Spent an extended long week-end in Victoria last week and revisited a number of our familiar "dining haunts" like Brasserie L'Ecole, Cafe Brio, The Tapas Bar, LURE, Zambri's, Cafe Il Paradiso, Il Terrazo and the Irish Times.
A "spot" we have intended to visit since it opened just over a year ago is the Rosemeade Dining Room in Esquimalt which is part of the English Inn Resort [www.englishinnresort.com].
This trip we did try it. Beautiful room. Dark wood tables and accents over lighter hardwood flooring, black leather sofas, modern lounge, fireplace. Quite sharp looking.
It is apparent that no expense has been spared. Riedel stemware, attractive flatware and stylized plates complementing the look of the different courses.
Rather dark. Small ceiling lighting and pot lights set into the floor. I did not have to resort to my penlight as the menus are printed on "rice paper" like material that permits one to read them using the tabletop candle as a backdrop.
While reading the menu we asked for a couple of glasses of Cipes sparkling wine from Summerhill. Turns out they were out of it that evening and instead offered us Stellar Jay [Sumac Ridge?]. It was quite good.
The appetizers were priced from $9 [porcini, white bean and bacon soup, bone marrow gratin] to $25 [pan-seared Quebec foie gras, fig crepe, frozen fennel cream, vincotto].
Also available were mussels [$14], sweetbreads [$12], veal loin carpaccio [$15] and a selection of Vancouver Island oysters [$12].
My wife elected to start with a salad. Organic mesculin greens, oven roasted tomato-shallot and garlic dressing accompanied by a significant "wedge" of 2-year old goat cheddar and potato tart [$10]
It looked very good and she enjoyed it very much. The tart in particular was quite filling.
I opted for their local dungeness crab cake, jellied egg, crispy pancetta and kumquat butter [$15].
The crab cake was "topped" with a layer of a barely poached egg which in turn had a "crown" of a crisp round slice of fried pancetta with a drizzle of orange-coloured butter sauce adding to the presentation.
If this was not the best crab cake I have ever had, it was no worse than second. Sweet, moist crab flakes without significant, if any filler. Worked nicely with the runny egg yolk from the "jellied egg".
For our mains my wife chose the organic Cowichan Valley chicken breast with bacon, riesling braised cabbage, buttermilk apple spaetzle, mustard jus [$28].
I decided on the sablefish "picatta", parmesan plenta, sage stewed tomatoes [$28].
Also available were poached Alberta beef tenderloin [$30], albacore tuna [$28], rare seared wild Alaskan scallops [$29], herb & olive oil braised lamb cheeks [$26] or black pepper dusted venison [$30]. The vegetarian option was a quartet of seasonally farmed vegetables [$27].
We asked for some help with regard to the wine and our server Chad [?] suggested given what my wife had ordered, the Trimbach Riesling.
We however usually want to "drink local" when visiting so he and restaurant manager Mark Wachtin suggested two B.C. alternatives, Alibi from Black Hills and Kettle Valley's Viognier. We chose the latter and were not disappointed. Nice weight and spice,somewhat "oiley" with no cloying sweetness.
My wife's chicken was delicious. An almost "Fall-like" course which suited the rather "cool" weather.
At least that is what we thought about the weather in Victoria until we returned to Edmonton on Wednesday night and had to dig our car out of the snowbank that had descended on it during our visit.
My sablefish was also delicious. Simply presented over a rectangle of grilled polenta which had a definite and pleasing flavour of parmesan. The fish was light and it was complemented by a foam-like sauce accented with lemon.
I am not a dessert eater and was too full for a cheese plate.
My wife decided to try some dessert. Rosemeade has a list from which you can "build" a dessert choosing from smaller, bite-sized options to have as much or as little as you want. Great idea.
I finished with a double espresso and a glass of Alderlea's Heritage Hearth.
Service was excellent. Everyone knew what they were doing and were friendly, professional and efficient without being "snooty".
The Rosemeade is a spot where one will feel at home whether casually dressed as I was or "suited up" for a night out as many others were.
The only drawback and all in all a minor one, was the location of our particular table. We had the "deuce" immediately adjacent to the private room and in front of the door to the washrooms. As a result I had my back to most of the dining room and could not see the other diners and more importantly, at least from my "foodie perspective" the plates which they were being served.
Mark showed us their kitchen before heading back to the hotel.
I would highly recommend the Rosemeade for anyone visiting Victoria. Definitely a nice addition to what is already a good place to dine in.
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