One of the challenges with living in Victoria is that there’s always so much to do! Often one has to choose this instead of that (heavy sigh.. 🙂 ). As example, starting last Friday (February 19) and running until March 6 is the 2016 Dine Around and Stay in Town event. It’s an invitation for both residents and visitors to check out over 60 different local restaurants and try one of their prix fixe menus, with prices ranging from $20-$50/plate. Many places also have suggestions for wine or beer pairings. In addition to the food choices, a dozen hotels are offering rooms at rates beginning at $79.
February 19 happened to also be our 23rd Anniversary of the day we met, in the pre-dawn darkness on a snowy hillside in Ontario. To celebrate we went to the Odeon Theatre to take in the matinÃ©e of Maggie Smith in ‘The Lady in the Van’ and then we wandered over to John’s Place on Pandora. We both have pretty broad palettes, savouring international cuisines and fine dining, but there’s definitely something to be said for simple food, prepared fresh and done well. Such is John’s Place. As it says on their website, “Real Food at Real Prices”.
When we arrived, the joint, as the saying goes, was rocking. It was packed when we arrived, but it seemed we’d planned fortuitously because we didn’t have to wait long for a table. While we were waiting we took the time to look at the walls, covered (with barely an inch to spare anywhere) with old movie posters, photos of stars and more. There was even a section hosting caricatures of the servers, likely done by the local artist on the lower harbour walkway. This being the 21st century, however, it’s possible to download an app on your smart phone that connects to the juke box.
For this festival John’s Place had all of their regular menu offerings (we checked out the breakfast menu while we were waiting for our orders as we will be back) as well as a three-course fixed menu. We opted for the latter. Marcia started with the SPINACH BEET SALAD (A fresh spinach salad tossed with a maple balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries, red onion and toasted pecans in a sliced beet basket) while Mike had the DUCK TERRINE EN CROUTE (Duck pÃ¢tÃ© with pistachios wrapped and baked in pastry in the traditional French style, served with Cumberland sauce, olives and pickles.) Both were very tasty.
For the main course we both opted for the GREEK ROAST CHICKEN (A half-chicken, marinated in olive oil, Greek oregano, garlic and lemon juice, roasted to perfection and topped with Feta cheese. Served with jasmine rice and fresh vegetables). Marcia declined the steamed rice in favour of more veggies, and they were cooked perfectly. Al dentÃ©, with good colour. Simple food, prepared fresh and done well.
For dessert we both had the WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE (Melted white chocolate New York cheesecake with a raspberry marble swirl!) Mike had an iced-tea with the meal, while Marcia chose a decaf Marley Coffee, freshly brewed. A Lavazza espresso rounded things out nicely.
Breakfast out is a particular treat for us; we’re looking forward to our next visit! John’s Place is on the south side of Pandora, between Douglas and Blanshard. The Dine Around and Stay in Town Festival runs until March 6. February 26 is our 160th Monthaversary of being married, and yesterday was both Ansel Adam’s birthday and World Pangolin Day! Always something to celebrate.
P.S. From February 25-28, a growing number of local businesses are offering free or discounted specials for “Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown“. Passes are $15 and include several hundred dollars in redeemable value. Also, new this year are monthly discounted specials that occur over the balance of the year!