The Bengal Lounge
721 Government Street
The Fairmont Empress
J: The Fairmont Empress (formerly The Empress) to me is the big time. I’ve both dined here and ate breakfast. I’ve even had the pleasure of staying here for two days. To me, nothing beats The Fairmont Empress when it comes to quality and service. And until I find something better, consider me biased.
The leader of the island’s hoteliers has seen it’s fair share of famous names and one of those is one of my favourites, Bing Crosby. This is going back to a time when Bob Hope would come here to golf, Don Wilson (of The Jack Benny Program) would come here to fish and the Duke himself, John Wayne, didn’t consider it un-American to order some candy treats from Rogers’ Chocolates on Government Street. But Ed, myself and our photographer Yvonne Fried were not here to stay the night, we were here for a photo shoot within the Empress’ walls and to have a spur of the moment bite in The Bengal Lounge.
E: Can you imagine us, Two Hungry Blokes, as models? Okay, wipe that thought from your minds. James and I have plans, as I’ve mentioned in a previous article, to expand our site to cover more than just food. We will be covering the arts and local culture, so what better than to use the classiest hotel in Victoria for images. Mind you, I think we should have posed with the tigers before entering The Bengal Lounge. I’d like to see James stick his head into a tiger’s mouth. On this day, both our tummies were roaring for food.
Real Taste of India
768 Fort St
E: One of the essential rules of waitressing includes knowing which is which on the menu and being able to know who ordered what. To not know can spell trouble. That can be excused when taking orders from a large crowd, but when James and I were the only two in Taste of India, I can’t be too kind. The food was great, but the service really needs to be worked on.
J: The service was poor and I’m saying this kindly because I want to use a manure reference. Our first server made many fatal mistakes; the first one was with upselling us more food without explaining his reasons for doing it.
Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar
765 Beatty St.
Georgian Court Hotel
J: When it comes to hotels, I’m very picky about where I stay. I like to have the convenience of location, cleanliness, service (who wouldn’t) and just like my favourite eating establishments, atmosphere. It is in this light that Ed should bow down and be grateful that I was adamant when it came to staying at the Georgian Court, a regular booking of Be A Fan Entertainment Packages. It was within walking distance of not only our destination of Rogers Arena but of Vancouver’s Yaletown. Ed should’ve also produced sacrificial offerings after I had managed to swing us for a free early riser breakfast at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen.
The trip on and off the rock known as Vancouver Island is wrought with one potential problem: the cost of using BC Ferries. Love them or hate them, they’re one means getting people away from or to the capital of British Columbia. One could enjoy the feasting of the Pacific Buffet ($22 at dinnertime) until the next harbour is reached.
The quality of the food is fairly good even though prices have gone up since I last entered through their frosted glass doors. Depending on the ferry, Spirit of British Columbia or Spirit of Vancouver Island and Coastal Celebration, what gets served will vary. Prices also vary depending on the time of day.
Jade Fountain Restaurant
3366 Douglas Street
J: Ed, myself and professional photographer Qué Banh were to hold a proper Chinese New Year celebration but unfortunately Qué fell ill, leaving the monkeys to run the zoo.
We took two flights of stairs to the basement of the Red Lion Inn. A former ballroom-turned restaurant, Jade Fountain was populated. My reservation for Sunday brunch, made over half a week earlier, meant nothing. Instead, we were given a number and directed down a crowded ramp in the vicinity of the washrooms. Today it appeared, was not a good day to be of either Chinese descent or big boned. Fortunately I was only the latter. Ed and I played the child’s game of ‘Traffic Lights’ for a half hour, slowly making our way towards the dinning tables before our lucky 13 was finally called.
E: Be glad it wasn’t the unlucky number four. In Chinese or Japanese, the word has two meanings: either the number four or death. For the most part, it’s considered an unlucky number.
2635 Quadra Street
Fairway on Quadra has a fully functional kitchen and a buffet that’s comparable to what any Chinese restaurant can offer. This place is worth hitting for those people who are tight on money; the food is good and for the speed, one can get a meal made up within minutes.
The only difference is that you have to choose what entrees you want and there’s no going back for seconds. You name it, they’ll most likely have it. To name a few, there’s dumplings, Szechuan style squid, tempura prawns, sweet and sour pork and egg rolls.
Prices begin at $6.99 and increase by dollar increments for any additional selections. While there’s no regrets buying from Fairway, there’s always tomorrow to hit the gym. Every time I consume one of those palettes of noodles with squid and prawns, I feel several pounds heavier.
Their meals are not really meant to be eaten in one go, or by just one person. Even in the smallest serving size, there’s enough for two. Sadly, while they give away squid like nothing, the prawns are limited to three per serving, and to get double that would take up a selection. The taste is about what you would expect for material made en masse. Sometimes, the squid is dry and the tempura batter greasier than oil baking out in a sun, but that’s because of how long it’s been sitting there. The people who dole out the food are probably not certified to be in a kitchen either. They take your order and look for who’s next.
If they truly cared about how to service a product, they’d be properly portioning out the food, so the packages do not feel top heavy.
I’ll be ready to tip over instead.
2 Blokes out of 5