Address: 509 fisgard street
Phone: (250) 590.8795
Price: ~$20-25 for a main
Notes: A fine dining experience of gastronomic proportions
When ulla joined the Victoria restaurant scene several years ago I heard exquisite details from locavores and food lovers about the tender loving care with which their food was prepared. Although a fancy restaurant by Victoria standards, Ulla still has a comfortable feel. The space is small and intimate, with high ceilings and lots of light. Bright, whimsical artwork and a bookshelf chock full of cookbooks (including the Star Trek cookbook!) line the walls.
The food here certainly is prepared with a monumental amount of effort. Plates come adorned with gastriques and flourishes carefully executed to accentuate the other flavours on the plate. They are one of the only restaurants in Victoria who uses molecular gastronomy in their food, which creates a finished product that is very precise and technical. The only "criticism" I have is that I find that everything I put in my mouth is of such intensity and richness that there are no sensory peaks and valleys. Eating at ulla is like putting your pedal down to the floor at the start of your meal and not taking your foot off until the coffee...
There is no doubt the food at ulla is amazing! I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have consumed. However... I think the fact that each dish comes with an explanation of what you are eating is either something you love or you hate, so if that's not your thing then this is not the restaurant for you. This is definitely somewhere to come if you're a fellow food nerd or just want to expand your palate a bit and order things you probably can't make at home.
March 29th, 2014
giant pacific octopus, grilled potato, herb puree, olives, pickled chili, squid ink cracker
This was my Partner-in-Food-and-Life's choice. We were all curious to see how giant the giant octopus was going to be, but in the end it wasn't hilariously massively giant. Our table of self-proclaimed comedians was slightly disappointed, but the first bite wiped that all away.
stillmeadow farm pork, roesti, smoked cheddar, celery root, sauerkraut, crab apple sauce
I opted for the pork 3 ways! They really like their 3 ways selections here (I also could have had lamb three ways). The little pot contained a kind of a crab apple gravy which was unexpected and interesting (but makes much more sense now that I re-read it... at the time I was confused as by the time I took the first bite the description had gone entirely out of my brain). This was a super rich plate! I was so full by the end... delicious. Each bite worked well on its own, but became a different flavour altogether when combined with another one of the plate items. Again - very intentionally constructed food.
Okay, the one surprisingly off-note moment was the coffee. They didn't have anything other than drip to offer... no americano option. I was kind of surprised and disappointed. Without a little bit of espresso crema to balance out the richness of my meal it didn't feel quite as luxurious... (yes, I am Such a coffee snob!)
March 29th, 2014
The service is fantastic at ulla because it's so small - there are really only a few tables for each server to focus on, and they had a fine tuned set of staff who clearly know their roles. We did comment afterwards that our main server was like a ninja! He must have had feedback on this before, as he would often touch us firmly on the shoulder before he refilled your glass to warn you that he was there, but there were several times when I would turn around and discover plates whisked away or drinks topped up without even realizing someone had come near me.