Friday, January 4, 2013

Hanging out at the Crooked Goose

Great spots for food and wine in Victoria ultimately come down to people. Who runs the place, what are their standards, how do they run the place and what is their vision for success as an establishment. The Crooked Goose is one of the newer players on the block in Victoria located at the "corner" of Helmcken, Interurban, Wilkinson and the other three streets that come to one set of traffic lights near Camosun Interurban. The transformation on the inside from what used to be the old pub to what is now an open, airy, humming room is quite remarkable. Much of the work was done by owners Steve Watson, Chris Bremner, Ben Peterson, Andrew Moffat and Steve's partner Gina Basra. Quite amazing for any of you who ventured into the pub in its old form.

Ultimately though, the test of a good restaurant is what they produce to eat and drink, and there is lots to talk about here. I judge a good restaurant by the simple things done well. Can they make good french fries, care in the kitchen to a staple like this is important. No problem here. Excellent fries that are used everywhere from Steak-Frites to some very well done poutines. The classic is currently my favourite. Tasty gravy, Quebec cheese curds and perfect fries, scrumptuous. The cream of mushroom soup is second to none, anywhere. What exactly they are putting in the soup to make it so darn good is a mystery, but wow. And no shyness from the mushroom here, lots of them to go with the richness of the rest of the soup. The house salad is not an afterthought. Good greens and additions, and the dressing is well done. I like the fact that the calamari is grilled and not battered and fried, a whole different mouth feel and taste. The onion rings that accompanied were good, but a wee bit greasy. Teething pains!

Of course when you enter the room, you are greeted with the beaming smile of Steve Watson behind the bar. I say that not in jest but truly because, he obviously is passionate about what he does, loves doing it and wants every guest to feel that warmth when they come in. Like he is pouring drinks in his own kitchen bar at home for you, while you wait for a quick bite to eat! The beers and wines that have gone onto the lists here are fabulous and there are certainly some choices you may not find everywhere on the lists. From the Fat Tug IPA from Driftwood to the Pffafenheim Gewurtz. Even Rocky Creek's Pinot Gris makes an appearance, great to see some Island fare in the mix.

Ultimately as a community restaurant, Crooked Goose will be successful, but they have enough to be a destination spot for those ensconced in the downtown restaurant scene and a great drive by for Camosun students and staff, as well as parents who are headed out to PISE to be a part of the Island soccer, volleyball or basketball scenes.

You will come for the consistent food, scrumptuous bites, great wine and beer, but ultimately, you will come back for the people, the atmosphere the serenity and the service!