Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Cafés

Hi Folks:

I remember reading somewhere that Victoria has the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America… so much good food, so little time…  With all of those choices Marcia and I have become a little sedate in our selections – frequenting mostly places that we’ve been to before like Floyd’s and Red Fish Blue Fish.  We ‘ve written two ‘Eating Our Way…‘ posts now on some of our favourite coffee (and tea) tasting places in town, but we have another few to add to the list:

Café 932:  Located (appropriately) at 932 Johnson Street – between Quadra and Vancouver – Café 932 (formerly Island Oasis Café) is a quiet little spot that we’ve walked by several times before deciding to pop in for lunch.  We’re glad we did.  Run by a wonderful couple, Café 932 has a wonderful European flair.  Closed weekends, the café is open M-F from 7:00-4:30.  With good jazz playing in the background, we happily sampled an Early Grey tea (Mike) and an Americano (Marcia), as well as a Classic Panini.  The sandwich was both very tasty and very well presented.  In addition to paninis they have a daily soup, fresh salads, samosas and more.  They offer both Harney and Sons and Silk Road teas, and they feature Level Ground coffee as well as a variety of cold drinks.  We also loved the their Salt and Pepper shakers – they hug each other!  It’s definitely worth a visit.

Caffé Fantastico: With four locations in Victoria, Caffé Fantastico has been a local icon since 1993.  Their locations and caffés are each unique, but they all share a common passion for local food, being ‘green’ and good coffee!  So far we’ve been to the location in Quadra Village and the one at the Parkside Hotel, but we’ll be sure to check out the ones in Cook St. Village and the one at Dockside Green before too long!

The Cornerstone Café:  We wrote about the Cornerstone Café in our last coffee post, but as our Photo Meetup group meets there every second week, it’s become a favourite for us. Located at 1301 Gladstone Avenue (at Fernwood Road), the Cornerstone Café is in the heart of Fernwood Village – appropriate enough, since it’s owned by the Fernwood NRG (Neighbourhood Resource Group).  The carrot cake is very, very good, and they also have lots of more-healthy foods too!  Over the summer, every Friday night is ‘Open Mic’ night.  The Cornerstone Café is doing their best to be a zero-waste location, composting and recycling as much as possible.

The Grindstone Café: At 504 Herald Street (at the corner of Store Street), the Grindstone Café is a short walk from the downtown core.  More bohemian in feel, the Grindstone has a wonderfully laid-back ambiance.  We’ve stopped in there several times for a quick break and a muffin but judging from the heavenly aromas they also have great lunch fare.  Closed Sundays, they’re open M-F from 7:00-6:00 and Sat . 8:00-2:00.  Happy Hour is from 3:00-5:00, with 50% off all drinks!

Fernwood Inn: Okay, we have one more restaurant to mention, but this one’s not a café.  We had occasion to dine at the Fernwood Inn last Friday as we were planning to attend the ‘open mic’ at the Cornerstone Café across the street.  Located at 1302 Gladstone Avenue, the Fernwood Inn is sometimes described as a ‘gastropub’.  Family friendly but with big screen TVs for sports nights, the Fernwood Inn combines relaxed ambiance with an emphasis on local food and ‘green’ operations.  In fact, the Fernwood Inn was both the host of a UVic-led ‘carrot mob‘ last spring, and was recently the winner of a $35,000 grant from BC Hydro to improve their energy efficiency.

For dinner we had to start with their signature Carrot, Coconut and Ginger Soup.  Marcia then had the Salade Niçoise, and Mike opted for the Chipotle Prawn Arrabbiata.  ‘Arrabbiata’ mean ‘angry’ in Italian, and refers to the spiciness of the sauce.  Marcia’s salad had a lettuce base, well mixed with kalamata olives, potato, bacon, hard-boiled egg, green beans, cherry tomatoes and albacore tuna (cooked very rare).  It was just delicious!  The pasta had a fettucine base, and the ‘angry’ tomato sauce came with capers, slices of green onion and an abundance of prawns, with garlic bread on the side.  We didn’t stay for dessert as we were making our way across the street to the Cornerstone for the ‘Open Mic’ night, but we look forward to visiting the Fernwood Inn again!

That’s it for now!  So many good restaurants, so little time… (heavy sigh)


P.S. You can read more of our Food posts and restaurant reviews here.

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