Med Grill- Royal Oak

1 02 2012

Med Grill
4512 West Saanich Rd.
250-727-3444

Ahh.. the end of year Christmas work lunch. This year, eight of us went to the Med Grill. I ate at the Med Grill on Fort a couple of times before Posh took over( and there will soon be a natural health clinic taking over that space very shortly). The food is very similar to offerings in better-than-average chain food like Moxies or Glo ( same owners). The interior of the Royal Oak location of Med Grill is a bit gaudy, but I appreciate the large and open layout.

I had made a reservation weeks prior to our lunch.  Upon our arrival, we were sat promptly at a long table. This was in December, so there were quite a few business/holiday lunching groups doing the same thing. Our server took quite a while to greet us, I don’t know where she was for the first 5 minutes. She brought us drinks, and soon enough, took our orders. They had a special three course meal, but I wasn’t feeling up for over-eating at lunch.

I ordered a red curry pasta, without meat, as I was still a vegetarian. There weren’t many other options for vegetarians. I’ll admit I was skeptical of a Thai/Italian fusion, but it wasn’t so bad. There were a lot of onions and peppers and some apples. Apparently that constitutes a vegetarian entree? The red curry sauce was thick and almost buttery. It had a lot of flavour but it was feeling heavy by the end of the meal. My co-worker in front of me, had the crab cakes. She didn’t rave about them, and the smell wasn’t appetizing. Seafood should have a clean and crisp ocean smell, not fishy. I just looked at the menu online, and some of the other menu items sound quite appetizing. The food was edible, the service was mediocre, and the ambiance fell a bit flat. There wasn’t a buzz in the air, or perhaps that just comes down to the location.

Med Grill on Urbanspoon

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Ottavio Italian Bakery, Deli, and Cafe- Oak Bay

23 03 2011

Ottavio’s Cafe
2272 Oak Bay Ave.
250-592-4080
www.ottaviovictoria.com

As I settle into my digs in Oak Bay, I find myself wandering  Oak Bay Avenue admiring all the shops and eats along the way. Oak Bay has a rich suburbia feeling, but with that comes some interesting and high-quality places to shop and eat. I have been to Ottavio’s in the past, so banking on those experiences, I made a stop by there a few weeks ago to grab some ingredients. The cheese selection is impressive, their charcuterie is decent, and the baked goods look great. I picked up some olives, and cheese and greek oregano. I was hoping they would have some pizza dough, but it sold out by the time I got there. The staff member that aided me gave me the courage to give the dough a go by myself. I ended up making one of the best pizzas( actually the first pizza dough I’ve made from scratch) I’ve had in a long time. I had some andouille sausage, tomato sauce, onions, peppers and salami on the meat pizza. I also made a greek vegetarian pizza with a kale and onion sauce, goats feta, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Tasty!

JB and I went to Ottavio’s a couple days ago for a lunch. As many of you may have noticed, I have been cutting back on my reviews. I’m in employment limbo at the moment, so I have been pinching pennies and cooking most of my meals at home. Not having to make lunch that day was a real treat. Ottavio’s is definitely the buzz of Oak Bay around lunch time, the whole place is packed, especially because it was sunny outside on the patio. I had a chorizo panini, and JB had the fusili with beef ragu. The pasta was homemade and the sauce was definitely from scratch too. The flavours with delicate and served with a simple( and forgettable) green salad. The pasta was overcooked for my liking, but it was a baked pasta with a bechamel sauce on top. My panini was good, the bread made it. The prices are higher than your average deli, but you’re getting access to higher than average ingredients. If I ever need cheese, or cured meats, or nice crusty bread, Ottavio’s will be at the top of my list. I’m taking a breakmaking course right now, so who knows I might be able to make my own artisan loaf sooner than I thought( I’m letting my dough rest for baking first thing in the morning!)

Cheers

-Eating Victoria

Ottavio Italian Bakery, Delicatessen & Cafe on Urbanspoon





Zambri’s- Would I go back? Still undecided.

4 11 2010

Zambri’s
820 Yates St.
250-360-1171
www.zambris.ca

Ahh, the much anticipated new location of Zambri’s. I wish I had gone to their previous location so I would have something to compare my experience to.

I went to Zambri’s last week for lunch with JB. I had been talking about it ever since I saw that it had opened, and god knows I have a weak spot for proper Italian food. I had heard good things about Zambri’s, but also some controversial reviews on Urbanspoon.

First off, the Atrium is stunning inside. Definitely one of the most modern and interesting buildings I have seen in Victoria. The waiting area inside Zambri’s is small, warm and comfortable. I liked the chandeliers, but I wasn’t too fond of the lighting behind the bar, the lights reminded me of 1970’s lamps( the circular globes). Lunch service was busy, and the energy seemed decent. The greeter/host wasn’t overly friendly, but she did her job, nothing above average. She sat us outside the restaurant( but inside the Atrium portion). I liked that the menu’s were located underneath the tabletops.

We started with a drink( I had a glass of white wine, JB had a beer), which arrived shortly after bread was dropped off. The wine was slightly sweet and refreshing. I’m usually reluctant to order pasta when I go out, because I make it at home sometimes, and the price is inflated. But in order to gauge Zambri’s on any scale, I felt it was a fair dish to measure it by.

I ordered the Tagliatelle Bolognese($13) and JB ordered the Maccheroni with tomato sauce and mozzarella($12). The maccheroni description included Alberta mozzarella, I’m curious why they did not choose a BC option/ Natural Pastures mozzarella di bufala, perhaps the Alberta cheese  had a preferable texture.

The tagliatelle wasn’t exactly prepared like a traditional Bolognese, but maybe that’s a good thing for lunch. Most Bolognese preparations are rendered down with rich and dark tomato flavours, and intensely seasoned for a hearty almost-ragu-like consistency. Zambri’s Bolognese was fresh and bright with a nice acidity from the tomatoes, a couple of hits of garlic, and minced beef. The pasta was cooked how I like it to be done, with a bit of chew but not a lot of resistance. JB’s dish was very similar to mine, just without the meat, the sauce was similar in that it was a tomato sauce. I didn’t particularly enjoy the texture of his maccheroni, it was considerably more tough, perhaps because it’s a thicker pasta. He enjoyed it though, and the portions were a good size for lunch. With tip, our meal was 50 bucks, which makes Zambri’s more of an occasion destination. That being said, I live nearby, and every night seems to be very busy so I doubt they are struggling to find people willing to pay a bit more.

There are two issues that seem to be on the table with Zambri’s. No reservations and no substitutions. How does everyone feel about this? Personally, neither affect me too much, as I don’t have any food allergies, or any aversions to waiting. But I think it’s unreasonable to not substitute basics, especially if they have the ingredients in house. Or is it because there is a lot of prep-work involved in these dishes? But for any restaurant that charges over $20 dollars for an entree, it seems unacceptable for them to not offer options in the experience. You could also read it as Zambri’s being perfectionists and professionals, not accepting anything but their vision for a dish, but even typing that makes it sound very ego-driven and stubborn. Discussion?

I have also noticed other reviews commenting on the service quality. I can’t comment on what Zambri’s was like before the big move, as I never went to their previous location. From my experience at lunch, to be frank, I was underwhelmed with the service. I’m kind of a hardass with servers though( as it is my weekend gig), but our server left us with a ho-hum kind of feeling. Given that it was busy, I can let some of it slide. But she didn’t really offer any personality into conversation or menu discussion. I can forgive a server for slow service or food mess-ups if they have a good attitude/personality about everything, but a stressed out, overly apologetic or a generally non-committal server usually doesn’t fare-well with me. Our server did the bare minimum, smiled when need-be, but didn’t enhance the experience.

The big question: Would I go back to Zambri’s anytime soon?

Maybe. I’m curious about their pizza, and maybe trying some of their meat/seafood entrees.

Buon appetito

-EV

Zambri's on Urbanspoon





Pagliacci’s- Playful menu and lively lunch

8 06 2010

Pagliacci’s
1001 Broad St.
www.pagliaccis.ca
250-386-1662

I’m no stranger to Pag’s, and I didn’t want my friend from Alberta to be either, so I introduced her to this shoebox sized Italian joint. Lunch is a great time to go to Pagliacci’s( endless soup and delicious bread) as is dinner( live music and a different feeling). It was busy as per usual, and smells from the kitchen wafted throughout the room. The soup was Tuscan bean(mostly cannellini/white beans), tomato based with some parmesan on top. We hummed and hah-ed about the creative menu, and we decided for our feast. I chose the Babette’s Feast($12.50), a soft foccacia style-bread with grilled chicken, avocado,tomatoe, pesto mayonnaise, and spinach. I had the bean soup on the side, very tasty. My friend ordered the Hemingway Short story($10.50), a clever title for tortellini with garlic cream sauce, green onions, mushrooms, and bacon. She seemed to enjoy it very much, and for a half-order, it was filling.

Concerns: I’m picky with Italian food, because I believe the cuisine is centred on quality ingredients and tradition. I like to see the quality of parmesan( or pecorino, romano, or reggiano) by having it presented in a visible way. The cheese on the soup was a dust of cheese, although it had good flavour, why powder it? Lastly, there are some questions I really shouldn’t ask when I enjoy something, in this situation I asked if the pasta was made in house. Considering it’s an Italian restaurant, that’s a reasonable question isn’t it? I make my own pasta at home, and I know it is sedulous, but the results are worth it. I tasted my friends pasta, and it was cooked past the point of al dente, but the texture itself wasn’t like that of home-made pasta. The server told me no it wasn’t made there, but it was the same that you would buy at a market. Her remark was something like, ” I wish we made our own, or wouldn’t it be great if we did”. I don’t want to ruin Pagliacci’s for everyone that reads this, but I was disappointed that they don’t have time to make pasta, especially since it is the focal point on the menu. What’s the incentive to eat pasta there if we could grab the same package of Olivieri pre-made stuff and do it at home? The sauces they have for the pasta’s at Pag’s are delicious, so don’t let my comment ruin that.

Highlights: The portions are always good, the sandwich I had was soft and flavoursome, the soup was stellar, the bread is always fresh and I love the abrasive salt sprinkled on top. We both enjoyed our meal, which came to less than 30 dollars combined( soup and sandwich, pasta and salad, coffee and tea).

Food rating: 3.75/5
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5

Pagliacci's on Urbanspoon





Italian Food Imports- Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs

29 05 2010

Italian Food Imports
1114 Blanshard Street
Victoria, BC
250-385-7923

This Italian eatery/grocery is a  epicentre for the lunch-time crowd. Fresh cheeses, good quality pasta and sauces dot the interior of this deli, but behind the counter is where the real magic is. Every day of the week seems to be something special here, whether it’s homemade sausages, or meatball day (Today was meatballs-Friday). Pasta specials and sandwich specials change on a regular basis, but you can also assemble your own panino or sandwich by choosing from a fine selection of cured meats and Italian cheeses. I couldn’t resist the Meatball panino($5.25), which I paired with a sparkling Aranciata($1.75). The panino itself was sloppy in presentation but it delivered with taste that would make Noni proud. A rich tomato sauce and a perfect bread for the sandwich, slab of provolone, and a healthy helping of juicy herby meatballs. Buonissimo! The price is right, and so are the goods.

Rating: 4/5

Italian Food Imports on Urbanspoon