Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Victoria's vivacious CAFE BRIO gets bravos (7-21-12)

Our first night in Victoria, BC was at CAFE BRIO (www.cafe-brio.com)
and when we arrived at 8pm, Will was taken aback at the loud noise and
music on top. We were tired from the long drive, but luckily within an
hour the place almost emptied and became quite nice.
Our server, Renee, was an aspiring "belting" mezzo-soprano, so we
talked opera, and the owners Greg & Silvia came by often to chat and
often dwell, making us feel at home. We liked the idea that almost
every dish was available in 1/2 portions and we started ordering two
starters to share:
SQUARE ROOT PEA TASTING which was English Pea Pannacotta/Sugar Snap
Salad/Sauteed Snow Peas/all in a Garlic-Ham Pea Broth with a hint of
mint. This showed off the local vegetable to amazing effect and was a
superb dish to boot x4 parts!
POTATO & HERB VICHYSSOISE came with Crispy Duck Confit was another

Samuel ordered the Roasted LAMB CHOP & Torchon of SHOULDER with Potato
& Carrots, Snap Peas & Fava Beans and ate all but the beans an carrot,
so we allowed him another 1/2 portion of the PENNE PASTA with Green
Beans, Potato & Basil Pesto which he promptly devoured.

We ordered a bottle of 2011 Cassini Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay "Golden
Mile Bench" which was quite nice with our starters and the shared
excellent fish 1/2 portions:
GRILLED RARE ALBACORE TUNA came with Heirloom Tomato/Fennel in a Red
Wine Brown Butter Sauce and
Pan Roasted HALIBUT with Crispy Scallop Gnocchi, Summer Vegetable
Ragout and Citrus Emulsion only needed a little fresh pepper or maybe
a dash of more citrus flavor.

We moved on to a CLOS du SOLEIL 2008 "Signature" from the Similkameen
Valley which Greg recommended and it had a nice spice to it from the
blend of 52%Merlot/26%Cab/13%Cab Franc/9% Malbec.

Our 1/2portions for the meat course were:
Roasted VENISON LOIN which came rare and tender with Roast Scarlet
Turnips, Endive and more yummy Mushrooms in a Red wine-Cocoa Sauce
(which was just a hint of cocoa).
DUCK CONFIT CANNELONI came with Creamed Spinach, Braised Greens,
Ricotta, more English Peas (yay) and a Cinzano jus. This was a yummy
dish, but might have benefited from a bit more flavor from the duck
than the cheese and spinach.

Will could not resist the DATE STICKY TOFFEE Pudding with Vanilla Bean
Ice Cream and it was up to par (from the English standard), and Samuel
loved his super fresh STRAWBERRY SORBET. I went the cheese route as
usual and tried
CHEVRADA-a semi-firm goat from Salt Spring Island just across the
strait that had a bit of an after kick that I loved.
ERMITE BLUE from Quebec was superb, but too blue for Will.
Sat. Damase was a washed-rind cow from Quebec that oozed flavor.
I am often not a fan of the accompaniments on a cheese plate, but this
was the best TOMATO CHUTNEY ever.
We left just after 11pm and the place was dead. Silvia said that
Victoria is a sleepy town at night, so we went home to sleep after
another wonderful Canadian repast.