Sunday, December 19, 2010

Empress Dining Room Fairmont, Victoria, 12/2010 (Canada)

Described (by it's owners) as the most beautiful room in Victoria this certainly is a room with style and atmosphere in the manner of early 1900's dark opulence.Lit by late 19th bronze chandeliers
the room exudes luxury. Wood paneled to about four feet before rich Victorian textile covered walls rise to a ceiling crossed by huge wooden beams supported by substantial columns.
A large fireplace takes up most of the back wall.
Thick carpets and well separated tables diminish noise. Seating is in capacious wing backed chairs along the walls
and comfortable large chairs in the inner parts of the room.

We were seated after some delay and immediately offered menus and wine list by our server, Earl,
quickly followed by a basket of warm brioche style rolls with whipped butter.
They have a three course chef’s menu for $65 but we preferred the a la carte menu. Our first appetizer, a vegetable risotto with Portobello mushrooms,
was just right in every regard, except the photo! The seasoning excellent the vegetables lightly cooked, the risotto creamy but textured so that every grain of rice contributed to make this a memorable combination. Expecting sweetbreads we were surprised when a mouth watering foie gras mounted on a slice of sweet but tart apple on a toasted baguette atop an apple puree arrived.
Earl was crestfallen at his error and immediately headed back to the kitchen to repair his blunder. It looked so good we called him back and he looked greatly relieved when we said we’d have it as well as the sweetbreads that we originally ordered. Barely more than seared this was the equal of this dish that we have enjoyed in some of the best regarded restaurants in North America and Europe. The sweetbreads were another display of culinary delicacy accompanied by a parsnip puree and a little spinach.
We both chose the tenderloin for a main course. Warm blue is a bit like breaking 10 seconds for 100yards. Plenty of people can do it but you hardly ever come across one of them. This time we did. A supreme piece of meat on the bone, a cut we do not normally see in Australia,
was cooked to order. We could not have asked for anything more. It came with lightly cooked asparagus, baby carrots and beetroot. Two pic's, one dish!
A meshed white chocolate column surrounded a mousse beside a chocolate pudding filled with a warm chocolate fondant
completed a fine dining experience. After the previous nights dinner we thought them incapable of producing cooking of this quality. It turns out that they were completely different chefs for this restaurant. It’s credentials are supported not only by membership of the Chaine des Rottisseurs but also by the fact that the Chaine have dinners there each year to which members come from Vancouver and Seattle.

The dinner was a few dollars over $200 before the tip.

Score: 17.25/20


John Salisbury said...

Wish we were we were there!

Elliot and Sandra said...

Not everything is so great with North American dining but it's lots of fun