First off I want to apologize for taking so long to get this post up. I have been fighting with my smart phone trying to upload the photos I took on my phone to my PC. I still don’t really know how to do it without sending the photos using email!
I have been wanting to write about this weekend ever since we came back so this is the week to tell you about our wonderful trip.
This week is a bit different because we were out of town for Sunday Night Dinner. Dennis and I have been married for 25 years and we thought we’d take a trip over to Victoria for a weekend away to celebrate our anniversary. I don’t have any recipes for you but I have lots of great stories and places to suggest you visit if you are ever in Victoria BC.
We booked a trip on BC Ferries through their Vacations Website. The Ferry Corporation has trips that include the ferry fares as well as hotels and you are able to add sightseeing activities as well. We just took the Ferry and Hotel package and I recommend you look at that option if you are thinking about travelling to Vancouver Island. The ferry rides are expensive on their own and the hotels aren’t cheap either but when you book through BC Ferries, the cost is lower than if you book them separately yourself.
Our weekend started on Friday night by taking the 3 o’clock Ferry from Tswassen to Schwartz Bay. We landed in Schwartz Bay around 4:30 and headed directly downtown. We stayed at the Laurel Point Inn at the Inner Harbour. We’ve stayed at this hotel several times in the past because it’s easy to walk anywhere you might want to go.
It was a beautiful day so we wasted no time getting checked in to the hotel and putting on our walking shoes. We took a stroll along the waterfront and came upon the Wharf side Seafood Grill at 1208 Wharf Street. We have eaten there before but the sign in front said “fresh oysters $.50 each on Fridays until 6pm.” and I am a huge oyster fan. We found ourselves a table and settled in for a dozen oysters. They were small sweet oysters and tasted delicious dressed with some seafood cocktail sauce and freshly grated horseradish. They were so good we ordered another plate and with a nice glass of white wine, our weekend kicked off with a bang!
There is one restaurant we always go to when we travel to Victoria. It’s called Pagliacci’s on Broad Street. It’s a tiny Italian restaurant that has been a busy landmark for years. If you want to go here for dinner or lunch you should be prepared to line up for 20 minutes to ½ an hour at least before you get a table. I have taken some colleagues there for lunch and not had to wait to get in, but certainly for dinner you will find that a wait is normal.
With Dennis’s gluten-free diet, we weren’t sure we’d get gluten-free pasta but to our delight they actually had a gluten-free menu. We both ordered a gluten-free dish and for the first time we were a bit under whelmed. I think it was because it was a dish that was out of the ordinary and the flavour blend just didn’t quite do it for either of us. We are still great fans of this restaurant but I think the next time we’ll stick the traditional Italian fare with gluten-free pasta.
Victoria is so beautiful at night, here’s a photo of the parliament buildings all lit up. We walked through the Empress Hotel and along the waterfront and made our way back to the hotel for a night cap before bed.
Saturday morning we decided to have breakfast at one of our regular restaurants but on our way downtown we came across a food cart that was offering smoothies. We often find it a challenge when we travel to make sure we get all our fruits and veggies. We decided to stop and have a smoothie so we at least started our day with our fruit requirement. The man making the smoothies was very sociable so we decided to be brave and ask him if he was going for breakfast where would he go. He told us we should go to the Blue Fox Cafe 101 – 919 Fort Street but we had to be prepared to wait in line to get in.
We thanked him and decided to give it a try. It was quite a walk so part way there; I pulled out my phone (android) and used the app- Urban Spoon to make sure we were on the right path. Urban Spoon is my new favourite app. It’s free and it lists most of the restaurants people frequent with reviews and contact details. The Blue Fox was one of the top rated places in Victoria and over 89% of the people who ate there loved it and would go back again and again. Based on the reviews, we decided we’d wait in line and give it a try. It took about 40 minutes to get in and boy am I glad we waited. They had a full GF menu and the food was awesome. If you are looking for a new and delicious place for breakfast in Victoria, I highly recommend it.
Using Urban Spoon we decided to be bold and see if we could find a place for dinner that we’d never been to before. We looked for seafood restaurants in Victoria (shouldn’t be too hard to find) and came across Lure at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa, 45 Songhees Road. The rating on Urban Spoon was 84% of people recommended it for the menu and the view. We decided to give it a try. Our meal was fabulous. We both ordered the Halibut and it was cooked to perfection. I think the view from this restaurant is better than any other place we’ve been to in the city. The windows are huge and the seating is set up in such a way that everyone can take in the harbour views. Surprisingly the restaurant had a gluten-free menu which was nice. They definitely cater to people with specific diet requirements. The service was attentive without being over powering. I highly recommend going to Lure for a meal if you are in Victoria.
Because of our success using Urban Spoon, we decided Sunday’s breakfast was going to be another unknown for us. When we were at the Blue Fox, I asked the waitress where she would recommend in Victoria (besides Blue Fox) for breakfast. She did not hesitate in recommending Shine 1320 Blanshard Street. The woman who runs this café is celiac so we knew Dennis would be safe there. Once again there was a line up to get in and the place was very busy. We could order our coffees and wait for our table so the time went by fairly quickly. People were coming and going and everyone was happy and looking forward to their breakfasts. Just watching the food arrive at the tables was entertaining – it looked delicious. We waited for 30 minutes or so and got a table in the back room. We asked what they were known for and without hesitating the word is Eggs Benedict are their specialty. We both love eggs Benny so we ordered the ones that looked the best. Well, we’ve had a few eggs Benny in our time but these had to be some of the best we’ve ever had. They came with a plate full of hash browns like no other. This is definitely a place we’ll come back to.
Our weekend was a wonderful success. Part of the enjoyment was the fact that besides Pagliacci’s we went to new places this weekend and our selections were based on feedback we got from Urban Spoon. If you don’t have this app on your phone, I highly recommend it. You can browse by neighborhood or type of food you want and it will tell you what’s close by and you can read what people are saying about each restaurant. I know when I go to a new city; it’s a bit of a crap shoot trying to pick a place to eat. After trying Urban Spoon in Victoria, I won’t travel again without it.