Showing posts with label Victoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Victoria. Show all posts

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio

My family and I visited Aura at Laurel Point hotel on a beautiful sunny day.  It was a perfect setting for brunch; a picturesque oceanside scenery, warm weather, a quiet setting, and we didn't have a care in the world but to enjoy ourselves.

Aura offers contemporary Pacific West Coast inspired creations with influences from Japanese and Hawaiian cuisines.  There were a lot of more items on their lunch menu we didn't get to try since it was Sunday brunch.  Nonetheless, we really enjoyed a lot of the dishes here.

The complimentary chocolate and zucchini bread and refreshing strawberry banana smoothies were a really nice touch.   The zucchini bread was presented with a cute fresh flower.  Mini jars of jams, peanut butter and honey were there for you to go crazy on. I'm not a fan of raw bananas, but I was ready to order more of these smoothies.

Brunch just wouldn't be brunch without eggs benny.  Aura's Crab Benny is served with soft poached eggs over meaty Dungeness crab cakes.  The toasted brioche was fluffy with crispy edges, way better than the typical mundane English muffin.  The hollandaise sauce was nice and creamy, yet not too heavy.  Although it was infused with shiso, the flavour wasn't too overwhelming but very fragrant. Along side were melon salad and "home fries", or roasted fingerling potatoes.
Albacore tuna and tomato poke was our most memorable dish here.  Rather than typical guacamole, the chef put a spin on it and took it a step further, by making it into an avocado sorbet.  It was a fun and exciting plate with a party of flavours.  The tuna and tomato were well marinated and went great with the bed of noodles underneath.  The sorbet was really rich with fresh avocado taste, kinda like eating a frozen avocado paste.  Of course, it had to be eaten along with the tuna poke rather on its own.  I find that you only need a little bit of the sorbet to go with the tuna, though.

The steak sandwich was a favourite of my carnivorous sister.  The 6 oz. strip loin was served medium, though could have been more rare, but still very tender.  Over it were 2 jumbo onion rings, fragrant truffle mayo (mmm...) and toasted herb torpedo buns.  The frites arrived hot and crispy and we blamed ourselves for not ordering a side of truffle mayo to dip them in.  The newspaper-wax paper was a nice touch.  

Grilled romaine heart with crispy pancetta, soft poached egg, parmesan and pesto vinaigrette.  Compared to other dishes, this dish did the least for us.  Some parts of the romaine weren't grilled all the way through. And despite having most of my favourite ingredients, the dish wasn't enough to keep me interested after a few bites.
 We ended brunch with a few sweet notes.  The server recommended the 'Carmelia Valhrona Chocolate Bar'.  We took his words and we were glad we did.  This was no ordinary chocolate bar.  The texture was smooth with rich, dark chocolate flavour. It also had pop rock crunch which fizzled in your mouth with every bite.  Very exciting stuff.  The salted caramel ice cream on the side was wonderful with everything else around it.  Kudos.
 Lemon thyme cheesecake was also really nice.  I'm not a huge cheesecake fan as some can be too rich and I find it hard to swallow down without chasing with a glass of water.  But this cheesecake was more smooth and velvety, and very lemony in flavour.  It had a pleasing presentation being served with vibrant raspberry coulis and fruit salad.
I would definitely come back to Aura again for their relaxing atmosphere and exciting creations!

AURA waterfront restaurant + patio on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Il Terrazzo, a romantic old world Italian restaurant

With a rustic cottage-style decor, there was something about the ambience that was really alluring at Il Terrazzo.  We were seated in a lovely indoor patio with a warm fireplace nearby and surrounded by brick walls.  Thank goodness because despite being summer already, it was really freezing out.  The restaurant was at its full capacity on Canada Day with people constantly coming in and out.  It was absolutely chaotic inside.  Nonetheless, I was thoroughly impressed by how quickly the food came out altogether from the kitchen.

My initial impression of the restaurant was that they would be serving traditional rustic Italian fare, but, in fact, their creations were much more redefined than I imagined.

We were offered a basket complimentary bread with tasty mixed olive tapenade.  If only we could take a jar home too.
Some of our favorite dishes had Asian influence in flavors and I shall start with the marinated smoked ahi tuna salad with perfectly seared scallops and seaweed salad, cucumbers and tomatoes. It was absolutely scrumptious. It was acidic with slightly sweet note and salty from shoyu.
Funghi fried mushrooms were earthy in flavour. We dug into a heap of spinach dressed in light olive, balsamic vinegar and a generous amount of pine nuts, prociutto, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, shaved parmesan.
Something warm and hearty at the table; a tomato soup with basil and gooey mozzarella chunks.  The bread quickly disappeared as I dipped it into the soup.
One of our favorite dishes that stood out the most was the mussels in what appeared to be tom kha gai-inspired broth.  Tom Kha Gai is a coconuty Thai soup with a ton of herby flavours, much like its famous cousin Tom Yum.  The creamy sauce was still rich, but not overwhelmingly so.  The pickled jalapeƱos, sundries tomatoes kept everything balanced and all the flavors really came through. I think we all savored every last drop and I'm going to try to recreate a similar version at my kitchen.

The heavier dishes started to arrive.  Misto Di Carne a la Casa, a trio of cabbage roll, duck confit, and lamb chop. The duck was tender and flavorful with crispy skin served on top of mashed potato, brocoloni, and lentil.  The lamb chop was too well-done since B requested medium rare.  Nonetheless, she still complimented on its excellent seasoning. The cabbage roll was filled with veal and wrapped with crispy prociutto.
The next dish, Carre D' Agnello,  ordered by P, a roasted rack of premium Australian lamb with rosemary jus.  This time the lamb was really too well-done.  P, the biggest carnivore, refused to put up with it sent it back. When it came back out, it was medium rare, exactly she asked for.  The lamb was served on top of Tuscan white bean ragout and grilled asparagus.

Linguine Marco Polo was a unique pasta dish and a rather large portion. It was a very vibrant dish with many textures and flavors coming together; the pesto, sweet mangoes, crunchy cashews, acidic tomatoes, roasted peppers.   We didn't finish this but it made a great leftover for the next day.
Another one of our favourite dishes was pulled pork cannelloni with cheesy cream sauce.  It was a dish absolutely to be savored. The pork was tender and very well seasoned baked with fresh pasta and swimming in mozzarella cream.  It was topped with sauteed bacon, red onion, and what appeared to be a tart cranberry sauce.  All I gotta say is, "Mmmmmm".
Despite we were at food coma at this point, passing on the famous tiramisu was still something we couldn't compromise. And were we glad we didn't settle. The tiramisu was one of the best we ever had. It was moist, smooth, and rich in coffee flavour, but enough that one would probably finish a large piece by themselves.

Il Terrazo offers a classic old world vibe with a unique spin on traditional Italian dishes.  We would definitely call it a go-to place when in Victoria.

  Il Terrazzo on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bon Rouge revisited

I first visited Bon Rouge just over 2 years ago for a Sunday brunch and really fell in love with the warm and intimate setting.  Most especially, the cozy patio at the front entrance decorated with cute pots of little flowers hanging all over.  This year we came back for another visit and looking for the comfort food this French bistro has to offer.
The French onion soup was the first thing on the list.  Of course, it was just as good as we remembered; hearty with a rich and flavorful broth that wasn't too salty.  Oh, and you can't go wrong with a layer of gooey melted gruyere.
Cheese and charcuterie plate with pate de maison. Artisan cheeses richelieu and creamy Brie de mode was wonderful with the sweet and slightly tart quince jam. The house pate was a gelatin texture with pistachio and went great with pickled peppers.  The server even gave us extra crostinis for the plate.  It was overall a good deal for $9.
Next up was the prawn crepe which was quite the comfort food.  It was basically a deconstructed crepe with 5 individual succulent prawns with fennel and leek in Pernod cream.  I wouldn't have been satisfied with just those but a side of salad with crumbled goat cheese really brought everything together.
While I was focused feasting on everything else, I kept hearing a buzz about the albacore tuna nicoise salad on the other side of the table.  It was definitely the crowd's favorite as there was barely any left by the time it got to me.  Perfectly seared strips of tuna on top of greens, haricot vert (aka green beans), roast potatoes, spinach, tomatoes.  There was a small poached egg buried just off the the side.  While I love soft poached eggs, this salad was probably better without.  The combination of olive tapenade and pesto was scrumptious.

I normally wouldn't order bouillabaisse, nonetheless, I was impressed by Bon Rouge's version.  The  broth had a lot of depth and rich in natural sweetness of shrimp. Add lemongrass, lime, and kaffir leaf, we have a Tom yum.

Bistro "croque madame" was a good breakfast/brunch dish.  Nothing like a protein-filled sunny side up with  ham on toast.  I really wish there was way more cheese and the sandwich was otherwise pretty dry.  Luckily, it came with tomato soup.
For dessert, we picked two; apple tart and strawberry cheesecake with lemon curd.  The shortcake was fluffy and spongey with zesty lemon flavour, soft whipped cream and fresh strawberries between layers.  It was a fair size for sharing.  Between the two, the apple tart was the winner. There was south apple filling and the crust was sweet, thin and crunchy.  Too bad half the ice cream already melted by the time it got to the table.

Bon Rouge Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 23, 2010

Favourite Restaurant in Victoria: Bon Rouge

If you are looking for best bang for your buck restaurants, Bon Rouge is a gem in each and every way.  Located on the corner of Courtney street, the bistro outside decor is warm and inviting.  The parisian style decor, the comfort food, and jazz music softly played have made Bon Rouge my all time favourite place to go for brunch.  

Summer features menu
Two menus are offered, the summer features and the brunch menu.
The decor
The bistro is divided into 3 sections; the patio, the bistro interior, and the restaurant interior.  Jazz music. Casual and relaxed. Friendly service.

Champaign cocktails - $5
Drinks specials are champaign cocktails for $5 until 4 pm every weekend and a glass of wine for $5 every wednesday.  Martinis are $7.50 for 2 oz. and are exquisitely named after famous French figures; Coco Chanel, Yves Saint-Laurant, Bridgette Bardot, etc.

Freshly baked french loaf, complimentary
We were already excited about the french bread as its freshly baked aroma swarmed us. As we pulled the bread apart, we could hear the crunch and the softness of the inside dough softly pulling apart.  Crispy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. Wow.

Prawn crepe $12 - Pan seared with fennel shallot and garlic cream sauce
6 giant succulent prawns nestled inside!
I do mean it when I say the prawn crepe at Bon Rouge was the best crepe I've ever had.   The giant prawns are cooked perfectly and in perfect harmony with sauteed vegetables in fennel and garlic cream sauce.  We appreciated each and every single bite.  For the sheer size and for only $12, it was truly amazing.

Croque Monsieur $12 - Baked ham and gruyere cheese on house made brioche loaf and mornay sauce, with a side of fennel soup

I've always been more accustomed to traditional Croque Monsieur with baked cheddar or swiss cheese  on top.  Instead, the mornay sauce, which is made up of half parmesan and half gruyere, offered a subtle  texture that complemented the brioche loaf.  It was light, creamy and not overwhelming.  The fennel soup was aromatic but was a bit too salty.  However, the intensity was brought down a couple notches when alternating between the Croque Monsieur or the french loaf.

French Onion Soup $8 - Gruyere on crostini
We were debating on what to order for the dessert but we kept thinking about the French Onion soup.  Since I'm a fan, I knew I would have to try.  So we ended up getting it as a dessert instead (lol).  The broth was rich and, again, still a tad too salty for me.  But if you are a cheese lover like me, you would really enjoy the thick layer of melted gruyere and added bread made up for it.   

As we stumbled out of the restaurant an hour and a half later, though I may have easily gained 5 lbs, I was ecstatic and could not wait to come back again.

Visit their website here.

Bon Rouge Bistro on Urbanspoon