Friday, May 20, 2011

Paprika Bistro

Address: 2524 Estevan Ave. (Oak Bay)
Phone: (250) 592-7424
Price: $15-35
Notes: Some of the finest dining in Victoria. Open Friday and Saturday for Lunch. Order the "Bon Marché" menu option for $20 including a glass of wine.

Paprika Bistro has been on the very top of my "need to try" list for more than five years. I've heard nothing but good things and whenever we mention our most favourite restaurant (Camille's) Paprika comes up. It certainly stands up there with Camille's in terms of the food, including the local focus, and their wine list is significantly more approchable.

I'm not quite sure what took me so long... part of it is that although we eat out very often Really Nice meals are saved for Really Nice occasions which of late been very strategic choices mostly centring around Ferris's Upstairs because of our wedding. It probably would have stayed down on the list, but a friend who is on their specials list got an email gift certificate to use and/or share pushing it from the fancy dinner into the affordable dinner range. In fact I needn't have waited so long - their menu does have a "bon marché" option which sounded like a smaller, simpler dish but today's option did sound really tantalizing and within budget on a much more regular basis.

The restaurant space is quite cute and intimate with lots of little nooks for private dining that we couldn't see as we were seated in the main entrance area. Lots of hits of red in the decor and sets of four squares cut through walls helped an otherwise older space feel very modern. There was definite attention to detail in the linens and the cutlery. Local art on the walls was quite striking. Love love love the painting of the logo on the ceiling in the main entrance way!

The one thing I wish they would do is to post their specials online somewhere. Their standard menu is lovely and classy but a bit plain. It is the specials that really stand out and I feel like it would draw in more people.

May 20, 2011
Our server was very friendly and very attentive. I hesitate to criticize because it was early in a slow night (hockey game) and we were slow eaters (taking pictures of food and checking on the hockey game) but it was almost a bit over attentive. I appreciate a check-in once in a while but I felt bad for not being able to answer the "how is it" question because I hadn't had a chance to try it yet and I don't enjoy feeling guilty at dinner out.

May 20, 2011
We started our meal with drinks. My partner-in-food-and-life opted for a manhattan. They were very excellent to ask what kind of glass was preferable, as well as with ice or not. It came with a slice of lemon peel, and was incredibly smooth.

I had decided on the quail for dinner, and decided to pair it with a glass of the Quail's Gate Chenin Blanc. I had never had this wine before, but the description sounded good. I like that they have wine by the 3oz and 5oz glasses, as well as 1/2 litre or full bottles. It's my new favourite wine! It is extraordinarily fruity with the scent and the taste of ripe peaches. It isn't dry at all, and levelled out to not too sweet with food.

I opted to add the table d'hote to my meal - $12 for the soup or salad of the day plus chef's choice for the dessert. Considering my partner's appetizer was $11 and the dessert $9 I would certainly recommend this as high value!

I have never had Beef Tartare before but I have heard nothing but magical things. This was my partner-in-food-and-life's choice for an appetizer. It was very fitting for the run of glorious weather - fresh and flavourful. Very well seasoned, so much so that it was impossible to pick out any particular flavour, it just worked.

Mushroom Soup via

This was my appetizer - a mushroom soup. It was the daily special - I can't remember if it was with truffles and mushrooms or truffle oil or truffled mushrooms. Eep! Corrections please! Either way it was a lovely consistency and what I can only call a gentle flavour. I do so love mushrooms! Not too rich, which was appreciated as I had a long way to go.

Homemade Linguine with Mussels via

This was my partner-in-food-and-life's choice. Again, the perfect choice for a beautiful sunny day! The sauce was incredibly fresh and green tasting. The pasta was exquisite, and so nice because fresh pasta just doesn't have the heaviness and density of dried pasta and that makes the dish so much better.

Quail with Spicy Cabbage and Cannellini Beans via

I do love me a wee bird! Quail is a little bit too much bone to meat ratio without getting scrappy with it, so it isn't going on my list of favourites but the flavour was perfect. I was tantalized by the grainy mustard sauce, but was surprised to find it wasn't very vinegary. It was a pleasant surprise, however, and the beans and cabbage underneath were so perfectly savoury I wanted to ask for the recipe. I was a bit dubious about the cabbage but it was incredible because it was cooked to that perfect point of being a bit buttery. The gentle spiciness to the beans and something else (sausage?) was quite mouth watering.

"Best In Town" Creme Brulee via

I still have more research to do to confirm if this is truly the best in town, but it is certainly a very strong contender. The top was perfectly caramelized and thick enough to take a feisty spoon thwacking. The custard was melt-in-your-mouth like none I've ever tasted before. If it had been any lighter it would have been too light, but any thicker and it wouldn't have melted in quite the same way.

Rhubarb Orange and Vanilla Sorbet via

This was Quality sorbet! The flavour reminded me of my favourite food in the world, mince pies. Heavenly! I was so full at this point I was glad to have ice cream that, as my Granny always says, "slides into the corners."


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