Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Celebrations!

Hi Folks:

Well, last Saturday was Marcia’s birthday and since she was off on both Friday and Saturday we (I) expanded her birthday celebration into a two-day event.  Fortunately Marcia was willing to go along with my schemes!  Before I continue, I should add a little backstory…

Back in 1995 we shared our first two-bedroom apartment together.  For Marcia’s birthday I invited a ‘few’ friends for a pot-luck surprise party and we managed to pack 37 people into our little apartment!  Everyone had a great time, including Marcia, but she also casually mentioned that she’d kill me if I ever did it again.  Well, since we no longer live there, and keeping to the ‘letter of the law’ so to speak, here’s a quick summary of some of the things we undertook over our weekend.  It also highlights some of the reasons we love living here in Victoria!

  1. We went to the Dales Gallery on Fisgard St. to take in their ‘Big Trees’ photo exhibit.  Some amazing work there.
  2. We took in the 14th Annual Gallery Walk, which includes visiting the Legacy Gallery, the Madrona Gallery, the West End Gallery, the View Gallery, the Alcheringa Gallery (our thanks to the woman there who took the time to highlight and explain so many of the pieces!) and the Winchester Modern and Winchester Contemporary Galleries.  The official walk started Thursday afternoon, but fortunately for us it was extended into the weekend as we did the tour over two days.  There was so much to see and we didn’t want to rush!
  3. We went to the Out of Hand Artisan Christmas Fair at the Crystal Garden (twice!)
  4. We met with local author Kate Noble at Jade Victoria and purchased a signed copy of ‘Duffy the Christmassy Dragon‘ for our great-nephew.  Fifty percent of the proceeds from each book goes to C-FAX Santas Anonymous.
  5. We met with (Victoria’s former poet laureate) Wendy Morton in Esquimalt, had an opportunity to have her read two of her poems for us… AND, since Wendy’s book ‘Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast‘ was the inspiration for Marcia writing her own book, Marcia gifted a signed copy of her book ‘A Year in the Life of a Bus-Traveling Poet‘ to Wendy.
  6. We went to Floyd’s Diner for lunch.  Floyd’s was the subject of our first food post and remains one of our favourite breakfast/lunch locations.  The place was as rockin’ and riotous as ever, but the food’s always great and the staff are wonderful.  Everyone on duty signed Marcia’s birthday card, and not only did the ENTIRE restaurant sing her Happy Birthday, but the staff even provided her with a birthday cake as a surprise!
  7. We took a horse-drawn trolley tour around the downtown core, and learned a few new things about the city.  For example, we didn’t know that the Swan’s Hotel was once an ‘ugly duckling’ of a grain warehouse.
  8. We stopped in quickly at Armeni Jewelers so that Hratch and Brenda could sign Marcia’s birthday card too.
  9. We met with about 15 or so members of the Victoria Photo Meetup group (they all signed Marcia’s birthday card too) at Centennial Square for the Tree Lighting, and while we were there had a chance to see the ice carving demonstration (reindeer and sleigh), the music and caroling and the big moment where the entire square is lit up with colourful lights.
  10. Following the tree lighting we moved over to Government Street for the annual Island Farms Santa Claus Parade.  The dinosaur float from the Royal BC Museum was certainly unexpected!

And finally, we decamped with 13 friends and members of the Photo Meetup group to the Bard and Banker for a little Christmas cheer and birthday celebration.  Located at the corner of Fort and Government Streets, although we’d walked past it numerous times, neither Marcia nor I had yet been there.  I had made an initial reservation for 16 people, and followed that with an e-mail to general manager Mike Boyle, letting him know that I wasn’t sure exactly how many people would be coming, and while the reservation was for a set time, we’d be coming in after the parade was over.  The following week I went in and spoke with the hostess on duty, and she was kind enough to show me the space they had set aside for us and discuss seating arrangements.  As it happened, the restaurant was completely booked for that night, so there was no possibility of increasing the number of seats.  In the end it all worked out perfectly.  The staff were most accomodating in their allowance for people coming in small groups as the parade passed by and cameras, etc. were stored away; our server handled herself with great aplomb!

Since neither Marcia nor I drink, we’re not able to comment personally on the wide selections of local beers available, but others in our group held them in high esteem.  The food menu is definitely a step above what might be called ‘pub food’, very tasty and well presented.  I began with the soup of the day (spicy yam), and then moved on to a main course of chicken pot pie.  Comfort food, but the pot pie was served with a topping of puff pastry, which was deliciously unexpected.  Marcia had the shepherd’s pie and from the bite she gave me I can confirm that it was also very tasty.  Others at our table feasted on fish and chips, chicken wings and green salad, but other selections run the gamut from oysters and arctic char to pizza, burgers and sirloin steak.  Based on the lack of conversation during the meal I’d say everyone shared our opinion on the food and were happily digging in!

For dessert Marcia and I shared the flourless chocolate cake, and our server was kind enough to add a candle to it!  It was very tasty, with a topping of a light orange sorbet – a most unusual but wonderful accompaniment to the chocolate.  Our friends J&K tried the sticky toffee pudding and announced it equally delicious.

In keeping with our policy of only writing about restaurant experiences we’ve enjoyed, we happily add the Bard and Banker to the list!

Many thanks to everyone for making us a part of your day and for joining in our celebration!


P.S.  Next weekend we’re on for the Festival of Trees at the Empress Hotel, BearWear at the Hotel Grand Pacific, the Gingerbread showcase at the Inn at Laurel Point, the Saltspring Island craft show at the Panorama Rec Centre, the Winter Market and the Tuba Christmas at Market Square, possibly one of the Chinatown walks, the IEOA Lighted Truck Parade and the Lighted Ships Parade…

P.S. II, the sequel – special thanks also to Tourism Vancouver Island as we won 3rd prize in their photo contest, including 2 nights in a cabin at Heriot Bay Inn on Quadra Island as well as 2 tickets to the Tidemark Theatre presentation of ‘Laila Biali Trio’!  It was a wonderful birthday present for Marcia and we’re really looking forward to it!!

P.S. III, one more: You can read more of our Food posts and restaurant reviews here.

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