www.venetodining.com - 1450 douglas st
I figured I am past due for another restaurant review and since it's Dine Around time in Victoria now feels like a good time to start telling you all about my dining adventures!
Why I chose Veneto...
I used to work downtown and everyday I passed by the Rialto... I've seen it transform from a crack shack to a beautiful hotel. Being the foodie that I am I was curious about Veneto but never got around to checking it out so when I saw it on the Dine Around list I thought here's the perfect chance. But then I read the menu and saw "Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crème Brûlée" and I was sold!! Creme Brulee plus chocolate and peanut butter? That sounded like my dream dessert! They also have a tasty sounding soup "Creole Onion and Sharp White Cheddar Soup" and a prawn main "Grilled Smoked Chili Shrimp with smoked chili butter and creamy polenta cake".
So I invited my downtown coworkers to join James and I on Friday night. The inside of the restaurant is very nice, marble bar and sleek wood panel walls. It feels like a classy joint that I don't belong in which I hate about a lot of restaurants in Victoria but I've learned to not care and remember I am a paying customer too.
When I arrived my friends immediately notified me that the menu had changed and a moment of panic set in that there wouldn't be a pesco-veg friendly main anymore. Luckily the soup and prawn dish remained the same.... but it was my chocolate and peanut butter creme brulee that was missing. It was replaced with a chocolate and peanut butter brownie with bananas and toffee sauce or a Kahlua creme brulee with a mini donut. I relaxed, I could live with one of those choices but I was disappointed that they decided to change their menu.
Veneto is know for it's bartenders and I was intrigued by the idea of a fancy cocktail, but looking at the drink menu honestly it was all a little too confusing for me. We ended up sticking with some white Mission Hill wine which was nice and light and refreshing with the sweetness I enjoy.
I checked out their regular menu and it was a little confusing as well. It seems like they want to be a tapa bar, and maybe I just don't know because I haven't been to many, but I didn't feel like the menu was presenting that theme. They had a starter section, a main section and then their tapas section. What I didn't like with the tapas section was that it is broken down into different proteins and then you got a trio of them. There didn't seem to be any mixing and matching and they all sounded like a meal on their own. Maybe I'd have to come back to try it to understand but it didn't appeal to me.
The soup came out first in a small bowl and my first thought was, that's it? I then remembered this is a three course meal so it's nice to not get an over sized portion. The soup was pretty good, not amazing or mindblowing, but pretty good. I'm not sure what I thought of the croutons they were half soggy from sitting in the soup and there wasn't anything special to them. I did feel satisfied when I finished though and the size was just right.
After waiting just the right amount of time between courses our main arrived. The prawns were big and cooked perfectly. I really like the chili sauce on it that paired well with the polenta. The veg that came with it wasn't too exciting just some small squash pieces but they were more there for balance and presentation then anything.
The dessert though was probably the biggest let down. Considering what a brownie/chocolate/peanut butter fan I was my exceptions were high. It came with two triangles of brownie on top of sliced banana, ice cream and toffee sauce. The toffee sauce was probably the best part, but I thought the bananas were going to be cooked so I didn't really understand what the raw ones were supposed to add. I would have just left them if James hadn't eaten them. The brownie wasn't great... it was ok... a little dry, nothing exciting. I could taste the peanut butter but it was very subtle. I would take a Moxie's brownie any day over this. I tried James' creme brulee, again it was ok, I did like the Kahlua flavor but the custard seemed a little different, maybe thinner, and the donut was dry.
But full of wine and good laughs with friends I left Veneto on a high and I remembered the taste of the prawn dish throughout the night so I can't say it was a bad experience. The service was very good as well, quick to refill glasses and take orders without being too in your face. Will I be back there anytime soon? Probably not, but I'm glad I tried it.
I hope to get to a few more restaurants before Dine Around ends and there's a few places I've been to recently that I feel deserve to be highlighted so hopefully I will get to blogging some more!!