Well, on this one night of the year where perhaps more candy is consumed by more people than any other night, we have two restaurants to share with you from this past month. Both are places we’ve been meaning to go to for some time…
Nine years ago, in what was probably a fit of lunacy, Marcia asked me to marry her. Every day since has been a magical mystery tour for both of us. To celebrate our Ninth Wedding Anniversary this year, we decided to recreate a little of what went on at our wedding reception by meeting in Centennial Square with bubble makers and sidewalk chalk. People seemed to respond well to the bubbles floating around the square, including the Victoria Police Officer who stopped by on his bicycle. We each wrote a small tribute to one another in red chalk, then left the bag of bubble stuff and the box of chalk on a bench for others to enjoy. We were back in the square the other day, very pleased to see the results of the sidewalk chalk in evidence. For the record, it was not us who put the soap in the fountain! It was already there by the time we arrived, and the tablespoon of soap in our little bottle wouldn’t have had that much effect. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. 😉
After our tour around the square, I surprised Marcia by walking her over to the Brasserie L’école. The restaurant is located on Government street, just north of Pandora. It’s a place we’ve heard about and walked by but had not yet had the opportunity to try. One note before I continue, and that is that the Brasserie doesn’t do reservations. They used to, but it’s a small place and they found too often that either people stayed longer than expected or simply didn’t show up and they were left with an empty table. Therefore, they’ve decided to switch to a ‘waiting list’ order for tables. If you arrive when the restaurant is full, you can either wait or leave them your cell phone number and take a walk around downtown Victoria ; they’ll call you to let you know when to come back. It works better for everyone. Fortunately for us when we arrived there were a few tables available – including one at the very back, perfect for us.
In France a ‘brasserie’ is an unpretentious restaurant that serves drinks – roughly the French equivalent of an English pub. The Brasserie L’école fits this bill nicely; the décor is elegant but relaxed and the staff are efficient while still being open and friendly. The restaurant emphasizes ‘fresh’ and ‘local’ in its menu, which therefore changes frequently.
Our server listed several treats but there was one that stood out for us: a 30-0z, bone-in steak for two. We began with a small loaf of bread and butter, quickly followed by an Endive salad with a mustard/wine dressing – served with thinly sliced apples, whole hazelnuts and topped with chunks of thickly-sliced bacon. Marcia ordered a bottle of Badoit sparkling mineral water, and I asked for an iced tea. The tea was refreshing and different, with almost a passionfruit flavour to it.
Then the main course arrived. The afore-mentioned steak, served rare (for us), a dish of cremini mushrooms, one of acorn squash, another of roasted root vegetables, and finally a basket of steak frîtes to share. We each received our own dish of garlic mayonnaise. This is definitely not ‘nouvelle cuisine’; the only problem we had was that the amount of food nearly overwhelmed the size of our table! We were overwhelmed by the blend of flavours. It was, in a word, exquisite.
Believe it or not, we managed to get on the outside of every bite. Rather than opting for dessert we eyed the cheese board instead. Of the five choices presented we selected two different goat cheeses. They came on a board with thin slices of bread, more hazelnuts and thinly-sliced apples We topped it all off with a double espresso. In our opinion the Brasserie L’école is one of the top restaurants in Victoria; we’re sure you’ll agree and it is one we will happily frequent.
Some friends of ours recently returned from a vacation in Crete, so when we all went out to celebrate, a Greek restaurant was an obvious choice. San Remo is located on the northeast corner of Hillside and Quadra. I’ve been to the café on the corner but we hadn’t yet been to the restaurant part, which is next door. It’s one of a chain of restaurants owned by the same Greek gentleman, and has a family atmosphere to it. We started the meal with some flat bread sprinkled with feta cheese and black olives and drizzled with olive oil, and an order of saganaki, which is a pan-fried goat cheese, covered with brandy and lemon and flambéed at the table. We all tried different main courses – lamb shoulder, roast chicken, lamb souvlaki and beef ribs with caesar salad, which were variously served with roast potatoes, vegetables or Greek salad. Judging by the comments (or lack thereof!) I’d say everyone enjoyed their meals. We finished off with two shared desserts – tiramisu for our friends, and galaktaboureko for Marcia and I, washed down with a couple of espressos. All of the desserts are made deliciously in-house by Rose. If you’re not interested in Greek food, San Remo also serves seafood, pasta, pizza and more!
That’s it for now. Whatever you’re eating today, share it with someone you love.
P.S. You can read more of our Food posts and restaurant reviews here.