My partner and I recently celebrated our engagement with family and friends and one of our lovely friends gave us a gift certificate to the Fireside Grill here in Victoria. I was thinking up a nice date night idea and thought that it was the perfect occasion for Brendan and I to use the gift certificate and enjoy a great meal!
I had never been to the Fireside Grill and have really gotten into using Twitter, so I thought I’d put the word out there to Victoria Tweeters that I was headed to the restaurant and wanted some suggestions on what was best. Instead of getting much of a response from those that enjoy the food, I got a response directly from the restaurant! They offered up suggestions on what to try, invited us to tweet while we were there and that they looked forward to meeting us. How great is that? What fabulous customer service.
We were first greeted by the manager, John MacDonald, who was tweeting with me earlier in the day. He was so excited to meet us and we him! It was really fun. We were taken through the beautifully old, tudor style restaurant which felt more like a home than anything else. The decor was perfect, the lighting was perfect; it was very romantic even. We sat and were introduced to Seamus, our server, who was also fabulous from start to finish. He was friendly, but very professional and had a pride about him when he brought each course to our table.
On to the food! First though, I have to share that the Fireside Grill has their own signature house wines. We each had a glass of their house red, which was a nice merlot. The grapes are grown in BC’s Okanagan and the wine is produced in province as well. It was no surprise to me that a restaurant already impressing me with their customer service and decor, even before eating, impressed me with their choice to produce and have available a signature wine. Smooth choice.
Okay, okay, now on to the food!! Fireside was having a special three course meal for $20, so both Brendan and I decided for that, but shared each of the dishes between the two of us. While decided specifically what to order we were treated to warm bread which was accented with nice herb flavours and nuts. My question is, though, why does bread always come with rock hard butter?
As starters, we had the ponzo prawns which were perfectly cooked, delicious, and sat on a quinoa base. The quinoa had a surprisingly saucy texture and the tempura asparagus was to die for. We wanted about ten more stalks. The second starter was a quinoa salad with a light, apple cider, vanilla emulsion but the emulsion just did not provide much of any flavour. I did not taste a hint of vanilla whatsoever. The salad was dotted with cranberries, nuts and seeds were a great earthy addition.
For our mains we went with duck confit which was a creative play on turkey with cranberries, but instead with a blackberry compote. I think I would actually trade having a turkey on Christmas (or any holiday) and go for this duck confit. It was succulent, juicy and the skin was perfectly crispy. The beans with cumin were very complementary and the squash was good but needed salt as was a bit bland. We also shared the roasted lamb which was literally fall of the bone tender. It was designed to come with a mashed potato with olive, but I don’t care for olive, so we substituted their garlic mash instead. The garlic mash left something to be desired as it tasted as though garlic powder had been added to plain potatoes. The kale was nice and tasty, and it’s beautiful green colour lightened the plate. My favourite element of this dish was the puffed pastry ring as it was absolutely aesthetically beautiful but also acted as a light and tasty addition to the plate.
And to the desserts! The mousse was delicious and tasted like autumn on a plate. It was set on top of a piece of white chocolate, but the addition of the white chocolate was just too sweet. On the very top was blueberry (housemade) fruit leather which was amazing. I wished they would have put more of the fruit leather and taken off the white chocolate. The mousse itself was light and to garnish were two pastry sticks that were impressively thin but added little to the actual dessert itself. The chocolate lava cake was soooo rich and luxurious that I honestly didn’t care that it wasn’t very flowing. There was a raspberry coulis smeared artistically on the plate and I desperately wanted more, to cut the richness of the cake just a little bit more. (I wasn’t too worried though, as I would eat one of these cakes everyday if I could.. Yummy.) The cream puff was a great palette cleanser as it had a light citrus flavour – perfect way to the end the dinner date!
What turned out to be a fantastic evening started as a surprise for my fiancé. The gorgeous tudor style building, amazing and friendly customer service (way beyond anything I’ve experienced recently) and the delicious food………… Fireside Grill is among only a few on the top of my list for the best dining experience in Victoria. Hands down.