Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Octavio’s

March 9, 2010

Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen
2272 Oak Bay Avenue
Victoria, B.C
At the corner of Oak Bay Avenue & Monterey Avenue
(250) 592-4080

Ottavio's Italian Bakery & Delicatessen

Ottavio's Italian Bakery & Delicatessen

We were shopping for something or other in Oak Bay, I think we had been into the nursery to look for perennial primroses, and decided to come up to Octavio’s to get some lunch.  We have been past here a couple of times but for various reasons it had been closed, Christmas holidays etc.  But it has a great reputation and so we wanted to try it.  Octavoi’s is a bakery, deli and cafe all rolled into one, which is easy when you consider what is required to run a cafe: you need breads, cheeses, great meats and other delicacies.  Well, here, they’re all in the same place.  Not that they serve only items from the deli in the cafe.  On the contrary.  They make their own specials every day.  However, these always include a creative selection of panini, salads, soups & mixed plates created from their wide selection of artisan cheeses & charcuterie in the delicatessen.

A Small Selection of the Many Cheeses at Octavio's

A Small Selection of the Many Cheeses at Octavio's

I had the Bosco Panini which included mushrooms, zucchini and smoked mozzarella.  Fernando had the pasta Special which had cheese, tomatoes, basil pesto, artichokes, olives and a salad.  Lunch was under $20, but we didn’t have anything to drink.

The Deli Counter at Octavio's

The Deli Counter at Octavio's

The deli has an incredible selection for Quebec cheeses, and of course cheeses from many other places.  And many really speciality items like French lavender flowers, George Watkins pickled walnuts (England), red onion marmalade (Victoria) and preserved lemons and harissa (Morocco).  While Fernando and I were in Sevilla in January, we had an opportunity to try, once again, carne de membrillo (quince meat) which his aunt makes from her own quinces.  It is a kind of jam, very red and rich and thick.  It is so delicious.  We wanted to buy some to bring home for friends, but couldn’t find any in the shops.  I finally found some in the duty free shop at the airport.  Imagine our surprise though when we found it here at Ottavio’s.  It is from Portugal, but better there than none at all.

Octavio's Vespa

One of Octavio's Vespas

They make their own Italian ice cream from local organic milk as well.  And don’t miss the couple of Vespas, one full size and the other a model.

View Driving from Albion Manor to Octavio’s in a larger map.

Go to Albion Manor Bed and Breakfast Victoria Home Page.

Stage Small Plates Wine Bar

February 17, 2010

Stage Small Plates Wine Bar
1307 Gladstone Avenue
Victoria, BC V8R 1R9
(250) 388 4222

The Entry to Stages Wine Bar

Ray Creurer and I west to the Belfry Theatre to see Where the Blood Mixes a great new play by Kevin Loring- a fantastic production.  Just down the street from the Belfry is Stage Small Plates Wine Bar.  Stage is a small place, about 50 seats I would think and, as the name suggests, they specialize in wine and small plates to keep the hunger pangs away.  It’s a really pleasant atmosphere in an old heritage building that has been very tastefully restored.  There are the old brick walls and lots of ultra modern touched.  It can sometimes become a bit loud though.

I guess people are starting to respect that tapas are Spanish and if you are going to call a restaurant a tapa bar, you really should honour the Spanish tradition.

Of course there is nothing really to compare with a tapa eaten on the street in Seville.  Having the same thing in Victoria just isn’t the same.  ‘Tapa’ literally means ‘top’ or ‘cover’ and comes from the tradition of bars putting a small saucer on the top of your drink, possibly to keep it fresh or to keep the flies out.  And then, on the saucer they started to put a little snack.  And so the tradition started.

Stages- Small (but delicious) Plates

Stages does a great job with their Canadian interpretation of a Spanish classic.  In fact, these aren’t really tapas in the Spanish tradition: they are small plate menu items.  Instead of a full meal on a plate, you are served a delicious appetizer portion.  And boy were they delicious.  We had Organic greens with olive oil and lemon, Lamb merguez sausage with houmus and cumin harissa, Duck confit with caramelized caraway wine syrup and lemon cabbage, Crispy fried local octopus and for dessert, I ordered Crème brulee.

Stages is a bit of a distance from Albion Manor Bed and Breakfast so unless you feel like a walk (a bit less than an hour I estimate), I’m afraid that a vehicle is necessary.

Go to Albion Manor Bed and Breakfast Home Page.

Santiago’s Café

December 25, 2009

Santiago’s Cafe
660 Oswego St
Victoria BC, V8V 4X2
(250) 388-7376

Santiago's Café

Literally just around the corner from Albion Manor Bed and Breakfast in Victoria is Santiago’s Cafe. Well not literally, and not just around the corner, but just 3 blocks away, an easy walk from the Manor. Santiago’s is a very popular little restaurant that serves an enticing combination of South American-ish, Mexican-ish and Spanish-ish foods with the occasional burger if you want. It’s a very colourful but low key kind of place.

Many years ago, before the idea of owning a bed and breakfast in Victoria, even before I had met Fernando (if such a time is possible), when I was still single and living in Vancouver, my friend Kim and I used to get together at Topanga’s Café in Vancouver, a small but very popular Mexican restaurant that served the best chicken tostada ever. Nachos with extra salsa and chicken tostada- that was the usual for us. Mmmm, my mouth is watering, as much for the memories as for the food. For some time Kim and I were having trouble getting together- conflicting schedules, that kind of thing. I had for some time been talking about moving to Spain to work at Expo ’92 so I phoned Kim and told her that if she wanted to see me she had better meet me at Santiago’s on Thursday night because I was leaving for Spain on Saturday. At that time I had no plans to go to Spain, she didn’t have to know that and my ruse worked at getting her to clear her schedule so that we could get together. Her anger soon abated and, as it turned, out about a month later I did go to Spain where I stayed for 3 years.

Santiago' Halibut Burger

Santiago’s has the nachos, but not the chicken tostada. It has a hint of Mexican cuisine in its menu, but it is not a Mexican restaurant. It is, though, a no-frills neighbourhood place with a great selection of seafood (particularly their many variations on mussels).  They even offer Spanish paella. The food is flavourful and tasty with delicious homemade bread, which they serve with many entrées. South American tapas I guess you could say, in a funky, casual environment, and very close to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Santiago Cafe is great for lunch, dinner or a snack. And Sangria!