Wednesday, March 21, 2012


When it comes to watering holes, Canoe Brewpub is a venerable favourite of mine. There is much to recommend, a waterfront patio, handcrafted beer and friendly knowledgeable staff. The  appealing menu puts an emphasis on locally sourced fresh seasonal ingredients. Canoe's prices do veer into "gastropub" territory but I don't begrudge it.  Quality product costs money. That being said, Canoe now offers an enticing, budget friendly farm to plate menu. On a given day you can savour lamb shoulder with pale ale broth, gremolata, baby potatoes and heirloom baby carrots or crispy wild salmon cakes with romesco sauce served with your choice of hand cut fries or green salad.  The feature changes daily and is available seven days a week for $10.99 (lunch) or $14.99 (dinner).  I'm looking forward to trying pork vindaloo with cucumber raita, basmati rice, mango chutney and naan.  Spicy succour for a blustery spring day!  

If you opt for the regular menu do try the Cobb salad, which features a warm, slightly oozy free-range egg, little Qualicum cheese, maple bacon, baby iceberg lettuce, avocado and tomato. This is a refreshing, delicious salad with contrasting textures and flavours.  Order it once and you'll see why this dish is a classic! If you are more in the mood for comfort food go for the poutine. Gravy is what makes or breaks a poutine and Canoe doesn't disappoint here.  Hand cut Kennebec fries are bathed in rich brown ale infused demi-glace and heaped with Natural Pastures cheese curds. If you have room, share pulled chicken mini soft tacos with avocado, green salsa, tomato, cilantro and cumin infused crème fraiche.  Wash it all down with a pint of  Beaver Brown ale or try a Pimm's cocktail. This refreshing concoction features Pimms #1, lemon, house made ginger beer and  7up.  The gingery kick in this drink is addictive and palate cleansing.  I always crave this unusual, refreshing cocktail in the summer months.

Canoe has many other appealing menu items I have yet to sample. I'll have to head back there soon for some good tipple and a taste of local island bounty!
Canoe Brewpub on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


When I left the prairies one of the things I missed most was homemade Ukrainian/Polish food.   I grew up in a region of Alberta where a lot of Ukrainians had settled. I was lucky enough to be introduced to their hearty fare.  When it’s -40 outside, there is nothing like a bowl of homemade borsht to thaw out with! 

Imagine how happy I was to find the Cook and Pan Polish Delicatessen nestled right in my Fernwood hood!  It might not be 40 below here in Victoria but when the sky is grey and my mood with it, its nice to know I can still warm up with a bowl of borsht and a plate of cabbage rolls and homemade perogies.

Cook and Pan offers great options for eating in as well as take out.  I usually steer towards the Polish specialty menu, which offers combo plates with your choice of Polish sausage, perogies, cabbage rolls, and borsht or the soup of the day.  They also make a killer breakfast (served all day!) As a matter of fact, this is a great place to placate a hangover incurred the night before at the neighboring Logan’s bar.  Try the Canadian - two eggs, two pancakes, pan fries, Polish bacon or sausage and toast. The herbed pan fries are excellent.   

Cook and Pan have their wonderful perogies available for take out by the dozen. Yes, they are a little more expensive than Cheemo brand but these are so much better tasting!  The dough is tender and the fillings are very flavourful.  Choose between cheddar and potato, cottage cheese and potato, sauerkraut and mushroom or sauerkraut and beef.   The cabbage rolls are very popular and often sell out.  They make a vegetarian version for those that don't do meat.   Try some of the Polish sausage, available in the deli case.  I’ll be back to Cook and Pan soon to warm my belly and bolster my resolve on those days when March is more lion than lamb!

Cook N' Pan Polish Deli on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 19, 2012


When it comes to affordable eats in Victoria I'd be remiss not to give a shout out to San Remo. This bustling eatery manages to feel both lively and intimate at the same time.  San Remo serves up authentic Mediterranean dishes.  They also offer pizza and pasta entrees for those that don't do Greek.

If you wish to sample a little bit of everything try "Dino's Platter for Two" which includes moussaka, lamb chops, chicken souvlaki, calamari, spinach pie, tzatziki, Greek salad, rice and veggies, all for $46. Split a Dino between four people and you have an economical and satisfying dinner.  You definitely won't walk away hungry!  This dish, ostensibly intended for two, would easily feed four ravenous individuals.  Portion sizes are VERY generous.  On our last visit our server obliged us by replacing the rice with lemon roast potatoes.  The potatoes are delicious, golden and crisp on the outside, lemony and soft inside and flecked throughout with good Greek oregano. For an additional $3.00, share some pita bread with sea salt and roast garlic.  If you have room after all that try the baklava - flaky layers of filo drizzled with good Greek honey.  Chase it all down with a martini or some Ouzo.  San Remo makes a mean cocktail!

If you are in a festive mood, grab a friend or two and head to San Remo.  It’s a great place to unwind, imbibe and nosh.   Service is welcoming and warm.   This place has stood the test of time for a reason (over two decades!)  Check it out to see why!
San Remo on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 12, 2012



I once had a roommate, a marvelous cook who introduced me to the pleasures of Thai food and for that I am eternally grateful.  I was instantly smitten with the combination of textures and flavors - the sweet sour tang, the warmth of chili hitting the back of the throat, the velvety smoothness of coconut milk.  When I enjoy a Thai meal I always feel like I have had something decadent but without any greasy after bloat.  This is thanks to their use of healthy ingredients that maximize flavor.

Baan Thai has three locations and I have had the pleasure of visiting two of them (downtown and Oak Bay).  The lunch combinations are a phenomenal bargain at $9.75.  You get two spring rolls, soup and a generously sized entree.  Curries come with a heaping mound of fragrant jasmine rice.  The portions are so large you'll probably need a doggie bag!

Dinner time at Baan Thai offers numerous pleasures.  Try the satay appetizer, smoky thinly sliced tender slices of chicken with peanut sauce, or Larb Gai, a warm, freshly ground chicken salad marinated in lime juice, seasoned with mint, cilantro, onion and roasted ground rice. 

If you are craving a noodle dish I recommend trying the Phad Wu Sen, clear glass noodles flash fried with fresh chicken, egg, garlic, white onions, tomatoes, su choy, oyster sauce, Thai soya sauce and sriracha chili sauce.   I love the slippery soft texture of glass noodles and combined with the oyster sauce and crunchy su choy this makes for a delectable combo I crave again and again.

For fans of curry dishes Baan Thai offers a variety of options.  There is a green curry, which is slightly sweet and redolent with fragrant lemongrass.  If you like a curry with lots of oomph and assertiveness try a red curry.  A friend of mine, a curry addict often opts for the Gang Galee Nua - a mellow yellow curry with beef, potato and onion.  It’s her version of comfort food. Diners may specify the level of heat they prefer from medium to extra hot.  

The servers at Baan Thai are genuinely warm and helpful.  On our last visit the dining room was full and we still had speedy attentive service.   The dining room is utilitarian but cozy. Baan Thai is well worth a visit for delicious eats at affordable prices.   If you haven't yet tried Thai Food I strongly recommend you give it a go!
Baan Thai on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I have a confession to make.   I'm a wintertime soup addict and I know where to get my fix!  Cascadia Bakery has me covered.  This tiny bakery on Government Street supplies Rebar restaurant with their legendary chocolate cake (among other tantalizing desserts).

The piece de resistance at Cascadia is their homemade soup.  Its nourishing, delicious and its served at a wallet friendly price.   On any given day you might slurp down smoky green split pea with sage and garlic, tomatillo corn chowder with Anaheim chilies and zucchini or wild mushroom soup with porcini, white wine and cream.  Afterwards, treat yourself to one of Cascadia's legendary treats such as the peanut butter bar loaded with premium milk chocolate or, if you are feeling virtuous, a pumpkin millet muffin.  Take home a loaf of the wonderful foccacia bread for later.  Cascadia has a selection of vegan, sugar free and dairy treats but they also have decadent buttery "full on" baking confections.  There's something for everyone here.

After an afternoon hunting for vintage treasures at the nearby Value Village or if you just happen to be strolling the neighbourhood, park yourself at a cozy table in Cascadia for a restorative bowl of soup, a panini or a sweet treat.  You'll feel restored, I promise! Cascadia Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I'm not normally a fan of wrap sandwiches but I make an exception when it comes to Delicados.  Delicados is a funky little eatery nestled on the corner of Blanshard and Fort Street.  They have an additional location on Oak Bay Avenue.

Delicados features Southwestern cuisine.   Their display case is filled with colourful salads and spreads.  You can browse the shelves of the restaurant for intriguing items: hot sauces, BBQ marinades, humus and home made salsas.  Tempting menu offerings include burritos, enchiladas, tortilla pies, and homemade soup.  Try the Coyote Combo, which lets you sample one enchilada and one burrito each. 

While I have not yet had the pleasure of sampling all of the offerings at Delicados I must give a shout out to their insanely addictive wrap sandwiches.  My favourite, the California roll up, consists of a flour tortilla packed with either shrimp or chicken, cheese, tomato, avocado, tender spinach leaves and chipotle sauce.  Chipotle sauce seems to be featured on everything these days, sort of like the sun dried tomato of yesteryear but Delicado's chipotle sauce is so delicious you could eat it by the tubful.  It has a smoky sweet hit that is irresistible.  Caution, serious addiction factor!  I usually find wraps kind of boring but here the ingredients are so fresh and the flavour combinations so delectable I am forced to revise my opinion. Portion size is ample.  I have shared one burrito with a friend and still been sated.  For around eight dollars this makes for an affordable, nourishing and substantial lunch.   Alternately you could try the Southwest wrap which features a salsa tortilla stuffed with chicken, cheese, red onion, spinach, Southwest rice and of course, more of that scrumptious chipotle sauce.   This is my husband's favourite for the addition of the flavorful rice.  Many of Delicado's menu items also feature your choice of a side salad.

Delicados has counter service and the dining space is utilitarian but cheerful.  Staff are accommodating and friendly.   Items can be eaten or taken out.  Everything is made fresh on the premises daily.  For a quick, nourishing and affordable meal downtown this charming little Latin deli is well worth a visit!

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Delicado's (Downtown) on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 2, 2012


I have always been a coffee house addict. The predilection began long before the existence of megalopolis chains such as Starbucks.  I have whiled away many an afternoon with a good book and foamy cappuccino in hand.  How fortunate that I stumbled upon The Union Pacific Coffee Company.  Union Pacific is located on the periphery of Chinatown just adjacent to Dragon Alley.  The owners wisely chose to preserve the soaring brick and beam architecture that exemplifies historic Herald Street.  There are artful design touches too, such as a giant moose painting adorning one wall and quirky antiques.  As inviting as the space is, it would be moot if the coffee weren't any good. Happily, the folks at Union Pacific Coffee Co know their way around a bean. They serve fair trade, small batch roasted, and organic J.J. Bean coffee from Granville Island.  Watch as the friendly baristas make "latte art" for you, creating images on your milk topped espresso.  If you are in need of a little sustenance to soak up all that caffeine, don't fret; Union Pacific has got you covered. You can choose from a selection of homemade breakfast sandwiches, soups, Panini’s, and sumptuous baked goods. 

Monty's Picks: Tomato cheddar egger, chicken gumbo soup, chocolate banana mini loaves, panini with turkey, cranberry orange marmalade, swiss and spinach.

Imbibe: Americano, Chai Latte, Apple Cider

Union Pacific Coffee Comapny on Urbanspoon