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.
658 Herald St
Phone: (250) 590-9251
ES: Tasty morsels can be found at Saveur Restaurant, located not too far from the cosmopolitan Victoria Chinatown. The location is not really off the beaten path, but is tucked within the same block where Brasserie L’Ecole is also located. My guess is that the city blocks around this former Asian area may well be our city’s answer to an “International District.”
DK: The extent to which Saveur fits into a real or imagined “International District” is seen in some of their menu items over the years. A menu from 2017 showcases “Pakora Battered Broccoli” with Ponzu. A previous version of the house chicken wings was served with “Louisiana Style Remoulade.” The house wings are now “Korean BBQ Wings.”
Viewing the menu as a marketing tool, what remains constant from the earlier years of Saveur to now is “local” items sitting next to “international” flavours (would you like “Chilled Soba Noodles” with miso for lunch? Or perhaps just a salad made with “Mason Street Greens”). What has changed is tourist-pleaser type fare (fish tacos, a burger and a pork belly sandwich) replacing multi-course tasting menus.
Tres Gourmet Bakery & Cafe
1280 Broad St
Hours: Tues-Sat 7am – 4pm
Phone: (778) 433-8737
Tucked away in a side-street is a block of nothing but tres bonne eats. On one side is West Coast Waffles, and the other, many an eatery along Trounce Alley (Bodega Bar, apa Bar and Parks Kitchen).
Tres Gourmet Bakery and Cafe is a stop few will make when the scents from the alley enticing. But I wanted something quick, and the coffees by themselves are tops! They serve all the types–including Red Eye–and it’d be an article to explore how they make ‘em with heart.
Instead, this stop is comforting. There isn’t a lot of outdoor seating options (it’s limited in the tight street known as Broad, ironically enough). Indoors, the tables are presently arranged so there’s plenty of space for those social distancing. But for me, it made me feel like I was in the Roman Pantheon. That wasn’t their intent, as the design is more minimalist modern than classic, but I could also sit for a spell to read Lilo and the Samurai volume two before it was time before my appointment to get my second vaccine shot. Yes, soon Don and I can check out places a bit more frequently since masks aren’t as mandatory.
585 Johnson St
Hours: Tues-Sun 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Phone: (778) 432-0664
Yes, I make no bones about it, I love rice balls. A long time ago, a Chinese-style variant included a deep-fried type where the gooey cheese interior made for all the difference. This was before I discovered Onigiri, a healthier Japanese snacking version to which I’ve never looked back in my switch.
Oni-Oni is a satellite operation of Sakura Sushi and is a place I’ll definitely return to when I need my sweet rice vinegar fix! They have fifteen flavours of onigiri to choose from! Not all of them are always available, but if you call ahead, it’s possible to get what you want made to order. Eating one is not enough, and for a hearty individual like me, I can eat up to four of them in one go. These bites are like snacks, and aren’t the huge ones people sometimes see in anime. They’re about the same size as the ones bought at Fujiya’s on Shelbourne. Plus, this store has Okashi and Nomimono too!
L’Authentique Poutine and Burgers
1208 Wharf Street
Weds to Sat 11am to 7pm
Phone: (778) 432-2444
ES: L’Authentique Poutine and Burgers have new digs! Instead of operating out of Langford during the cold winter months (although it’ll soon be Spring), they have a new space down by the wharf to serve up their tasty French fries and burgers for city residents! They’re well known for their fancy poutines and while I don’t expect them to vary the flavours regularly, I will be back to have their french fries time and time again.
DK: Points for longevity. The minor setback of a fire licking the Langford truck into submission back in 2012 doesn’t seem to have had a long-term effect on L’Authentique’s success. Nearly a decade later and here they are in a prime downtown location. But is it worth lining up 30m-1hour once tourists are back in town?
Not if you stick to the published menu. The bacon cheeseburger is reminiscent of an A&W Teen Burger, and the cheese curds in the poutine are squeaky as expected. Don’t get me wrong, it makes for a satisfying enough meal, but I wouldn’t brave tourist crowds for it.
Chuck’s Burger Bar
538 Yates St
Hours: Tues-Sun: 12–10PM
Phone: (250) 590-9866
While parts of the world are still in lockdown because of a pandemic, a few places remain as busy as ever. At Chuck’s Burger Bar, that overdue visit to see now they are doing more than a year later was a must. I’ve visited a few times prior, mostly for take out but not much has changed since.
Last month, I visited with other friends. We rented Quasars Arcade for some personal retro gaming time (it’s a great deal when split between friends and the machines are set to endless play). We were all experiencing cabin fever when wave two struck Victoria, BC. It was a week later when news about the UK variant hitting the island made me think twice…. For this blog, I’ll be expanding the content to include food product reviews, films about foodie culture and posts about my last adventure in Seattle’s food scene. I’m thankful I saved a few pieces for this eventuality.