2015 Exceptional EATS Award Winners

Here are the results from the 2015 Exceptional EATs awards.


Category: Let’s Eat Out

Restaurants | Lounges | Cafes | Bistros | Eateries

Best New Addition To The Food And Drink Scene

It could be a new restaurant, shop, café or product. what’s your pick?

Wheelies Motorcycle Cafe

(2620 rock bay avenue, (250) 995-9359
runner up: Part And Parcel

Best Restaurant Of The Year:

This restaurant always delivers-in service, selection, atmosphere, and execution. it’s the best restaurant in the city-in every way, every time.

Brasserie L’ecole

(1715 government st., (250) 475-6260)
runner up: Stage

Best Dish Of The Year:

You really must try the _____ at _____! what dish was so fantastic that you will remember it forever – or at least until next year?

kimchee meatballs at Relish Food & Coffee

(920 pandora ave, (250) 590-8464)
runners up: steak frites at Brasserie L’ecole, any tacos at Tacofino

I Didn’t See That Coming:

Where did you try a restaurant dish outside your usual, and it surprised you and was amazing? what was it and where did you eat it?

beef tongue at Part And Parcel

(2656 quadra street, victoria, 778) 406-0888)
runners up: pork ramen at Foo & any octopus at Bodega and Stage

Restaurant Cooking Local:

Best restaurant cooking local: local = fresh + delicious. who does farm-to-table best and supports our local farms? what restaurant is it?

10 Acres Bistro + Bar + Farm

(611 courtney st, (250) 220-8008)
runners up: Relish, Part And Parcel

Outside The Core:

Let’s head out of the city. i know this amazing little place in the middle of nowhere…
name a great restaurant not in the city that’s worth a special trip (keep it close to home, though, no planes).

Nourish Garden Bistro

505 quayle rd, saanich, (250) 590-6346
runners up: Unsworth Vineyards Restaurant (cowichan valley), point no point (west coast rd)

Wheelies Motorcycles & Cafe

Wheelies Motorcycles & Cafe

Pho The Love Of It:

Best pho. where is it, short of jumping a plane to vietnam?

Pho Vy

(sadly, it’s reported they are now closed))
runners up: Green Leaf, Pho-Ever

Sandwich Me:

A great sandwich is a beautiful thing. who does it best… and which sandwich is your favourite?

“the pork” (root beer-braised) at Wheelies

(2620 rock bay avenue, (250) 995-9359)
runnerd up: porchetta at Roast, porchetta
at Meat And Bread

“Bang On” Brunch:

Who kills it? from a hash to a benny, from pancakes to griddles and coffee, who has your brunch covered?

Jam Cafe

(542 herald st, victoria, 778) 440-4489)
runners up: The Village, Mo:lé

Bin 4 Burger

Bin 4 Burger. Photo: Rebecca Wellman

The Skinny Wallet Of It:

Fat on flavor, slim on dollars, where do you go?

Hernande’z Cocina

(735 yates st,, (250) 884-5313)
runners up: Foo Asian Street Food, La Taquisa

Sweet On You:

Is it a sticky cinnamon bun, a dark pain au chocolat, or a silken creme brulee? where do you go to soothe the sweet cravings that call?
please name the sweet and the restaurant/bakery/cafe/shop.

Macarons At Fol Epi

(101-398 harbour rd., (250) 477-8882)
runners up: pain au chocolat at Fry’s Red Wheat Bread, crunut at Crust Bakery

Delicious And Nutritious… Feed Me!

A meal out can be both delicious – and healthy.
tell us where you go when you want to treat both your palate and your body?


(50 bastion square, (250) 361-9223)
runners up: Be Love, Nourish

The Burger Is A Thing Of Beauty

Burgers are only getting better, where do you go to sink your teeth into the deep flesh of an exquisite or simply perfect burger? what makes it the best? veggie burgers too.

Bin 4

(911 yates st #180, (250) 995-9359)
runners up: Pink Bicycle, Big Wheel

Best Front-Of-House Crew:

your hard day sheds with a warm smile from the host or hostess. your server seems to know what you want before you do. you matter in this restaurant, even if it is your first time. attentive, authentic, warm and professional. which front of house crew nails it?

Brasserie L’ecole

(1715 government st., (250) 475-6260)
runners up: Stage, Little Jumbo

The Pride Of Bc:

What is the best restaurant you have been to in british columbia. it has the best food and service you have enjoyed. (it doesn’t have to be fancy.)


(311 neill st, tofino, (250) 725-2341)
runners up: Bishops (Vancouver), Hawksworth (Vancouver)

Best Place To Take A Kid:

A pint for us, chocolate milk for them. 2014 saw new liquor laws that allows pubs to serve minors until 9pm. which pub knows how to treat children the best?

Fernwood Inn

(1302 gladstone ave, (250) 412-2001)
runners up: The Marina Restaurant, Prima Strada

Category: Let’s Eat In

Places | Local | Food | Products | Specialty Food Shops | Markets | Grocers

Best Take-Out:

It’s the afternoon and you’re thinking about dinner – but you don’t feel like cooking tonight. what do you grab on the way home? think restaurants, delis and food shops – who’s got the best to go?

Foo Asian Street Food

(769 Yates St, (250) 383-3111)
runners up: Baan Thai, Noodle Box

Oui, C’est La Meilleure:

Best baguette in town. where and why?

Fol Epi

(101-398 harbour rd., (250) 477-8882)
runners up: Fry’s, Wild Fire Bakery

Favourite (Locally Owned) Store:

Need a chef’s knife, tablecloth, flowers, pot, candles or dining room chair? and you’re not a fan of big-box shopping. where do you go to buy it?

Cook Culture

(1317 blanshard st, victoria, (250) 590-8161)
runners up: Capital Iron, Penna & Co.

Best Specialty Food Store:

You’re having a dinner party and you’re cooking something special (maybe you’ve never made it before!)
where do you go to get that “something” that makes the dish special?

Root Cellar

(2620 rock bay avenue, (250) 995-9359)
runners up: Charelli’s, Choux Choux
1715 government st, victoria, (250) 475-6260

Best Stall At A Market?

Who is selling the most fantastic thing at a market – name the product and the purveyor?

The Chocolate Project

(1701 douglas st.)
runners up: Olive The Senses, Salt Spring Island Cheese

I’m Health Conscious:

They say that you are what you eat.
where do you shop for food that is healthy or based on dietary restrictions?

Lifestyle Markets

(2950 douglas st, (250) 384-3388)

Place To Buy Meat:

Many shops, delis and restaurants are offering house made meats – charcuterie, cold cuts, salami and sausages for delivery and in-house. what is the best way to satisfy your carnivorous cravings?

The Whole Beast

( 2032 oak bay ave, (250) 590-7675)
runners up: Village Butcher, Choux Choux Charcuterie, Slater’s First Class Meats

Best Local Food Product Or Ingredient:

You’ve got friends and family visiting, and you take pride in bc’s food diversity. okay, maybe you’ve been known to brag about the largess of this province.
what local food, product or ingredient are you sure to introduce them to?

**Bc Spot Prawns*

runners up: Wild Salmon, Cold Comfort Ice Cream

Category: Let’s Drink
Wine | Craft Beer | Spirits | Cider | Coffee | Tea | Non-Alcoholic

Oh, My Head. Need Water, Need __________. Best Hang-Over Cure:

What glorious food and venue cures that headache and dry mouth from too much too much last night?

Floyd’s Diner

(866 yates st., (250) 381-5114)
runners up: Jam Café, Mo:Lé

26 Lounge Lizard:
Relaxing, hands wrapped around a stem or a tumbler, this hotel lounge or bar delivers what you need and love.

Veneto Tapa Lounge

(1450 douglas st, (250) 383-7310)
runners up: Clives Classic Lounge, Bengal Lounge

You Say Champagne, I Say Prosecco:

You want an excellent selection, a range of prices, and a personable, knowledgeable staff.
best store to buy wine. what’s your recommendation?

Cascadia Liquor

(multiple locations)
runners up: Everything Wine, Fort & Foul Bay

Outstanding Local Beer Of The Year:

Impress your out-of-town host with a bottle of local brewski.
name the local brew that has everyone in a froth?

Hoyne Dark Matter

(2740 bridge st, (250) 590-5758)
runners up: Driftwood Fat Tug, Hoyne Pilsner

You Brought Wine:

Impress your out-of-town host with a bottle from a local winery.
what would you bring?

Unsworth Pinot Noir

(2915 cameron taggart rd, cobble hill, (250) 929-2292)
runners up: Zanatta Domasco, Averill Creek Pinot Noir

Part and Parcel Beef Toqnue. Photo: Rebecca Wellman

Part and Parcel Beef Tongue. Photo: Rebecca Wellman

local beverage of the year:

This local beverage was, in a word, remarkable. be it wine, beer, cider, spirits, soda, tea, coffee you name it. what really impressed you this year?
tell us what it was and which company made it.

Ampersand Gin

(4077 lanchaster rd., duncan, (250) 737-1880)
runners up: Discovery Coffee’s Kenya, Phillips Root Beer

Best Coffee Purveyor:

Who makes the best coffee? no need for expanding on this. you love coffee and you know who you are.
Mulitple Locations

Discovery Coffee

Runners Up: Caffee Fantastico, Habit Coffee
Single Location

Hey Happy

Runners Up: Heist Coffee, Drumroaster Coffee

Sour, Neat, Dirty And New:

This drink is a single piece of perfection and it is the best cocktail, bar none of the year. what was it and where did you drink it?

“20Th Century” At Veneto Tapa Lounge

(1450 douglas st, (250) 383-7310)
runners up tied:
Bourbon Sour – Fiamo
Old Fashioned – The Churchill
Spurs And Saddles – Little Jumbo

Category: Let’s Give Credit

People | Groups | Food Heroes | Trends | Ideas

Gilded Gatherings:

which food or drink event, festival or seminar most excited you this year?


runners up: Brewery & The Beast, Feast Of Fields

Worst Trend Of 2014:

Chipotle in everything? small plates? fusion? sauce swooshes and dots? the avalanche of kale?
help us weed out the most awful trend du jour! what is it?

Kale In Everything

runners up: gluten-free diet (apologies to celiacs)), bacon (but we really we still want it), overpriced small plates, swooshes and dots on the plate.

Best New Trend Of 2014:

We know what you hated. now tell us what you liked best about 2014 (food wise, of course)?


runners up: small plates, tacos, cauliflower, craft beer, cold brew coffee, fresh vegetable dishes, resurgence of sparkling wine

Being Social:

Who do you follow? which restaurant, store, food writer or blogger would you follow to the ends of the earth? tell us who it is and where you found it? is it on twitter, facebook, instagram, tumblr or pinterest?

EAT (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

runners up:
Twitter: Don Genova, Heidi Fink, Shelora Sheldon
Instagram: Discovery Coffee, Part And Parcel, Heist

A Year Of Living Sustainably:

What business, association or non-profit best promotes a sustainable food system?

Root Cellar

(1286 mckenzie ave, (250) 477-9495)
runners up: Lifecycles, Big Wheel, Finest At Sea, Makaria Farm

People Skills:

Did you have an amazing experience at a food shop, store or market this year that made you feel special? maybe it made you want to tell your friends?
tell us your story and the store.

Here are a few experiences we received:

“Sarah-Amalia at Cascadia Uptown was not only incredibly knowledgeable and one of the most personable people i’ve ever encountered but impossibly nice and surprisingly tactful.”

“Geoff at Slaters First Class Meats is the most attentive butcher around. he always remembers my preferences so that i hardly have to specify when i make an order.”

“The Root Cellar – always fantastic and fast customer service.”

“All small restaurant owners should get my credit. they work asses off and completion is always chopping at the small window of population we have in victoria. i dislike mean reviews on Yelp, Urbanspoon for places that have been open for only a month, give them a chance!”

“I love my visits to Charelli’s just to see the cheese shop girls. i always feel warm, happy and at ease in the hustle and bustle of their small but happy shop. they are wonderful, talented, and wise. i can’t not go back!”

“Yasir at the Fig Delicatessen always provides the best service in Victoria!”

“As simple as this sounds, i plan my weekly grocery shop around the work shifts of a particular gal at Thrifty Foods, Hillside Mall. Shelagh is a gal friday and has plenty of hats, my favourite is how she packs my groceries. perfection in a bag.”

“Daniel at Patisserie Daniel always make me feel special: especially when service is slow or he doesn’t have what i was looking for, he always slips in some treat, it is unasked for, and not expected, and much appreciated.”

“Cook Culture, made me feel really listened to, accommodated and special. having difficulty finding “great” kitchen knives the staff recommended the ceramic knife and it has proven to be my favorite knife, reliable, light weight, and always sharp!”

“Ottavio – the deli folks are amazing. they love cheese, i love cheese, we love cheese together!”

The Exceptional Eats! Hall Of Fame

2015 Lifetime Achievement Award:
Give recognition to the person who has spent their lifetime committed to exemplary, sincere, and passionate culinary excellence.

this year’s lifetime achievement award winner, Cory Pelan, has been an outspoken champion of the sustainable food movement for two decades. since moving to Vancouver island from the mainland (where he began his career as a sous chef at Yaletown brewing company in 1996; first cook at rex rotisserie & grill in 1996; and executive sous chef at big river brewing in 2002), cory has been a fixture on the local food scene.

Cory Pelan

— Written by Joseph Blake


Pelan has served as past president and treasurer (and is a current board member) of island chefs collaborative and as a board member of slow food Vancouver island. he has also been a stewardship team member representing Vancouver island for farm folk city folk.
cory’s career on Vancouver island began as executive chef at bravo restaurant in 2002, a stint as executive sous chef at brentwood bay lodge in 2004, followed by executive chef positions at penny farthing pub, vintage wine bar & grill, arbutus ridge golf and country club, and ristorante la piola before opening his own artisan salumeria, the whole beast, in 2011.

sharing a space with the village butcher on oak bay avenue, the whole beast features artisan-cured, ethically produced meat using whole, locally raised animals. cory’s passion for the traditional craft of curing meat, his knowledge of how the animals were raised and dispatched, and his love for his products is obvious when we spoke recently, as he was rearranging dozens of products in his shop’s display case.

“we want to offer the best quality ingredients from responsible, ethical farmers,” pelan explained as he turned to slice my lunchmeat order. “that’s our mandate—to serve handmade, nose-to-tail products sold by the people who make it. we’re chefs, and we’re in an enviable position at the whole beast. everything we like, we make from our own recipes.”

“another part of our mandate is to inform and educate our customers,” cory continued, “there’s a lack of education in the market place, as well as a lack of quality meat products. we want to gain our customers’ trust, and our size helps us here. we’re three highly skilled labourers versus factories of unskilled labourers serving the massive, commercial food industry. sincerity, ethics, respect for tradition … there’s a big market for this.”

the whole beast features a rotating offering of 50 products including seven varieties of handmade salami, chorizo, bacon, prosciutto, pepperoni, and pates, as well as nose-to-tail, in-house products like blood sausage, liverwurst, headcheese, cotechino, corned lamb, and pork tongue. there is also a line of preserves on the small shop’s shelves including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and mustard.

“we may eventually expand into wholesale or a second retail outlet,” Pelan continued with a sigh. “but i don’t want to borrow money. i guess we’ll eventually outgrow our space in back, our kitchen, but i don’t want to expand until i can do it on my own.”

Written By:

Colin is the Assistant Editor at EAT. You can contact him via colin@eatmagazine.ca. Colin was born in Nova Scotia and spent his first five years there. His mother and father owned an inn and restaurant and Colin spent his time ...

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