We had planned in advance for dinner at a French bistro in Victoria, but were saddened to find that it was closed on Sundays. I accessed my Zagat on-line and other internet food sights and chose THE MARK (http://www.hotelgrandpacific.com/dining/the-mark), just two blocks from the Fairmont Empress where we were staying. It was a great find and a nice quiet evening as the intimate 24-seat fine dining spot was virtually empty minutes after we arrived save for one couple nearby.
Our server Orielle was sweet and very helpful as we were moving away from those dreaded children's menus and trying to get 1/2 portions for Samuel off the regular menu. It worked!
A superb amuse of DUCK CONFIT with Fingerling Potato Crisp, Fennel Relish and Pickled Cucumber arrived and Samuel declared he loved duck! He then moved on to GAVIN's GREENS & Butter Lettuce which had crispy chickpeas (not a hit) and Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette (always a hit).
Will and I both had the GAZPACHO with Goat Cheese Mousse and Petite Tomato Salad which was actually peeled cherry tomatoes, sliced carrot, herbs and chervil in the soup; it was very refreshing and the light start we needed.
Orielle let us taste the GAMAY NOIR from Sandhill 2009 in the Oliver region of BC as it is served by the glass; we immediately ordered a bottle of the full bodied red with tons of fruit (it was the recommended pairing with the Gazpacho) and were thrilled to have such a tasty Gamay as it can be so drab and thin. Our main course wine was harder to choose as we had duck and fish. The sommelier suggested a BLUE MOUNTAIN 2009 Pinot Noir from the same Oliver region in the Okanagan Valley and while it was nice and medium bodied, we had been so blown away by the Gamay, it was a slight disappointment.
The fabulous warm breads arrived: Cornmeal Pumpkin Seed, Whole Wheat, and Poppyseed and Nordic Onion. These came with sea salt, Tiger Blue Cheese Butter and Orange-Fennel Butter...spread it on!
Samuel's entree was the Grilled VEAL STRIPLOIN with Butter Poached Yukon Gold Potatoes which he loved so much, he asked for an extra order of these crusty potato delights. The sauce was a Lemon & Pine Nut Puree and Madeira Demi-glace; Samuel skipped the Cippolini onions.
Will had the ARCTIC CHAR with Spot Prawn RAVIOLI, PRAWN Veloute, Tarragon Puree and Roasted Pettipons (mini-zucchini) which was simply luscious. My Roasted BROME LAKE DUCK BREAST (from Quebec) with Wild Rice, Corn Blini, Arugula Salad and Sour Cherry Gastrique was nothing short of miraculous.
I was feeling more than full, but Will tried the SOUR CHERRY & AMARETTO CHEESECAKE with Hazelnut Crumble Crust which was nice and had the rarely encountered in North America "L'amour en cage" or gooseberry as a garnish.
Thomas Haas Raspberry Truffles Stuffed with Blueberries arrived for all as a mignardises and we gobbled them up and waddled back down the street.
I should note here that while Will lost 25 pounds and I lost 15 in the months prior to this journey, we noticed on the hotel scales that we have only gained back approximately 4-5 pounds each so far....but more is yet to come.