Lunch Pick: The BC Legislative Dining Room

It feels very members-only, very classified. A dramatic wooden door stands prominently atop a flight of stone steps outside the Parliament Buildings, flanked by men dressed in navy. As I reach the door, it is opened for me by a security guard, and I’m directed towards an office to the right. Inside, a uniformed officer sits behind a glass counter. I suddenly wish I’m here on some sort of Official Business of High Importance, or at least carrying a briefcase.

“Is the restaurant still open?” I ask, feeling a little bit foolish.

I’m asked to submit my driver’s license in exchange for a security pass; handed a detailed map plotting my route through the labyrinth of Rattenbury’s arched corridors, through one coded door, down a crimson-carpeted hallway and a flight of stairs. Finally, I see a doorway leading to a classically appointed dining room that probably looks just about the same as it did eighty years ago. White tablecloths, cut glassware, red carnations in china vases, photographs from the B.C. Archives adorning the elegantly papered walls. One of the best kept secrets in Victoria for its unique atmosphere and great prices, The Legislative Dining Room is open to the public Monday through Friday.

Don’t expect groundbreaking or edgy cuisine on the regular menu. Well-executed lunch classics like a clubhouse, sirloin salad, grilled Montreal smoked meat, and burgers prevail. However, this isn’t just another glorified office cafeteria: running the show are Dining Room Manager Dominique Boutin and Executive Chef Brian Vickstrom, both previously from The Union Club of British Columbia.

Wild Salmon Salad

A daily special sheet reflects the flavours of the season and gives Chef Vickstrom a chance to show off his creative talents with more daring dishes. Tempting dessert choices are presented at the table on a bamboo board, an effective up-sell technique I haven’t experienced in years (I had the cheesecake). The Dining Room is also licensed, offering beer and wine selections as well as a variety of non-alcoholic choices including tea and Oughtred Coffee. The prices are noticeably lower than most downtown restaurants of comparable quality, a result, says Boutin, of the Dining Room’s lower operating costs compared with privately owned restaurants. Thus, they are able to pass on those savings to the diners.


Local playwright and actor Mur Meadows, who moonlights as a Legislative Dining Room server, presents the daily dessert features.

This experience is too unique to pass up if you live in Victoria, if just to say you’ve done it. And it’s a great spot for a first date – just think of the possibilities for conversation/politico sightings. Maybe you’ll even overhear some confidential communiqués! I poked around a bit for some political dirt to no avail; the staff is fastidiously tight-lipped about any goings-on. However, one anonymous Legislative insider did eventually confess that Premier Christy Clark “loves salads and salmon”. I guess that’s as juicy as it’s going to get.


Hours: Open for breakfast & lunch Monday-Thursday 9am-3pm, Friday 9am-2pm.


Legislative Dining Room

Room 006

Parliament Buildings

Victoria, BC

Reservations: (250) 387-3959



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  • […] can have lunch (and at great prices — thanks, Canadian tax payers!) where the MLAs eat at the BC Legislative Dining Room. You have to go past the security people at the front door, sign in at a little room off of the […]