By Chantal Ireland
Often when I travel, the places I enjoy most for dining are the ones found off the beaten path, bustling with locals and exuding a friendly vibe like Tasty & Sons in Portland or Joseph Leonard in Manhattan. The Village restaurants are exactly this.
They’re bursting with genuine cheer from patrons and staff. With two locations in Saanich and another in Oak Bay’s Estevan Village, they are absolute gems. With fresh juice from Jusu Organic Juice Bar, their famous latkes, lunch items and local craft beer, Torquay’s new patio is the perfect spot to eat after a hike up Mount Doug or a late night with friends. Small intimate rooms with a high level of personal service and well a orchestrated team in the front of house and the kitchen, you’ll often wait for a table, but nothing after that.
Brian Bobiak is the newest owner of this locally owned franchise, opening the Torquay location this past winter. But don’t let the word franchise deter you. These are family run restaurants with young local entrepreneurs at the helm. Growing food is increasing becoming part of their program, and you can follow the progress on social media. These guys are rocking the great vibe that is behind truly building a community around work you love, and local food. Follow #villagegrowshow, and get yourself a benny in the sunshine this summer.
Big Wheel Burger is expanding from their original Cook St. Village location into Saanich this summer. With grass-fed hormone free beef, they make their patties and almost everything else in house. It’s a classic California beach vibe with great burgers, fries and shakes. Recognized for their environmental leadership, you can read about all their initiatives online and in the restaurant. Watch for their opening date on social media, and visit the new location at Gateway Village, across from Uptown Shopping Centre.
Saanich’s own Jeep Kitchen is a new business by local entrepreneur Al Smith, making kitchen set ups for the back of your Jeep, or other overland vehicles. Follow their adventures across BC and the US to see the awesome videos and photos of how this set up works for cooking on the go. If you’re heading into the back country this summer, this might be the gear for you. Kitchens start at about $2,400.
Artisan Bistro in Broadmead Village has a great cocktail and wine list, headed up by Shawn Soole, local Bartender and co-author of Cocktail Culture, a perfect home bartenders guide to step your BBQs up a level. Chef Daryl Pope and his partners have created a French Inspired Bistro, and with four diamond restaurant experience, Chef Pope and his team have created a great place for Saanich residents to dine without having to head downtown.