I have a nostalgic fondness for the Marina Restaurant. This is where I came with family on special occasions before I moved to Victoria. The panoramic sea views left me breathless. Steve and I visited the restaurant for our anniversary recently. We found there was still lots to like about this dining room aside from the ocean view and the ooh so cozy wood panelled interior.
The head chef Matt Rissling used to work at the Marriott’s Fire and Water Fish and Chop House and there he learned about high end intricate cooking and quality product. The menu at Marina has the usual array of meat and seafood dishes with interesting starches such as wheat berries and gnocchi.
We ordered a cocktail each and I was pleased to see that the Marina has "old school" drinks on the menu. Steve ordered a Singapore Sling (a la Hemmingway) and I tried a concoction with campari and grapefruit juice. The Marina also has an extensive and appealing wine list.
To start, Steve ordered a cup of the smoked salmon chowder and I ordered the hand pulled Dungeness crab salad. Steve's chowder was creamy with ample chunks of salmon and the double smoked bacon added a scrumptious richness. My salad was a tantalizing blend of textures and flavours - butter lettuce, sweet crunchy grapes, an oozy free-range egg all topped with the aforementioned crab and a lemony vinaigrette. The crabmeat was delicate and delicious. For the main event Steve ordered a stuffed chicken breast with potato and vegetables from the light menu (offered until 6 pm). At the server's recommendation I tried the salmon with the promise of home made gnocchi. The salmon was moist and the gnocchi were outstanding, tender potato dumplings crunchy and caramelized on the outside, soft on the inside and generously seasoned with fresh thyme. The crispy leeks atop my salmon added a wonderful crunch. Underneath the salmon was a ragout of buttery sautéed shiitake mushrooms. Steve enjoyed his chicken, which was accompanied by some yellow and purple beets and carrots and roasted potatoes. This was a homey dish, perfectly executed. For dessert I tried pumpkin cheesecake praline pie and Steve ordered the warm ginger cake. I enjoyed my dessert but the standout was definitely the ginger cake, which arrived warm, topped with rum raisin gelato and surrounded by a pool of caramel sauce. Out of this world!
Service at the Marina is gracious and professional but not snobbish as befits a modern fine dining restaurant. Our dirty plates were promptly and unobtrusively whisked away and our water glasses were kept full. A word to those of formidable appetite, entree portions at Marina aren't huge. However, they don't skimp on the protein, which is really the star attraction at the Marina. The desserts too were very large. By the time I had eaten three courses I was more than sated.
The Marina is a great place to take family on a special occasion or to show visitors to Vancouver Island the lovely view. They can sample the fresh local bounty at the same time. We previously had filet of sole at Marina and it was outstanding. Sometimes old school is just what the doctor ordered and a classic fish dish and a sturdy cocktail accompanied by a sea view in a warm inviting room, well you could do worse!