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.
Cat’s Coffee & Cake
1213 Douglas St
Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Phone: (250) 590-1699
This cat certainly wants to come back to the cafe on Douglas Street because of the treats and sweets offered. Not only is the company logo designed by local artist Gareth Gaudin, but also I figure it’s his favourite hangout spot when not behind the till at Legends Comics. I believe they also offer catering services too, which is a bonus for any downtown operation wanting to support local enterprises.
I was feeling peckish the day I was in town. The signboard detailing Cat’s Coffee & Cake specials caught my eye. Kimchi and bacon in a croissant sandwich? I knew it’d be a flavourful combination, but there was a small lineup. I had another errand to do and when I returned, there was none.
At first I thought I’d be entering a cafe with cute felines around, but alas, that’s another operation in the works (Mask and Mantle Cat Cafe are still searching for the ideal location to set up shop). This operation is apparently a passion project of master pastry chef Yi Catherine Yang who decided to set up shop in the busiest intersection of Downtown Victoria. She’s well known in China as the host of several TV cooking shows. Through these programs, she’s been promoting culture through the exchange of how to make up flavourful treats. While she may not be living in this city and working this particular kitchen (her resume lists her as the creative force behind New York’s Gigi Blue), to have her endorsement is enough.
734 Aldebury St #101
Hours: Mon to Fri: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Phone: (778) 440-5335
ES: Tucked in the industrial side of Victoria, BC (in the municipality of Esquimalt) is Miche Cafe. It’s been under various ownerships in the past and I’ve lost count! I’m rarely in this side of town mostly because I’m not a supporter of the nearby operation, Wholesale Club, (family loves shopping here for the bulk goods but I don’t) but when I have to chauffeur, it’s playing Pokemon GO in the area, or coming to this corner deli style stop for a bite because of the atmosphere and down home cooking!
DK: Don’t think we forgot about the bread price-fixing scam. Am I right, Ed?
ES: Don’t get me started!
Prairie Inn Neighbourhood Pub
7806 East Saanich Rd
Hours: 11am to 11pm, Sun to Sat
Phone: (250) 652-1575
The Prairie Inn is one of those cozy out of the way places for good bites to fill you up! I’ve been here a few times with pals who live in this Brentwood Bay area. They heartily recommend it, but with my critical tastes, it’s hard to say what’s worth ordering every time.
Plus, when this operation is older than me and has their faithful clientele, it’s tough to beat that reputation. I see that they keep up with the traditions of themed nights for every day eats. Although, with the season, the ambience is says it all more than the bites. I’m fairly sure the building is also haunted, and I’d love to return on a paranormal expedition!
Red Brick Cafe
2423 Beacon Ave #106
Phone: (250) 655-1822
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
When I’m in a rush to the BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminus to my next great adventure (which I’ve been doing a lot more of lately), not a lot of options for a quick stop for a meal exists. When trying to make the first ferry of the day, it’s nearly impossible to grab a warm breakfast. I could pay more and charge into the Pacific Buffet lounge on the boat–which is what I often do–but I was with friends this day and they were on a tighter budget than I was for what to grab to eat.
A taste of home-made and no thrills can found in the early mornings in Sidney, BC. That was the consensus with the pals I was with. We enjoyed the morning sea breeze, chatted about our plans for the geek fest we were headed to while sipping fancy coffees–varying from lattes to expressos to basic (for me, anyway).
Cook & Pan Polish Deli & Cafe
1527 Amelia St
Hours: 9 – 5 p.m.
Phone: (250) 385-5509
ES: The Cook & Pan is an out of the way Polish cafe. They were formerly located out by Cook Street proper but now they’re off Amelia Street. A social media post highlighting their delicious sausages was not the draw, but when I saw they’re offering a dill pickle soup, not only was my interest piqued but my mouth was already watering. No drool bucket was needed.
After a late morning film with Don at the Vic Theatre during the Victoria Film Festival, I asked if we should seek out brunch.
DK: Ed proposed and I said yes! To brunch! Put a bacon ring on my finger, Ed and rip that pierogi garter from my no-longer teasing ankle!
Speaking of love and desire: Ed’s lusting after dill pickle soup was matched by my limerent euphoria upon finding dessert pierogies in the Cook and Pan freezer (blueberry variety).