Cenote Restaurant and Lounge
768 Yates St,
Hours: 12:00pm to 12:00am
Phone: (778) 433-4848
Cenote is a fun little nesting place to dine in. They do host small performances (music) at night. I often walk past it and often wonder if hipster style diner is for me. The place was recommended by one former employee of the Victoria Film Festival (I wish she still worked for them) and a few friends who live downtown. When it’s located underground, down a level on Yates st., next to Lyle’s Place (or is that underneath?), seeking some places out reminds me of a certain movie. As Above, Down Below was an okay horror film about encountering strange evils in the catacombs beneath Paris, but I can think of better.
The etymology of this operation’s name does speak to me. Not everyone knows the original word is Mayan in origin (dzonot), meaning “well.” That is, unlike a traditional design of an aqueduct, the pipe connects to an underground body of water to which citizens can draw water from.
2360 Beacon Ave W,
Phone: (778) 426-3442
Over at Woodshed Restaurant, the pizzas are fired quick and they come out nice and hot! No, a slice has not burned my tongue, but to smell what’s coming from that roaster, especially with the right dish, is particularly mouth watering. I’ll usually hit this place first since it’s not far from the Mary Winspear Centre. When I’m there for an event, I’d rather not venture too far to get back here for the fun that’s to take place in the evening. I was here for Van Isle Comic Con, a terrific event that does not even try to copy others with high profile guests. They get comic book illustrators and people involved behind the scenes. I feel this show will go farther than Capital City. Their huge selling point is that entry is by donation and not motivated with revitalizing a stagnant city core!
Woodshed is a pub style establishment where pizza is their specialty. They offer chicken and ribs too, and also traditional pub style appies. The next time I’m here, I’ll have to sample. When given the wide choice of toppings for pizza, just what should I get? I opted for the #10, with Anchovies, roasted garlic, marinated tomatoes, olives, mozza on tomato sauce. My muscle memory is already salivating and I enjoyed the combination. With this particular fish, the taste can be overpowering especially when too much is used. The talent behind the kitchen got the mix just right.
The plate used to hold the pizza keeps the heat around so none of it tastes cold. The service was good. Sometimes I had to make a psychic shoutout that I wanted a refill of water, and they heard.
The place has a rustic tone to it, to make relaxing here easy. Had I not have to worry about the long bus commute back home on a lazy Sunday, I’d say here longer and enjoy the ambience. A walk down to the dock and boardwalk would have made being here all the more pleasant.
3½ Blokes out of 5
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:
533 Yates St
Phone: (778) 265-9575
El Furniture Warehouse is a strange name for a dining establishment. They began operation in Vancouver, BC and they made a name for themselves with reasonably priced meals — mostly in the pub style variety — for $5 or less, and since then they have expanded. After a fair number of years on the mainland, they decided to become island bound and set up shop in Victoria, BC.
The evening I was there was busy. I asked if I can grab a bite in under an hour as I wanted to get to a live theatre production in time. I was promised that’s possible and given a seat by the bar, the only space available. I like the fact this place is well stocked with a variety of beers, but I stayed sober if I had to run to catch my show.
I also knew what I wanted and placed my order in no time. My meal arrived fairly quickly, and it was not what I thought I’d get. I asked for a salad. Given how loud this place can get, I’m betting the waiter I ordered from could not hear.
I got a burger and fries and did not bother noting the change to the server. I ordered “The Works” which had no tomatoes or lettuce despite saying so on the menu, and the bacon — I hardly was able to taste it. The in-house specially made sauce gave the burger a good kick but there was nothing to make me think this place is special. If folks want cheap bites to help sustain them for a few hours, it’d be a place to hit. For filling bites, I’d go elsewhere.
Unlike other operations which gives you heaping amounts of fries, this place offers a reasonable portion to complement your meal than be it.
I may one day return to give this place another chance, but my first impression was not good. Another server came by with the salad I wanted and I saw it came with a burrito. I said I was given my order already and he walked away confused.
2 Blokes out of 5
The Snug Pub
1175 Beach Drive
Oak Bay, BC
J: When I first heard of the pub called “The Snug” my thoughts were of a small establishment so tiny that getting a decent table would be like me trying to fit into the jeans I wore back in high school. It wouldn’t be pretty and there would be no chance it could be done successfully. But upon entering Oak Bay Beach Hotel‘s pub, it was quite roomy and no matter where one would sit, you get beautiful views of the strait. I liked the pre-1800’s English decor, it was suitable for a man of my tastes.
E: Or rather, a man who looked like a chimney sweeper. I dressed up for the occasion and James was Oscar to my Felix. Well, nothing would stop me from wanting to revisit this place after trying out their seafood chowder.
The Old Fork
140 Trans-Canada Hwy
The Old Fork can easily be missed when driving through Duncan, BC to further points beyond. This diner is tucked inside the Travelodge and although established in 2013, the feel of this place is rustic. Photos of Duncan from its historic days decorate the entryway and inside, I thought I’d find a ghost or two to tell some tales. I had to wonder what stood here before this motel. Perhaps the land has history but not necessarily the building.
The waitress was welcoming and on a quiet day, I could sit anywhere and enjoy the old world ambience. Looking at the photos reminded me of the fact that there is more to this town. Wayfarers should be reminded there more to this township than just a highway. The Whippletree Junction may well be a more colourful and desirable place to visit in the tourist sense but sometimes the best secrets lay on the beaten track. You just have to stop, listen and look.