1006 Wharf Street, Victoria BC | website | 250. 298.6877 | open 11:30 am – 7 pm everyday
Our last stop was Victoria, British Columbia and the only thing I wanted to see was the famous Butchart Gardens which is about a half hour drive from downtown and requires at least a couple hours to be able to enjoy the 55 acres of horticultural splendor. I had a bit of trouble getting Mr. K onto a full bus headed to the single biggest tourist attraction in Victoria, but in the end I think he enjoyed himself because the gardens were really that amazing.
It’s acre after acre of stunning gardening wizardry. The sunken garden is where it all began when Mrs. Butchart decided to refurbish the abandoned quarry from which they had made their fortune in the cement industry. After a lot of effort, it blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden as seen below. They employ 70 full-time gardeners to maintain the magnificent grounds…
After exploring the gardens for a couple of hours, we returned on the bus back to Victoria and walked along the waterfront. I was searching for a restaurant that I had read about that serves madly delicious seafood from a converted shipping container on a dock just north of the Inner Harbor. We walked past the sign pointing the way as it was very discrete and easy to miss, but my radar was on so we caught it.
We could see people lined up along the dock as we walked down the path, and I felt a sense of relief to see what appeared to be locals and not so many obvious tourists.
The chef, Kunal Ghose, along with a few business partners, has created a sustainable seafood taqueria that doesn’t take a toll on the planet. The kitchen is located in a container that has been upcycled in a very earth friendly manner, with sod covering its roof that will eventually have plantings. All of the packaging is biodegradable and they offer a Reuse and Recycle system to lower their carbon footprint. Their menu offers sustainable 100% Ocean Wise seafood (which is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to help restaurants and consumers make ocean-friendly choices.) We sat on little stools while we waited for our order and watched the float planes buzzing by on the water.
The container kitchen bore a resemblance to that of the street food truck craze that is burning so brightly back in the Bay Area. It’s funny that I still find myself stalking food from a container even as far afield as Victoria…
When I ordered the tempura battered fried dill pickles ($3.50), they had to check with the chef who decides whether or not to grant the experience and I have to thank the gods that he was feeling merciful because those tempura pickles rocked my world… I had been unimpressed with previous samples of fried dill pickles and was completely undone by the surround sound experience of this masterful interpretation. It was crisp and crunchy like a potato chip but the interior of the batter had a little bit of a bready toothiness that softened the acidic impact when I bit into the dill pickle.
It was especially good dipped into the creamy tartar sauce which added a cool, rich, tart dimension to the surround sound experience. I was transported and exhilarated… the hairs on my arms stood on end, and I could see concern on Mr. K’s face as he eyed me doubtfully. The moment passed and I offered the basket to him.
I wanted to try the BBQ Qualicum Bay Scallop Burger, but they were sold out, so I ordered two Tacones, which are grilled tortilla hand rolls, aka taco cones. They are a generous size, larger than a taco, about half the size of a burrito, minus rice, beans or cheese.
They are served with a most delicious coleslaw that is spicy and has a rich nutty flavor like tahini. I finished both mine and Mr. K’s.
The BBQ Fanny Bay Oyster Tacones was drizzled with with golden shallot aioli, pea shoots and lemon pickled onions ($6). The oysters were grilled until they were firm but very tender and I gobbled this up as it began to leak from the bottom in the manner of coned foods. It was messy and finger licking good.
Grill Seared Albacore Tuna Tacones, with spicy spot prawn mayo and pea shoots and lemon pickled onions ($6). This was good too but I couldn’t devote much attention to it after the pickles and oyster tacone…
I only wish I had more appetite left after stuffing myself silly with those madly delicious fried pickles to sample their seafood poutine (Quebec-style fries with cheese curds and gravy), as I had been drooling over Phylis’s epic 12 poutines in 12 days post at Me Hungry.
We left feeling stuffed and our tastebuds were glad to have sampled some delicious and inspired cooking. Mr K proclaimed this the best meal of the trip and I tend to agree. It was such a breath of fresh air after our excessive lifestyle on the ship. Now, if only they would think about branching down the coast a bit… we waddled over to take the bus back to our floating hotel, which sailed overnight onto our final port, Seattle. We didn’t have time to explore that city but hope to return one day. That was an awesome end to our trip.