A close friend took my wife and I out to dinner in Victoria last night to celebrate our recent marriage. We went to Restaurant Matisse, at our friend's suggestion. This was our second time dining there and the meal was even better than our first.
I went with the prix fixe, which seemed like a great deal. My dinner started with a cream of pea soup made with fresh peas and finished with a bit of creme fraiche. This was enjoyed with some warm, house-baked bread and a glass of French sauvignon blanc (the name of the wine escapes me).
Second course was a warm goat cheese salad. Goat cheese was rolled in Herbes de Provence, then baked and served with an array of vegetables including some very sweet beets. Presentation was fantastic on this one, with vegetables cut into all manner of shapes and sizes. More warm bread, which I used to sop up the delicious dressing and goat cheese scraps.
For the main, I chose the slow-roasted duckling, cooked for 3-4 hours and finished in its own drippings. This had remarkably rich flavour; every bite was like eating the most moist and flavourful part of a turkey leg. It was the way I like duck, with crispy skin encasing the tender meat. The entree came with a small dollop of slightly crispy mashed potato that had obviously been baked at a high temperature (broiled?) and some grilled, perfectly cooked vegetables including a lovely yellow zucchini.
I had ordered a bottle of Beringer Knight's Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 to accompany our mains, but our server upgraded us to a more expensive bottle at the price of the less expensive bottle. We had the Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) 2002. I had not tried the Heitz previously, and as it turns out, I prefer the Beringer Knight's Valley, but the server's generosity was appreciated.
I enjoyed a tarte tatin (served warm, with a caramel sauce on the side) with a glass of muscat. The two paired beautifully, leaving me with a warm caramel-apple taste.
Everyone else's food was equally good. Lornna (my wife) had the escargots cooked in red wine, garlic, and herbs followed by the coquilles ste-jacques (a perfect main to sop up with the warm bread). She also had the flourless chocolate cake, which, in her words, did not have a single bit of dryness in it. Chris, who was treating us, also had the slow-roasted duckling for his main; he started with the tomoto and onion salad in balsamic and finished with the house specialty, creme brulee with a caramalized sugar "cage."
Matisse is very much a comforting place to eat; reliable, consistent (based on my 2 experiences), and with good attention to detail. While the food may not be cutting-edge or avant-garde, they do what they set out to do very well. Highly recommended.
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