Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Weekend Ninety-One: Heron Rock Revisit with Family

Four of us left our two Secret Locations on a bright sunny morning and headed for James Bay’s Heron Rock restaurant, a popular anytime choice for guaranteed good food. 

Dave ordered orange juice and Huevos Cubanos: a yummy combo of  black beans, tomato, Little Qualicum queso fresco, cilantro and green onion, with fried potatoes, caramelized onions, mojo sauce & guacamole topped with poached free-run eggs & hollandaise. Although he found it slightly overbeaned, it was still delicious.

Catie ordered coffee and the Classic Benny: an English muffin with Hertel’s ham, panfries and caramelized onions. She added avocado and a soup├žon de bleu cheese,  which made it perfect, with just the right amount of sharpness from the cheese.

Guest Reviewer #1 (Dave’s Maternal Ancestor) ordered peppermint tea with honey and the Classic Breakfast: multigrain Portofino toast (choice of sourdough, multigrain or marble rye; jam, marmalade and peanut butter available for the asking), two scrambled eggs (choose your egg-style), two large and totally delicious sausages (or bacon). GR #1 was completely satisfied with her classic choices, and took half of it home as the portions are generous. 

Guest Reviewer #2 (Dave’s Paternal Ancestor) ordered Chorizo Sausage Hash: caramelized onion, tomato, portabella & button mushrooms, sharp cheddar cheese, fried potato with fresh rosemary, all topped with poached free-run eggs & hollandaise, with extra requested guacamole. GR #2 reported that the textures and flavours were perfectly balanced, with just the right proportion of runny eggs and crispy-edged potatoes, going  with the mild creamy hollandaise, smooth guacamole and spicy chorizo sausage.

We all decided that Heron Rock’s breakfast spuds are the best in Victoria’s breakfast world, panfried to perfection, and they come with a hint of rosemary plus tasty caramelized onion pieces nestled within. 

Lunch and dinner here are equally tasty. We’d all go back anytime, and we often do! 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Weekend Ninety: Queen of New Westminster Coastal Cafe

Leaving our secret location to go to the Penticton Jazz Festival, we spent some time and money onboard the Queen of New Westminster at the Coastal Cafe. Long gone is the Sunshine Breakfast, well known for causing sea sickness. Now one can find a variety of restauranty items on the menu. If not guaranteed to be tasty, they will make you feel full. After a brief wait in the lineup, we approached the order counter and requested our breakfasts. Catie's was the Eggs Benedict, and mine was the All Aboard Breakfast with eggs with bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, and salsa.

My breakfast was unremarkable. The bacon was crisp-ish, the sausages were sausage-y, and the salsa was surprisingly bitter. Eggs and hashbrowns were good. Would I have it again? Maybe not the salsa, but the rest made me feel not hungry during the ferry trip. Faint praise? Perhaps, but there are two causes: lack of competition and speed of production combine to make a perfect storm of breakfast meh. Will I have it again? Probably.

Catie says "The eggs were cooked and the hollandaise was definitely from a package. It was filling." As with my meal, she felt un-hungry afterwards. That's about all one can say regarding a BC Ferries breakfast.

Price: too much. Taste: not enough. Other choices? Eat at home.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Weekend Eight-Nine: Floyd's on Menzies

As we left our secret location, we wondered what’s pink on the outside, green on the inside, and new to James Bay... Floyd’s!!! The newest offering from Floyd’s is located in the old James Bay Tea Room, now painted to reflect the aesthetic choices of it's creators.

Only open for a few days, but already popular, we joined the line. Top Tip: go with a small group, ie two people, or be prepared to wait.

I ordered a half size of the BC Hash ($14) and a coffee. Dave ordered The Mahoney!!! ($17). My BC hash was super delicious! The Floyd’s potatoes remain unchanged in their fried disc perfection. Dave’s Mahoney was a breakfast poutine on the bottom loaded with a chorizo eggs Benedict on the top. The gravy and hollandaise mixed in a way Dave found pleasing. Since Majoneys are always unique, this combo is unlikely to be seen again. 

Either meal would have been enough for us to split and be very full. Dave decided not to flip for his meal and so we left happy and full with left overs for dinner.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Weekend Eighty-Eight: Heron Rock

Heron Rock Bistro, at #4, 435 Simcoe St., hidden behind Thrifty's in James Bay, had long been on our list of places to go. We did, and are pleased to report on our findings.

The menu is really extensive, and there is a list of specials that changes regularly. I had enjoyed the Huevos Cubanos on a previous visit, and they caught my eye again, but then I saw a breakfast that seemed too strange to pass up. Brunch enthusiasts, I ordered the Lamb Souvlaki Hash ($17), and I'm happy I did. Yes, the lamb chunks have exotic flavours that don't really match the Hollandaise tastes, and no, I wasn't totally sure what to do with the tzatziki. It all seems to work out on the plate, though. I ended up dipping potatoes in tzatziki, as the Hollandaise was largely confined to the eggs. The potatoes, by the way, had been fried with garlic, peppers of the red and green varieties, and red onions. Delicious!

Catie's Classic Benny with bacon ($15) came with a different set of totally delicious potatoes. Like the long-lost Buttery Potatoes from Crave, these were little golden fried pieces of perfection, she said. They have crispy fried onions and are completely heavenly. At this point in time, these are the best hash browns in Victoria. If you know of better hash browns, please write. Catie said the benny was pretty close to perfection too. The bacon was crispy and delicious, while the hollandaise was smooth and divine. 

Notice the hand-made spicy sauce, which is available upon request. 

Taking a cue from an early post, we were inspired to incorporate hand signs into our photos.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Weekend Eighty-Seven: Shanzee's Biscuit

We left our secret location for a walk with bearded muppet dog. Brunch was not on our menu of intentions for the day. While walking up Pandora in search of shade and cooler temperatures, we smelled a familiar smell. It smelled delicious, like Re-Up BBQ, but in Victoria. 

We followed our noses to Shanzee's Biscuits. It is a cute brick building that looks like it is part of Market Square, but in fact is just outside of it. I went inside to ask about the new brunch spot and said we would be back after dropping off our bearded muppet dog. However, they told me that they are happy to have dogs on their patio in the back, so... we headed to the patio!

The patio is quiet and cozy with umbrellas for shade. The inside of Shanzee's is adorable, featuring images and models of boler campers. The menu features different takes of biscuits and gravy with options for all, including gluten free and vegan. Dave picked the Southern Comfort ($10.15). I chose, surprise surprise, the eggs benedict special ($12ish). Dave also had an orange juice, while I had a Hoyne Pilsner (it was after 10am).

The biscuits were light and fluffy, which is not always the case. When you plan to put gravy on a biscuit, unscrupulous chefs may sneak rock-hard biscuits onto the plate! The white gravy had pieces of sausage in it, which were v v tasty.

The food was fresh and delicious and the portion size is just right. Shanzee's is a friendly, fantastic, and unique new brunch option for Victoria. While we were waiting for our food, though we didn't have to wait long, Shannon, the owner, came out to visit bearded muppet dog, and brought him water and treats. Bearded muppet dog highly recommends the in house baked dog treats ($0.25 each), made of oats, blueberries, and peanut butter. We bought a supply of them for his cookie jar. Charlie says YUM!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Weekend Eight-Six: Fol Epi

It was the proverbial dark and stormy night, except it was a rainy morning, and we once again found ourselves in need of brunch. We had left our secret location early on a mission to cross off errands, and we needed food badly. FOL EPI appeared, and we remembered a recommendation from friends Matt and Angie. Wondering what fol epi could mean, we put our names on the wait list and settled in to wait. Catie said "Hey! They have a bakery!" and we went over to check it out. She ordered a coffee and short bread cookie, while I had a ginger cookie. The baked goods made the short wait feel even shorter, and we soon found ourselves at a table.

I had the Kimchi Pancakes ($17, if I recall), with pork belly. The kimchi pancakes themselves were like a potato latke in texture, with a sweet and spicy taste that was really quite good. The pork belly just fell apart, with a salty taste that complemented the pancakes nicely. The greens were green, and the eggs were eggy. I'd order it again.

Catie, on the other hand, had the classic benny for $18. A creamy Hollandaise, thick-cut bacon reminiscent of Re-Up BBQ, and golden potatoes gave her a big smile. She especially enjoyed the bread, made in house. The hot sauce we requested came in a brown bottle, marked with 'XXX,' and an eyedropper for precision spicy-taste-addition. Thumbs up for the theatricality, and it had a pleasant smoky flavour.

FOL EPI is at 732 Yates, and their website is

Monday, July 23, 2018

Weekend Eighty-Five: Pagliacci's Encore

So. You, dear reader, are surely familiar with our long-lasting love of Pagliacci's lunches and dinners. But did you know that they also serve Sunday Brunch? Neither did we. With our expectations high, we headed out to see what was what.

First off, brunch is only served on Sunday. Secondly, our advice about dinner service wasn't necessary. We arrived at 10:30, walked right in, and were seated without a wait. The place was perhaps half full, but the staff seemed to be run off their feet regardless. We did spot the owner and the manager dressed in street clothes, seemingly just visiting with the staff and some favoured patrons, which may have caused the staff to look busy.

Enough about that. What did we have? I selected the Reefer Madness Hash ($16), with steak, scrambled eggs, red and green peppers, onions, and cheese, while Catie chose the Francis Bacon benny with Whole Beast bacon ($13).

The benny was served on their famous foccacia bread. Awesome! The Hollandaise was smooth, and the potatoes crispy. Catie's bacon was excellent. I know because she shared it with me. However, she did order the eggs poached hard and they were a definite runny medium. Perhaps Pagliacci's knows better than the customer how eggs should be poached.

My steak was cooked medium, and had a lovely rich flavour. It paired nicely with the sharp cheese and the peppers. The potatoes were golden and crispy, but I didn't pay much attention to them. Onions were also present, but I didn't pay much attention to them either. Would I have it again? Yes. Should you have it? I recommend it.

We overheard another table speaking loudly to their server. It sounded like they used to serve bagels or pretzels with the meals, like the bread served at dinner time, and the patrons were quite upset. The server countered with "We didn't serve bread with brunch at all for a while. It was chaos!" We were grateful for the brunch bread, though it was neither as crispy or as hot as the dinner bread.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Weekend Eighty-Four: Beacon Drive In

Victorians and visitors may have differing opinions on many things - the quality of the maple syrup available on Government Street, the suitability of running into traffic to get the perfect photo of the Empress - but we can all agree that the ice cream at the Beacon Drive-In is pretty fantastic. But have you ever eaten their non-ice-cream-based dishes? Catie and I left our secret location, accompanied by our trusty canine companion, and headed out to find a table. The Beacon Drive-In, 126 Douglas, right across from the park.

The menu is a trip back in time. Sundaes, hamburgers, hotdogs, and floats; each of them a diner favourite. However, a corner of the menu caught our respective eyes. Brunch! Catie selected the Egg, Cheese, and Bacon Sandwich ($5.25 + $1.95 for hash browns), and I the Cana-Mex ($9.95). As usual, a coffee and an orange juice too.

So, you may ask, what is the Cana-Mex? The menu explained it as a combination of Canada and Mexico, with potatoes, bacon, chipotle mayo, eggs, lettuce, and pico de gallo. I was excited, and it did look tasty. A sort of a twist on breakfast hash. However, it was missing something. Maybe I'm too fussy, but it was kind of bland. A splash of hot sauce would have livened it up well.

Catie's breakfast sandwich was delicious! A totally cheap, fast, and yummy breakfast solution. The hash browns were a lot like tater-tots, but she enjoyed them anyway. Catie totally recommends the breakfast sandwich, especially if you are on the run.

Charlie enjoyed the pieces of bacon his humans saved for him.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Weekend Eighty-Three: Pagliacci's

We left our temporary secret peninsula location later than normal because this brunch entry is for our friends who believe the oh in oh-eight-hundred stands for oh-my-god-it's-early. We drove all the way to 1011 Broad St in Victoria. Hardcore fans will recognize this as Pagliacci's address.

Pagliacci's is a Victoria institution: the bread, the pasta with funny names, the ginormous desserts, and the jazz. On Sundays they opens at 10 to serve a brunch menu along side it's lunch menu and claim to have the longest running brunch scene in Victoria. Pag's recently reopened after a renovation (mostly of the kitchen and bar area) so today Dave and I went more lunchy than brunchy in our orders so we could establish they hadn't changed our favourites, but of course we will return.

Now, the thing you have to keep in mind when you go to Pagliacci's is that they are going to bring you warm, perfect focaccia bread until you burst. It will be a wafer thin mint situation (Monty Python fans) but with superb bread. Try to pace yourself for the main course and only take on dessert if you can really rein it in.

Here I make a fortress, with spikes, to keep the bread for myself.

I ordered the Hemingway Short Story ($13.5 half/$16 whole), as I always do. Pag's describes it as "tortellini stuffed with beef, ricotta, romano & parmesan cheeses, bacon cream sauce, green onions, parmesan". It is completely delicious and filling. Knowing I would not be able to control myself around the foccaccia that always appears on the table, I ordered a half size. The Hemingway Short Story is something I dream about when I am really hungry and after ensuring it hadn't been altered during the renovation, I will continue to drool in my sleep while dreaming about it, day and night.

Dave ordered the Alexi Burger ($15). I know what you are thinking and frankly I agree. A Burger at Pagliacci's, seriously!?! Dave says, yes. Dave loves this burger for lunch and reserves his choice pasta (the Bicycle Thief) for dinner. Pag's describes it as "Grilled chicken breast, “Whole Beast” pancetta bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, chipotle mayonnaise". Dave loves that the grilled chicken breast is a real piece of chicken, not a reconstituted MDF-like chicken patty. He also always comments on how delicious the pretzel bun is. It's a great non-pasta option.

There isn't much to say except, we will of course be back. You'll probably see us waiting in the line up.