EXP Restaurant + Bar
309 W Pender St
EXP Restaurant & Bar has been operating since late 2012 and sadly, by the time I visit this place again, it will be closed. I came across this article about the problems of keeping such operations afloat in a tough as nails city core. I can only hope and let readers know that if the Rio Theatre can be saved by Deadpool himself, is there hope for EXP? Sadly, no.
Their latest Facebook post made the news of closing official. I’m posting this article in memoriam and can only hope a future exists in another space. I get the feeling the owners and operators are not going down easy. They may have an alternate plan in the works but do not want to jinx the future.
Reprinted (in part) from otakunoculture.com:
Frankie’s Modern Diner
910 Government St #38
Hours: 7am to 10pm
Phone: (778) 265-8575
Many, many moons ago, Frankie’s Modern Diner was once known Ric’s Steakhouse and before then, it was The Cheesecake Cafe. I miss the latter brand name and the rumour I heard was that the owners did not want to pay the licensing fee and rebranded until a name stuck. I seem to recall there was a Nanaimo-based Frankie’s too, but I don’t go up island often enough to find out if they are still around. In this updated post, this operation has moved south and with this corner having new owners, the changes are pleasant. According to some people who have talked to me in person, they are regulars for a reason.
With Capital City Comic Con near, it’s only fair to come in to see what this operation offers. Thankfully, the current management has not forgotten the heydays of when I visited this corner often. I enjoy browsing the window display of the desserts. Although the variety was not the same as I recall from years ago, I’m glad there is a daily feature dessert, instead of the ordering from their four standard staples – apple pie, molten chocolate cake, new york style vanilla cheesecake and key lime. I will have to give an update as I know I’ll be returning for another bite during this show. The ambience of this place is great and service is very friendly. I knew one visit is not enough.
Songhees Seafood & Steam
Victoria Clipper Terminal
254 Belleville St
Visitors arriving at Victoria, BC via The Clipper will be in for a treat! Not only are they arriving in a city originally occupied by this First Nation, but also they have an opportunity to partake in this culture’s yummy in my tummy traditions. From fried bread (I love this over Naan) to salmon, their selection is delectable. Their homemade jam (usually made from blackberries) makes for a perfect dip with the bread they offer. At the end of the day, they may give away the leftover supply so a fresh batch can be made for the next. For this dough, it’s best experienced warm than cold. With my extra piece which I could not finish, I got to try both extremes.
In what this place supplies is basically comfort food. You’ll find french fries too (I don’t believe this is a cultural product, but that’s okay), and I had their version of poutine and it was very filling. The fries were very good, and the paprika mayo dipping sauce certainly helped make this dish over the top!
Next time, though, I will have to try one of their burger combinations. There’s the choice between salmon and portabella as the main source of protein, and both sound good. My money is on the latter on my next visit. As much as I love bison, I find it hard to believe that some of these creatures roamed to this land during the last Ice Age to settle here. They may have but I find prairie type of oxen better tasting!
3½ Blokes out of 5
723 Pandora Ave.
[This guest review is by Naomi DeBruyn of Void Girl. She was the former editor of Linear Reflections E-Magazine. In her last visit to Victoria, BC, sometimes visiting old establishments is not perfect. She was with friends in this outing ….]
Touted as ‘The place to eat in Victoria!’ I found this dining experience to one of the most pathetic I’ve ever endured. Yes, endured. It was more than an experience, it was an agonizing waste of time.
Having only two hours before our movie started, we decided on ‘John’s Place’ for our dinner. It was virtually empty, even with the addition of the three of us, the customers were still under ten in number. We were awaiting a fourth, but decided to order anyhow. A good thing we did, believe me!
There were multiple staff and the place was decorated with ‘star personalities’ who had eaten there, and old time sports memorabilia. Well, lucky those stars were who they are as I’m betting it influenced the service.
The American Cheesesteak Co.
781 Davie St.
Most Philly cheesesteak lovers will say a fantastic sub has to be slobbering over with greasy goodness. The beef juices have to drip upon every bite and I must add an additional requirement: a gentle crisp is needed and the cheese must ooze all over. As most folks know, (from American CheeseSteak’s website) Pat and Harry Olivieri created the sandwich at their hot dog stand near South Philadelphia’s Italian Market in the 1930s. The cheese steak became so popular that the pair stopped selling hot dogs altogether, later opening the renowned Pat’s King of Steaks in the place where their stand once stood. Today, Philadelphia has more than 2000 restaurants dedicated to serving this indulgence.
Now just how this iconic morsel that can feed a state migrated to Vancouver, BC (let alone Lake Tahoe when I first sampled an ‘authentic’ style) almost needs to be questioned, current US politics notwithstanding. More Yanks should come north as long as they bring more of their trade cuisine secrets to indulge Canadians with! The South really must migrate so more Cajun style restaurants can open up! But I digress. For the sandwich, I feel that the New Yorker is over the top. My gut is simply busting after taking a few bites and the only reason I got it is to tide me over for 30 hours as I make the most of my last days in the big city. Of course, I’m writing this review a few weeks later, but I needed time to fully digest that meal.
723 Pandora Ave
There are times where I think my writing partner James Shaw is wrong, totally wrong. He thinks we should not look at the popular establishments and we should really focus more on the mom and pop operations. That’s fine, but when I’m out and about more than he is, I’ll do what I like. I feel we should at least give some few recognized establishments our take anyways. My buddy’s opinion is always dated; he draws on experiences from more than ten years ago and I tell him you can’t base everything on the past. Sure, they shape who we are (in other aspects), but when it comes to food and some operations, management can sometimes change.