When I last visited Victoria in August for my birthday, I had an excellent birthday dinner out at Veneto Tapa Lounge (read all about it here). Much to my surprise and delight, I received a comment from the head bartender, Simon Ogden, saying that he and all the staff there loved my post, and mentioned something about a belated birthday drink when I was next in town. When I confirmed that I would be making the trip over for Hallowe’en, I made to sure to drop Simon an email, just to make sure he’d be in on Friday night.
Since we hadn’t the room for dessert on our last visit (hence the unfinished business title), Marty and I decided we needed to go back just to try out their sweet treat offerings.
Although it was a busy Friday night at the lounge, we were seated right away, and set out perusing the dessert menu. While deciding upon our options, Marty ordered himself a Deschutes Brewery Inversion IPA (which, he has deemed as “Sooo good!” – perhaps he will elaborate on that in the comment section). I made my way up the bar to introduce myself to Simon and cash in on that birthday drink offer 😉 I mean, what kind of person would I be to turn down a birthday cocktail from the Dish N’ Dazzle Bartender Shakedown winner?
I didn’t have a particular drink in mind, so I let Simon surprise me. What I was presented with was this blushing pink beauty.
This would be The Knickerbocker – flor de caña 4 white rum, lemon, raspberry, triple sec. It was a nice balance of sweet and sour, all in a delicious fruity beverage. A nice accompaniment to dessert, and I appreciated trying out a drink that I probably would have passed over had I chosen from the menu myself.
As for dessert, we had the difficult task of narrowing down our choices to three. Much like their dinner menu, which consists of the protein of your choice done three ways, dessert is also served up as a trio. The difference here is that the diner gets to choose the three desserts that make up their trio. And with 7 scrumptious looking options to choose from, this is not an easy task. Fortunately, Marty and I immediately agreed on one, then each chose one to round out the trio.
Sadly, none of my individual photos turned out very well (restaurant lighting – a food blogger’s nemesis!), but trust me, they were all well presented.
From left to right:
Chocolate and peanut butter crème brûlée with espresso and pine nut biscotti
Grand Marnier and white chocolate mousse with candied orange zest, flourless chocolate cake croutons
Honey nut phyllo nest with ganache, bourbon crème anglaise
Although all were delicious in their own right, we each had our favourites.
Chocolate and peanut butter crème brûlée - This was my favourite. I could have eaten a full sized version of this…repeatedly. It was like the creamiest peanut butter you’ve ever tasted with a hint of chocolate. Not overly sweet, but oh so decadent. The biscotti was pretty much unnecessary from a taste standpoint, but did provide a texture contrast and added some visual interest to the dish. I would order this again in a heart beat.
Grand Marnier and white chocolate mousse – Marty was all smiles over this one, which is saying something, because he’s not really a dessert person (What?!). He could not stop saying how good it was, and said if he were to come back for dessert, he would just request three of them and not bother with anything else. I was pleasantly surprised as well, since I’m not a huge chocolate and orange fan. But this was light, creamy, and sweet. And the candied orange zest tasted like mini donuts. I’m not sure how that was even possible, but I was a fan.
Honey nut phyllo nest – This wasn’t quite what I expected. When I think phyllo, I think layers of thin, flaky pastry. But I guess it was combined with honey and nuts to make more of a nest type cookie. It’s not that it was bad, but wasn’t what I was hoping for. That being said, the chocolate ganache was rather tasty, as was the bourbon crème anglaise.
I love the whole “choose your own adventure” dessert (anyone remember those books?). You get to taste a few treat without leaving with a sugar high. And shared between two people, it’s the perfect size after a large meal out. Throw in a fancy cocktail, and you’ve got yourself a great end to the evening.
In addition to the excellent drinks and desserts, I had the chance to chat with not only Simon, but also the restaurant manager (and mixologist – you’ll find his name credited to many of the cocktails on the menu) Solomon Siegel. He came by our table, and let me know how impressed he was with my post about my last experience at Veneto. It was great to hear, and wonderful for Solomon to take the time to come over and chat. It’s easy to write post like that when you have such a great experience, which is only made possible by the people working there.
To Solomon, Simon, and the rest of the staff at Veneto – keep doing what you are doing, because you have created a great atmosphere and location – with a menu of excellent dishes and innovative cocktails – for everyone in Victoria to enjoy. I know I’ll be back the next time I’m in the city.