Tailgate Chicken Biscuit with mushroom gravy from Shanzee’s Biscuit Cafe in Market Square. Photo by Allan Reid

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Down-home biscuits amazingly filling

Shanzee’s Biscuit Cafe takes this Deep South staple to the next level, writes Allan Reid

By Allan Reid

Monday Magazine restaurant reviewer

Shanzee’s Biscuits’ shingle, hanging over the sidewalk on the Pandora side of Market Square, features a 1950s travel-trailer. Inside, the decor is reminiscent of an urban American backlot of the time with age-roughened red brick walls adorned with nostalgic photos and drawings of Victoria, and wooden shelves bearing trailer-themed trinkets.

Another wall of corrugated steel surrounds the kitchen, and everything is held up by a skeleton of exposed metal beams and post. An afterthought? Seismic reinforcement? I don’t know, but those posts and beams, new-looking in perfect dark grey paint, add to the almost romantic feeling of descending squalor.

“Shanzee’s Biscuits” in robin egg blue neon completes the down-classed 1950s backlot effect. Choose a high table near the front window, a low table inside, a comfortable arm chair at the back or go right through and enjoy the sun on an ample, elevated off-street patio where the noise and bustle of the city is forgotten. Wherever you sit, return to the front to place your order.

As the name suggests, Shanzee’s is all about the biscuit, and Shanzee’s chef, Shannon Stead, bakes exceptional biscuits: golden and flaky, yet firm and much more pleasurable than heavy and cloying English muffins. But as wonderful as the biscuits are, they need a good topping.

Biscuits and Gravy is a staple of southern U.S. breakfast fare. It’s cheap, filling and guaranteed to clog your arteries while it fills your belly to bursting. The traditional accompaniment is a sausage-cream gravy ($7.25), but given a choice, I chose the Tailgate Chicken Biscuit ($11.95) topped with mushroom gravy.

The menu claims the chicken is “slow cooked in Frank’s Red Hot and Jerk spice,” so I expected intense flavours of thyme, cinnamon, garlic and nutmeg to dance on my tongue by the heat of chilies. I found it tasty, but this is spicy chicken for the spice-intolerant crowd. The mushroom gravy, while thick, earthy-rich and loaded with mushrooms, is loaded with salt.

Brent, a friend visiting from Rome, added two fried eggs to his Southern Comfort Biscuit (Bacon and Cheddar: $10.75) and declared them indispensable, though he, too, complained of too much salt in the gravy.

Dennis, my other dining companion, ordered the Biscuit Benny ($14.25), which features one of Shannon’s delectable biscuits cut in half and topped with thick-sliced ham under two eggs buried in Hollandaise. Vegetarians can substitute tomato and avocado for the ham at no additional cost. Either way, it is an impressive plate and Dennis declared it the best Eggs Benny ever. It came served with fresh fruit (grapes and orange slices), and shredded hash browns grilled golden.

Shanzee’s also serves a selection of sweet treats and the essential compliment of espresso-based coffees. It is open for breakfast and lunch, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily and all menu items are available anytime.

Shanzee’s Biscuit Café

529 Pandora Ave.

shanzeesbiscuitcafe.com 778-433-9089

*****

RECENT COLUMNS BY ALLAN REID:

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Taking you back to Trinidad

ALLAN REID: Nondescript Chinese restaurant all about the food

REVIEW – Boom + Batten: Taste and style with a view to die for, sometimes

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Downtown treasure offers quality, from pizza on up

Just Posted

Roller skating fever taking over Greater Victoria

Roller Skate Victoria offers workshops, summer camps and more

Learn about a life of luxury at Victoria’s historic Point Ellice House

New political exhibit part of grand reopening at the House this weekend, July 20-21

World of electronic musical wonders await at long weekend festival

Wonderment ambient/downtempo music festival slips into bridge plaza, Banfield Park Aug. 3-4

Solid foundation key to Charles Porlier’s longevity as a TV/film makeup artist

Learn to KRE8 from experts in the world of makeup, voice acting, animation and more, Aug. 9-18

A passing of the torch for Victoria’s rock music history archives

Royal City Music Project co-founder Glenn Parfitt wants valuable cultural material preserved

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

Esquimalt Ribfest in need of volunteers for September weekend

The three-day celebration of barbecue, music and more happens Sept. 6 to 8

Fashionable ode to the sea goes Friday at Fort Common

Local sustainable fashion retailers to strut their latest as part of ocean conservation fundraiser

Brentwood Bay brings $5 concerts every Wednesday evening

Variety of music on offer: picnics, good vibes and family friendly

Schitt’s Creek and its stars among Canadians with Emmy nominations

Co-creator Eugene Levy thought they had chance for one nomination, ‘then they kept rolling in’

Most Read