Exceptional Eats! Reader’ Choice Awards 2011

Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen
Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen

BEST DELI: Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen Pictured: Melanie Lonsdale, Monica Pozzolo, Andrew Moyer, Maylia Janzen, Emilie Day, Sarah MacDonald, Piper Phillips, Riley Coxford, Christine Mulhall, Shinji Nagata, Derek Laframboise, Denise Jones, Natalie Peacock, Drew Pollhammer.

You voted for your favourites—the best places to eat, dine, and shop for food and wine on Vancouver Island—and here are your results to all thirty-two questions. Taken together, they make a delicious snapshot of a moment in our culinary times. There are no losers; we all win by shining the spotlight on a robust and healthy food scene on the Island. Our neighbours can only drool with envy. Not only do we get the mildest climate in the country but we also have some of the best food products around for our chefs, vintners and brewers to create with.

In looking over the tally of votes it’s immediately clear that ours is a not food scene controlled by big corporate enterprise with profits sent to head offices in far away places, but, like peas in a spring risotto, it’s a food scene where small, independent, local businesses dot our communities and     neighbourhoods, satisfying our appetit e for eating and drinking local.

We’ve organized the results into four groups: eating in, eating out, drinking and finally, giving credit to those who inspire us. You’ll find some of the questions are different this time around—because isn’t this year different from the last?

These are our food and drink heroes. Thank them, support them, and enjoy them— indeed, we are all very lucky to live on this island.

—Prepared Gary Hynes with assistance from Gillie Easdon and the EAT contributors.


let’s eat in

You are totally transfixed by the wall of olive oil selections. What store are you in?

Specialty Food Shop or Deli

Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen (GOLD)

Charelli’s Cheese Shop and Delicatessen (SILVER)

Blair Mart (BRONZE) 924 Pandora Avenue, Victoria



The Market on Yates & Millstream

• Mediterranean Speciality Foods (Lakehill Grocery) 3949 Quadra Street, Saanich,

• Italian Food Import 1114 Blanshard Street, Victoria

• Plenty Epicurean Pantry bsp;


A dear friend is in the area for the first time. What local food or local ingredient from our Islands do you have on hand to tempt them.

Best Take-Out/Delivery

Pizzeria Prima Strada (GOLD)


Little Thai Place (BRONZE)



• Noodle Box

Baan Thai

Fujiya’s Japanese Foods

• Cooks Day Off


On Saturdays, you like to drive to the farm stand. Which one has your loyalty and respect?

Local Farm Produce

Moss Street Market (GOLD)

Root Cellar (SILVER)

Red Barn Market (BRONZE)



• Sun Wing Greenhouse

• Madrona Farm

• Michell Brothers Farm

• Dan’s Farm


“MsoNormal”>Artisan butchers are in a renaissance period. Where do you go for that unique cut of rarebreeds pork or the finest quality charcuterie?

Butcher Shop

Slater’s First Class (GOLD) 2577 Cadboro Bay Road, Victoria

The Village Butcher (SILVER) 2250 Oak Bay Ave, Oak Bay

Island Meat & Seafood (BRONZE)



• Choux Choux Charcuterie

• Glenwood Meats

• Ronald Orr & Son Family Butcher

• Quadra Village Halal Butcher Shop 2618 Quadra Street, Victoria


You’re not a fan of big-box shopping. Pick a store that deserves merit.

Grocery Store


The Root Cellar (GOLD)

Red Barn Market (SILVER)

Niagara Grocery (BRONZE)


Market on Yates/Millstream (GOLD)

Thrifty Foods (SILVER)



• Plenty Epicurean Pantry

• Ambrosio Markets 1503 Wilmot Place, Victoria

• Peppers Foods

• Fairway Market


let’s eat out


Consistently excellent food, fantastic service, welcoming and wonderful ambience. What restaurant can you always say that about?

Restaurant of the Year

Brasserie L’ecole (GOLD)

Zambri’s  (SILVER)

Cafe Brio (BRONZE)



• Markus’ Wharfside

Stage Small Plates Wine Bar

• Bistro 28 < /a>


• Camille’s

• The Superior


Pleasure for the taste buds, easy on the wallet, where are you going for lunch these days?

Place for Lunch

Relish Food and Coffee (GOLD)

Hernande’z Cocina (SILVER)

Pig BBQ Joint (BRONZE)




• Pagliacci’s


• Pizzeria Prima Strada

• EdGe


You go to this restaurant because they cook with local seasonal ingredients very very well. Which one is it?

Restaurant Cooking Local

Cafe Brio  (GOLD)

Markus’ Wharfside (SILVER)

Devour (BRONZE)



• Brasserie L’ecole

• Zambri’s

Rebar Modern Food

Spinnaker’s Gastro Brewpub

• Stage Wine Bar

• Bistro 28


Table for one? Stool at the bar? What restaurant do you go to when dining alone?

Place for Solo Dining

Pig BBQ Joint (GOLD)

Stage Wine Bar (SILVER)

Hernande’z Cocina (BRONZE)



• Brasserie L’ecole

• Foo

• Relish

• Zambri’s

• Pizzeria Prima Strada


What is your favourite restaurant that’s within walking distance in your own neighbourhood?

Neighbourhood Resto

Stage Wine Bar (GOLD)

Pizzeria Prima Strada (SILVER)

5th Street Bar and Grill (BRONZE)



• Fernwood Inn

• Heron Rock Bistro

• Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

• Bistro 28


You have kids. You want to eat out with them because this should be a   beautiful thing. What restaurant “gets” it?

Place to Feed a Kid

Pizzeria Prima Strada  (GOLD)

White Spot  (SILVER)

Crumsby’s Cupcake Café (BRONZE)



• 5th Street Bar and Grill

• Ferris’ Oyster Bar & Grill

• Pagliacci’s


Sweet! Tell us at which restaurant you had an ending to a meal that rocked your socks. And what was the dessert?

Restaurant Dessert

Goat cheese cake with preserved sour cherries, fennel biscotti– Stage Wine Bar (GOLD)

Chocolate truffles – Cafe Brio (SILVER)

Crème brûlée Brasserie L’ecole (BRONZE)



• Chocolate cake, rice crispy crunch, hazelnut cream and brittle – Ulla

• Maple tart, pecan crust, whipped cream – Bistro 28

• Warm ginger cake –The Marina Restaurant


The best bite of the year. What restaurant dish made such a lasting impression that you wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to your B.F.F.? Name the dish and the restaurant, please.

Best Plate of the Year

Steak Frites, red wine & shallot sauce, Roquefort butter Brasserie l’école (GOLD)

Spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino – Zambri’s (SILVER)

Preserved lemon risotto, pan seared West Coast scallop Stage Wine Bar (BRONZE)



Crispy chicken roll, Israeli couscous, carrots, bacon, chanterelles, chicken jus – Ulla

Local mussels, caramelized onion & fennel, maple chipotle cream sauce – Bistro 28

Brio Family Meal – Cafe Brio http://www.cafe-brio.com/

Margherita pizza, Fairburn Farms mozzarella di bufula, fresh basil – Pizzeria Prima Strada


You’ve got a ten-spot. What’s your best bet for a bite? Where and what?

Dish Under $10

Tacos de Pollo – Hernande’z Cocina (GOLD)

Pulled Pork Sandwich – Pig (SILVER)

Vietnamese Ginger Caramel Chicken – Foo (BRONZE)



• BBQ Wild Salmon Tacones –Red Fish Blue Fish

• #20 or #34 – Pho Vy 772 Fort Street, Victoria

• Chicken Club with Brie – Relish Food & Coffee


Just a drink and nibblies. Or maybe two drinks. And a few more nibblies. You don’t want to leave yet. Where are you?

Place for Appetizers and Drinks

Stage Wine Bar (GOLD)

The Tapa Bar >(SILVER)

Veneto Tapa Lounge (BRONZE)



• Clive’s Classic Lounge

• Ferris’ Upstairs

The Mint

• Bengal Lounge

• The Oyster

• Cactus Club


Food carts are here. Which one tops your list?

Best Mobile Eatery

Puerto Vallarta Amigos (GOLD)

La Taquisa  (SILVER)

Mr Tube Steak (BRONZE) Outside Capital Iron



• Galloping Goose. Sausage at Moss St. Market

• Pizzeria Pr ima Strada mobile oven


Hankering for that naughty perfect pastry, gelato or other  delight? Where will you go? What will you have there?

Place for a Snack Attack

Pain au Chocolat – Fol Epi  Bakery (GOLD) 398 Harbour Road, Victoria

Cinnamon Bun – Bubby Rose’s Bakery (SILVER)

Lemon Tart – Pure Vanilla Bakery & Cafe (BRONZE) 2590 Cadboro Bay Road, Oak Bay



• Gelato – Ottavio Italian Bakery

• The Elvis – Pink Sugar Cupcakes

• Almond Croissant – Patisserie Daniel 1729 Cook Street, Victoria

• Fruit Tart – Wildfire Organic Bakery


let’s drink


What shop has the most comprehensive wine selection and has the most knowledgeable staff and best customer service?

Best Wine Store


Everything Wine (GOLD)

Cascadia Liquor (SILVER)

Spinnakers Spirit Merchants (BRONZE)


Fort & Foul Bay  (GOLD)



• Hillside Liquor Store

• Cook St Village Liquor

• The Wine Barrel

Vintage Spirits

• Victoria Westshore

• Blanshard Square


A true foodie knows craft beer. What store knows theirs?

Place to Buy Beer

Spinnakers Spirit Merchants (GOLD)

Cascadia Liquor  (SILVER)

Cook St. Village Liquor (BRONZE)



• Phillips Brewery

• Hillside Liquor Store

• Swans Beer & Wine Shoppe

The Strath Ale, Wine & Spirit Merchants


Drinking beer is a highly social activity—and pubs come in all shapes and sizes. Which one do you like best when you want to hoist a pint or two?


Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub (GOLD)

Canoe Brewpub  (SILVER)

Fernwood Inn (BRONZE)



• Bard & Banker

• Swans Brewpub

• Irish Times

• Penny Farthing

• The Beagle


Was there a local wine, beer, cider, tea or any other drink you tried this year that surprised you with its originality? Tell us what it was and which company made it.

Innovative Beverage

Heatherdale Ale – Salt Spring Island Ales (GOLD)

Victoria Gin – Victoria Spirits (SILVER)

24-Mile Blueberry Pail Ale – Phillips Brewing (BRONZE)



• Rumrunner – Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

• Belle Royale Driftwood Brewery

• Oolong Tea with Fresh Grand Fir Needles – Silk Road


Coffee. Coffee. Island owned and operated—where do you go to buy, and drink, that sublime nectar?


Discovery Coffee (GOLD)

Habit Coffee  (SILVER)

Caffe Fantastico (BRONZE)



• Serious Coffee

• Bean Around The World

• Street Level Espresso 714 Fort Street, Victoria

• Black Stilt

• The Stick Coffee House


You’re heading out of the country (or to another province) and want to take a local wine to impress your hosts. What do you bring?

Local Wine

Brandenburg No.3 – Venturi Schulze (GOLD)  ;

Célébration Brut – Starling Lane Winery (SILVER)

Damasco Zanatta Winery (BRONZE)



• Cowichan Blackberry – Cherry Point Vineyards

• Pinot Noir – Averill Creek Vineyard

• Pinot Noir – Alderlea Vineyards

• Ortega – Blue Grouse Vineyards


let’s give credit | people | groups | food heroes | trends


So many events, festivals, classes and seminars on food and drink—which one really did it for you?

Food/Drink Experience of the Year

Feast of Fields (GOLD)

The Great Canadian Beer Festival (SILVER)

Defending Our Backyard (BRONZE)



• Chef Heidi Fink cooking classes

• The London Chef cooking classes

• Fernwood Bites

• Victoria Tea Festival


Who raised your awareness and gave you a deeper appreciation of food issues in your community?

Group, Association, Business or Gang

EAT Magazine [aw shucks. thx- editor.] (GOLD)

Island Chefs Collaborative (SILVER)

Lifecycle Project Society (BRONZE)



• Victoria Downtown Public Market Society

• Farm Folk City Folk


• Food Roots

• Slow Food


What was your favourite local food trend?

Top Trend of 2010

Eating local food (GOLD)

Cocktails (SILVER)

Small plates/half portions (BRONZE)



• Food carts

• Charcuterie

• Downtown farmers markets

• Traditional, simple food

• Eating less meat, more vegetables

• local, free-range meat

• Vancouver Island salt

• Sustainable fish

• Chocolate-covered bacon


What was your least favourite local food trend this year? (feel free to rant)

Worst Trend of 2010

Pork belly, pulled pork (GOLD)

Cupcakes (SILVER)

Sliders (BRONZE)



• Foam on food

• Small portions


• No reservations policies

• Cilantro

• Lame food words – gastro, deconstruct

• Being asked “Are ya still workin’ in it?” at restaurants

• Nutraceuticals/Bio Yogurt/ Engineered Foods

• Chocolate-covered bacon


class=”MsoNormal”>Who, in the food and beverage industry, do you turn to for advice (on food and beverage, people). A stalwart. Let’s fete him/her now!

The Foodie’s Foodie Award

Heidi Fink (GOLD)

Gary Hynes (SILVER)

Shawn Soole (BRONZE)



• Andrew Moyer

• Dan Hayes

• David Mincey

• Larry Arnold

• Denise Marchessault


Whose writing makes you sit up and take notice?

Local Food Writer

Eric Akis (GOLD)

Pam Grant  (SILVER)

Elizabeth Smyth (BRONZE)



• Heidi Fink

• Gillie Easdon

• Treve Ring

• Don Genova

• Elizabeth Levinson

• Jeremy Ferguson


Best new addition to the food and drink scene on the Island in 2010?

Best New Restaurant, Shop, or Café

Ulla Restaurant (GOLD)

Relish Food & Coffee (SILVER)

Zambri’s Atrium (BRONZE)



• Pig BBQ Joint (Atrium)

• NOW- Noodles of the World (Duncan) 161 Station St.

• Simon Holt (Nanaimo)

• The Moon Under Water


Lifetime Achievement Award 2011 (PAST WINNER: David Mincey)

Greg Hays

Greg Hays has been raising the bar on Victoria’s food and wine scene for close to 30 years. This is the man who started the legendary Herald Street Caffe in 1982, went on to redesign, rebuild and reinvigorate the Marina  Restaurant and, most recently, dream and bring to life one of Victoria’s best-loved restaurants, Café Brio. Since its opening in 1997, the restaurant has accumulated a well-deserved collection of accolades,      receiving top honours from Zagat, Fodor’s, Frommer’s and Where to Eat in Canada, as well as glowing reviews in Gourmet Magazine and Condé Nast Travel. In 2003, together with his wife and business partner Silvia Marcolini, Greg received the prestigious Provincial Restaurateur of the Year Award for Fine Dining from the BC Restaurant and Food Association. Greg is also known for his wine pricing innovations, first implemented at the Herald Street Caffe. The $10 mark-up on all wines makes higher-end bottles more accessible—definitely a worthwhile and appreciated measure when facing the ever-changing yet always impressive wine list that Café Brio offers. With this award, we honour Greg for his longstanding and ongoing commitment to supporting the region’s ingredients and wines. Bravo! —R.Baugniet

The Winners of the Prize Draw

Acer Fine Woodworking – 2 Bamboo Trays

WINNER Julie Akeroyd


Bubby Rose’s Bakery & Café – Gift Certificate

WINNER Karen Cooper


Butchart Gardens – Admission & High Tea for 2

WINNER Cindy Bendall


Carrot on the Run – Gift Basket

WINNER Sean Fenzl


Cascadia Liquor – An Expert Guided Wine Tasting at Home for 12

WINNER Meg Dunning


Chef Heidi Fink – Culinary Tour of Chinatown for 3; Cooking Class

WINNER Denise Hogue

WINNER Brandy Patterson


Devour Food – Gift Certificate

WINNER Niki Sacoutis


Endless Pawsibilities – Gift Basket

WINNER Chivonne Graff


Fernwood Inn – Gift Certificate

WINNER Kasia Waissmann


Lifestyle Markets – Gift Certificate

WINNER Lani Caldwell


Muse Winery & Bistro – Gift Certificate

WINNER Karen O’Mahony


Ottavio Delicatessen – Ottavio T-shirt & Apron

WINNER Kim Smith


Rocky Creek Winery – Wine Tasting Experience

WINNER Catherine Holt


Sea Cider Farm & Cider House – Long Flight & Platter for 2

WINNER Katie Tomlinson


Silk Road – Group Tea Tasting

WINNER Lon Temereski


Sips Artisan Bistro – Dinner for 2

WINNER Erin FitzPatrick


Sooke Harbour House – 1 Night Stay, Breakfast & Dinner for 2

WINNER Kristina van Vloten


Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub – Chefs’ Table for 2 w/ Wine/Beer Pairings

WINNER Dan Macdonald


Stage Wine Bar – Gift Certificate

WINNER Danielle Topliss


True Grain Bread – Gift Certificate



Wickaninnish Inn – 1 Night Stay, Valet Parking & 3-Course Dinner for 2

WINNER Bob Tyrrell


Victoria Spirits – A Gift Basket

WINNER Michelle Cowan

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