Finally, a nice little restaurant in our neighbourhood which is the Burnside-Gorge area. Okay, there are some other places to get food, but if you eliminate take-out and a couple of questionable Chinese smorgs the pickings get slim pretty quick.
Over the several years we have wondered about the fate of a rather dilapated old corner store across from Rudd Park on Boleskine (the part of Harriet between Burnside and where it becomes Saanich Road). About a year or so ago the building began to show sign of occupancy, that quickly became demolition. We were intrigued. Then a bit puzzled when the new building went up on the same footprint. Then it turned a bright coral color - hard to miss! We were still in the dark though, we hadn't heard what might be going into the betwixt and between spot. Finally a paper appeared in the window announcing the upcoming opening of the Boleskine Bistro. We have been looking for the opening and today as we saw an open sign - and a special offer, burger and a beer for $10. We were sold. We were walking to dinner tonight.
Max, Bernard and I set off on foot and in just a few minutes we arrived. There is some streetside parking and a lot behind the building too. As I mentioned, it is bright coral and stone on the outside. The inside is decidedly more neutral. Lots of windows let in the evening sun and coupled with the neutral wall colour, the space feels airy and roomy. The dark tones of the tables and bar provide an anchor for the space and are as comfortable for sitting as for looking. I was also impressed by how quiet the space was. Boleskine is well-travelled but I never heard any road noise while we were inside. The space has obviously been invested in with high quality tile work, fixtures and furnishing that will serve the restaurant well for many years.
The menu is small and comfortable. In a very nice way. The fare is upscale pub in style with some unique bits to make it their own. Pricing is good, an entree will run you $10-$15 and drinks are upwards of $5 with a nice mix of beer, wine and cocktails.
For our dinner Bernard and I stuck with the special which was specifically their "Bistro Burger" - a basic burger. Bernard had the yam fries and I tried their house potato chips. For Max we had them dumb down their grilled cheese to just cheddar and pepper jack, leaving off the carmelized onion and tomato that the menu listed. He also had the basic fries. As I said, basic food, the very best kind of basic food, well done basics.
The burger was one of the best we have had in some time, I almost scorched my hand with the juices that ran out on the first bite. The patty was clearly habd formed by the cooks. The buns were fresh ones from Portofina and nicely enhanced the burger. A lightly spicey house aioli added a lovely touch and the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle were all exactly as they should be - fresh and crisp. The house made potato chips we very tasty and which ever aioli I got for dipping was great. I cleaned out the wee bowl of it I got. Which brings us to the next thing I like. A reasonable portion of food. Not so skimpy you want to eat again at home nor so much that you think you may never eat again if you finish. Just a nice amount.
Bernard handily cleaned his plate too with an equally good opinion of the food. Even my picky little Max downed his grilled cheese with almost no prompting (small miracle there). I stole a couple fries and found them quite good too, as were the yam fries I sampled. The beer part of the meal was Piper's Pale Ale draft which was as tasty as always.
Service was good and timely. The restaurant was about 1/2 to 2/3 full during our time there, moving towards the fuller side by the time we left (about 6:45). The staff all seemed comfortable with the space and though there were some items not available yet (specifically the pavlova they have of the desert menu) just having everything go so smoothly so soon bodes well. Bernard initially got potato fries rather than yam fries but he quickly had a plate of yam fries to remedy the issue.
Although pleasantly full we did opt to try their flourless chocolate brownie for dessert. We let Max devour most of it and had to move the plate out of reach before he licked up the raspberry sauce (or I did). The brownie itself was dense and quite tasty and the acidity of the raspberry sauce balanced its richness nicely.
While I am talking about flourless brownies, I did note that the menu had vegetarian options and that gluten-free options were available. They also asked to be informed of allergies. Given that the food was obviously cooked to order and that changing things for Max was a non-issue I think this is a place where anyone with dietary restrictions will find easy accomodation.
On the not so great side, for us, was the lack of any kid options or pricing and we were't fans of the radio station as our background music. On the bright side, when we brought those issues up, they mentioned that both issues were on the to-do list and we could expect both to change. Apparently they will also be having some patio seating as we move into summer.
Overall, Bernard and I are both quite pleased with the new neighbour and will be happy to have such good food such an easy walk away. Welcome, Boleskine Bistro, we look forward to getting to know you better.