Victoria boasts the most restaurants per capita in North America, save for San Francisco. In a culinary sea of eateries, how does one choose where to indulge their next craving? The best bet is to sample as many dishes as possible.
Enter tapas. Despite the English austere of the Capital city, Spanish style dining seems to be taking over.
In case you haven’t heard, tapas involve ordering a handful of dishes, all of which are portioned to “small plate” sizes and passed around the table so as to allow the diner to sample a variety of flavours, textures, and experiences. Heck yeah. Why wouldn’t I want to put all kinds of culinary adventures in my mouth?
Up first in this series, I present you with The Superior.
Hidden on a quiet corner in the neighbourhood of James Bay, The Superior is a local gem. Area producers such as Discovery Coffee, Phillips Brewing, Gulf Island Brewery, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, and many B.C. wineries as well as Saanich Organics and various other local farmers stock the ever changing menu, while non-professional – but incredibly talented – musicians serenade diners to the tune of jazz, blues, acoustic or even cabaret performances and local artists construct a constantly evolving space in which to experience your meal.
Currently the dining room features a Spring theme with baby crows hatching from their blue and white eggs along multi-tiered shelving, trees growing from the centre of your table, and of course, where there are small birds, there are birds of prey. As Spring moves along, the crows get bigger, the owls make their way across the room, and the atmosphere begins to shift into Summer.
Suited toward a romantic evening between two lovers (um, yes please) cozied into a plush red velvet sofa, a casual family meal at an elevated long table or lunch between friends on their garden patio, The Superior is a sophisticated venue that is, in every sense of the words, inventive and expressive.
Chef Torin Egan boasts the restaurants creativity – choosing to work here because of the expressiveness he is allowed; while manager Lisa Boehme pushes diners’ senses. She tells me the restaurant is meant to both “shock and compel” their guests into a 5 sense eating experience. I’ll take one of those!
On this particular evening we sampled an array of dishes. We began with the obligatory root chips with a charred scallion aioli ($5). A staple on the menu, these chips will make a lover of any anti-root vegetabler.
Round Two: While, the mushroom and gruyere arancini with truffle aioli ($6) lured me into a state of rich cheesy carb-laden contentment, the kale salad with apple, buttermilk ranch dressing, and crumbled blue cheese ($10) astounded my taste buds in ways I didn’t realize kale could – crunchy, full bodied, creamy and refreshing all at the same time.
Round Three: Bring on the meat! When presented with the option, Sooke trout is a fresh treasured delicacy that I crave. When it comes with local brassicas, smooth seasonal squash, rugged farro, and crisp bacon ($17) – it’s a sealed deal. Follow that up with Chef recommended sweet yet spicy ginger hoisin pork ribs that melt off the bone ($15) and you’ve got yourself a happy girl.
If after dish 5 your stomach can handle a little somethin’ somethin’ for dessert, I highly recommend the bacon fig doughnuts ($6), served with the most succulent maple syrup you’ll ever ingest. I have also been known to order one (or two) of the ginger cake with salted caramel and sour-cream sorbet ($9).
Service wise, I was impressed. If anything, the server was overly attentive. While not optimal, I would rather have my water glass topped up after three sips than have my wine glass empty for three dishes.
If you want to check out this superior restaurant, reservations are recommended and it’s housed at 106 Superior Street… For now. In the future however, it may find a new home in a new neighbourhood. Boehme stresses to me that while the building is for sale, the restaurant definitely is not. It will simply be “housed in a different box”, she tells me. Thank goodness.
The Superior: Superior food, style & concept.
106 Superior Street | Victoria
Hours of Operation:
lunch Tuesday to Friday 11:00 / 2:00
dinner Tuesday to Sunday 5:30 / late
brunch Saturday & Sunday 10:00 / 3:00