Friday, May 7, 2010

Cafe Brio - Victoria BC

Cafe Brio was our final evening meal in Victoria before our afternoon flight back to what turned out to be a very snowy Edmonton on Tuesday afternoon.

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...

We opted for a full size 'green salad' with fingerling potatoes, radish and grain mustard vinaigrette ($12), the chicken liver parfait ($5), a half size of the braised cod with polenta, greens and tomato sauce ($14), and a half size of the pan roasted duck duck breast ($16).

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

Charles, not really one for charcuterie/salumi, was waiting on our mains, and pounced on the duck breast - he obviously enjoyed this most out of our two entrees. I preferred the braised cod with the polenta (which must have had tons of cream and butter in it!), savoury tomato-bell pepper sauce, and peppery greens, all studded with olives.

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

For dessert we went for a slice of caramelized lemon tart ($8) and two of the house truffles ($3 each) which happened to be sprinkled with a bit of fleur de sel that evening... my favourite.

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
Cafe Brio on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Isabelle said...

I love the idea of half-sizes! And that chicken liver parfaits intrigues me ... we recently cooked chicken livers for the first time and neither J nor I was a fan.