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

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

NOTE: This story contains additional material not included in the original post.

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, tasted very salty.

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 a salty flavour in the gravy. (Editor’s note: Stead clarifies she uses no salt in the gravy, but adds tamari, a soy sauce alternative)

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

Restaurant review

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Victoria mural artists Joshua Lundrigan (from left) and Paul Archer join Rob Chyzowski, co-owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in front of an Archer-designed mural that went up on Thursday at the Inner Harbour restaurant. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

Paul Archer teams with Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner for patio project

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Courtenay artist Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick from April 9 to 23. (Photo courtesy Christine Boyer)
Island painter shows off the wildflowers of Western Canada in first solo show

Courtenay’s Christine Boyer presents floral exhibit at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library librarian April Ripley led the effort to create a Vancouver Island poetry booklet in recognition of National Poetry Month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library publishes booklet for National Poetry Month

Collection features winners of ‘Poem in your Pocket’ contest

SENCOTEN language revitalizationist and filmmaker Renee Sampson’s short film, Bringing Our Language Back to LIfe, shows online during the Reel 2 Real International Youth Film Festival, April 14-23. (Photo courtesy Wapikoni)
SENCOTEN language featured in short film created on Saanich Peninsula

Renee Sampson film highlights importance of passing on traditional languages to youth

Most Read