Category Archives: Restaurants

Pizzeria Prima Strada, Burnside

I work in a rather industrial area of Victoria, in between a junkyard, the City of Victoria roadworks depot and the fancy Selkirk Waterfront. The (few) restaurant options nearby are: Glo, Sol Foods, Fresh Café, Subway, Tim Horton’s, Golden Gate and, hidden in a corner of Bridge near Garbally, Pizza Prima Strada.

I usually only have 30 minutes for lunch (I know, too short, right?), but this time we took a bit longer as we bid a colleague goodbye. So we went to the best option around: Prima Strada.

I’d never really taken the time because I’m always too rushed during lunch time, but I’ll be sure to stop by more often from now on. Going to the Burnside Prima Strada is an interesting experience: you enter an industrial space with an open kitchen behind the counter, you order at the counter, they give you a number and you go sit wherever there is space.

Lampshades recalling the industrial area

The restaurant is filled with big, heavy oak tables that give it a communal cafeteria feel. You can sit alone at one of the small tables or bar tables near windows, or you can join a group at the big, 12-people ones. You can make new friends or stay on your own; it’s your choice.

Prima Strada has a set menu of pizzas, as well as two daily pizzas, one daily pasta and one or two daily sandwiches. The day I went, the pasta was mussels with a wine sauce. I don’t often have the chance to eat seafood, so I jumped on the occasion.

Lots of mussels!

The pasta was fresh made, there were plenty of mussels and the sauce was nothing short of delicious. It was a tomato sauce with wine and garlic… lots of it. And I love garlic. The portion was perfect for lunch, not big enough to make you sleepy but big enough to fill you up for the afternoon.

An empty plate and a happy Ana!

The prices are quite decent: around 10$ for the pasta, and between 7 and 12$ for pizzas, depending on the size and flavour. I haven’t tried the pizza, but I heard it’s amazing. It’s on my must list now, because just reading the ingredients on the board made my mouth water!

Happily, you don’t have to be in Burnside to eat at Prima Strada. They also have another one down in Cook Street Village, a short walk from downtown.

Pizzera Prima Strada

2960 Bridge Street
Victoria, BC Canada
250.590.4380
view google map

230 Cook Street
Victoria, BC Canada
250.590.8595
view google map

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Wine Wednesday: Steve’s Wine Club at Lift Bar and Grill

The Lift Bar and Grill is one of those places I’ve walked in front of a hundred times and yet never thought I would ever enter. It just always seemed a bit too fancy (and to be honest, expensive) for me.

But when my friend Dianne Chow mentioned their monthly Wine Club events for 25$, I thought, what a great occasion to try this place! And since I want to dip a little deeper into the world of wines, I couldn’t pass up an unpretentious and un-fancy occasion to taste wines chosen by the restaurant’s wine director, Steve Lobsinger, paired with delicious tapas from the restaurant’s menu.

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Yesterday’s choice of wines focused on this holiday classic: the Riesling. I’m already a fan of Riesling, so it wasn’t too hard to sell me on the wines.

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The tasting featured five Rieslings from around the world (including two from BC). These were:

  • 2009 St-Hubertus Dry Riesling from the Okanagan
  • 2008 Claar Cellars Riesling from Washington State, US
  • 2010 Dr. Loosen Riesling from Mosel, Germany
  • 2009 Pierre Sparr Riesling from Alsace, France
  • 2010 Tantalus Riesling from the Okanagan

My favourites were the Dr. Loosen and the Tantalus, with the St. Hubertus not too far behind. I’m a sucker for sweeter, more fruity wines, and these suited by tastes better.

All of these wines are entry-level, between 15$ and 25$, which is great for trying your favourites again at home.

The accompanying food was perfectly paired with the wines: Japanese-style spicy eggplants with shrimp, fried squid, spicy sushi rolls, salmon patties and a delicious wild mushroom polenta. As I learned, Rieslings are best paired with spicy foods, and the eggplant and sushi sure were spicy… I ended up splurging on the softer polenta, salmon patties and squid.

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The greatest thing about the wine club is its unpretentiousness. Steve might be a wine expert, but he acknowledges that not everyone is, and that, in the end, wines are a matter of taste. You’re allowed to like or dislike anything, even if you can’t use the specialized vocabulary. And, newbie as I am, I indeed felt very welcome and not intimidated at all. I could ask silly questions (“am I right to think this wine tastes flat?”) and I got thoughtful and helpful answers from Steve. You also leave with a short pamphlet full of interesting information about the type of wine itself and some tasting notes about the wines of the evening.

Bonus: they saved my life by giving me two band-aids for my blistered feet (new shoes=bad idea). Excellent customer service, excellent food and excellent wines make for a great evening!

You can follow the Lift Twitter account for announcements about the next Wine Club. It happens once a month and costs 25$. When the event is up, you can buy tickets through Eventbrite (but the next one isn’t up yet).

25$ to learn about and taste five wines and get some food on a Tuesday sounds like a good deal to even kind of broke me. There are only 12 spots available each month, so grab your tickets as soon as they become available!

Disclaimer: I paid for this wine club on my own dime. No post was expected.

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Finding the Best Poutine in Vancouver — Dunn’s Famous

When I went to the opening of Dunn’s Famous, I had the chance to taste a bit of poutine and some of their smoked meat. And then I promised I would go soon to try a full-size portion of the poutine for my search.

Well, so I did, and here is my review!

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Fries: Excellent. Hand-cut and freshly fried. They were probably the best part.

Cheese: They were real cheese curds, but not fresh of the day. But then again, it has to do with this province, not with the restaurant!

Gravy: I remember liking the gravy back at the opening; it had a hint of spice that I particularly enjoyed. However, this time, it was a bit too sweet and it drowned out the interesting spiciness.

Final grade: Better than others I’ve tried because of the fresh fries, but not as good as La Belle Patate. 6/10.

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Pourhouse in Gastown (review)

Where do you go for a quiet drink with a friend on a Monday night?

In a desire to explore the offerings of this city, we decided on Pourhouse in Gastown.

The concept of Pourhouse is to bring back the ambiance of the 20s speakeasy. The staff is dressed appropriately and the place is covered in cozy antique-looking tables and wingback chairs.

We weren’t really hungry, so we ordered the charcuterie platter for an evening snack.

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The sausage selection was good and it was just the right amount of snacking for two people.

Along with the platter, I tried one of their signature drinks called 20th Century. For a gin-based drink, it was absolutely delicious! They don’t really carry vodka in an attempt to remain authentic to the tastes and products of the 1920s, but the 20th Century will fulfill any martini drinker’s cravings.

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And then we fell for dessert. I had the crème brûlée and Lauren the lemon meringue pie. Both were delicious. There was bits of ground vanilla in the crème brûlée, and the burnt crust was crunchy to perfection.

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The only surprise in this evening was the bill–at 12$ per drink, it went up really quickly. But I’m warned for next time!

This is a great place for a romantic date or catching up quietly with a friend. It was quiet because it was Monday, but I’m sure it gets pretty busy on a Thursday night or on weekends. But the drinks are fabulous!

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Prestons at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel (review)

Back in October, I had the chance to attend the launch of the fall menu at Prestons.

Prestons recently had a a social-media fueled promotion where new followers to their Facebook page received a 20$ gift certificate. After spending the afternoon at the East Side Culture Crawl, Lois and I decided we would go to Prestons for a quiet Sunday dinner.

Even though the restaurant looked a bit different post-party, I still recognized the place and some of the staff. It’s a warm, modern decor that just makes you want to cozy up with some good food and one of those martinis they make so well.

I tasted a bunch of different dishes back in October, but I couldn’t really spend time with any of them. I decided to go light and order the pad thai, along with their delicious French martini. Lois had the osso bucco.

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The pad thai was spicy, but not too much. I liked the crunchy veggies! The noodles were fresh and perfectly cooked. The plate was a bit skimpy on shrimp (but they were big), but there was tofu and scrambled eggs to compensate. There was just the right amount of sauce that it didn’t drown out the meal. I really liked it.

The French martini was exactly what I remembered: light, fresh and frothy. It’s definitely a drink to go back for!

And then, thanks to social media, we ended up getting a complimentary dessert to share. Go Twitter!

If you go to Prestons, I suggest you follow them on Twitter beforehand. You might get a surprise too, and their customer service is excellent.

This is another restaurant that I can’t afford all the time, but it’s definitely a good one if you’re in the area and for special occasions. I still have my 20$ gift certificate that I haven’t used…

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Cento Notti at Opus Hotel (review)

As a rule, I don’t tend to go to hotel restaurants unless I’m actually staying at the hotel and am too lazy to go anywhere else. However, on November 16th I attended the Social Media Club Vancouver Pub Night at the Cento Notti, the new restaurant of the Opus Hotel in Yaletown.IMG_0403

The evening was awesome just because I was with awesome people from Vancouver’s social media world. But I also had the chance to taste some of the restaurant’s Italian food offerings.

I started my dinner with the special martini of the night. I don’t remember the name or what it was made of (there was something about fancy honey), but it was delicious. Any candy-rimmed drink is awesome in my book!

IMG_0406For dinner I decided to go simple with the spaghetti bolognese (which ended up being penne because I chose the gluten-free option). God, am I going to miss regular pasta… Anyway. I’ll focus on the sauce! The sauce was a bit spicy for my taste, but it was good otherwise. The meat didn’t overpower the rest of the sauce, and the blue cheese crumble was a nice addition. I enjoyed it!

To top off an already wonderful evening, the social media guy of the hotel offered the group plates with one of each of the desserts: a tiramisu, a chocolate mousse, a lemon tart and a warm cookie. It seems like the warm cookie with vanilla gelato (bottom one on the picture) was a hit with most people at the event; I had a bite despite the presence of wheat (oh well!) but I focused on the chocolate mousse, which was creamy and chocolatey and delicious.

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Because it’s a bit expensive for my currently strained budget, I wouldn’t come out here every week, but I would definitely stop by once in a while for a special occasion. The room was warm and inviting and the decor was really interesting–a mix of traditional and modern that really catches the eye.

Disclaimer: I went to Cento Notti for SMCYVR and I paid for my drink and my pasta; the desserts were complimentary. I wasn’t expected to write a review.

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Dunn’s Famous in Vancouver

On November 15th, there were two events happening more or less at the same time: Wines of Chile and the opening of Dunn’s Famous new Vancouver restaurant.

Even though I wasn’t actually invited to the opening, I have wonderful social media friends (thanks Marc, Cathy, Gus, and of course Raul!) who were able to get me in.

Man, did I need this. I can’t go back home (job search obliges) but I’ve been missing it a lot. But there’s nothing like some food from your hometown to perk you up a little!

The restaurant featured their famous smoked meat, as well as poutine and carrot cake. I didn’t have carrot cake because I’ve recently decided to give up wheat (oh my!), but I had some smoked meat and, of course, the poutine!

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Some people said the smoked meat was a little dry, but it just means it’s leaner, which I appreciate. There’s nothing worse than too much grease to ruin a good smoked meat sandwich.

I actually really liked the poutine, especially the gravy. It had just a touch of spice to differentiate it from others I’ve had here, and wasn’t too heavy. And I can’t put the blame on the slightly too old cheese (too old as in past the squeaky stage, not too old as in past its date) on the restaurant; this province obviously doesn’t produce much cheese curds, and finding good providers (and rotating the stock on a daily basis) must be difficult.

I’ll be heading to Dunn’s some time soon to have a full size poutine and write a full-fledged review. For now, though, you can always go and try it yourself, and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: Marc of Amuse Events invited me and others to join him at the opening of Dunn’s Famous BC. The food was free, but I wasn’t expected to write anything about it. I just love to share my impressions and suggestions with you!

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