Yule Don’t Have to Be JOIE for Fine French Holiday Dining

20221113_121528JOIE Grillades
104-1175 Cook St

JOIE French Café
1610 Cook St
Victoria, BC

Hours: Daily from 11am to 3pm
Phone: (250) 590-9193
* Reservations recommended

DK: Cook Street between Caledonia and Pandora has always been my favourite commercial district in Victoria. During my 20s, it was home to the best bar in town, the best pizza slice in town, and the best bakery. I’m still grieving the loss of Logan’s Bar, and the 420 slice cravings will never go away. Thank God, Pâtisserie Danielle survives. 

When JOIE French Cafe opened, I was excited by what it could add to the neighbourhood (namely the opportunity to get a decent croque monsieur). It didn’t completely live up to my own hype back then, but I was glad to be back at JOIE to try something else on the menu.

ES: I too miss Logan’s. It’s been a punk rock haven for decades, since one can truly enjoy the acts up close. I was there when Thor (no, not the Marvel Cinematic hero) was in town. Ira Hunter, Editor-in-chief of Absolute Underground Magazine, invited me to come join him, and I think he was hoping I’d write a review of that show, but I digress. I showed up early just so I could hit Cold Comfort Ice Cream. 

But on the day I was out with Don, I needed something to warm me up. On the lunch menu, the French Onion Soup was exactly what I needed to soothe these old bones of mine. Yes, I’m the older one between Don and me, but I won’t say by how much.

20221113_121452

DK: But just like Becel Margarine, Ed is young at heart. What an insane ad campaign that was. Cure your fears of ageing by smearing this oil spread on a bit of toast. Slurp up that fuckin linoleic acid until you’re sprinting around your neighbourhood park like a 4-year-old. Anyway, speaking of healthy eating choices, I went for the salad at Joie. And hoo boy did they ever strangle that spinach in sliced almonds and goat cheese. No skimping here.

ES: While the prices here are reasonable for lunch, I suspect heading over to their main restaurant, JOLIE Grillades, will make a dent in anyone’s wallet. Authentic French cuisine on the island isn’t cheap. What I got as a sampler was certainly worth the $14, if I remember correctly. That is, if you want to feast on fresh salmon, duck or even lamb, their market price can be a shocker, especially if you’re visiting off season and have a particular craving. 

Would Don and I return for that? I’d be on the fence, but would be willing. I will return to this operation for a crepe though! I’m anxious to taste what a chef can do with bacon though. But as for the bigger operation, what say you, Don?

DK: I’m interested in whether their croque monsieur has improved from when they were a younger eatery. Crêpes don’t really get me moving, though. So am I excited to return? No. Does that say anything about this café? Probably not. Enthusiasm for mornay sauce will likely dictate your own enthusiasm for Joie and its offerings.

4 Blokes out of 5
Final score for both operations: pending.

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Where’s the Beet with the Bear and Joey?

20221113_112508Bear and Joey
1025 Cook St
Victoria, BC 

Hours:  Daily from 9am to 2pm
Menu: bearandjoey.ca
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. 

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The Candid on Smile Chicken, in a busy Korean Fried Scene…

smile chicken1001 Douglas G12
Victoria, BC

Hours: 11:30 am to 10pm
Phone: (604) 782-8592

Sadly, La Fiesta Café, the Mexican diner at the corner of Douglas and Broughton, is no more. In its place is Smile Chicken. I think the fact we have two new Korean Fried operations (one still coming) downtown is amusing when considering there was a chicken shortage in 2021. One year is more than enough to regrow a population, but are the hens happy? It’s safe to say most likely not.

I’ve been here three times now, and when this operation has corn dogs on the menu, why not? When I’m craving this carnival food staple, it certainly satisfies.

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A Capital City Comic Con 2022 Update on Nearby Places to Dine

capital city comic con

Victoria, BC‘s Capital City Comic Con (Sept 23-25, 2022) is almost here, and after a two-year absence because of a pesky pandemic, everyone (at least local) is excited about it. This city had a handful of other shows throughout the years which did not last long. And the hope from the team of businesses involved with this show is that this fixture is a tourist attraction in the years to come. And hopefully, #Nerdtoria can become a hashtag to use to recognise fandom in this garden city.

For a complete round-up on what to expect, please check out our sister-site’s look at this upcoming show. This September event is exclusive to 2022, and CapCity (not Comic Con as it’s registered to the San Deigo event) is expected to resume in March 2023 as part of the Spring Break tradition.

Getting a bite in between panels or wandering around won’t be easy. The events from the past usually required patrons to the Victoria Conference Centre to buy from their in-house catering service, and outside food was not allowed. Things may change since the pandemic is not over and instead of packing people in, to keep everyone distanced is for the better. Until more news is announced, we offer this updated guide (last one was dated 2018 and a lot has changed since) to eateries nearby that’s worth the visit.

For in-event concession, the organisers reported that it’ll be in the Crystal Gardens venue.

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[Victoria, BC] Post Fringe Festival Thoughts and Upcoming Events Schedule

victoria fringe 2022

The 2022 Victoria Fringe Festival is a wrap, and it’s almost a full return to form. This event ran from August 24 to Sept 4 and was well attended. I passed by many lineups while wandering Downtown Victoria at those venues that hosted, and the one big thing that changed, as a result of the pandemic, was the lack of seeing talents run from venue to venue to pass along flyers of their shows, and saying you must check it out. While there were fewer places hosting, that’s to be expected (assuming if they adhered to indoor health code regulations).

An internal change that not every patron is aware of is to buy tickets in advance (online or at the box office). I observed a few people were unaware, and instead of being turned away, were allowed to purchase at the door. I’m glad Intrepid Theatre was aware this situation may happen, and were prepared. I suspect further revisions will be in store to help streamline future events. And as the world transitions to accepting Covid-19 won’t go away, further tweaks will be made. All anyone can do is to be mindful in how things must now operate to keep everyone healthy and safe.

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When It’s Time to Return to Parks Kitchen

20220724_140815606 Trounce Alley
Victoria, BC

Hours: Weds to Sun 11:30am to 9pm.
Phone: (778) 265-2227

ES: Park’s Kitchen reinvented itself many years ago. The last time I’ve been there, this restaurant was a Japanese only restaurant but these days (even prior to the pandemic), they expanded their menu to include Korean, and I think that’s a good thing! The only downside is that their Japanese selection isn’t as varied anymore.

I’ve been meaning to return here, but every time I walk through Trounce Alley, it’s en route to Quazar’s Arcade to play video games rather than for a bite. I’ve often been tempted in because of the daily specials, but alas, I’m meeting up with other pals. After hanging out with Don at the said place and challenging each other to Street Fighter and other intensive battle games, we worked up an appetite!

DK: Let’s see now–I’ve got a notepad open, a photo of Park’s lunch special for inspiration, a refreshing glass of ice water–all the elements required to knock off another barn-burning blokepost.

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