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Everything posted by merlin

  1. Thanks Paul. It is all coming back to me now.....one time we'll definitely have to venture out your way. I have read several newspaper articles about the resort and have been to the web-site.
  2. Paul Mitchell: I think I should know this but was not sure which resort you were at. I met the current mgr. of Shelter at Brasserie L'Ecole on Thursday nite along with the general mgr. of Shelter. Both nice people. I hope to get to Shelter our next trip out to Tofino. Unfortunately that will not be until after Thanksgiving in October. Any dinner trips to your place? We'll be renting a house on Chesterman so cannot do an overnite unless you accept a couple of very friendly golden retrievers <smile>.
  3. Paul: Brasserie L'Ecole is usually closed Sunday and Monday unless you have already made arrangements with Mark and Sean. Look forward to your comments.
  4. Spazzley: All in all I agree with your assessment [although my wife would not be as "charitable"] of Temple but in particular with your conclusion. Those 3 but in particular Cafe Brio and Brasserie l'Ecole would be my preferences. The kitchen is run by the same person you mentioned. I do not know if he was there or not the nite we were there. A number of people have commented favourably about his skills. They [ownership and kitchen] need to do something about the concept or prices or combination of both given the lack of patrons on what was admittedly a terrific Fridayy evening when others may have been enjoying the weather rather than food. I say that because when we elected to head back to Brasserie l'Ecole to end our evening with their cheese selection it was "jumping". The ornamental bed still cracks me up.
  5. To all egulleters but principally Paul Mitchell and Hest88: Flew back last evening after 4 wonderful days in sunny and rainless [despite the interent weather forecasts to the contrary] Victoria. We had a terrific time of wining and dining. We arrived early on Thursday and did some walking around town. We stopped in at the Tapas Bar and had some decent food. Nothing "out of this world" but solid. Excellent, friendly service [something we found at each of the spots we visited...no "attitude" at all]. That nite we renewed acquaintances with the staff at Brasserie l'Ecole. I really do like this place. My wife had a cold appetizer consisting of asparagus, beets and goat cheese and she commented that that was the sweetness more tasy asparagus she had ever had. Being a true Albertan she opted for the steak frites, a nice striploin served over a mound of braised escarole and frites with some lemon dijon aioli. It too she remarked was very good. I love duck confit and had it served over some nice greens as my appetizer and then had one of the fish features. My wife observed that they had finally named a fish after me [and this was before my multi-bottle of wine antics later in the trip]. It was an "Idiot Fish" roasted and tasting like a cross between a rockfish and halibut. We finished with their cheese plate. An excellent meal and evening. The next day we ventured out and did a lot of walking stopping at the Coast Inn's Blue Crab. Outstanding view of the marina, nice set up and good service. The food was good but nothng outstanding. That nite we did go to Temple. Yikes, I wanted to like the place as I respect people who try to be different but this just did work for us. It was like "Raiders of the Lost Ark visit IKEA". All those cool clean lines, stone tiled floor, long white/cream banquette, clean wooden table tops, modernistic chairs and bar and set off against the huge stone fireplace and bed at one end. I liked the music. I think Paul said earlier something to the effect of trying to be too cool. It may be a great place, especially if you are in the "industry" to be seen and "cocktail" but for people dining especially early...nope. There was a larger party in what I think was formerly their Moroccan room. They were having a good time but the noise was really loud resounding off all those stark surfaces. To be fair as the evening progressed and the light outside dimmed, the candles inset into the fireplace gave a warmer glow to the place but it was still very loud. The main courses featured roasted Grey Cod, Rockfish,roasted rack of lamb, crusted halibut, roasted squab as well as a set vegetarian and regular fixed price menu at about $35 and $55 respectively for the latter. We both thought we would stick with the appetizers as that often can show you what the chef wants to do. We ordered the salted edamane beans with fresh mint and lime, the Ragley Farm Salad, the Grilled Squid, Kim Chi salad with cabbage and shrimp filled steamed bun, the Tortellini filled with shitake mushrooms and shallots, the seared Albacore tuna on a picked beet, baby herb salad with edamane ice cream and the braised pork belly. I could be a "smart ass" and say that the edamane beans were the best of the lot. It was better than than overall. The beans were simple and good. My grilled squid was interesting. Thicker pieces of squid than I had expected but still soft. The kim chee was not as piquant as I would have hoped. The shimp steamed bun with a little hoisin like sauce was delicious. All very attractively plated with friendly good service. She obviously liked to serve wine and was quite helpful as we had ordered another "wierd" bottle from Venturi-Schultze that we had not had before. My wife had the single large tortellini served in a delicate broth. Not much to say about it. Looked good but did not particulary impress her, good or bad. My piece of albacore tuna was ok, the ice cream was interesting. The best was the pork belly. Nice flavour throughout. Would I go back? Yes, I would because I think there is something here although apart from the big group it was not very busy and this was in prime time on a Saturday nite. Would my wife go back? Definitely not. Very unimpressed. Paul/Hest88...work in progress? Perhaps but they have been open for over a year now and I think something will have to change. As said above, apart from the "Supper Club Crowd" and the people out to be seen did not seem to be attracting a lot of paying clientele. I guess time will tell. We ended up back sitting at the bar at Brasserie l'Ecole for their cheese and more wine rather than staying for dessert. Did have two very good suppers on the following evenings at Cafe Brio. I would head back there for sure. Lunch at Canoe...mixed results. I have gone on at too much length already. Cheers Paul, I will be interested in hearing what you and your chef think after your whirlwind tour.
  6. chasmartel: Glad you enjoyed your trip. We just got back yesterday after four days in Victoria blessed by the fine weather and good food. We did not get to Zambri's this trip but otherwise agreed with your observations. We went to Brasserie l'ecolde [excellent] for dinner one nite and back for the cheese course and wine the next, the Temple [disappointing] and Cafe Brio twice. The asparagus veloute, smoked albacore tuna, fried proscuitto wrapped asparagus spears topped with a fried quail egg I had as an appetiser both times at Brio was a work of art and delicious. We also stopped in for lunch at the Tapas Bar [good], the Blue Crab [ok] and Canoe [so-so]. The latter two spots are certainly beautiful "physical plants" and the gorgeous weather certainly encourages one to try find a place with a view. We are looking forward to a return trip in the fall, if and when my liver returns to full function and my Mastercard bill gets wrestled into financial reconciliation.
  7. Paul: Well we have reservations [assuming the snow relents here and we get out as planned tomorrow a.m.] for Brasserie l'Ecole tomorrow, the Temple for Friday and Cafe Brio for Saturday so we are off to a culinary good start so to speak. Fresh morels...yummmm...spring asparagus, sauteed morels...fiddleheads with maple syrup [my Quebec and Maritime roots or racines showing]...looking forward to "getting out of Dodge" and enjoying some days on the Island.
  8. Hest88: "Your wish is my command"...have made reservations for Friday nite so will post upon our return next week if the snow subsides here in Alberta and we fly out as planned tomorrow a.m.
  9. Not intending to rent a car this trip Steve so will not likely be able to get down toward Duncan...we'll see come Sunday morning. The spring releases have been coming fast and furious of late. Obtained striped label pinot gris and regular label pinot noir from Blue Mountain, syrah from Burrowing Owl and just ordered the 2002 Note Bene from Black Hills. There are a couple of wineries in the Saanich area that we might head out to if can utilize public transit. Otherwise the Cook Street VQA store might be the closest we get to an island winery tour
  10. We are heading out to Victoria for an extended long week-end on Thursday and need an update as to what is happening in the area vis-a-vis food and wine. We were last out on the island in late October. We have made reservations for our first nite at Brasserie l'Ecole which was our "find" of the last visit. We enjoyed Zambri's and were disappointed in Il Terrazzo. Past favourites have been Camille's, Cafe Brio, Herald Street Cafe, Pescatore's, Spinnaker's. We are not intending to rent a car this trip so the Sooke Harbour House and the Aerie are not in our current plans. Any other recommendations? What about Temple? We would eat early as I am not interested in the supper club concept once the week-end dj arrives.
  11. I concur with Amy. One family operates da Maurizio in the Old Keith's Brewery Building, Bish on Bishop's Landing and Il Mercado on Spring Garden Road. I understand they may have opened a fourth restaurant in Bedford. The first serves terrific Italian fare and has a top class, albeit expensive wine list dominated by the types of Italian wines you would expect. Bish was our favourite during our last visit. Extensive menu, friendly staff and if the weather co-operates you can sip a drink or eat outside on their patio which snakes around the perimeter of the restaurant adjacent to the square and boardwalk along Halifax harbour. Il Mercado provides a nice respite from the summer heat and hustle and bustle of Spring Garden Road. More trattoria in style. Cool tile. Food is less 'fussy'. Extensive antipasto selections. FID as Amy recommended was brilliant. Limited menu and wine list but very good indeed. It is somewhat awkwardly located. It took us a time or two to find it but it was worth it. The simple halibut dish I had was outstanding. We too enjoyed Chives and Maple. Bacchus in the Halifax Casino was excellent too. Our plane arrived late on a Wednesday and we were in need of food but did not want a huge meal. They were more than accomodating with getting us several appetizers with glasses of wine. Good selection. Excellent service. If you venture out to the Annapolis Valley a nice light lunch can be found at the Grand Pre Winery in Grand Pre. Newman's [or is it Neuman's] in Annapolis Royal is very good. In Wolfville there is the Blomidon Inn and another opened last year I believe, Storm perhaps? It had a weather related name and was featured on the Food TV program "Opening Soon". In Cape Breton we had dinner at a restaurant whose name escapes me in Inverness. It was in an unlikely location in a trailer/tent campground on the bluffs. It was excellent and afforded a beautiful view of the sunset. A Google search should confirm its name as there was not much dining in Inverness. On the island as Amy suggested we did stay and dine at the Inn at Bay Fortune near Souris on the north-east coast of PEI. Michael Smith was long gone by the time of our visit but the food was excellent nevertheless and the eclectic wine list very good. We stopped en route from Charlottetown in Montague and had a nice family/homemade style lunch at Windows on the Water. Later while making our way back to Charlottetown we had nice meals at the Inn at St. Peters and Dalvay-By -The Sea within the PEI National Park. In Charlottetown we enjoyed meals in the restaurant which is part of the multimedia centre celebrating Confederation on the waterfront. I think its name is McAssey's. I was told that they are owned by the same people who operate the Gahan brew pup where we enjoyed the beer. I am not sure that the food was going over with the locals [PEI residents sure do appear to love their deep fried this and that]. Also liked the food and friendly service at On Broadway, the Merchantman Pub and Sirenella. The latter is not much to look at from outside but the food was good. There is another "hole-in the -wall", Water-Prince Store or something to that effect which we missed that others here will likely be able to correct me on. It looks like a corner store and I am sure that we walked right by it. Please let us know what you discovered. I am working on trying to get some time in Nova Scotia this summer as well and it would be nice to be updated.
  12. reverendtmac: Just back in after five days in Regina. I stayed at the Delta across from the Regina Casino and the accomodations and service were very good. As far as the dining is concerned it is apparent that Regina like most prairie cities remains pretty conservative and there is a lot of work to do with the wine lists but understandably it is likely a case of "supply and demand". Sunday I wandered about downtown looking for something interesting to try. It was an urban wasteland with almost no one to be seen. To be clear, that is not a "shot" at Regina because much the same can be said about Edmonton after 5:00 most days of the week. I ventured down to the Creek in Cathedral Bistro but unfortunately, contrary to what I had read on the Internet, it is not open on Sundays until May 21. I hiked back to the hotel. They recommended an Italian spot just west of the large downtown mall. I decided to check out the restaurants in the Casino first. Yikes, what a shock! The average age must have been 75 to 80 with cigarette smoke that you could cut with a knife. I got out of there real quick before the noise, never mind the pollution drove me mad...or is that madder? The Italian spot did not particularly interest me so I ended up in Gulfy's or something to that effect. The steakhouse beside Danbry's. I had the prime rib which was ok. The service was excellent and the wine list not too bad either. Old time, old fashioned cuisine. All in all pretty well priced. Not the kind of place I would ususally go to but on a Sunday there did not appear to be many options. The next day I had dinner at The Creek in Cathedral Bistro. It was very good and I returned for the lunch the next day and again today before catching my plane. If this place was here in Edmonton I would be a "regular". Good, friendly staff and excellent food. I had the halibut cheeks with "bubble and squeak" and pommeroy mustard sauce and their green salad with toasted walnuts and apples with manchego cheese. I thought the manchego cheese [one of my favourites was a nice touch]. For lunch on one day I had their grilled szechuan pork loin served with grapefruit and orange sections with marinated artichoke and radicchio and the next their roast lamb sandwich served with fresh basil and roasted pepper and apricot mustard. Both were good. The first was perfectly roasted. Nice tangy glaze with the interior pink and moist. The latter was a nice sandwich especially with the fresh basil. I also tried Danbry's, Mediterranean Bistro, Fireside Bistro and La Bodega. Mediterranean Bistro had the best wine list I saw. The black and white sesame seed encrusted salmon salad I had for lunch one day was quite good and the service very friendly given that they were having one heck of a tumultuous lunch. La Bodega seemed like an interesting spot. Very "neighbourhood" bar in nature. It was sushi nite but when the waitress told me that I just laughed saying that coming from landlocked Alberta where I rarely order sushi I was not going to go one province east and order it. I ordered from their tapas menu. The vegetable tempura was disappointing. Tasted of old oil. However, the calamari with chipotle mayonaise and aioli was very good. The opposite of the tempura. Lightly battered and attractively plated on a black platter with deft use of the sauce bottles. Also had the escargot which were just ok, quite a hefty portion in a bowl of "forgettable" tomato sauce. I definitely would go back to the Creek Bistro any day. Thanks for the recommendations and assistance.
  13. chasmartel: When we visit friends in Vancouver we usually stay on the North Shore. I can recommend the bistro fare at La Regalade in West Van. When we were there a couple of years ago for lunch we enjoyed ourselves and I expect that a child like your daughter would fit right in. We also have thoroughly enjoyed meals at the Beach Side Cafe and The Beach House at Dundarave Pier also in West Van. The latter provides a great view and the food has improved significantly from its days when it was known as Pepi's or something to that effect. Grouse Mountain. Lynn Canyon. The Seymour Mountain area. All are beautiful areas to visit and enjoy the views. If you are driving take the scenic drive toward the ferry terminal and stop at Lighthouse Park. The Lonsdale Quay area and its market provides a mini-Granville Island experience and you can access it easily via the seabus rather than driving across the Lions Gate Bridge should you decide to do that. You will be in a great location at the Bayshore. An easy stroll into Stanley Park or down Denman. One of our favourite spots in Vancouver is at the foot of Denman closer to English Bay, the Rain City Grill. Sounds like you have the making of a terrific trip. Look forward to hearing what you like or disliked.
  14. LOL...how could I have forgotten about the Beacon Drive-In? Thanks Redhead. A few years ago when we flew to Victoria without our canine family members I co-ordinated via the internet a rendezvous at Beacon Hill park with some golden retriever owners. Two of the goldens knew the route well and headed directly to the drive-in for their soft ice cream cones. I think we had about eight goldens and their owners lapping away at the ice cream...made for quite the picture!
  15. chasmartel: I'll leave the Vancouver suggestions to the Vancouverites but this Edmontonian loves Victoria. In fact we may be out there at just about the time of your visit enjoying the earlier spring [at least we hope] the coast and island affords as compared with Alberta. The spot which immediately springs to mind when you mentioned "child friendly" is Paglicacci's right in dowtown Victoria. It is not one of my favourites but then again our "kids" are the four legged golden retriever types <smile> It is a busy, affordably priced spot that has always been packed whenever we have walked by. Another place we tried for the first time during our last visit in the Fall was Zambri's. Family run Italian fare in an offbeat location within a strip mall. Top notch food, friendly service and to me bambinos and Italian food match like chianti and pasta. It is like a cafeteria at lunch. You select from the daily specials marked on the chalkboard and pay and they bring your selections to your table. Full service in the evening. One of our favourites for years has been the Herald Street Cafe just past Chinatown. Given the people we have met in the past there and their menu I would venture the guess that they are child friendly. Open for dinner only I think. Spinaker's Brew Pub I think permits minors. Restaurant on main floor and brew pub, patio upstairs. Very good pub fare and even better beer brewed on the premises. Can be accessed by car or via the lovely walk along the inner habour. It can also be accessed by one of the wee water taxis that spin about the inner harbour. The same water taxi can take you out to the fisherman's pier/wharf where there is spot [whose names escapes me] than makes terrific fish and chips. One spot which may not necessarily be "child friendly" but then again, I think it likely would be even if your daughter just had the "steak frites" is Brasserie L'Ecole [www.lecole.ca]. I have "sung" this bistro's praises on so many "foodie" interent sites than one might think I have a financial interest in it. I don't It does have a neighbourhood "feel" about it. Small, limited country bistro menu...great wine list and philosophy about serving wines by the glass. We ate there two of the three nites when we were last in Victoria in October and have reservations for our arrival next month. As far as buying wine in Victoria there is a big government store up Fort Street I think it was that has a pretty good selection. There is at least one store downtown and the VQA store in the Cook Street Village near Beacon Hill Park will have the best selection of Cdn wines from the Okanagan and the Island. The Delta Ocean Pointe Hotel where we stayed did have a small wine "boutique" off its lobby. If you head up the Malahat Drive with its spectacular views and head toward the Cowichan Valley there are some Cdn wineries which sell wine from their tasting rooms. The quality is improving. Closer to Victoria there are some wineries in Saanich as well but I cannot vouch for their quality as we have not visited. Enjoy your trip. Let us know what you found in either of the cities.
  16. reverendtmac: Thank you for the suggestions. I will be staying at the Delta. Found that out today. The Creek in Cathedral Bistro is the one I have had recommened to me by someone else. Appreciate the input. Too bad you'll be down in "God's Country"...I would not mind being in the Maritimes myself <smile>
  17. I am going to be in Regina for a few days at the end of the month. I expect to be staying downtown but do not know at which hotel. I know that Regina has a lot of restaurants per capita. Any interesting spots that people can recommend? Not interested in Vietnamese or "Prairie Asian" fare nor "family restaurants" or chains. A week of "family restaurants" and "Greek ribs" during a visit to Saskatoon a few years back before we found Calories in the Broadway area of that city "cured" us of any interest in that type of fare.
  18. merlin


    DAMN You. Just kidding. It is my dream to have a house in Tofino. LOL...get in line Erin...I keep buying lotto tickets hoping to be able to afford to buy my dream home on Chesterman....there goes the neighbourhood Tofino/Chris! Just because I am not "over the moon" about the fare served at SOBO does not mean that I am less than enthused about Tofino. I could not see going there in the midst of the summer rush but in the spring and fall after most people have gone back to work and the kids are in school, it is a special place indeed. Chris, did you read all the comments at the Montreal section of eGullet when the En Route Magazine included SOBO as one of the best new restaurants in the country? Talk about noses out of joint! Bus this and bus that..... Have to chuckle when I look around our house. Bedroom walls with a Katherine Amisson print of Schooner Cove and big photos I took of Cox Bay when we used to stay at Pacific Sands in our pre-golden retriever days. Downstairs, more work from Katherine Amisson and Roy Vickers...no question where we would rather be. Oh, well October is not that far off...well, yes it is but I guess I am just going to have to live vicariously until then via the posts from others who have made the trek across the island
  19. HKDave: Thank you for the informative posts. You wouldn't be Dave F. who used to work at Hainle back in the "happier" days there when the Bistro first opened?
  20. I recollect Pam Pam very well. I loved the Gza-Gza Gabor look-alike or at least "sound a like" that welcomed you to the restaurant. The cold cherry soup...the flourless cakes as others have commented...and the Irish Coffee that I ordered as a minor with "teatotaler" parents that somehow passed under the radar when I was taken there for my birthday. Mind you that was at about the same time you could wander over to Crescent Street past the bikers to check out the "used vinyl" on sale there before it became the current version. The other meals during my McGill days in the '70's will be left unsaid <smile>
  21. merlin


    JayHay: Not saying you are wrong at all. We had a similar experience when we ventured up there in the Fall. However, I did enjoy the fish tacos...would I rave about them? Likely not. But they were good. My better half had a beef or chicken taco or something to that effect which she did not like at all. We also shared a soba noodle salad with tahini sauce and greens which was at best, forgettable. Like you we might have caught the owner on an off day and being later in the afternoon the food might have been better prior to sitting around. I expect that given the pricey nature of most of the restaurants in town and the type of food they sell, SOBO presents an attractive alternative especially for the folks that live and work in Tofino.
  22. merlin


    FireWire: If we are talking about the same place. Crab Bar or Crab House or Crab Shack...the freestanding building on ones left hand side as you drive into the Tofino townsite no one has mentioned it as it has closed. Last season the site was occupied by a new restaurant called Shelter. We did not get to it during our past visit. It is mentioned in some of the earlier posts above. While talking about Tofino and crab meals, has anyone ever eaten at the motel which is on the right side of the road just as you get into Tofino? It has been there for years. It always advertises halibut, salmon and crab meals and in fact I think I spied the sign that used to hang outside the Crab House or Crab Shack there during our last visit in the fall. It is the one which also indicates that they speak German. Have been going to Tofino for close to 20 years and we have never stopped in.
  23. merlin


    Thanks for the review Bruce. Just reading the Globe & Mail article on the dinner Susur Lee and David Hawksworth put on at West in Vancouver a few days ago. A couple of the courses sound like what you had. Alexandra Gill observed: "Susur Lee's oyster with braised oxtail ravioli and black truffle sauce. The fragrant black truffle sauce elicited moans of delight, but confused guests who were unfamiliar with the nuances of Susur's style. It was the most robust dish of the night, and served for the third course" -and- "And while Lee came across as more complex culinary artist, his honey-marinated sablefish served on a bed of spiced citrus slices had a mixed response." I had not heard much of Susur Lee until I read an article about him in Gourmet some time ago which made me so ravenous that I wanted to hop a plane and head to TO. Some day soon I hope. Your description reinforces that urge.
  24. merlin


    not sure about the "stars" but given the venue, "michelin tires" for sure
  25. Must admit I missed the $30 limit factor when I first read the request. However, Prasatrin has said that he/she is not really a drinker. In which case I think that you can squeeze under that limit even with dessert. You are right, it might be close.
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