I’ve written before about the local-source trend in Victoria restaurants, in which food sourced from local farms and fisheries is served within studiously down-scale atmospheres. These restaurants take pride in their tiny, intimate spaces, and in their consciously low-budget decors that may include rough-hewn wood, old and mismatched furnishings, exposed century old brick, beams and ventilation, open utilitarian kitchens and casually attired wait staff. 10 Acres Bistro is perhaps both the ultimate expression and the antithesis of this local-source trend.
10 Acres is farm-to-table dining, with an associated ten acre farm in Saanich that provides the bistro with an impressive array of organically raised seasonal produce, including both vegetables and fruits, and an impressive array of livestock, including cattle, pigs, bees and all manner of poultry—chicken, duck, geese, and turkey—from which they derive eggs, honey and meat, and from which they create their own sausage, ice-cream and more. A complete list of the ingredients currently supplied by the farm is written large upon a long prominent blackboard. And what is not produced on the farm, is sourced from other local farms and fisheries. Furthermore, all table scraps are returned to the farm where they are composted and redeployed as fertilizer, eliminating waste by reutilizing it productively.
Most local-source restaurant decor is calculated to contrast the sleek sophistication of pop-dining chains such as Earl’s and Milestones, but 10 Acres aims for middle ground. Its decor is sophisticated, but more farmhouse-chic than modern. Wait staff are dressed casually, but in all black. Food presentation is sophisticated, yet still a tad rustic. On my two most recent visits I was seated within the tented patio which is the first of several large rooms. Diners are protected from the wind and rain by a glass roof and canvas walls, and from cold evenings by a long gas fire pit and an obelisk gas heater.
The flicker of flame on the canvas and tropical greenery lends a romantic sense of evening dining on an elegant patio. On both of my recent visits I sat with a large group on stools along the back wall, at a long table that might otherwise have served in a greenhouse for potting plants. Unfortunately this table is under a suspended row of space-heaters that can fry living flesh and baste the rest, and the room is also quite bright acoustically, which makes it difficult to carry on conversation, especially when the music is set too loud. Thankfully, the wait staff obligingly turned both down.
The patio is a beautiful spot to host a family or company gathering, for which 10 Acres can produce a wonderful appetizer spread.
On my first visit, I sampled from a spectacular Charcuterie Board, and tasted Langos (savoury fried dough), Quinoa Fritters, Artisan bread and delicious chicken wings. The food was fresh, flavourful, and inventive. On my second visit, I ordered a salad and an appetizer rather than an entrée. I ordered the Winter Salad, and a plate of Farmer’s Sausage. The salad was a large plate of mixed leafy greens sheltering warm winter vegetables including carrots, squash, zucchini, and parsnips.
The contrast of warm and cool was pleasing and generously enhanced by the creaminess of feta cheese.
The sausage was house made from organically raised beef and pork and wonderfully seasoned. I finished with the carrot-zucchini cake, which was a generous two layer coarse cake with just a thin coating of cream-cheese icing. Around my table others were impressed by the number of small prawns (shrimps?) in the Prawn Mac & Cheese, the succulent flavours of the rotisserie chicken, and an odd but surprisingly good desert: Chocolate covered Pumpkin Langos served with bacon-maple ice cream. For libations, we selected from a modest list of mostly BC wines, a selection of ports, and a good list of local brews. As seasons change, naturally, so does 10 Acres’ menu.