Monday, February 28, 2011

Dine Around Victoria - Paprika

This weekend my beautiful and fabulous friend Cat was to come from Vancouver for a visit.  Because her visit was to be while Dine Around Victoria was going on we decided to plan a girl’s dinner out at Paprika Bistro in Oak Bay’s Estevan Village.


Sadly, Catriona fell ill the day she was to come over so Tiffaney, Rose, Jill and I had to go on without her.  Sad face. :(

When we arrived at the restaurant we thought it was really fun that we were seated in a somewhat private booth a bit separated from the rest of the diners.  We felt so special!

Paprika offered a $30 and a $40 Dine Around option, both available with wine pairings.  Since Tiffaney drove I decided to try the wines this time.  I really quite enjoyed the Gray Monk Pinot Auxerrois which paired with my first course….Roast Beet & Apple Soup with Crème fraiche & chives.


Tiffaney and I both had the soup, which was tasty but nothing spectacular.  I would have liked it to have more depth or….something.

Rose and Jill both ordered the Port Alberni Pork Rillette with local apple chutney & grilled house bread…which we all tried and found quite interesting and delicious!


For our main courses we all ordered something different…the common theme being what I called “fancy comfort food”.  I did enjoy my Housemade Sausage with crushed yukon gold potatoes, sauteed greens and red wine sauce…


The sausage was absolutely delicious, the chard lovely, and who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?  The sauce I found to be a little heavy on the salt…it reminded me of how so many All Stars on Top Chef this season keep getting in “salt trouble” from over-reducing!  The wine pairing isn’t even worth mentioning.

Tiffaney ordered Cowichan Bay Duck & Mushroom Pie with organic vegetables & mushroom gravy…which was flavourful and comforting, but she felt like it didn’t live up to the hype.


Rose had Baked Fazzoletti - parcel style pasta stuffed with mushrooms & organic greens with roasted garlic bechamel & spinach pesto…which was my personal favourite, and although Rose enjoyed it she found their “pasta” to be more like phyllo or pastry.  We all agreed.  Tasty though.


Jill opted for the Pan Roasted Coho Salmon on parisienne gnocchi with sauteed spaghetti squash & cauliflower cream.  I think I was more excited about her gnocchi than anyone was about anything else on the table.


She enjoyed her meal but commented that there was nothing particularly special about the salmon.  I sort of think it was unfair for this dish to appear on the $40 menu since it was so basic compared to some of the other offerings.

Dessert choices were simple but the two we tried were quite good.  Being the crème brullee lovers we are Tiffaney and I both opted for it of course.  It was only a mini serving and a little runny but the crust was great and the flavour was good. 


Rose and Jill both had the Apple Gallette.  Rose didn’t want dessert so Tiff and I gladly took it off her hands…I loved all of the cinnamon!


Maybe we just built up our expectations too much but we all left feeling “meh” about the whole experience.

I’m sure many Victoria foodies will be surprised to hear this and I hate to say it…but it’s true.  Our server was very nice and knowledgeable, but so totally missing in action at times.  We realized part way through our evening that our “private” table was more likely the “forgotten” table. Waits between courses were significant, our request for more water was forgotten more than once, and after our dessert dishes were cleared we literally never saw the server again for 20 minutes.

Good thing we didn’t want coffee. 

Eventually our bill arrived…without being separated! We ended up having to take things up to the front computer and get it sorted there.  Sorry Paprika, but I don’t think any of us gals will be venturing out of our way to Oak Bay for dinner again any time soon.

Dine Around really should be an opportunity for these local restaurants to impress us and lure us back, but sad to say neither of the establishments I tried this year did anything to put themselves on my “must try again” list.  Disappointing.

Never the less, the company was excellent and we girls had tons to talk about.  After dinner we headed for downtown and grabbed a couple of fun cocktails at Veneto.


I’m quite in love with their Clover Leaf…so delicious!


A little after midnight we wandered next door to The Mint for a final drink and a snack before heading home.  The lighting was really dim so no photographic evidence, but let’s just say that you should go and try the Potato and Spinach Tibetan Momos!  Absolutely deeeelish.  And that’s not just the cocktails talking…I swear!  :)

All in all a good night but we’re still on the hunt for a Victoria restaurant that truly blows us away!

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