Address: 1450 Douglas st.
Phone: (250) 383-7310
Price: $17-20 for a tapas trio
Notes: fancy food & drinks perfect for a classy date night or a special occasion
Veneto has three sections - a lobby/private dining area, the bar area, and a restaurant in the back. The atmosphere is very hotel restaurant. It took us a while to figure out what it was about it that really felt that way, but the closest we could come up with is that the back part of the restaurant (ie not the bar area) is void of windows, which contributes to understanding you're inside of a much larger building. There is also a whole lot of mid-century-modernesque walnut, from the tables to the pillars and the booths, which fits with a bit of a fancier hotelier experience vs a restaurant which may have a more casual interior.
Veneto is fairly well known in Victoria for their cocktail list, which is full of approachable standards as well as slightly geekier/hardcore cocktails with plenty of play on the back bar for upgrades and fancy drinks. If you are indecisive, opt for the $10 'spin the wheel' cocktail which involves picking your spirit and flavour profile for a surprise drink at the whims of your bartender. It reminded me of the Mahoney at Floyds, but without the flip for double/nothing (and a lot classier).
The food menu is primarily tapas combos grouped by type of food. They look like excellent options if you had a few people to split the meal with, but for two people sharing more than two combos would be deadly, both price and food-wise! However, there are a selection of mains and single appetizers available as well. The dishes all come nicely presented and with plenty of nice flavours to compliment your cocktails.
December 9, 2012
February 27, 2012
Disclaimer: I was still getting over the Cold of DOOM which left my sense of taste a little impaired, so I relied more on confirmation of my taste from my partner-in-food-and-life than I typically do.
The Rialto cocktail was the first to strike my fancy on the menu. Victoria gin (hello my favourite friend!) lemon, silk road lapsang souchong tea (smokey!) chocolate bitters and (er, more than a) hint of lychee. In retrospect, I totally don't remember reading that it was Victoria gin, and couldn't have guessed that from the layers of tastes (Especially with a broken sense of smell!). The initial taste was pretty sweet - lots of the lychee stood out, but as I paired it with food, especially savoury food, the smokiness from the tea really stood out with a scotch-like profile.
We were selecting from the Dine Around menu this evening, but several of the selections of the first course and the desserts are also found on their regular menu, including the crab cake that my P.I.F.A.L. started the evening raving about. I was even persuaded to try a taste of the edamame puree underneath and I have to say that it would be worth the screaming migraine to eat that. The review from across the table was that it was at the top of the list of crab cakes ever consumed because of its noted lack of fillers.
My warmed goat cheese dip came in a smokey, garlicy tomato in a chunky ragu kind of style. The huge chunks of roasted garlic were exactly what the doctor ordered to set my sinuses straight! It was served with crustinis on the side for dipping, although it was a little bit awkward to eat it was an excellent example of a cheese dish that didn't end up feeling like you had eaten a huge melty lump of cheese by the end. It would have been even better as a sharing dish, but my P.I.F.A.L. has this ridiculous, persistent aversion to goat cheese.
My P.I.F.A.L.'s pork chopped arrived much more massive than was expected! It was cooked to perfection with an incredible-tasting glaze on top that I wish I had tasted more of so I could attempt to replicate it. Sadly this picture does not display all its glory - a combination of lazy photography and terrible lighting. Pah!
My short rib was probably the weakest part of the meal and admittedly a poor choice when I already had low taste going on. I was hoping it would be spicier given that it was meant to be chili somehow but I didn't detect any spice at all. Still, the texture was good and the accompanying vegetables and polenta were very nice indeed.
A simple dessert, but the pastry was nice and crispy and the apples were nicely spiced. My P.I.F.A.L. appreciated the non-dairy options on the dessert menu (I got the scoop of ice cream from the top - it was okay but I think I have been spoiled by Cold Comfort).
I am such a sucker for pumpkin and I was rewarded with an incredibly soft, fluffy dessert with crispy pumpkin 'pepitas' on the bottom (er, top). The pumpkin spices were delicate, but when combined with caramel sauce it was the perfect level of sweetness.
Finally, I opted for their 'spin the wheel' cocktail, where for $10 you can name your spirit and your flavour profile and have a custom drink from behind the bar. I opted for Gin & Bitter which we decided sounded really emotive and would make a great name for a cocktail blog. The result was exactly what I was craving. Gin with sweet vermouth plus a hint of Cynar (if I recall correctly) garnished with orange peel. Perfectly gin & bitter!
December 9, 2012
The service definitely wasn't as polished as the last time I was here. It wasn't particularly bad, but the natural flow of things didn't feel as seamless as it did the time before, and when you're visiting somewhere as swish and pricey as Veneto I kind of anticipate pristine service. For example, while it was a slower Sunday evening somehow that turned into an an excuse for the service being slower, and the table conversation was interrupted to ask for more food or drink requests. Both of these were kind of unnecessary, since it was a pretty casual evening of drinks and chatting amongst friends and didn't have a deadline. It would have been nicer to leave the excuses off, but also been more casual about interjecting for food or drink orders, but that's really just finesse, not a deal breaker.
February 27, 2012
Our server was absolutely delivering five star service! Possibly more gold stars added on for her completely non-pretentious attitude - in fact she started off the evening declaring my striped socks mad her evening and then launched in to a detailed and delectable-sounding description of our choices for the evening. There was never a moment where we felt rushed, and she was always available if we had questions about anything on the menu. I think overall it topped any of the service I have had so far while writing this blog.