Long before we bought the bed and breakfast in Victoria, Fernando and I lived in South Korea for a year. I was working as a creative director with the Korean Expo Corporation preparing for Expo ’93 in Taejon. For the first month or so after we arrived, we were ‘billeted’ at the Hotel Riviera in Seoul. The ‘Hotel Ribera’, as it was pronounced locally, is a beautiful 5 star hotel and has, if you can believe it, a wonderful French Restaurant. Since the Corporation was paying the tab, Fernando and I dined there a couple of times a week. They made, with a doubt, the best Caesar salad I have ever had. Prepared at your table by a waiter who was a real showman, all very fresh ingredients. And they managed to get them together in all the right proportions so that the end result was delicious.
However, this is not to say that a Caesar salad is in any way French having been invented by an Italian-born Mexican, and why shouldn’t a hotel in Korea have a French restaurant. It was just a really good salad. All of which is by way of saying the Restaurant Matisse is nothing like the French restaurant in the Hotel Riviera. Matisse is small, intimate, very stylish and serves impeccable French cuisine.
In Seoul, I often found it faster to walk the 30 minutes to work rather than try to drive through Seoul’s unending traffic jams. The traffic isn’t nearly as bad in Victoria, but I would still recommend walking to Restaurant Matisse from Albion Manor. It can easily be done in 20 minutes and it is a lovely walk that will take you through a small park with a statue of Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, along the Inner Harbour with its entertainers, past the Legislature and along Wharf Street.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that Bodega y Quadra and Captain Vancouver enjoyed a productive and friendly working relationship when the 2 commanders were both on the island in 1792. And to commemorate that relationship, Captain Vancouver wrote “I have therefore named this land…The Island of Quadra and Vancouver.” And it was thus entered upon the explorer’s charts. The name was shortened to Vancouver Island and Quadra’s name was relegated to a much small island off the east coast of Vancouver Island.
But, back again to Restaurant Matisse. It’s not a huge menu, but there is something for everyone. We had eaten a late lunch and didn’t want to have too much so we shared the Bisque de Homard(Fresh lobster broth finished with cognac and cream)to start. The thing about French cuisine is that the presentation is so important. Looks are everything. Well, not quite everything, but they certainly are a big part of the show at Matisse. A bit of art on your plate. The artist and the gourmand in Fernando were both very satisfied.
For the entree, Fernando had Supreme de Poulet (oven baked organic breast of free range chicken with morel and roasted garlic stuffing) and I had Fricassée de Fruits de Mer (a sauté of fresh lobster, prawns and scallops with green pea, black truffle & chive risotto). And for wine, Mission Hill Pinot Grigio. What a fantastic meal. Total cost including wine, taxes and tip was about $120. Certainly not one of the less expensive restaurants in the city, but well worth it for the delicious food, exquisitely presented.
The staff were friendly and attentive. The ambiance overall was quiet and romantic. Nice lighting. Too bad the paintings on the wall weren’t the real thing. Oh well, you can’t have everything. And when it’s all over, you have the lovely walk home again, to Albion Manor.
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We want your stay at
Albion Manor B&B
to be the crowning touch to your visit to Victoria BC, Canada.
We'll do everything we can to ensure that it is!