Saturday, June 21, 2008

Acacia Fillo Bar•Café

Acacia Fillo Bar has an unassuming storefront on Denman. One might be inclined to just pass by. If you enter, you will find yourself inside a quaint, casual café. The first thing that caught my eye was the display case of tantalizing pies – my first introduction to banitzas. Banitzas are traditional Bulgarian pastries – fillo-wrapped innards shaped into pies of love! A friend had described them to me before, but my mind couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of delectable-ness that they are.

I chose the Cabbage Banitza and my dining partner had the Ground Beef Banitza – neither of which were on the menu, specials for the day. Both were fantastic! Aided by the accompaniment of a yogurt sauce (a horseradish version for the ground beef) and some of the best potato sides I’ve encountered so far. I would even have gone so far as to order an extra side of the roasted potatoes and yams (actually, I did). Also available are their renditions of eggs benny plus many sweet pastries. I took home the mixed berry and chocolate fillo stick for a treat.

One can sense when food is made with love – this is it.

1103 Denman Street
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Saturday/Sunday: All day (8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Superior Café (Victoria)

Have you ever had one of those meals where all the stars seem to align? This was one of those magical dining experiences for me. It was a gloriously sunny, warm spring day. And after visiting the James Bay farmer’s market and local community garden, my Mom and I decided it was time for a bite. Luckily, a friend had recommended The Superior Café which happened to be nearby (thanks, Q!).

From outside appearances, we didn’t really expect much, it is just a non-descript brick building. What we didn’t know was that hidden from the street is an amazing, two-level, outdoor Japanese/English garden patio teeming with beautiful flora and fauna. Each table comes with its own special centrepiece, which for one table is a zen fountain and a pool of goldfish. And if the visual beauty wasn’t enough, on hand was a live pianist playing the classics from Claire de Lune to Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago. My Mom and I both adore the piano, we just sat back and revelled in the sights and sounds.

Truly, this would have been enough of an experience to satisfy, however, enter stage left our server. He was perfectly charming, interesting, and recited the chef’s daily specials with pride and enthusiasm. I chose the daily special benny, named Benny the Next Generation, composed of a bed of well-seasoned yam gratin, and topped with perfectly poached eggs and a miso hollandaise. Excellent flavours. My Mom chose the daily special French Toast, which came with a rhubarb compote and vanilla crème anglaise and a side of Porkbelly. Again, well done. For dessert we shared the Ginger Cake, warm and deeply spiced, topped with candied ginger crème fraîche, sitting in a pool of caramel. Need I say more? The food is thoughtful, locally sourced, and created with an obvious humour.

More, please.

106 Superior Street, Victoria
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday only: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Friday, June 13, 2008

rebar modern food (Victoria)

The restaurant rebar is what I refer to as the “mother ship”. While I am not so familiar with the actual restaurant, I am intimately familiar with the restaurant’s cookbook. It’s how I learned to cook – not technically, but sensorially. I have enjoyed many a spectacular meal prepared from this book. So when in Victoria, of course, I must pay homage.

The ambience has a familial feel. This was accentuated by the self-described “old bachelor who doesn’t cook” at the next table who frequents the restaurant daily! He said he feels well taken care of by the staff.

This morning we enjoyed a beverage from their fresh juice bar which offers an extensive list of vegetable and fruit juices, smoothies and wheatgrass concoctions. We chose the Emma Peel (orange, pineapple) and the Cootie Bug (strawberry, orange, pineapple). As for the vittles, my dining partner chose a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries and toast. I chose the Migas – eggs scrambled with monterey jack cheese, corn tortillas, red pepper, cilantro, topped with salsa verde. Both dishes came with homemade jam and fresh salsa.

50 Bastion Square, Victoria
Breakfast hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Saturday/Sunday Brunch: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dutch Wooden Shoe Café

Although the Canada Line construction along the Cambie corridor has wreaked havoc on the local businesses, I have high hopes for the re-emergence of the Cambie Village once the construction is complete. Throughout it all, however, the Dutch Wooden Shoe Café has remained stalwart.

For those of you who are overwhelmed by choice, be prepared, the breakfast menu here is HUGE! There are 93 pannekoek options alone (I counted). Plus specials, plus egg dishes, plus waffles, plus cereals (hot and cold). My selection today was Pannekoek #5 (cinnamon apples, grilled onions and spek) served with stroop. I loved it, it was the perfect solution to my constant conundrum of savoury versus sweet. What I enjoyed most were the new flavours. Yes, it was just bacon, pancakes and syrup, but the Dutch variants were foreign to my taste buds.

A brief dissertation on Dutch breakfast:
Pannekoek = 12-inch, thin pancake made without sugar. Served flat, you are supposed to arrange your goodies and roll it up crepe-like.
Spek = Dutch bacon, very good!
Stroop = Dutch molasses-based syrup, very intensely flavoured.

Note: folks at the next table were ooohing and aaahing their way through their waffles – next time!

3292 Cambie Street
Breakfast hours: