We recently spent a beautiful day in Victoria, British Columbia. A small, but convincingly metropolitan area on the agriculture rich Vancouver Island, Victoria promised to afford an excellent lunch. The only question was where? After some searching, I stumbled upon Spinnaker’s Gastro Brewpub. With a name like that who could resist? Of course Spinnaker’s brews their own beer – but they also advertise using sustainable seafood, local organic produce and for dessert they make their own truffles.
We arrived a little before noon and were seated promptly. The menu was surprising in all the right ways: clearly labeled seafood (based on the recommendations of the Monterey Bay Aquarium), long list of farms sourcing materials, the word “local” on most key ingredients, hand-made pasta dishes and some amazing sounding wood-fired pizzas. The menu even had a pasty of the day – during our visit it was Swiss chard and chicken. Despite the variety, they stuck to a small number of careful choices in each category. After a solid perusal of the menu (and sending the waiter away twice), we settled on a British Columbia Halibut Fish and Chips, a large Mixed Green Salad, a soft pretzel to start and a glass of a local cider to wash it down.
The meal started with a fresh baked, yeasted pretzel – served with a side of mustard. A little light on the salt, but otherwise a solid pretzel. The mixed green salad was nicely presented, topped with long curls of celeriac and beet. A dressing made from their house made vinegar brought an excellent brightness to the greens. Comparing to the menu on their website, they’ve clearly adjusted this salad based on the seasonal availability of ingredients.
The fish and chips were fantastic. The chips were clearly a high quality potato, crispy on the outside but no hint of greasy after taste. Combined with their house-made malt vinegar, there was little more one could ask from a chip. The halibut was a generous portion, breaded in a yeast batter that was smooth and not overly crunchy, but like the potatoes without the heavy oil taste so common in fried foods. (Clearly the staff at Spinnaker’s know how to set the temperature on their deep frier.) The fish inside was moist and delicious. To complete the offering, a house made tartar sauce was provided on the side – excellent! Not much of a cider drinker, I can’t comment reliably on the cider – but given the rest of the meal I have no doubt their brew is excellent.
As the restaraunt got busier, service started to falter a bit – getting refills on water was difficult, but the food more than made up for any mild inconvience.The crowd tended towards the upper end of the age bracket, and the atmosphere was very eclectic – loud pub music set against a more traditional dininig area. But, if you care about food and are in Victoria, I feel confident that Spinnaker’s will please will you.