Bear and Joey
1025 Cook St
Hours: Daily from 9am to 2pm
Phone: (250) 590-9193
ES: My big question regarding the popular diner, Bear and Joey, is where’s the Australian influence? On the late Sunday morning when Don and I arrived there for a bite, it was busy! I thought about doing reservations, and probably should’ve since there’s a few menu offerings not on the take out. It seems that rain or shine, patrons will flock here for a warm meal.
DK: Ed and I both knew an Aussie aesthetic was part of this operation’s pitch, but nothing stood out as culturally unique after our initial visit. Bear and Joey owner Peter Cook, a native of Sydney, Australia, described Australian cafe culture as “coffee every morning and a simple breakfast grab-and-go” in a 2020 interview with Victoria News.
Meade Design Group, who worked with Cook to “bring his vision of a Sydney inspired cafe” in Victoria to life, describe Bear and Joey’s branding as “perfect for capturing Instagram moments.” If instagrammable takeaway is a uniquely Australian aesthetic, I suppose Bear and Joey has achieved success. Especially given the place is usually so busy you can’t dine-in.
ES: Thankfully, I got the Aussie bar experience more than a few times during my visits to Vancouver. Moose’s Down Under is second to none, but as for whether there are authentic beers from this country served at the Victoria establishment, either they’re hiding it or only bringing some ideas to the island rather than full meal deal. But to answer the question, Don decided to sample the only dish that’s considered authentic whereas I went for a chicken sandwich.
Sure, we got great tasting snacks to go. The maple sweet thick bacon in my meal was good sign, but what I ate got cold fast. Thankfully I got nice frothy matcha in a cup to keep me warm while waiting for my order. To say they offer other ethnic drinks is a plus, since I love my green tea.
DK: I enjoy a saucy breakfast sandwich, saucier than what Bear and Joey offers. The shallot aioli and house relish weren’t as noticeable as I would have preferred. I understand, however, that it makes sense to spread sparingly when you’ve got a busy kitchen. Overall it was a good sandwich on a nice bun (an eye-catching beet number, I assume from Crust Bakery). Are there better, cheaper breakfast sandwiches in town? Oh absolutely. They might even be as instagrammable! But this is a fine offering that will please most.
ES: My advice is that if you’re going to take a photo of your food and post it on social media is to make sure you’re dining in! A take out box is a take out box, not something most photographers want put into that snapshot, no matter what. We had to make do given the situation, and weren’t disappointed.
DK: So in the end, there is at least one obvious nod to traditional Australian cuisine at Bear and Joey. Likely there are others we are too uncultured to have noticed. Still would have been nice to see Lamington cake or some other “can’t get it anywhere else in Victoria” item on the menu.
3½ Blokes out of 5