2012 When the company’s good, the food doesn’t matter

Bon Rouge VictoriaFor Andrea and I, every day of the year is a potential dine around event.
But here in Victoria, right now – it is dine around and we are trying to take advantage of it – we have a few places lined up this week.

This previous Friday we did Bon Rouge – a sexy French Bistro Restaurant at 611 Courtney Street with dear friends Mark and Valerie.

Bon Rouge is the kind of place where you would almost expect characters from the French thriller “Diva” to appear, conspiring in a dark corner over one of Bon Rouges signature $5 martinis. Pretty sure I saw a couple of guys in dark suits up to no good. They were drinking vodka martinis and were clearly fomenting revolution…

I digress.

It was a busy and blustery Friday night in Victoria with just a vermouth twist of warmth in the air – none to soon: Winter has been going on way to long!

We were a tad early so we were seated at the bar. Andrea ordered a vodka martini with a twist of lemon. I ordered a small French press of insanely strong coffee (Fernwood) and some bread. The bread never showed up – but that was OK – we were soon to be relocated to the dining room, more or less on time.

Bon Rouge is a big room (3 rooms actually) and its biggest plus is the table layout, some great private booths and acoustics perfect for intimate chats – even between 4 folks.

Bon Rouge, for a French restaurant has service that I would describe as casually detached (some would call it slow, I wouldn’t) and maybe slightly less attentive than maybe it could be. But from where I am sitting (as an industry consultant), it’s not that bad. Lots of the food is of the “slow” category. For instance, I ordered the beef marrow appetizer – takes 20 minutes to prepare minimum and it was at the table to the second. Andrea had a shrimp and prawn ceviche that was very good. Mark has an Onion soup that appeared more like a 1/3 of a soup – also good. Valerie had the same appetizer as Andrea. No one was complaining.

I had bone marrow at a French restaurant in the Napa valley – Bistro Jeanty – and it was amazing – the marrow at Bon Rouge was a let down in comparison – there were a few nibbles and some bread… maybe a tablespoon of marrow. Sad colin.

In the mains, I had pork three ways; cheek, porchetta and bacon with some grilled vegetables (parsnips) and an awesome demi glace. For me, pork anything tastes too good to be healthy and this was no exception.
Andrea had the lamb & lamb (sausage and shank) with bitter wilted greens.
Valerie had the trout – and Mark had the lamb times 2 like Andrea.

Mark and Valerie shared a creme brulee and Andrea and I sampled one of Bon Rouge’s simple cheesecakes.

Bon Rouge is not World class French – but neither are the prices. If anything, it is the New Wave of French cuisine. There is too much humor and too little stuffiness to make it pure French. And we love it for the most part.

The four of us had a great time. It has been a really challenging week and the conversation was key at this gathering. In some ways we could have just at easily eaten at Boston Pizza or Earls and cover the ground we did that evening. But we were at Bob Rouge… and all was well.

Dinner for 4 – around $200 less adult beverages.