This will serve as two months’ worth of ‘Food’ posts for us! We’ve had some interesting culinary adventures over the past couple of months… actually we were waiting for a writeup from a ‘guest blogger’, but that didn’t pan out so you get me instead. Let’s see now, where have we been?
Downstairs at the corner of Fort and Langley Streets, Saluté was formerly the Temple Restaurant. We ate there on a Monday night back in early March, and as it happened we were the only two patrons in the restaurant for the entire time we were there. I seem to have misplaced my notes and I can’t recall what we ate with any great detail, so I can only give overall impressions. Fully-packed, the restaurant would seat around sixty people. The décor is either eclectic or somewhat confused, depending on how you look at it. There’s a wonderful Romanesque fireplace in one corner, and blueish LED lighting under the glass-fronted bar, with various other accents scattered around. Our strongest impressions were that the prices were average to a little high, the food was very good and the service was, if anything, too attentive. Yes, we were the only two people there at the time, but still. Normally I would have chalked this up to an inexperienced server, but he told us about all of his other experiences at various establishments in both front of house and back of house operations, so there’s no excuse there. Our food-writing policy here at M&M’s Musings is that we only write about establishments to which we would return, and the food was very good. Recommended with caution perhaps.
Now, the title of this post is, “Eating Our Way Through Victoria… And Beyond!!” and at the end of March we took a day trip from Victoria to Port Renfrew to visit Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, specifically the Botanical Beach area. Not having been out that way before, when we saw a sign for “Tomi’s Homestyle Cookin’” in Port Renfrew we thought it looked like a great place to stop for coffee!! And it was, despite the fact that her ‘fancy coffee’ machine wasn’t working because of hydro problems. Marcia said the brewed coffee was very good, and I was pleasantly surprised by both the tea selection and the size of the gigantic cookies that were on offer. Tasty too…
Properly refueled, we finished the last of the drive to the park and walked down to the beach. We had sun and we had rain, pounding waves, surf and more. It was an incredible place to be. The tumultuous weather didn’t bother us at all – that IS why it’s called a rainforest after all, and the combination of sun and rain and warm climate leads to some dramatic growth.
As we were returning to Port Renfrew we decided to stop at the “Coastal Kitchen Café” for a bit of late lunch. A family-style restaurant run by a wonderful couple, it was surprisingly busy even in that quiet season. There’s even a play area for little people, and the owners’ daughter was making friends with some visitors while we were there. After a quick look at the menu board we both settled on the carrot and ginger soup and orders of sweet potato fries. They were very good, so the Coastal Kitchen is a worthwhile stop either to or from the beach! I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find the place packed during the busy season.
Our most recent dining excursion was to Posh Sukiyaki Restaurant. Located on the south side of Fort St. between Cook St. and Vancouver St., it was a place we had passed often but not yet savoured. It was time. Posh Victoria is the Vancouver Island contingent of a chain that also has restaurants in Richmond and Vancouver. Posh serves both sukiyaki and teriyaki, essentially the Japanese version of ‘hot pot’. We began with a miso soup, and then we were ready for the main course. As we were new to the concept, our server was very attentive in explaining the procedures to us. Essentially, each table has a gas burner in the center, onto which is placed a heavy, cast iron open pot. The pot contains both a sauce mixture and shredded cabbage; the cabbage is mostly water and as it cooks it releases its fluid into the broth. There are also bottles of water and sauce on the table, to be added to the pot as the liquid is evaporated. Using this liquid as a base, each person adds their own complement of meat (razor-thin slices of beef and/or pork) and accompaniments to the pot to cook. The guidelines are that one pot can be shared by up to four people, but with only two of us we were carelessly adding and pushing each others’ selections out of the way to make more room. The list of accompaniments is both very long and quite varied, including tomatoes, zucchini, several mushrooms, bok choy, cabbage, spinach, yam, different tofus, bean sprouts, rice noodles… it seemed to go on forever. There is a fixed-amount menu option, but we went for the ‘all you can eat’ and it was worth it. Not being sure what to expect, we began with our server’s recommendation of a ‘sampler’ of various dishes and then ordered more of what we each liked best. I should also mention that at the beginning of the meal each person is given a small bowl and a raw egg. One breaks the egg into the bowl, stirs vigorously and then uses the egg as a dipping sauce (this can be omitted if you’re not so inclined). Overall it’s a wonderfully fun, interactive meal. Our only word of warning is not to wear your best white silk shirt as splashes can occur! We were pleasantly surprised by the bill, and look forward to going again. One final note is that after we worked our way through the sampler and got to the order sheet, we ordered small quantities of those items we wanted. Despite that we were amazed at the quantity of food that showed up! We both thought there was no way we were going to get through it all, but we did, down to the last bean sprout. Our server did mention that often people order larger quanties than they can eat and much food gets wasted. Since all of the food is fresh and cooked at the table, our recommendation would be to order in stages. Take your time and enjoy!!
Ah… so many good restaurants, so little time…
P.S. You can read more of our Food posts and restaurant reviews here.