New Deli Opens in Vic West’s Dockside Green

What started in 1993 as the humble Espresso Fantastico coffee cart in the Inner Harbour has now turned into a mini empire of ethically procured coffee, bistro and brunch destinations, and now a carefully curated deli of premium cheese and charcuterie.

Caffé Fantastico has come along way from the tucked away coffee nook in the Quadra Village, with decor featuring your grandmother’s old couch and stacks of dusty books. For a long time the flagship store and roastery on Kings Road was, to the infrequent visitor who stumbled in by chance, a quiet destination for the socially minded poet, the bead-stringing hippie, or the young wannabe intellectual who needed a strong brew to get though a reading of Faust.

However, from the get-go Caffe Fantastico was the city vanguard of truly well crafted coffee. It would bring together the elderly lady from Oak Bay, the portfolio manager from downtown, and the construction worker from Gordon Head in an almost comical tableau of Victoria class diversity for one common purpose: to sample the best coffee in the city.

There has been a gradual, yet organic, shift in aesthetic in recent years beginning with the opening of the Dockside Green location, which was bolstered by the wonderful collaboration with Fol Epi’s Clif Leir. Following this came the addition of Tre Fantastico, focusing on locally-driven bistro food, a thoughtful beer and wine selection and of course, standard setting coffee. Today the Caffe Fantastico Kings Road location has been transformed into a clean, open space that doubles as a gallery for local artists making it an ideal setting for leisurely sips of espresso and lunch among friends.

Fantastico Dockside.2The expansion of the Dockside Green location has ushered in a new addition to the Fantastico family: a deli and soon-to-be bar featuring local and international cured meats and cheese and a selection of ciders and beers. The new space extends from the current Caffe Fantastico location into a sweeping room of polished concrete and floor to ceiling windows that look out over the Bay Street Bridge and the industrial side of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

Kalynka Cherkosh, a long time friend, employee and collaborator of Caffe Fantastico owners, Ryan and Kristy Taylor, is heading up the new operation. Cherkosh and the Taylors have long shared a passion for late night dinners revolving around a well put together charcuterie board and a decent bottle of wine. For the past 20 years, through children, world travels, and new business ventures, the three have met back at the dining room table to indulge in late night conversation, preferred company, and good food. When the space next to the Dockside Green location became available, it seemed fitting to bring this shared passion into the fold of Caffe Fantastico.

Cherkosh has spent ample time abroad in the English countryside and brought her love of a good country cheese back with her to Canada (often smuggled in in a suitcase). She enjoys getting out of the city and meeting with BC cheese makers and farm-based butchers all over the province in order to develop relationships with the products she procures. Cherkosh intends to keep things as local as possible but also recognizes the need for some international flavours and varieties to keep the selection both interesting and plentiful. She also has a great love of ciders and bitter beers, which she hopes to feature once the bar is in full swing.

There are great things to come for the new Fantastico space: live events and music, a cheese window for aging cheeses, and many sundown patio sessions for friends and neighbours with great food, an evening libation, and a good chunk of cheese. It may be time to keep your eye on what’s happening on the other side of the harbour as this tight knit food community continues to grow and flourish.

Don’t miss our interview with Ryan Taylor in the March/April issue EAT.

Caffe Fantastico Deli and Bar

398 Harbour Rd



Hours: 9:30-4:30 Monday-Sunday (closing hour to be extended shortly)

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