Table For Two: A Year in Food
Published Friday, December 21, 2018 6:03PM PST
Last Updated Friday, December 21, 2018 6:28PM PST
22 restaurants. 12 months. Two guys.
2018 marked the first full year of Table For Two with the VicFoodGuys on CTV Vancouver Island. A full year of two guys eating their way through Vancouver Island. If you’re the kind of person who can never decide what to eat for dinner, or consistently goes back to the same old joints, never mixing it up, here’s a breakdown of the restaurants they recommended in 2018.
Happy eating. Save some room for next year.
Click on a location in the map below to read Joe's "takeaway" for each restaurant, or read on!
RESTAURANT: 900 DEGREES
LOCATION: 2401 Millstream Road, Langford
VISITED: JANUARY 19
TAKEAWAY: Some CTV viewers will remember 900 Degrees from CTV’s 2016 search for the Island’s “Best Slice of Pizza”. The restaurant took home top honours in the thin slice category. Every pizza rises inside “Victoria”, a 7000 pound golden pizza oven described as the Rolls-Royce of pizza ovens. The guys put back a fungi pizza while debating whether it was pronounced fun-guy or fun-gee.
RESTAURANT: SHANZEE’S BISCUIT CAFÉ
LOCATION: 529 Pandora Avenue, Victoria
VISITED: FEBRUARY 4
TAKEAWAY: Two “King of the Roads” left the VicFoodGuys bursting. That’s two orders of buttermilk biscuits, topped with sausage gravy, and an egg that oozes its way into every nook and cranny within the cardboard box they’re served in. The guys called this the “new player on the breakfast scene."
LOCATION: 1011 Blanshard Street, Victoria
VISITED: FEBRUARY 16
TAKEAWAY: After wowing friends with their home cooked falafels, the owners decided why not try to sell them. One trip to the middle-east (reconnaissance) and they were set. The guys basically had one of everything and washed it down with a Limonana, a frozen mint lemonade drink. They also met Nezar, a Syrian refugee who used to cook falafels in Syria before fleeing to Canada. He now cooks falafels at Yalla.
RESTAURANT: RUTH AND DEAN
LOCATION: 1310 Douglas Street, Victoria
VISITED: MARCH 4
TAKEAWAY: This is where the guys discovered the golden yolk smear. That’s what you’re looking for on your knife when you cut into Ruth and Dean’s legendary breakfast sandwich (self-proclaimed “best in the city”). Custom cakes, baked goods, and a menu jotted out on rolling paper hanging on the wall.
RESTAURANT: BIN 4 BUGER LOUNGE
LOCATION: 3271 Maple Street, Victoria (several locations)
VISITED: MARCH 9
TAKEAWAY: The birth of the “VFG”. This custom Bin 4 burger included a chicken breast, BBQ chipotle sauce, fresh pineapple, an onion ring, and stuffing. Of the 75 monthly feature burgers in Bin 4’s history only two have ever cracked the regular menu becoming full time staples. The guys are still holding out hope their “VFG” makes the cut one day.
RESTAURANT: THE SURLY MERMAID
LOCATION: 9851 Seaport Pl #1b, Sidney
VISITED: MARCH 30
TAKEAWAY: Bacon brûlée. Those two words had a solo VicFoodGuy salivating before he even made the drive to Sidney. From chimichangas and its Thursday night Mexican nights, to the chicken spinach mushroom fettucine they whipped up for Dallas, this quaint spot overlooking the Sidney Harbour seemed to have a little something for everyone.
RESTAURANT: CRISPY CHURROS DESSERT CAFÉ
LOCATION: 2A - 4071 Shelbourne Street, Saanich
VISITED: APRIL 13
TAKEAWAY: The epitome of unique. Where else would you find a South Korean, making Portuguese pastries, and re-creating Canadian winters in a cup? Take a snowstorm, add flavour, and throw it all in a cup. That’s how the guys described this so-called “healthy ice cream”.
RESTAURANT: THE COOKIE GUY
LOCATION: 1122 Blanshard Street, Victoria (one of two locations)
VISITED: APRIL 27
TAKEAWAY: If you’re looking for the coolest guy in Victoria, you can stop looking. He’s the cookie guy. Mathew Davis is a former corporate finance expert from Dallas who now bakes and delivers soft, chewy, mouth-watering cookies in the capital region. Not sold yet? He also showed the guys how he delivers his cookies in big, cookie backpacks to downtown businesses. Needless to say, the guys were impressed.
RESTAURANT: INDECENT RISOTTO
VISITED: MAY 11
TAKEAWAY: Some of the best food comes in ball form and that rings true at this food truck. Often parked near CFB Esquimalt, these rich, deep-fried spherical risotto balls are as big as your fist. The menu changes constantly but whatever they’re serving up you can bet that it will be comfort food at its finest.
RESTAURANT: ISLAND POKE
LOCATION: 1674 Douglas Street, Victoria (one of two locations)
VISITED: MAY 25
TAKEAWAY: You’d be hard pressed to find a Victoria lunch spot that has exploded like Island Poke has. It took less than two months for long lineups to become the lunchtime norm. The only thing better than the food, may be the couple behind it. They’re partners who fell in love with Victoria during their first visit from Vancouver. A true restaurant success story.
RESTAURANT: PARACHUTE ICE CREAM
LOCATION: 105-2626 Bridge Street, Victoria
VISITED: JUNE 8
TAKEAWAY: Nestled between some of the biggest brewers in the city you’ll find Rock Bay’s sweet spot. Much like those beer growlers, you can refill your glass ice cream jar and get a discount. And if you want to mix things up, you can get water buffalo ice cream. And yes, the water buffalo are island water buffalo. This is also where the guys were reintroduced to the brain freeze after eating too fast.
RESTAURANT: FUDO SUSHI
LOCATION: 801 Royal Oak Drive, Saanich
VISITED: JUNE 22
TAKEAWAY: If your sushi chef has made sushi for Angelina Jolie, Madonna, and Calvin Klein, chances are he’s pretty good at it. This is the case at Fudo, a small joint right in the heart of Broadmead Village. From a standard cucumber roll to one of the fanciest pieces of fish you’ll ever taste, this place has it all. The guys were treated to the most expensive pieces of fish they’ve ever consumed.
RESTAURANT: PERSIMMON TREE
LOCATION193-2401 Millstream Road, Langford
VISITED: JULY 6
TAKEAWAY: Langford’s big box stores sometimes get a bad rap for representing the anti-local. That’s why you might do a double-take when you see right smack in the heart of the big box mecca, a small joint pumping out modern twists on Korean cuisine. If you like big wings, that crunch with every bite, this is your place.
RESTAURANT: BREAKWATER TASTING ROOM
LOCATION: 199 Dallas Road, Victoria
VISITED: JULY 22
TAKEAWAY: Forget everything you thought you knew about tasting rooms. If cruise ship passengers no longer venture into downtown Victoria, you can blame this place. A warm room nestled right next to the breakwater features a long list of island brews and a food menu that’s even more diverse than the taps. The guys were stuffed with food foraged in Victoria’s backyard.
RESTAURANT: THE VILLAGE
LOCATION: 2518 Estevan Avenue, Victoria (multiple locations)
VISITED: AUGUST 3
TAKEAWAY: The guys thought they’d get a good breakfast, but they didn’t expect to find a secret garden which may be growing the city’s answer to the inevitable straw ban. Behind the Estevan Village (one of soon to be 4 Village locations, a Chinatown location is opening in 2019), is a green thumb’s oasis that includes human grown straws, plucked from the stem of a plant that is a distant relative to celery. Oh yeah, the food is pretty great too.
RESTAURANT: DOBOSALA CANTINA & RIDE THRU
LOCATION: 760 Pandora Avenue, Victoria
VISITED: AUGUST 17
TAKEAWAY: Yes, this is the place with the bike ride thru. That seemed to be what everyone was talking about when this Indo-Pacific cantina opened its doors. That was before the guys went inside and saw the tables made from 100 year old barn floorboards, and before they tasted the food. The tempakora served on a big silver tray caused instant excitement.
KID SISTER ICE CREAM
LOCATION: 10 Fan Tan Alley, Victoria
VISITED: SEPTEMBER 7
TAKEAWAY: We figured the guys liked free food, but we didn’t realize how big these moochers really were until we walked down the narrowest street in the country. Free, never-ending samples for everyone at this ice cream spot. If you do want to pay, and want to try everything, the play is the flight. Yes, like a flight of beer, but instead of beer, four golf ball sized scoops.
LOCATION: 1600 Government Street, Victoria
VISITED: SEPTEMBER 21
TAKEAWAY: Head into Varsha and there’s a good chance you’ll meet Varsha. She’s the family matriarch and if she’s not there in person (which is rare) you’ll see her on the walls. Everything comes from her, including the guy’s favourite dish. Butter. Chicken. Poutine.
RESTAURANT: GP’S DONAIR AND PIZZA
LOCATION: 3009 Gosworth Road, Victoria
VISITED: OCTOBER 8
TAKEAWAY: It took almost the entire year for the guys to finally bring some real star power to their segment. Joined by Victoria Royal’s goaltender, Griffin Outhouse, the guys learned about Outhouse’s donair “heaters” that would see him go on donair binges. The goalie also opened up about his emotional transition from eating Mediterranean style donairs to only eating Halifax style donairs.
RESTAURANT: EMPIRE DONUTS AND FRIED CHICKEN
LOCATION: 230 Cook St #109, Victoria
VISITED: NOVEMBER 9
TAKEAWAY: You wouldn’t know it but in the back of this fried chicken joint you’ll find a kitchen to be reckoned with. If you want to draw in top quality chefs, you have to give them a place they want to work in. That’s the philosophy of the Empire’s creator. The guys split a fried chicken sandwich but vowed to get a whole bucket next visit. Yes, they also had donuts. Obviously.
RESTAURANT: RISE AND GRIND
LOCATION: 1294 Broad Street Victoria
VISITED: November 23
TAKEAWAY: When a place sells bacon slices in a cup, you know you’re in good hands. The food creations are epic. Where else can you get a three-tiered syrup doused Eggo sandwich with egg, cheese, and mounds of meat. The guys split two sandwiches, a large salad (yes, they have healthy food as well), a Reese Pieces latte, and a cup of bacon.
RESTAURANT: WRAP N ROLL
LOCATION: 1885 Fort Street, Victoria
VISITED: DECEMBER 7
TAKEAWAY: This is not a chain restaurant. Again, this is NOT a chain restaurant. That’s the biggest lesson the guys learned when they stepped into a small Fort street restaurant that epitomizes family run. Serving up Mediterranean style wraps (for a very reasonable price) along with a long list of Lebanese cuisine, this is the kind of place that will surprise you. If not with the prices, definitely with the taste.