The great hall at the Fireside Grill evokes visions of a medieval royal feast, writes Monday reviewer Allan Reid. Photo by Veronique da Silva/firesidegrill.com

The great hall at the Fireside Grill evokes visions of a medieval royal feast, writes Monday reviewer Allan Reid. Photo by Veronique da Silva/firesidegrill.com

REVIEW: Allan Reid finds a meal fit for a king

Monday’s intrepid restaurant reviewer gets the royal treatment at the Fireside Grill

On a chilly winter evening, one arrives at the Fireside Grill as a character in an old English faery tale.

One’s car becomes a chariot winding up the drive through a forest of trees sparkling with faery lights. Between the trunks, glimpses of a Tudor-style hunting lodge, dark atop the hill, catch the eye. This is where tonight’s festivities will take place.

At the door, you are welcomed and escorted into the grand hall, where King George himself must surely dine on occasion, hosting grand feasts after a hard day hunting foxes. Dark timbers checker a vaulted ceiling of soft yellow plaster supported by two grand arches of heavy, hand-hewn timbers. Three three-tier chandeliers, each as large as some folks’ dining rooms, twinkle high above the heads of the honoured guests seated in wooden chairs at wooden tables scattered across the polished hardwood floor.

Two grand fireplaces burn brightly at either end of this long room. Perhaps, you might think, after dinner, the tables will be cleared away and a formal ball will ensue. Though, your fellow diners do seem oddly dressed in their 21st-century casual wear.

Befitting any Royal assemblage, who else but Ella Fitzgerald should warble over the sound system while Hal, our young and eagerly accommodating waiter, delivers menus, water and a basket of house-made Rosemary Focaccia. He pours a sweet balsamic from a steel cup, floating it on a saucer of light-bodied olive oil. I check the wine list. Mediocre by the glass, but there is a broad selection by the bottle.

All the gossip is about the new Farm-to-Table Prix Fixe menu ($29), just launched two days before. I am eager to try it. Three courses and a small selection for each. I start with Black Bean Soup, once a staple of fine dining establishments, now sadly passé, and yet it will always be one of my favourites. I stir in the dollop of crème fraîche. This soup is thick and rich and strong with black pepper. Among the best I’ve tasted.

For my main I have the Red Snapper, served on a mound of sweet coconut jasmine rice with zucchini, young carrots and pea shoots all rising above a moat of cumin butter curry. Sweet, rich, savoury, herbaceous: this dish tantalizes almost every taste bud.

I finish with the Poached Pear. A half pair, fanned out in the centre of a small rectangular plate, is set between two small, red gelatinous rounds called Pear Gum Drops. By sight, they remind me of canned cranberry sauce, and each has a mint leaf decorating the top. They are soft and sweet, but lack the pear flavour of the actual fruit, which shines through the sweetness of a honeyed drizzle. A scattering of apple pralines – like brittle without the peanuts – crunch between the molars and stick to my dental work, but are a sweet and caramelly sin for which I will not apologize.

Alas, the ball does not come about, but I feel a bit like a king, and my chariot awaits. Until next time …

By the way. Did anyone find a glass slipper?

Fireside Grill

4509 West Saanich Rd.

250-479-1222 firesidegrill@shaw.ca

firesidegrill.com

Food

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

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

Donna Jones, who was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, is the executive director of the documentary ‘Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence’. (Submitted)
Islander produces documentary offering hope to those with addictions

Donna Jones and husband Brent just released Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence

‘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

The area surrounding the Chemainus Rotary Club’s bunker door is one of the new surfaces that will feature a mural. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Up to three new murals coming to Chemainus

Project will be coordinated between the Rotary Club and Festival of Murals Society

Jules Sherred, photographer and owner of Polaris Creative, is putting together an exhibit that combines two of his greatest passions: food and advocacy for those with disabilities. (Polaris Creative photo)
Kickstarter launches for fully accessible exhibit focused on food

Raising awareness has been Sherred’s life’s work.

Sooke artist Jessica Ruth Freedman is one of nine virtual in-residence artists who share the creative process, conduct webinars, write and offer sage advice with artsUNITE, a free online wayfinding platform for artists. (Contributed - Jessica Ruth Freedman)
Sooke artist joins artsUNITE, getting creative through pandemic

National program brings much-needed support to arts community

Most Read