Friday, April 6, 2012

The Clay Pigeon

Address: 1002 Blanshard St.
Phone: (250) 590-6657
Website: Facebook page
Price: $6-18
Notes: Unique meats, beautiful presentation in a nice balance of fancy and casual.

The Clay Pigeon opened on the corner of Broughton and Blanshard taking over from the location where Valentino's Cafe had existed for ages (although in the interim it was Very briefly called Billy's). My understanding (from completely un-sourced gossip) is that the restaurant is somehow connected to Pink Bicycle, and the head chef is Genevieve Laplante, a cooking instructor and the chef of the sadly closed sips.

The restaurant is a cute balance of fancy and casual. The decor is pretty - dark wood tables, with cute bird-themed art on the walls. It is pretty small, but they seem to be able to pack quite a few people in. The bar dominates the dining area, and has just a few bar stool seats. Most of the tables around the edge are small tables for two, but near a large window there are several larger tables for medium sized groups. More bar stools take over the tall counter at the other window.

The menu is quite interesting. I'm kind of excited for it - it features a style of food that nowhere else in Victoria has really explored. They have a breakfast and lunch menu during they day time that includes a fried oyster sandwich, porchetta on a bun, a knuckle sandwich and ratatouille. The dinner menu has a wide range of excellent sounding meat dishes, including arctic char, pork, beef as well as a stunning selection of salads and appetizers. What is noticeable is what is not on the menu as well: a hamburger. Given the glut of burger places (and pink bike next door!) I think this is logical. It also means that they are targeting crowds of adventurous eaters which makes me happy! I always like to try new things.

The presentation here is pretty phenomenal, which I like because you are taking pretty rustic-sounding food that could be pretty casual and making it beautiful. And not like pretentious beautiful, the kind of beautiful that involves true love and respect for food. I was very stunned when we went to pay to see the size of the kitchen - barely big enough for two people to work in comfortably! However, my coworker pointed out that it was oodles more equipped than the hot plate the chef came from at Sips so I am sure it feels like luxury.

April 5, 2012
Pigs Ear
My coworker and I were having a celebratory dinner & drinks evening. We were both inexplicably drawn to the deep-fried pigs ear on the appetizer and decided to be brave and try it. I wanted to like it, but I am not quite sure that I am quite that adventurous (although I am really glad that I tried it!). When it arrived and was hairy my coworker was a bit surprised, but my dog is a huge fan of the pigs ear so I was a bit more prepared. We were kind of expecting it to taste like bacon, but it didn't at all. The bits that were a bit crunchier were better, but the ones that didn't crisp up had a little bit too much... (there is no delicate way of saying this) cartilage texture on the final bites. I was also expecting, and would have liked, a bit more saltiness or seasoning to them. The sweet chili dipping sauce it came with was most excellent.

Beet Salad
I had had poutine for lunch, so I wasn't quite prepared to go all-out and have a crazy food night and plus I really have been craving vegetables so I opted for the beet salad for dinner. It was totally worth it! The nuts - cheese - beet combination was, as always, delicious and the green (arugula?) on top added a nice element of slight bitterness. I did have to opt for Ultimate classiness and cover my white blouse in a paper napkin little kid style, as beet stains are only below grease stains on reasons why I can't wear half my shirts in public.

Zucchini Carpaccio
My coworker was also in the mood for a light meal and ordered the zucchini carpaccio. I had a bite and was instantly jealous! The marinade of the zucchini (one of my most favourite vegetables ever!) was tangy and full of delicious seasoning, and the fennel and goat cheese on top was a glorious addition to the flavours. I would recommend this as an option for a shareable appetizer!

I also ordered the 'armstrong rootbeer' because I hadn't heard of the brand before. My p.i.f.a.l. said they had said it was homemade, which to me is even more exciting! It seemed like it might have been made from a syrup, rather than a full pre-made soda. Either way, it was quite refreshing and would be an excellent summer drink. It also comes with bourbon if you order it as a cocktail.

The one weird thing was that the glasses storing the candle and the glasses that water came in were the same. I found myself having to think twice about which glass I was going to pick up...

April 5, 2012
The service wasn't bad - it wasn't the most attentive or overly friendly at the start but I being pretty anti-social (I am totally and completely addicted to Tiny Tower and take every few minutes of opportunity to get some good iPhone gaming in). It became much more friendly and prompt once my coworker arrived to join me and we started our meal.