Traveling from Seattle, WA to Victoria, BC was lengthy and adventuresome. My wife and I had been to Vancouver several times but never made our way to Victoria. We started this leg of the trip by taking the Washington State Ferry (WSF) from Anacortes, WA. to Sydney, BC with a brief stop into Friday Harbor to embark several more passengers. That was a lengthy cruise but gave us a moment to catch up on a few Zzzz’s.
As we made our way from the ferry terminal in Sydney, we stopped for a moment to gather our thoughts and prepare our route and plan to get to Butchart Gardens. Butchart Gardens is an extremely popular tourist destination that boasts about 55 acres of beautifully sculpted and manicured gardens of many varieties of plants and cultural landscapes. Although we were told by everyone that had been there before that this is a must see, we seemed a bit let down as we anticipated an opportunity to look at gardens for several hours. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon and seen the movie “Vacation” with Chevy Chase, you know what I mean. There is so much to look at, but once you’ve seen one section or area, it’s like it’s the same no matter where you’re at. “Ok kids . . . let’s go!” Although the Gardens had a couple of nice options for restaurants, nothing seemed to catch our eye. Somewhat expensive, but not very creative. We headed for Victoria.
My wife was looking for some Thai restaurant in Victoria that was in a tourist handout. We went by and it looked empty and not in a very nice area of the town. She said, “Ok, now you pick a place”. We traveled only a couple more blocks and, while sitting at a stop light, noticed The Clay Pigeon, with a full(patronage) dining area and several others waiting at the door. I quickly pulled over and we walked in.
Probably the best “slaw” I have ever had. The Kale Slaw had Savoy Cabbage, Kale, Red Onion and Fennel, with a Miso-Lime-Ginger Dressing. I had the Porchetta Sandwich with Slow Roasted Porchetta (belly of the pig), Apple and Pickled Fennel. Although the food I had was pretty tasty, the wife was less than impressed with her selection of her Chicken Salad that was laden with cranberries and walnuts. And since we’re in an area that is heavily influenced by the seafood and shellfish availability, I also had some fried oysters. I much prefer them raw, as they were just . . . meh.
I would claim their service to not be not very good, as I asked for a to-go menu and they fumbled around and said they would get some more out and bring me a copy, but they never did. The staff was very friendly, but they were just a little off, I guess that’s what happens when you hire college students that are not really into the service business.
The place seemed to have a pretty good rap amongst the social media bloggers as they mostly praised the establishment. It must be pretty good food since I watched this 60ish older lady standing in the corner of the restaurant, with her table and food in front of her, devouring a plate of chicken wings. She must have stood there for a good 45 minutes while she ensured the nubs were completely clean. It was just weird that she was standing the entire time as she gnawed . . . peering over her glasses at the rest of the crowd. Creeper!
All seemed to be going good until the wife and I had almost completed our meal then the wife gasped, . . . “Uh!” Now, I didn’t see the entire event; but she was watching two members of the cooking staff come out of the kitchen carrying the trash right through the middle of the dining area, but with completely filthy black aprons and black shirts. I guess she and another, just seated, patron had both witnessed the same scene. The other patron and my wife noticed each other’s expression at the same moment; and the other patron that had just ordered their food, quickly got up and left. I guess it was a pretty disgusting scene. What I did see as we were leaving was both kitchen workers returning from taking the trash out and only one of them now carrying his apron (it looked like he was now off shift), and the other kitchen member had a t-shirt and apron that looked as thought they were on the loosing side of a very fierce kitchen food fight. Yes, they were very dirty and disgusting. I tried to explain to my wife that the carrying of the trash through the dining area during service (they may not have a back door) and the dirty aprons and shirts, but once I saw the one guy . . . I had no alibi.
Victoria was kind of neat . . . old, but neat. There are a lot of very old buildings and there is a lot of history behind this city; and mostly because of the time of day in which we arrived; and the cloudy, rainy weather, we weren’t able to fully enjoy the Victoria charm.