By Allan Reid
Monday Magazine restaurant reviewer
The wait is over. For going on two years, walkers along the Westsong Walkway have enjoyed the deadpan cynicism of a sign reading: “Opening sooner or later.” Well, later has arrived and Victoria now has the over-water restaurant for which she has longed.
Boom + Batten puts diners right out among the harbour traffic, out among float planes landing between the Songhees and Laurel Point, out by the M.V. Coho as she lumbers past, and among the little harbour ferries darting about.
Large windows on three sides provide a 180-degree view of the outer harbour with the Empress Hotel, Shoal Point and Washington’s Olympic Mountains all visible when the Arms Reach, a 40-metre luxury yacht parked right before the restaurant’s front windows departs. The yacht will go, but Boom + Batten should stick around.
The simple + sign in the name hints at the modern elegance within. Black, grey and sand are the colours, and the theme includes abstract references to woodgrain and the sea. One enters through a café with generous hightop tables and a bakery display that offers a selection of cakes, cookies, muffins, and some impressive scones: more about the scones later.
Beyond the hostess stand is the libation station: a great square lined with bar seating and surrounded by low tables set against the expansive view. To the left is the dining room on two levels. An inner, elevated level places diners above the heads of other diners seated closer to the windows so that everyone will enjoy the view unimpeded.
|Rabbit and Pork Terrine starter ($14) at Boom + Batten.|
The waitstaff are young, energetic, engaging and professional. I was impressed by Sophie’s (our waitress) familiarity with a menu not yet one week old. Part of her pre-opening training required sampling every dish. Her answers were personal, insightful and experienced. But our banter with her was not all business. We learned a little about her; she learned probably a bit too much about us: there may have been a few bottles of wine consumed.
The menu features pasta, pizza, seafood and steaks. I started with the Rabbit and Pork Terrine ($14), which is enough for two. It has a mild flavour but it’s rich and heavy enough to chop an appetite in half. It is served with a dab of grainy mustard, a heap of pickled onion, cauliflower and carrot, and not enough artisanal bread.
For my main I ordered the Orecchiette Pasta ($26), served with braised pork, Grana Padano cheese and savoury Italian seasonings. It looks like too little in the oversized bowl, but it has that satisfying richness of good comfort food and just enough weight to sit in the belly very comfortably. The flavours were spectacular. I found my go-to dish on my first visit.
For dessert, I opted to pass on the menu items and order an Apple Scone from the Café, served at table. At just $3.40 I sacrificed nothing in the name of economy. These large scones have a light, fold-over flaky and sweet dough, surrounding ample apple filling with a dusting of sugar on top. Plenty, light and delicious.
In the first week of operation, there were bound to be some hiccups. The most obvious was the unavailability of most of the red wines-by-the-glass selection. And there is still more to come. Mark (a floor manager) explained that a large, private, glassed-in room behind almost empty wine racks will, someday, become a room for groups who desire a highly personalized and private dining experience. Those details are still in the works.
Boom + Batten, 2 Paul Kane Pl.
Also by Allan Reid:
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Taking you back to Trinidad
REVIEW: Allan Reid finds a meal fit for a king
VORACIOUS: Local vegan restaurant a nice surprise for omnivores