Three days. It's not a long time, but three days with no schedule, no place to be except with each other and nothing but our own feet to take us wherever we felt like going was perfection. Downtown Victoria, British Columbia was the backdrop for our mini wanderlust. It was my first trip to this fair Canadian city and our first time away from both kids in a very long time. I fully admit that I almost bailed in the airport security line up on Thursday. I do not like leaving my babies, but there were too many people in the line behind me and I had my new LUG Weekender bag to break in so... on the plane I went.
When we were planning this trip a few weeks ago, I crowdsourced my friends on Facebook for recommended hotel accommodations. They came through like I knew they would, and we decided on the beautiful waterfront Inn at Laurel Point. Our room was huge, we had a nice big balcony overlooking Fisherman's Wharf and could watch the float planes take off and land every morning in the harbour. We ate dinner at Aura, the in-house hotel restaurant Thursday night and it was delicious! Scallops cooked to perfection and a creamy mushroom risotto for me and the pork sampler for The Consort (my new nickname for my husband, which I might shorten to TC in the very near future-see below).
Friday morning we woke up and headed out to explore our surroundings. One of the nice things about downtown Victoria (and there are a lot of nice things) is that you don't have to go far to find a place to eat. And most places in the downtown core are well within walking distance from the major hotels. Our very friendly airport shuttle driver told us that Victoria has the second highest restaurant count per capita in North America (after San Francisco) and after walking a good part of the downtown area for three days, I believe him.
We ate at some very cool and funky places. Breakfast and coffee at Wild Coffee. A place that spoke to my soul with the handmade wood furniture and giant Buddha head greeting you as you walked in. Lunch and chai at the family owned Varsha in Victoria's historic Chinatown district (which is really just one block). A waterfront walk and dinner at the Blue Crab, complete with, you guessed it, ALL THE CRAB!!
But I really want to tell you about Rebar. This restaurant, located downtown in Bastion Square, was recommended to us twice. Once by my friend Sarah, who raved about it and then again by a very friendly Victoria local who, upon seeing our obvious touristy-ness, stopped his morning bike ride, pulled up beside us and proceeded to give us recommendations for breakfast, lunch AND dinner for Saturday.
One block later we walked into Rebar and I swear to God, this place will be forever etched into my palate. I knew I was going to like it immediately because of the floral oilcloth tablecloths and the garage-sale-Elvis-tile-collage art piece on the wall. TC and I both ordered the Smoked Salmon, Dill and Creamcheese omelette and the juice of the day, a Smiling Buddha. I have no other way of describing this gastronomic experience other than this: every bite of this meal, and drink of the juice was like having multiple mini food-gasms in my mouth. I am not kidding, I actually moaned it was so good.
And then our waiter brought over their house-made peach and pear jam to accompany the sourdough toast and their spicy ketchup for the roasted potatoes and I moaned some more and may have thrown in an 'Oh my GOD!" for good measure. It really was that good people and I may have had dreams about it that night as well. Moral of the story, go eat at Rebar whenever you are in Victoria.
Our friendly cyclist recommended two restaurants for dinner. Zambri's for, as he put it, "The best italian food in all of Canada. " or Cafe Brio, a Canadian/Italian/local fusion cuisine, with an awesome wine list. I liked the look of Cafe Brio on their website and TC called and made us a late dinner reservation . The cafe had a wonderful old world ambiance to it and it did not disappoint. I chose one of their featured wines, the Trebella Meritage blend from the local BC winery, Church and State Wines. It was a beautiful wine, deep, fruity and smooth, just the way I like my reds. I may be hitting up their wine shop soon and ordering some online! The other nice option at Cafe Brio was that all of their dishes, from small plates to entrees, are available as half-sizes and half price as well. I ended up having half-orders of the Romaine Hearts salad and the Roast Duck Breast. The Consort had the Mixed Green Salad (with a surprise pickled celery ingredient) and the Seared Rare Albacore Tuna. Having the half orders also ensures that you leave plenty of room for desert, and you HAVE to have the Poached Pear and Chocolate Ganache. Trust me.
The food, the wine and the company was so good at Cafe Brio that I neglected to even think about getting pictures of anything. By the time we were done eating, the rain had stopped outside and we decided to walk the 20 minutes back to our hotel and soak up our last bit of Victoria. It was a bit of a chilly night, but full bellies, a warm hand to hold and loving hearts made for a beautiful walk along the waterfront.
Just so you know, we did do other things besides eat while in Victoria. We shopped at great local stores like Sitka and The Milkman's Daughter. We picked up some tea at Silk Road and a sampling of their new spa line as well. We found little gems like Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown and a local leathersmith who is now making TC a custom leather key holder. On a whim we walked into Miniature World located in the Empress Hotel and were rather blown away by this weird and wonderful attraction. And we took no less than a bajillion photos of all the teeny dioramas.
Victoria really was exactly what The Consort and I needed. A short getaway to fill our buckets right to the brim, to focus on ourselves, talk about how this past year has changed us, and make plans for a future that has four simple rules:
Simple, loving, graceful, and grateful.