After two days of r & r, we bid goodbye to Sooke and headed all the way to Tofino, one of Canada’s most western points. We genuinely enjoyed combing the coast for rocks and shells, staring at the waves, we truly did, but we were more than happy to hit the road again, and drive ourselves to Victoria, British Columbia’s capital city.
With a population of about 344 000 people, depending on how you look at it, Victoria is a small big city or big small town. One thing is certain we gladly left our rental car at the hotel in order to discover most of the city by foot.
One can truly discover the city while rambling through the city in search of the perfect vintage find. During our stay, we planned out our itinerary by mapping out antique and vintage shops and where to eat.
For our first dinner in Victoria, inspiration came while consulting the en Route Eats app. Acting essentially as smart phone version of en Route’s annual compilation of where to eat; the app proves to be a perfect tool to discover a city’s restaurant scene. The “What’s near me?” and “en Route’s Top 10” sections of the app are by far the most useful. Some Victoria restaurants have made the publication’s select top 10 lists over the years, including Ulla, where we decided to celebrate our arrival in the city.
509, Fisgard street, Victoria
Open for dinner from 5:30p.m., Tuesday – Saturday.
After an afternoon filled walking the streets of downtown Victoria, we set foot at Ulla. Located in the country’s oldest (and smallest) Chinatown, the restaurant is all about creating a memorable and innovative dining experience.
The restaurant prides itself for using local organic products whenever possible and ethically raised proteins. Ulla also shines when it comes to the presentation and techniques used in their cooking. We enjoyed:
- Scallop boudin blanc, potato purée, pumpkin, shimiji mushrooms and sunflower sprouts,
- Tuna tataki, avocado, radish, pea shoots, lemon, espelette, ponzu and puffed rice.
- Pork loin, braised belly and chicharron, navy beans, radish, kimchi, green apple and herb mustard sauce,
- Short rib steak and crispy cornbread, potato roti, cipollinis, wild spring onions and black garlic jus.
- Parsnip cake, date purée, candied walnut and parsnip and bourbon and maple ice cream
- Chocolate cake, rice crispy crunch, aerated chocolate, dulce de leche, chocolate soil.
Every item that we ordered was both a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Items were all portioned in geometric shapes and placed in a very symmetrical fashion that showcased the colors and textures of every dish. Every bite was a true delight. The service was warm and friendly and also contributed to making the meal enjoyable.
The most excellent way to ring in our arrival in Victoria
542, Herald Street, Victoria
Open Daily 8 A.M. to 3 P.M.
The next morning, we prepped for our day of thirsting with a hearty and appetizing breakfast at the Jam Café. It wasn’t even 10 A.M. the restaurant was bustling with activity. The menu is filled comfort food inspired dishes. We enjoyed:
- The Charlie Bowl – Jam Café’s version of hash with crumbled biscuit, hash browns, and two sunny sides up eggs, ham, green onions, cheddar and our house sausage gravy.
- Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich – A buttermilk biscuit made in house served with scrambled eggs, cheddar, tomato jam, and hash browns.
We sipped our coffee as we plotted our itinerary through Victoria’s thrift stores and antique shops. Our ultimate destination: Fort Street, conveniently nicknamed “Antique Alley” because of the great number of antique stores. The perfect way to spend a day.
After getting our antique fix and a good nap, we took drove ourselves to Victoria West, to Fol Épi Bakery for some baguette and chocolate croissants. The short drive (or what could have also been a pleasant bike ride) is worthwhile to both enjoy baked goods and to get a peek at a Victoria residential neighborhood. We then headed east and drove along Beach Drive and Dallas Road to admire the view of the coast and the Juan de Fuca Strait. The perfect way to end a quick stay in what has now become one of my favorite West coast cities alongside the likes of Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.