We ventured out Thursday morning via Bainbridge and Port Angeles for a most reasonable 2:00 sailing on the MV Coho. No long lines, no rain. Arrived in Victoria, within walking distance to the Hotel Oswego. Lovely, modern place with a one bedroom suite waiting. Full kitchen, no pool, no awesome views.
Walked over to the main part of town, past the Legislative Buildings and The Empress Hotel, dolled up in lights and the beginning of holiday decorations. Some familiar shops from 20 odd years ago, lots of the same 'ol chains (gotta love SBUX when you need a washroom in a strange town.) Not sure where all we wandered, but we ended up at "Foo". We aren't sold on the "eating out of take out boxes" theme, but the food made up for it. Boxes filled with Vietnamese ginger caramel chicken, Laksa with fresh fish dumplings and chewy noodles, and Indian paneer/almond/sultanas dumplings with a masala cream sauce were quickly emptied and made the two travelers very happy and quite full. Pictures of the inside of take out containers? Maybe not.
The shop sits in a renovated petrol station, the owners, pretty chatty if you get them going. Nice talk about using traditional techniques mixed with Asian flavors - hence, the fine sauces and the braised meats. More wandering, and a night of deep sleep.
Friday we awoke to clear blue sky! Plans to hang out in the museum quickly tossed aside. After good strong coffee with real half and half in the room (courtesy of the hotel), we strolled over to Pandora for brunch at "MoLe". A quirky, red brick wall with local art hanging place, the menu included some interesting variations on normal things. An herbal biscuit, sliced in two could have been a tad lighter, but the scrambled eggs with cream cheese, bacon, and roasted red pepper on top were fluffy and delicious. The pesto potatoes were very good. M had a creamy omelette with local sausage (would have liked to see more, but it was good.) More wandering, stopping to run some errands, and visits to WildFire Bakery for a loaf of apricot anise bread - a sturdy and heavenly scented loaf from the wood fired oven, and assorted cookies, Choux Choux for cheese and pate (had we been hungry, we could have had rabbit pot pie!) and Chocolatier de Victoria for a selection of chocolates. Trudged back to the hotel (it is a slightly off the path location) via a walk through part of Beacon Hill Park, full of naked oaks and rocky outcroppings.
The evening brought a cab ride to the Belfry Theater for a one woman show of "The Year of Magical Thinking." Beforehand, we enjoyed a light meal at "Stage." A well dressed crowd filled the pre-theater hour and many were just sitting down when we left. "Light" included lamb confit + lamb loin, duck confit on a corn hash, and english pork sausage on braised cabbage. Everything was well prepared and very tasty. Some lovely cured meats and fresh seafood preparations were seen at the adjoining tables. A short walk to the theater; an excellent performance of an incredibly sad story. I read the book some time ago, and had forgotten the details. Worthy of a read.
Saturday was full of rain. Too late for and uninspired by the breakfast at the hotel (no longer complementary though still listed in some of the literature) we were directed to The Superior for brunch. A funky club / restaurant were the chef likes pork enough to have a pig tattoo. All I can say is "Pumpkin doughnuts with salted caramel sauce." After sharing an order of these hot and crispy beignet-like creations, we plunged into our mains - truffled scrambled eggs on mushroom duxelled toast and another version of pesto potatoes, and poached eggs with a miso hollandaise over a sweet potato, greens, peppers, pulled pork hash (I didn't get a bite!)
Off into the blustery day we ventured. The Museum provided a bit of diversion, even if the traveling show was initiated by the Seattle Art Museum. Since we missed it here, it was good to see. We broke for a late beverage at Cafe Mela, not far from the museum. Nothing special (thought a chocolate sample was very good!) The new owners have been there a month at most and have some way to go to make you feel more welcome and to keep the tables clean! Feeling ragged, we took shelter back at the hotel for awhile and then, ventured back out in the evening. After looking at our many options, we went back to Foo! This time, Phad Thai, Butter Chicken, and the day's special Tamarind pork belly with chili fried green beans. Both meals included a piece of house made smoked chili & coriander fry bread. I liked the slightly sticky interior of the bread. The second night, the rice served under the butter chicken was not quite cooked, edible, but too toothy. But the flavors were so good - seeing all the heavy cream in the fridge, I can guess part of the reason why - and understand not missing the rice. The plastic fork, spoon, or chopsticks don't do justice to the slabs of pork belly served. Across the street, we caught a movie before heading back. Caught up in the moment, we also dropped by The Superior for dessert - chevre cheesecake with fresh poached pear and caramel, and hot ginger cake with salted caramel ice cream.
Sunday was gray, and with a few provisions to tide us over, we caught the early ferry and had a smooth trip home, even catching the Bainbrige ferry within a few minutes of sailing.