Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and the largest city on majestic Vancouver Island, was renamed in 1843 in honor of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Restaurants in this quaint, walkable city across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Washington’s Olympic Peninsula have access to great local seafood and produce, and creative chefs put it to good use. Learn about eight of my favorite Victoria restaurants that I enjoyed on a family trip between July 30 – August 2, 2017.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
10 Acres Kitchen is the “slightly finer dining” concept from Mike Murphy in a compound that also includes 10 Acres Bistro and 10 Acres Commons. A stylish chalkboard mural explains the scope of 10 Acres Farm in nearby Saanitch, depicting pigs, cows, chickens, and assorted vegetables that help fuel the seasonal menu. My dinner included a bright, texturally rich Farm Salad with radish, turnips, pickled blackberries, snap peas, arugula, chard, kale chips, house lemon ricotta, fennel, and lemon thyme vinaigrette. A more basic Caesar salad still satisfied, combining croutons, house-cured bacon, anchovies, and Grana Padano. Sweet local Dungeness crab was the showstopper, steamed and plated with drawn butter, roasted potatoes and pristine 10 Acres Farm vegetables like spring garlic, turnips, and kale.
MUST ORDER: Caesar Salad, Farm Salad, Local Dungeness Crab
Agrius is a brunch and dinner spot that Fol Epi Bakery founder Cliff Leir opened in 2015. The space features an open kitchen, patio with red umbrellas, and dangerously close proximity to a second Fol Epi Bakery. Agrius is a Latin term for “rustic ingredient,” and they are clearly at the root of what Leir’s doing, but the menu’s anything but basic. Smoked salmon Benny features silky, vivid fish with cream cheese, Hollandaise, and capers on bannock, a fluffy fried First Nations flatbread. Unique hash teams house-made, thin-skinned potato and cheese pierogies with poached eggs, smoked pork jowl, chorizo, scallion, and Hollandaise. Terrific house-baked bread comes with seasonal jam like rhubarb peach mint.
MUST ORDER: Pierogi Hash, Smoked Salmon Benny
This family of Fishhook chef-owner Kunal Ghose is from India, and his seafood restaurant draws on that heritage. His first outpost (of two) debuted in 2014 in a downtown brick building. A small dining room houses a driftwood chandelier and wall-mounted menus, leaving most of the action for a spacious, communal courtyard shaded with cream-colored umbrellas. Food’s even more ambitious than popular Red Fish Blue Fish, the popular Victoria restaurant he helped create. Fishhook chowder is an amazing starter consisting of wild fish confit, salmon belly bacon, and thyme-chile roasted potato in a rich, spicy coconut milk-smoked fish broth. The Belly is an open-faced sandwich starring broil-seared wild salmon belly, smoked salmon belly bacon, spicy sauerkraut, herb-chive mustard, and pickles. The Biryani involves pandoori’d Humboldt squid pilau that’s well spiced, folded with spinach, and topped with flash-roasted wild salmon and fried garlic. Fish ‘n Frites is one of the best fish & chips I’ve encountered; flaky rock cod with shattering sheathes, served with pakora & masala fries and tangy citrus-pickle remoulade. Interesting house-made sodas include mango anise.
MUST ORDER: The Belly, The Biryani, Fishhook Chowder, Mango Anise Soda
The original Fol Epi Bakery in Dockside Green was one of my favorite stops on a 2011 trip to Victoria, and I can now praise Cliff Leir’s downtown spinoff as well. Leir prides himself on traditional Viennoiserie, and I’d highly recommend Fol Epi Bakery’s ham and cheese croissant and kouign amann. Sausage rolls with flaky, buttery pastry swaddle juicy pork sausage from nearby Farm & Field Butchers. A hearty slice of mushroom, kale, Cheddar & Gruyere quiche was best in class, and their cinnamon roll with nectarines, apricot & cherry strudel, and double espresso macaron were also delightful. Bonus: Fol Epi Bakery houses a full coffee bar that brews Bows & Arrows beans.
MUST ORDER: Apricot & Cherry Strudel, Double Espresso Macaron, Ham & Cheese Croissant, Kouign Amann, Mushroom, Kale Cheddar & Gruyere Quiche, Sausage Rolls