasting menu so decided against. If we had been told they were complimentary/included in the $70 we might have reconsidered.
All in all a wonderful experience and we will hopefully be back soon.
Sounds like a pretty good short list. Stage is great - keep in mind it's lots of small plates (amazing ones though). Two more to think about: Ulla at the bottom of Fisgard and Ca Va in Fernwood (somewhat across the street from Stage - it's bistro food and was recently short listed for an Enroute award). I had lunch there recently and loved it. Cosy seating, good selection of applies, mains & dessert & wines.
It has been years since we went to Stage Wine Bar (about 2.5, if I recall correctly), but we LOVED it. It was cozy and intimate with fabulous food and even better service. (And definitely an adult restaurant.) If it's still the same, I'd go back in a heartbeat and would highly recommend it for your precious evening out (even though I never tried your other options).
Whatever you decide, have a great time!