Eating Our Way Through Victoria…

Hi Folks:

We haven’t written one of these for a while, but we have been continuing to sample some of the best culinary experiences Victoria has to offer and we thought we’d suggest a few more.  If you’ve read our previous ‘Food‘ posts you’ll know that we don’t write about places where we’ve had a bad experience; many things can contribute to that – the chef’s day off, server having a bad day, etc.  However, with every recommendation our reputation goes with it, so we only write about places we’d be pleased to revisit.  Without further ado, and in no particular order:

1) My Thai Café

On Cook Street one block south of Fort, the My Thai Café is a little far north to be considered part of Cook St. Village, but it belongs in spirit at least.  At first glance the café doesn’t seem to offer much – it’s very small, and it’s certainly not fancy.  Don’t let looks deceive you, however.  The food there is excellent, and according to friends of ours who visit Thailand with some frequency, the My Thai Café has the most authentic Thai cuisine in Victoria.  We’ve been there a few times and have never been disappointed.  Thai food is spicy by nature, but they are more than happy to accomodate those who prefer ‘mild’ to ‘hot’.  Open for both lunch and dinner, the prices are reasonable, the service is open and friendly… well worth a visit!

2) Hot and Cold Café

Farther south on Cook St. is the Hot and Cold Café.  If the My Thai Café is small, the Hot and Cold Café is tiny – it might hold a dozen people, or a few more if the patrons are willing to get cozy.  The first time we went there with friends we weren’t even sure it was open, although the sign on the sidewalk assured us that it was (they’re open to 7 p.m. daily).  Put plainly, we hesitate to mention this restaurant only because it’s so small and once word of mouth gets out we expect the place to be jammed.  Simple fare – soups, salads, sandwiches, but exquisitely prepared and presented.  Each dish is truly a work of art, and the taste is to die for.  Be sure to try the rice pudding for dessert.  We’ll say no more, and leave you to discover the rest for yourself!

3) Millos Restaurant and Lounge

Located on Burdett St, just east of Douglas, Millos is a place we’ve often walked by and thought, ‘We should go there someday’.  To celebrate our 218th Monthaversary of being a couple, we did just that.  The name ‘Millos’ comes from the Greek word  for ‘windmill’, and it was this feature of the building that originally aroused our curiosity.

Millos has been in Victoria since 1978, and the owners are celebrating 47 years of marriage this month.  Congratulations to them both!  We were seated and served by Dora, one of the owners (her husband runs the kitchen).  A little spit of a thing, she effuses warmth and grace, making our evening a true pleasure.  We shared a Greek salad to start and although we ordered the large to share Dora advised against it, saying that it was a meal in itself.  She was right, and the small was just right for the two of us.  For the main course we both had lamb; Marcia had the roast lamb shank and I had the souvlaki.  Both were excellent, and the vegetables were done perfectly.  I’m a sucker for Greek coffee (unsweetened), and Marcia shared a bit of the galactobouriko I had for dessert.  At the end of the evening Dora came to give us a hug before we left!

4) The Noodle Box

Part of a chain of restaurants, The Noodle Box restaurant on lower Douglas St. is one of five locations in the Victoria area.  In a world where ‘fast food’ often means deep frying and empty calories, The Noodle Box is a welcome exception.  With a generally ‘pan-Asian’ menu, The Noodle Box serves up a variety of satays, sir fry options, soups, curries and more.  Each order is made fresh, using ethically-sourced and healthy options wherever possible.  More nutrition information is available on their website.  Available for eat-in or take-out, even these choices are given a thought to the environment as the cardboard take-out containers can be cleaned and recycled and there is in-store composting for leftover food.  There’s a choice of reusable chopsticks for dining in and bamboo chopsticks for those taking their food away.  NB: the food can be prepared anywhere from ‘mild’ to ‘make my head explode’, but be aware that they tend to be a little generous with their chilies.  If you like hot food, you might want to try ‘medium’ or ‘medium hot’ on your first outing, just to be safe.  You can always add hot sauce. 😉

5) Olive the Senses

Victoria has so many great places to eat; we’re looking forward to exploring more of them! By the time you read this we’ll have taken in one of the free olive oil tastings at ‘Olive the Senses’, on the east side of the Hudson Bldg, something we’re looking forward to experiencing!!

Update: Well, we completed our tasting tour this afternoon… Steve (the owner) was unavailable, but were privileged to attend Annie’s first tasting tour!  She far surpassed our expectations (and our taste buds).  We had the chance to sample a number of single-origin and infused olive oils and both white and dark balsamic vinegars while we were there.  It was, in a word, a revelation.  We really had our eyes opened to both the international and national standards for ‘extra virgin’ olive oils, and what good oil should contain (and not contain), how to store it and more.  Informative, educational and entertaining, this shop well deserves a stop on every tourist’s agenda, and that of every island resident too.  We brought home a blood-orange infused olive oil and an espresso dark balsamic vinegar – quite a heavenly combination. 😀

As Julia Child would say, ‘Bon Appetit!’


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

Eating Our Way Through Victoria, and…

Hi Folks:

September was a pretty busy month for us in terms of food – and when I was at the Bengal Lounge at the Empress Hotel the other night I remembered I hadn’t written that blog post yet.  So, without further ado…

Nando’s restaurant in Victoria is on the NW corner of Pandora and Government streets, across from Centennial Square.  One quick note: while there is an emergency exit door on Pandora, one can’t enter that way.  The main entrance is around on the Government St. side.  A note in the window would help, as we redirected several parties while we were there.  Nando’s is one of those places where the aromas enticed us every time we passed, but we’d never gotten around to trying.  So we did.  The essence of Nando’s is ‘Peri-Peri chicken’, reportedly a centuries-old collaboration between Portugese sailors and their discovery of the East African Bird’s Eye Chilli.  The chicken is marinated for 24 hours and then slow-roasted over an open flame.  It’s hard to describe the atmosphere at Nando’s – more upscale (and healthier) than a fast-food restaurant, but one orders from the menu at the counter and the food is brought out to your table.  Take-out service is also available.  One can choose the level of ‘spice’ desired, from Mild-Medium-Hot to Extra Hot.  We decided on Medium, which Marcia was quite pleased with, and I took advantage of some of the hot sauces on the table.  As sides there are rice, potatoes, salads and vegetables.  The food is tasty, and while the server did come by our table once to see how we were doing, we were essentially abandoned at that point and I had to bring what was left back to the counter in order to have it wrapped for home.  In keeping with our policy of only writing about places we would visit again, this one makes the cut on the strength of the flavours.

In the middle of September we took the ferry over to Saltspring Island in order to take in the Saturday Farmer’s Market and also the Saltspring Fall Fair.  Both were wonderful; it’s been some time since either of us have been to a traditional fall fair, and the freshly made Aeropress coffee we discovered at the market was worth the wait.  We picked up some organic apples and veggies, and a taste of a Blizzard cookie sample brought us back to buy a whole one.  We had intended to go to Auntie Pesto’s Café in Ganges for a late lunch, but by the time we arrived at 3:00 we were told they were closed – quite simply because they’d run out of food.  That’s either bad planning or a serious recommendation; we’ll go with the latter and try them the next time (when the Fall Fair isn’t on!)  As an alternate we went to the Tree House Café instead.

The Tree House Café is not (to my secret disappointment) a restaurant built off the ground in a tree, but it is essentially an indoor/outdoor patio with a tree growing up through the middle of it.  Quite fun, actually.  We had a table right beside the trunk of the tree, which was handy when the rain began to fall as the leaves kept us ‘mostly’ dry.  We loved the eclectic atmosphere (so typical of Saltspring – if “typical eccentricity” is even possible) and the made-to-order lunch menu, and will definitely go again.  Maybe next time we’ll go for dinner and take in the live music on offer.

Back in Victoria, a friend invited me to dinner in exchange for some help.  We went first to Santé Gluten-Free Café on Quadra, but they were closing within 20 minutes of our arrival. Another one for the list; so many restaurants, so little time…!  Instead we went to My Thai Café on Cook Street.  A little ‘hole in the wall’ family restaurant, don’t let this dissuade you.  The food here is very good.  Again my friend and I went for ‘Medium’ on the heat level, and it was just about as much as she could stand.  If you can take the heat, they can definitely dish it out!  We’ve been to a few Thai food restaurants in Victoria and would recommend this one.

And finally, another place on our list of ‘must-dos’ was ‘Habit Coffee‘ in the Atrium at the corner of Yates and Blanshard.  They have a second location on Pandora in Chinatown but we haven’t yet been there.  We’ve been to a number of excellent coffee shops in Victoria, each one unique.  The atmosphere at Habit is definitely more urban, with a modern, industrial look.  They do make excellent coffee, and they’re serious about sustainability with everything from composting to CFL light bulb recycling and reclaimed wood used in construction.  They have a ‘Sustainability’ page on their website that explains more ways they’re going ‘green’.  Being in a building that’s targeting LEED Gold, perhaps it’s not surprising.  They also have healthy cookies and other delicious treats available.  Next time we’ll have to check out Zambri’s restaurant next door…

Okay, that’s it for now.  Wherever and whatever you’re eating today, remember to take the time to celebrate the food, the company and the very act of eating.


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