Day 1 of Primal(ish) in Victoria included lunch at The Pink Bicycle and dinner at Zambri’s. The second day was equally sunny and fun. Highlights include Red Fish Blue Fish (pictured above) and Canoe Brewpub.
Red Fish Blue Fish
First stop of the day: I love finding gems like Red Fish Blue Fish. The entire kitchen is a shipping container right by the water!
Red Fish Blue Fish is an outdoor waterfront eatery in an up-cycled cargo container on a wooden pier in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. It’s a unique, fresh, and sustainable approach to the old fish ‘n’ chip shop.
The line-ups are long, but worth it. I only had one significant, yet unfair, complaint: I couldn’t find anything to eat there :P (I’m not big on seafood – simply because it can never truly be organic. Yes, I still try to get my Omega 3’s).
On the menu:
- fish and chips (tempura battered with tartar sauce, slaw + hand cut Kennebec chips)
- fish tacones (in grilled tortilla hand rolls (taco-cones) with slaw)
- sandwiches (served on a Portuguese bun with organic greens and slaw on the side)
- BBQ (salmon/tuna/oysters/scallop) on salad
- Pacific Rim Chowder
So, if you’re paleo and like seafood, the last two options on that list would be for you (inquire whether the chowder’s gluten-free though).
My friend loved his 2 tacones: Tempura Cod and BBQ Fanny Bay oyster – everything was really fresh and tasty.
As for me…. I know it’s a fish taco stand and all, but couldn’t they have some sort of non-seafood option for those that dine along with their fish-loving friends? :P How about some steak to throw on that salad? Or some sort of grain-free treat? Something, anything… And how about a liquor license? We were apparently the third people that asked that day (and it was only noon). Something about not wanting people to fall into the water… C’mon!
Even though I didn’t eat anything (well, I did chew on a Larabar I had brought with me for this type of “emergency”), I was happy as a clam just hanging out by the water – their location is awesome.
The Larabar was not a meal replacement. It was time to find some grub, and perhaps more importantly, a patio. We zipped along in a little water taxi from Fisherman’s Wharf (really cool float home community, but alas nothing for me to eat), towards what our captain promised would be the ultimate Victoria patio. Cheers to him for steering us clear of tourist traps – the patio at Canoe Brew Pub rocked.
Aside: if you’re near one of these water taxis, grab a walk/run Victoria map – it’s the best map of Victoria that I’ve come across, showing how long it would take to run/walk anywhere from the Inner Harbour. Came in very handy – wish I had it the first day.
I‘m a sucker for water view patios, character brick buildings, and sangria. So for me, this place had it all. The view was rather inlet/river-like, but provided a cool perspective on the Harbour, with many boats docked along the water’s edge.
My lamb burger with Cesar salad, and my friend’s calamari were both average. Nothing to complain about, but nothing to rave about either. Is there room for improvement? Sure. But you know what? When you have a patio like that, it’s sad but true – average is just fine. Plus, they have a focus on fresh, seasonal, and local products. And the friendliness of the service made up for it being a little slow. I’d happily be back here any sunny day of the week.
We chanced upon this little café on our way from Fan Tan Alley (neat! – the narrowest street in Canada) to the bus stop for they ferry terminal. I have a separate post in the works about vegan/vegetarian desserts in general, but suffice it to say that I may have found some common ground with veganism, via desserts.
We use 100% organic, raw plant source ingredients that we select according to seasonal and local availability and gently prepare at low temperatures ensuring richness in flavour, colour, and vitality.
100% organic, 100% vegetarian, 100% wheat and gluten free, 100% fresh and local ingredients, 100% made with love.
The woman at the counter was nice and informative. We grabbed some paleo-friendly treats for the bus ride (pictured below, left to right): coconut macaroon (I’ve had much better), bliss kiss raw chocolate truffle (yummy), macadamia vanilla orange truffle (okay), and mango coconut bliss ball (tasty).
Also pictured below is the “one with everything cookie”. I enjoyed the “novelty” of having a cookie again, but it tasted more like a granola bar.
ingredients: banana, walnuts, flax seeds, raisins, Goji berries, hemp, cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds, coconuts, and dates
And then lastly, there’s the onion “bread”. It was interesting – good chewy cracker replacement, but not as tasty as I’d hoped, and definitely not bread-like.
ingredients: onions, sunflower seeds, almonds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, dates, caraway, olive oil, Himalayan salt, pepper
Other Stops Along the Way…
He are a few other stops we made this weekend, interspersed between the main attractions:
Choux Choux Charcuterie
Choux Choux is a traditional European-style deli. I was expecting something Oyama-like, but it was much smaller.
We specialize in housemade pates, sausages, smoked and cured meats. Our products are made on premise, using fresh, free range, un-medicated pork from Sloping Hill Farm in Qualicum Beach, Mill Bay rabbits, Cornish Game hens and chickens, free-range chicken livers, Quebec foie gras, and Cobble Hill lamb, when available.
The selection was rather small, but you could tell that a lot of care went into their artisanal products. While we were there, someone came by to pick up a whole hog, freshly butchered and wrapped in clear plastic – quite the sight.
We bought snacks: chicken liver mousse with green peppercorns (delicious – the peppercorns surprisingly melt in your mouth) and rabbit and Dijon terrine (apparently also tasty, but none for me – contains pork).
Choux Choux is a great little spot to pick up some high quality meats and cheeses – you can also enjoy lunch there, as they have a few tables set up.
The Soda Shoppe
I didn’t seek the Soda Shoppe out – it has a hard to miss, enviable location that just draws you in (right at the corner of Government St. and Humboldt).
They had all sorts of sundaes and floats, but nothing looked “special. Floats mean ice cream (which didn’t appear homemade/natural/artisanal) plus soda (pass). Sundaes meant the same ice cream plus nuts or sugary toppings (pass). Anyone who’s been reading this blog knows my weakness for all things sweet. So me walking out empty-handed is pretty telling.
My friend was disappointed with his root beer float. It was literally soda poured over some standard vanilla ice cream, served in a clear plastic cup. They also handed him the can with the remainder of the soda. The ice cream was solid, so you couldn’t really drink it.
The sign above the shop actually says Roger’s Chocolates Soda Shoppe – which is false advertising. Roger’s used to own the shop up until March 2010. They made their own ice cream (using Island Farms ice cream as a base and then adding their own flavorings). The new owner just uses the Island Farms ice cream, but has kept the Roger’s Chocolates sign.
This venue has so much potential! Just source some quality homemade ice cream (my vote goes for Udder Guys, just up Island).
Paradiso Di Stelle
Paradiso Di Stelle has a nice patio right in the middle of Bastion Square. They served gelato (tried the pistachio – mediocre, watery and a little too sweet). They also had paninis, sandwiches, pasta, etc. And of course coffee, which I’ve heard is good. Great location for basking in the sun and people watching.
Wharfside Seafood Grille
This was Day 1’s failed patio attempt. Typically I choose restaurants based on food quality. But all I wanted at that point was to lounge within close proximity to the water (i.e. not across the street from it). Why is it so hard to find a nice patio around here? After much searching, we settled on Wharfside Seafood Grille, based solely on location. I’m disappointed with myself for not checking the reviews first – that’ll learn me… 29% like it on Urbanspoon (234 votes). Here are some headings from the reviews:
save your money; tourist trap; mediocre at best; horrible place; possibly the worst restaurant in North America
LOL. Good thing I have a sense of humour. Nice patio, but atrocious service (even the server was mocking this restaurant). Glad we cut our losses after one terrible drink each. Someone please buy this place out, again (sign said “under new management” – a heads-up I foolishly ignored). Cactus Club, perhaps?
If I had stayed another day, I would’ve liked to check out these spots: Devour, Bin 4 Burger Lounge, Brasserie L’Ecole, and The Bengal Lounge (for drinks). And I’d definitely like to drive over to Sooke Harbour House.
Have you been to any of these Victoria restaurants? What did you think? Any places you think I should’ve gone instead? Share your thoughts in the comments below.