By Tess van Straaten
Monday Magazine columnist
It’s a chilly, but sunny afternoon and I’m sipping a delicious glass of Bordertown Cab Franc at Victoria’s newest wine bar in the heart of Cook Street Village.
The Collective Wine Bar & Kitchen is modern yet rustic, with lots of natural wood mixed with metal and sparkly lights that make the space super cozy and hipster cool.
|Tess van Straaten|
“The concept is really about building community and making wine less intimidating,” explains owner Jon Derry. “We have shared plates and flights of wine so you can try stuff you might not otherwise try or pairings that you might not otherwise try.”
There are curated wine flights, with creative names like The French Revolution and Flight of the Concorde, or you can custom-build your own with any three wines offered by the glass. Derry describes the food as “elegant but accessible” and says the concept for a wine bar and restaurant with vegan and gluten-free options was really missing from Cook Street Village, a popular local destination for decades.
“It’s a quirky neighbourhood and it has a lot of diversity,” says Derry. “It’s also changing rapidly. In this building alone, there are three new businesses in the last six months, so if people haven’t been down here for a while, they might be surprised at how different it is. But it’s definitely maintained its charm.”
There are many unique shops to visit and favourite spots like the inviting Moka Coffee House, the buzzing Beagle Pub, the environmentally-friendly Big Wheel Burger, and mouth-watering Pizzeria Prima Strada – Victoria’s first authentic Neapolitan pizzeria and voted ‘Best in the City’ by Black Press readers for seven straight years. And there’s even a popular doughnut shop that does double duty serving up fried chicken.
|Empire Donuts colourful display of baked goods.|
“Empire Donuts is famous in the city but the plot twist here is that it’s Empire Donuts & Fried Chicken,” explains Matthew Holme of Tourism Victoria. “Picture some of the crispiest fried chicken in the city, paired with perfectly seasoned waffle fries, and then finish it off with a doughnut – because you can!”
Once you have one doughnut, it’s hard not to have more and it’s the same with their fried chicken. Needing to burn off some calories, I walk down to Dallas Road just in time to see the sunset.
“The water provides a stunning visual,” says Holme, pointing out another reason the area is so popular with both tourists and locals. “You can walk your dog and spend time with friends and relax in this stress-free part of town.”
Walking along the pathway, I watch as hang gliders take off from the bank and fly over the water towards the setting sun. It’s the perfect end to a very chill Village adventure.