Many restaurants we wanted to try for dinner - Zambri's, The Superior (we tried to go here on Sunday evening as they had a really good Blues guitarist on, but no luck - their tills had crashed around 8pm so they had to shut down) and Restaurant Matisse - were all shut down on Monday, so we opted for a visit to Cafe Brio, a little ways east of the Inner Harbour up Fort Street.
I had read on Chowhound that this spot can be a bit noisy, but this past Monday evening, the place was only half full when we arrived for our reservation around 7pm, and all was relatively quiet.
Once again we ran into the type of food that Victoria does best - local, regional dishes ranging from seafood, to beef, to vegetarian. What we loved most about this spot, was that they offered half sizes or full sizes on their menu, as well as 'family style' plates for the whole table to share, so you can try a few different things from their menu, even if there are only two of you...
Everything seemed to arrive in a timely fashion, with our salad and parfait coming out before our mains. We both enjoyed the salad, but for me, the winner was the chicken liver parfait. It was incredibly creamy and rich, and while it didn't have the bite of some other terrines I've tried, this was certainly the best one I've sampled yet. Along with some bread, pickles and grain mustard, I was set.
Local organic salad greens - fingerling potatoes, fresh radish and grainy mustard vinaigrette
Chicken liver parfait
Pan roasted duck breast - roast turnip and radish, onion-vanilla soubise, white balsamic jus
Braised cod - creamy polenta, fresh organic greens, tomato, olive and bell pepper sauce
The lemon tart was lovely, rich and creamy, and the earl grey cream and honey anglaise gave the tartness a comfortable, smooth edge. As was suggested on the menu, this all went very well with a little glass of Limoncello. The truffles were pretty good. The salt was certainly needed - they were incredibly dense, and really, I think they could charge the same price, or even $2, and make them half the size.
Caramelized lemon tart - earl grey cream, honey anglaise
Chocolate truffles with fleur de sel
Monday night at Cafe Brio was certainly a success and we will definitely head back again. And hopefully we will be able to utilize their pretty patio seating next time. Once again, what we really liked, was the option with plate sizes - it creates flexibility for any size group or family, and you are expected to share your dishes. Charles and I are forever picking off each other's plates, and sometimes feel like we shouldn't, but at Cafe Brio, it was encouraged, so of course we were easily won over.
Although Cafe Brio was a little jaunt from our hotel, it did give us a chance to take a quiet, leisurely walk back through the Inner Harbour on our last evening in the City.
944 Fort Street
Hours: open for dinner each evening from 5:30pm