During our lovely two night stay at Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites (review here), we were kindly hosted at Vista 18 restaurant for dinner one evening to experience delicious delights from Executive Chef Garrett Schack and his culinary team.
Located on the 18th floor of this renowned hotel, Vista 18 is Victoria, British Columbia’s only rooftop restaurant. (You might remember Vista 18 as it’s former name, the “Parrot House” restaurant from many years ago). This modern dining establishment offers panoramic views Victoria’s beautiful inner harbour, snow-capped Olympic Mountain range, impressive Mount Baker, and the Pacific’s Strait of Georgia.
The restaurant’s impressive menu focuses on free range, organic and local products.
Vista 18 offers an extensive wine list and a cocktail menu with plenty of witty martini names. Talented bartender James created a tasty concoction of tequila, lime and pomegranate juice – a pleasing balanced beverage. While we sipped our drinks, we enjoyed the crisp crackers and warm, fresh baked bread that was served with savoury black olive whipped butter.
Their dinner menu is partitioned into three different sections: Vista 18 Tasting Menu, where you can choose a dish as an appetizer, or make your pick for a 3-course, 4-course or 5-course complete tasting menu. Alternatively, you can choose a dish from the Vista 18 Culinary Creations menu where items such as Local Pacific Seafood Hot Pot and Orange Scented Muscovy Duck Breast are sure to please. We decided on two appetizers from the tasting menu and two mains from the Simplicity menu. This menu allows the fresh, seasonal ingredients with their clean natural flavours speak for themselves. All of their “Simplicity” entrées are served with parsley buttered potatoes and farm fresh vegetables.
To start, I ordered the Local Organic Green Salad – Thinly shaved cucumber strips wrapped around mixed greens topped with julienned carrots, beets, tomatoes, local hazelnuts, edamame beans and drizzled with a creamy avocado house dressing. This salad was fantastic. Each ingredient tasted so fresh, as though it had been picked from the garden that morning.
Gary opted for the Seared Diver Caught Scallops as his appetizer – Two perfectly cooked scallops resting on a bed of arugula salad, topped with crisp tomato chips and drizzled with a creamy bacon vinaigrette. There is certainly a difference in taste and texture between diver caught versus scallops from dredges or aquaculture. Ecologically friendly scallops harvested by divers, hand-caught on the ocean floor tend to taste fresher and their flesh is less gritty. Therefore, although this dish only contains two scallops, these are some of the highest quality scallops you can get!
Since Gary is a true carnivore, he chose the Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin for his main course – Ordered and served medium-rare, this incredibly tender six ounce steak consisted of a delectable red wine demi-glace, and was accompanied by seasonal, local vegetables, including turnips, carrots, potatoes, and broccoli. Gary also opted to add the Sautéed Wild Prawns that were tossed in garlic butter and precisely cooked so they were nice and crunchy.
Haida Gwaii Halibut - This moist and flaky fish was also served with the same amazingly fresh, seasonal local vegetables. None of the veggies were overcooked, respecting the integrity of each. All Simplicity menu items offer a choice of sauces to accompany each entrée: Red Wine Demi-Glace, Lemon Arugula Pesto, Sweet and Spicy Mustard Glaze, Blueberry Salsa, or Sweet Curry Butter. I opted for the Lemon Arugula Pesto because I love sour and bitter flavour combinations. If you’re not a fan of these flavours, then I would suggest against ordering this sauce. However, I really enjoyed the pesto’s bright citrusy tang of lemon and peppery bite of the fresh arugula contrasted against the buttery flesh of the halibut.
Vista 18 is a very impressive and ambitious restaurant. Not only do they strive to use only quality, locally sourced products but they do so by growing some of their own ingredients. They have their own herb garden, and just like the Fairmont Empress, Chateau Victoria Hotel has their very own honey bees! So of course, we ordered some tea with honey to accompany our desserts.
There were quite a few enticing sweets to choose from for dessert, but in the end we decided on the Blueberry Gateau – Buttermilk ice cream resting on a moist blueberry cake layered with fresh blueberry whipped cream. This treat was light and fluffy, with each bite being equally as satisfying.
Vista’s Silk Chocolate Cheesecake – A Vista 18 specialty, this sinfully silky smooth cheesecake contained a rich chocolate espresso crust, balancing in a creamy white chocolate pool. This was a truly delightful way to complete an amazing evening.
Our memorable dining experience at Vista 18 not only provided us with a delicious dinner and outstanding service, but also incredible views of beautiful Victoria. You should really stop by the next time you’re on Vancouver Island! For further information regarding Vista 18 restaurant and Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites, visit their websites www.vista18.com and www.chateauvictoria.com.