Birthday Escape To Victoria – Part 2

Alternate Post Title – Birthday Dinner 2

So when we left off, I had mentioned something about arriving in Victoria, and getting ready to head out for a night on the town.

Destination – Veneto.

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Since it was my birthday dinner, my friend told me to pick where to go. I wanted to try out something new, so after enlisting the dining expertise of my friends in Victoria via Facebook, I decided upon a tapas style meal at Veneto.

Veneto is located in the new Hotel Rialto in downtown Victoria. Formerly the Douglas Hotel, the Hotel Rialto is a newly renovated boutique hotel right in the heart of the city. Two years of renovations have done wonders on this run down heritage building.

When we arrived the dining room was rather empty, but it soon filled up other eager diners – a good sign. First thing on the agenda was to order some drinks. My eyes went directly to the martini list, and fixated on The RialtoVictoria gin, lychee, lemon, Silk Road lapsang souchong tea, chocolate bitters.

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This martini had me at Victoria Gin. If you ever get the chance to try out Victoria Gin, I highly suggest you do. It’s a locally made spirit, and it is probably some of the best gin I’ve tasted. The fact that this martini also included lychee and Silk Road tea was just icing on the cake. I ignored the double digit price tag, and placed my order.

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It may look rather unassuming in the photo, but this was one complex drink. It was light and refreshing, yet had an underlying smokiness that I had to attribute to the tea (later confirmed on a trip to Silk Road to check out the tea). A very sippable drink that reflected the feeling of the lounge well. Plus is came with a chocolate straw – built in dessert!

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While I enjoyed my martini, my friend enjoyed his beer (and played nice for the blog – Hi Marty!)

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We decided to get an appetizer to share, going with the grilled flat bread with a trio of dips.

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Our favourite of the three dips was the roasted garlic, feta and scallion dip. So creamy and delicious. My second favourite was the smokey red pepper and white bean dip, while Marty proclaimed the spinach and sundried tomato as his second favourite. Keep in mind we are both biased in our opinions -  I’m not a big sundried tomato fan, while he doesn’t like peppers.

There are two dinner options here – you can either order a small plate of one dish, or order a tapas style entree, where you pick your “theme” (aka – protein), and have it served up three ways. We both went with the tapas style options. I was sad to see that the menu was slightly different from the one posted online, as I had thought about ordering the scallop trio. Alas, scallops were no where to be found. Instead, I decided to have the crab trio.

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Keeping with the seafood theme, Marty ordered the shrimp trio, and was very proud of his photo composition.

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From left to right (totally not the menu descriptions, just my recollection) – shrimp with a tomato based sauce and polenta, herbed chilled shrimp with pea shoot salad, New Orleans style shrimp with gravy and a biscuit.

And now for the crab trio.

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Blue crab salad with roasted corn and chorizo fritter.

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Blue crab, shiitake mushroom, and chive linguine.

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Roasted chili and crab nachos with ranchero sauce.

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You never know when ordering something like a tapas style entree how filling your meal might be, but this was more than enough (probably because we had the appy before hand). Everything was very fresh and cooked perfectly. My favourite was the linguine – it was so rich and creamy, full of crab and mushrooms. I’m not generally a pasta person, but serving up a small portion as part of a trio worked for me, so I didn’t end up feeling completely stuffed with pasta. As it was, I ended up leaving some pasta behind and just picking out the crab and mushroom bits because I was getting full and didn’t want to miss out on my other dishes. Speaking of which, both were very tasty. Lots of crab on top of the fritter, and the nachos were, well, fancy crab nachos. You can’t really go wrong with a nacho, now can you?

As for the shrimp trio, Marty said his favourite was the New Orleans style shrimp – which you can order on it’s own as a larger portion. I had a taste, and it was good – very flaky biscuit, with a not too heavy gravy/sauce.

We wanted to order dessert – also served up as a trio (but you select the three you want) – but we were both too full to do so. Which just means we’ll have to go back for dessert…and perhaps another martini 😉

Overall, I was really impressed with the Veneto. The wait staff was attentive without being annoying, and knowledgeable both about the menu and the hotel and restaurant itself. The interior was fresh and modern while still being inviting, especially the lounge area. I could see stopping in after a day of shopping for a drink and bite to eat at the bar. Victoria has alot of restaurants, and I would wager that this is one of the better ones. Add it to your “must visit” list if you are ever in the city.

After dinner we decided to take a stroll around the Inner Harbour, to enjoy the warm evening along with all the other people out and about in the city. Such is Victoria in the summer – swarming with tourists.

There was just a sliver of moon in the sky as we walked along the harbour.

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The obligatory shot of the parliament buildings lit up at night.

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It was a great evening with a good friend who I don’t get to see nearly often enough now that I live across the water. And an excellent beginning to my weekend in Victoria.

More to come from my weekend away! Stay tuned.

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Categories: Birthday, Dinner, Drink, Getaway, Restaurants

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9 Comments on “Birthday Escape To Victoria – Part 2”

  1. August 18, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

    Hi Marianne, I’m the head bartender down at Veneto, I just wanted to say thank you for such a delightful post (the staff are thrilled, and totally remember your party), and a belated happy birthday. Stop by the bar next time you’re in and let me buy you a late birthday drink. It’s the least we can do!

    See you soon…Simon

  2. August 20, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    yeah! so glad you had fun at the Veneto… I hope you come back for sure. – Jeremy

  3. Martin
    August 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    Well, I have been ordered by Marianne to write something about our dinner down at Veneto for her birthday. I must agree that the food was delicious. I’m not the “foodie” that Marianne is so I will leave the descriptions as they are above. We will definitely come back for dessert, as we were plenty full after our appy and main course(s). I really appreciated that there were some unique bottled brews on the drink menu. I may have to stop in one day after work to try another!
    The new interior is quite the change from the old Douglas Hotel that I remember from years back., definitely a step (or three) up. The high ceiling and what seemed to be extra space between the tables meant that we could enjoy our conversation without disturbing the partons next to us.
    All in all it was a good experience and I look forward to my next trip. Next time, I think I will sit in the lounge up on one of the bar stools and watch the scenery go by on Douglas St…. 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by VENETO TAPA LOUNGE, Fiona Gilsenan. Fiona Gilsenan said: Marianne from french fries to flax seeds enjoys her #victoriagin martini @veneto in #yyj. Nice foodie pix, too. http://ow.ly/2ry9j […]

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