Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joe's Seafood Bar

Address: 1208 Wharf St.
Phone: (250) 590-7335
Price: $5-15
Notes: Newly opened for the season - a hybrid between a pub and a concession.

Joe's Seafood is pretty new on the Victoria food scene. I think they were open last summer, but they only opened for the 2011 season (late in May). Looks like they've made some significant changes since last year, although since I didn't make it there last season I can't speak to what these might be.

The space takes up the former smoke pit of the Boom Boom Room, beneath the Wharfside on the waterfront. You can see right in to the kitchen, and it looks like perhaps there's going to be more going on in the former bar location in the future, although whether or not the two spaces are connected remains to be seen.

At first, I was afraid that Joe's Seafood Bar would be a lame rip-off of their neighbour, Red Fish Blue Fish, especially since they seem on the surface to feature similar kinds of food (the seafood taco rolls) with similar values (eco & fish friendly) in a virtually identical location. This wouldn't be bad from a food point of view (we need more delicious, cheap, oceanwise seafood in this town!) but I'd rather see something new and innovative than a poor carbon copy preying on tourists.

However, upon investigation Joe's menu may have a few cone-shaped fish tacos, but that is a small part of their surprisingly large menu (although I think they could have fewer, and feature them less prominently, and would probably do better for it). I'm excited to see them evolve - despite living in a place where there is so much tasty seafood I'm always sad to not be able to find good deals in town.

Joe's is a a walk up counter with take-away service. There's an order area and a pick-up window, as well as a patio area. Since today was their very first day ever, I'll hold off on the service review while they settle in - but no complaints.

May 31, 2011
Started off a little disappointed: my partner-in-food-and-life wanted the fritters to start, and I was eyeing up the shrimp and crab burger but they were both unavailable. I suspect they are pretty much the same thing, once I thought about it afterwards. Too bad! Sounded tasty.

Today they actually had a server if you sat down to eat, and she brought us our beer. She was quite friendly, as was the girl at the counter. Neither of them knew where the beers we ordered were from other than that they were "local - from the Island" (iPhones to the rescue on that one) although since they're pretty newly opened I can't fault them too much, and the server did volunteer to ask the manager.

They've got those crazy buzzer things that notify you when your meal is ready to pick up at the counter. This suggests to me that the people running the place are not from here... which makes things make a little bit of sense with the whole copying RFBF thing (I've never seen that happen here before).

May 31, 2011
As I mentioned above, we tried beer from up island - a brewery previously unknown to us: Surgenor Brewing in Comox. My p.i.f.a.l. had the Steam Donkey Lager, which is my least favourite kind of beer, but I had a really good Pale Ale. They both reminded us of beers from our favourite local brewpub, The Moon Under Water.

Cod and Chips via

This was $11 - not a bad value, although the two piece was almost $17 (getting up there! Although I notice a price difference on the menu on their website along with the claim of "the most affordable fish and chips in town" so maybe there are changes on the way...). The beer batter was tasty, but slightly undercooked. I was a little troubled since there were almost no customers and so it wasn't like they could make the excuse that they were slammed and they didn't have enough time to cook it properly. However my partner-in-food-and-life pointed out that when they're busy, they probably double cook (cook once, keep warm, deep-fry again) and so the fact that they weren't busy might have contributed to the slushiness. It didn't taste bad - just a texture thing.

The fries were the absolute highlight of the meal! Thick cut, lightly beer battere (driftwood! yay!) with a really nice spice to them and sea salt and big bits of freshly ground pepper. Holy moly! The waitress asked for our recommendations for the menu, and we suggested that the tuna tacos my p.i.f.a.l. ordered should have either come with the fries or been added on for $1-2 because to be honest - next time we come down to the harbour for Red Fish Blue Fish we're splitting up and one of us is coming to Joe's for fries and the other is waiting for tuna tacos at RFBF!

Tuna Taco Rolls via

My research, murmuring and suspicions were confirmed: not bad, but nowhere comparable to the fabulousness next door. It kind of bothers me... I think if Joe's was half way across town I wouldn't even blink twice at them serving these, but dudes... when you're competing with World Class, innovative, well-loved, well-publicized neighbours and the front page of your menu is in direct competition you'd better bring it and these tacos are just not there. They're close, but ultimately a sad face for no reason I can quite pin down.

May 19, 2011

Today we already had dinner plans, so decided to opt just for an appetizer of calamari. At $8, it's not the cheapest thing on the menu, but a reasonable price for something a bit more "exotic." I'm always a little afraid of calamari (there's something about the texture and the idea of tentacles that is a bit creepy) but this was pretty good! The batter was nice... the technique was perfect but I'm not totally sure of the spicing. It seemed like it could have had more garlic to make it stand out but dill is one of those spices that confuses my taste buds because it didn't enter my repertoire of spices until somewhat recently due to a family allergy. The texture of the octopus was spot on - not over cooked at all.

Got the groupon the other day (bit weird that it came out before the restaurant was open, but having done a reno I understand!) so we will be back for a proper meal/review someday soon!


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