463 Belleville Street
Victoria, BC V8V 1X3
On Wednesday, Fernando and I went with friends from other bed and breakfasts here in Victoria for a fine dinner out. We had been invited by The Mark in the Hotel Grand Pacific to be their guest for the evening. This is one of the wonderful things about owning a bed and breakfast here in Victoria: occasionally dinner is paid for. As b&b owners we do send a lot of guests to the various hotels around the city so it makes sense that these same hotels make us aware of what they offer, any changes that they have made and just say thanks for all the business we sent their way.
The Mark is a very small restaurant. I’m positive they can seat no more than 30 although I didn’t actually count the number of chairs in the restaurant. It is small and very intimate, quiet. The perfect place for a very romantic evening. Our evening wasn’t intended to be romantic. When you are out with other b&b owners the conversation can turn to some pretty mundane things like the pros and cons and ironing sheets or how to get eye make-up stains off the white towels. And a group of 6 shouldn’t really be a romantic occasion, although it could be but I don’t think I will go any farther on this train of thought.
It is beautifully decorated with rich red wood and wallpaper, glass blocks and a great wine cupboard. It was all really comfortable. We had great service although there are those who would have thought that the service was slow. We were not in a hurry and were having a great time with conversation and gossiping together about our guests (yes, we do that) and so didn’t really notice the time. I would suggest that anyone going there no do so if they are in a hurry. Take your time and enjoy the wine and the food and your companion.
We started the evening with a plate of oysters and came with 2 sauces, one of stewed oranges and the other with horseradish and parsley. They didn’t stay long on the table I can tell you. I remember when I was very young, I think 10 or 12 and the family came out to Victoria to visit Uncle Seth, Aunt Betty and cousins Christine and Ken. We went on a day trip somewhere, I can’t remember now, and stopped at the side of the road at an oyster stand. Dad and Uncle Seth were keen to try the raw oysters and I’m know Mom would have loved them, but I was the only one of the kids brave enough to try them. And I did without hesitation, taking the half shell and slurping back the slimy morsel. It was delicious. Fernando on the other hand thinks it all a bunch of mystic that has developed around oysters. He finds then a bit boring and can’t understand what all the fuss is about. Love ‘em or leave ‘em, preferably on the plate for someone else to enjoy.
They then presented a little appetizer, one of those things on a small Chinese spoon, white. All I can remember is that it had ‘soy sauce cavier’, whatever that it. Barely more than a tongue full, but it was absolutely delicious. One would like to have had a bowl full.
For appetizers, both Fernando and I ordered Granny Smith Poached Qualicum Scallop with Potato Wrapped Black Salsify and Salt Spring Chevre Fondant. And with it, a really good white wine, the name of which I have forgotten at this time. Oops. Sometimes though, the names of the dishes is bigger than the actual portion that arrives on your plate. Which is not to say that I am complaining about the portion sizes: they were perfect. Just enough to stir the taste buds for the main course to some.
There were several baskets of piping hot breads with three different kinds of butter (one of which was plain!).
For the main course, Fernando ordered Broiled North Coast Sable Fish with Black Truffle Linguine and Nettle Pesto. I chose Herb Rubbed Alberta Rack of Lamb with Puy Lentils (French green lentils), Moon Struck’s White Grace Parsnip and Cacao Bean Purée. Moon Struck is a local company that makes organic cheese. White Grace is one of 9 varieties that they make. When Fernando and I were living in Burnaby, we used to go every Saturday to the Farmers Market where we got to know the ladies from Moon Struck and I came to love Blossom’s Blue, named after one of their cows. They came over from Salt Spring Island every Saturday to sell their cheeses. At the time they were just getting going. It is nice to see they are getting a reputation and that their products are gaining broader distribution. I can’t comment on the Sable Fish because Fernando wouldn’t share it, but my lamb was perfectly cooked and melted in my mouth. All of the portions on the plate were perfectly combined nothing overwhelming, nothing too tame. All perfectly balanced. It was a delicious meal.
With the entrées, a Sandhill Merlot for me (several bottles were downed) while Fernando continued with the un-named white.
And for the final, Roasted Pear Tart with Fennel Seed, Orange Zest, Tarragon Panna Cotta and Cranberry Compote. I can’t really comment on the price because as I have said it was complimentary. It is not inexpensive, but nor did I think that it was outrageously expensive. It is though very fine dining and we all had a great time. I know that Fernando and I will be back and now that we know about it, we’ll recommend it without hesitation to our guests.
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