Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ferris' Upstairs Oyster Bar - Victoria, BC

We wandered around a bit this past Saturday evening, trying to find a casual dinner spot in downtown Victoria. Finally we decided on Ferris' Upstairs Oyster Bar, which I had on my list of places to try (thanks to Dane and Erika for the recommendation). As expected, the place was packed when we arrived around 8pm, but luckily there were still some spots at the bar.

First, I have to start off with the drink list - it's amazing. A nice blend of classic and new cocktails, as well as some local beer selections, I loved it. Charles stuck with beer for most of the evening - a Lighthouse Beacon IPA - while I started off with a Longboat Chocolate Porter from Phillip's Brewing Co., then moved to a Saigon Press (Vodka with lime, ginger syrup and muddled coriander, topped with lemon grass and ginger) and later a Pimm's Cup (Pimm's No. 1 Cup, fresh mint, cucumber and orange slices, topped with sprite).

Ferris' does a pretty classic fresh oyster with horseradish and cocktail sauce, but what I was in for was their baked oysters.

These were so good, with a diverse range of spicy and rich flavours in each. My favourite ended up being the 'Cornelius' with cornflakes, butter and thyme. One of the cooks passed down a warm baguette upon noticing my oysters were finished, so that the rest of the juices and toppings could be soaked up from the little oyster dishes... this necessary step was definitely the most enjoyable part of the oysters.

One of each of their baked oysters (6 for $16)

Although most of the dishes upstairs are intended to be shared tapas style, since I was the only one in for oysters (Charles does not do shell fish), Charles decided on a larger plate for himself - the Braised Lamb Tagine.  I couldn't resist stealing a bite of this one too, and we both loved its richness and slight spiciness, along with the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the lamb and sweetness of the apricots.

Braised Lamb Tagine ($20)

We also decided to share a spinach salad with goat cheese, pecans and warm curried apple vinaigrette. While the goat cheese and pecans were an expectant match, the curry vinaigrette provided a warm spiciness throughout that brought everything together nicely.

Spinach salad ($10)

Although we initially meant to move to a table later in the evening, in the end, we decided to stick with our bar seats throughout our meal, and I think we were both happy with this decision - their food preparation area was half of the area behind the bar itself, and it was fantastic to watch the smooth, quick movements involved in prepping everyone's plates in the tiny space.

Most of the ingredients were prepped ahead, but they were placed behind the bar in a cooler, and under the bar in another. Between the ingredient passing, the opening and closing of the small oven doors, the balancing between the pans on two portable induction burners and the quick chopping on a couple cutting boards, the food prep itself was a great show (and the smell of each fresh item hitting the pan on the induction burner in front me was amazing!).  I wish I would have taken a picture!

With a relaxed atmosphere, a lengthy, fun cocktail list and fantastic food, we will definitely be heading back to Ferris' next time we are in town.

Ferris' Upstairs Oyster Bar
Suite A, 536 Yates St.
Victoria BC
Hours: Tues - Sat (4pm-Midnight); Su - M (4-10pm); Saturday Brunch (10am-2pm)
Ferris's Upstairs Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

*The "Upstairs" part of their name is a reference to their downstairs space, Ferris' Grill, which offers more of a 'dining' feel versus the lounge/tapas style upstairs.


Isabelle said...

We sat at the bar at the Japanese place we went to in Vancouver and it was fantastic! I definitely appreciate bar seats more now, if you can watch the chefs at work. This place sounds great, and your Saigon Press sounds especially delicious!

Marianne said...

Me too. I never sit at the bar but I'm going to do it more often if it's a setting like that. It certainly was a delicious drink!

KatyBelle said...

Oh, oysters! *swoons* I'm definitely trying this place next time I'm in Vic!

Marianne said...

I know... I love oysters too! My next local will definitely be sea side.