Ruth and Dean restaurant opens doors in Estevan Village

Check out the 416 bar, a spin on the Toronto attempt at a Nanaimo bar

The sign has changed and there’s a new partition guiding diners inside, but at its core, the offerings at Ruth and Dean in Estevan Village carry forward what the owners started with Sunday’s Child.

Visitors will notice the new name on the window and a partition wall at the entrance. The coffee is flowing, the in-house baked goods are plenty and the brunch menu is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Ruth and Dean offer a breakfast- and lunch-stop, but also a grab-and-go coffee shop with a full cabinet of fresh-made baked goods.

Starting next week the restaurant will once again reopen Friday and Saturday night dinners, a riff on the ‘wine downs’ they were doing as Sunday’s Child, said co-owner Susannah Bryan.

There was no break in service from opening Sunday’s Child in December of 2018 (which showed up nine months after the closure of Crumsby’s cafe). The biggest difference besides the name and a menu tweak is the shift in management.

READ ALSO: Make your Mr. Hotpot experience enjoyable in Estevan Village

READ MORE: Old Farm Market comes to Estevan in Oak Bay

Susannah Bryan remains, having started the Ruth and Dean brand online with her husband Robert Smith seven years ago as a cake and pie catering company. She is officially joined in business by pastry chef Daniela Lucchiti, who started at Bryan’s Ruth and Dean location on Douglas Street last year. With Lucchiti on board, Bryan’s former Sunday Child’s co-owners are stepping back (though they will continue to run Hide and Seek Coffee on The Avenue).

“The light bulb moment was the cake company and things went well,” Bryant said. “It gained enough purchase in the community that we decided to open the brick and mortar location.”

The spot on Douglas is surviving though the block itself is in a state of transition, Bryant said.

Without a proper coffee shop in Estevan Village it’s time to further test the market, Bryant added. Cakes and pies are now available for pickup at both stores.

“It’s hard to mark the differences in terms of baked goods from Sunday’s Child but I would say we’re a bit more throwback, comfy style with our goods, whereas we were a bit more ‘Provencal,’” Lucchiti said.

Lucchiti arrived in Victoria three years ago after a decade in Toronto. She worked at Murchies before joining Ruth and Dean (in 2018 she placed first in the professional category of the Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Showcase).

For such a small village Estevan has become rich with diverse dining options, boasting Mr. Hotpot (Chinese cuisine), Nohra Thai Kitchen, The Village Restaurant and the Willows Galley fish and chip shop.

And while the Hotpot restaurant is ‘booming,’ the ‘wine downs’ offer locals a chance to grab a drink and dinner on foot.

“We’re happy and excited to be in Oak Bay. We’ve had people coming to our store from Oak Bay so now they won’t have to travel so far,” Bryan said.

The name Ruth and Dean is a spin on Bryan’s and her husband Robert’s middle names (for the record, Lucchiti’s is Lucia).

If you stop by, check out the 416 bar, a Toronto take on the Nanaimo bar, explains Lucchiti.

“A lot of people outside of the Island don’t actually take the time to bake a Nanaimo bar properly and they’re often not very good,” Lucchiti said. “This one is good, but it’s a spin on the real Nanaimo recipe based on attempts by Toronto shops, so it isn’t a true Nanaimo bar.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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