by Lauren Mote
Historically, I cannot stand Dine Around (Victoria), or “Dine Out” as Vancouver would have it (Winterlicious and Summerlicious as Toronto would publish).
For me, as I am in the restaurant industry, I look at this “cheap eats festivals” with a dual personality – 2 weeks of low-ball pre fixe menus gets me out to the restaurants I wouldn’t normally have thought to visit; but I tend to stay home a lot, or just visit restaurants that are generally not participating so I am guaranteed a table the day before. Lucky, with only 16 hours to plan ahead, the owners of Cafe Brio in Victoria were at my bar (Chow) for dinner the night before I was to head to Victoria for one night, not to mention I was a first time visitor to Victoria, and with such short notice, I had little to no idea where to go with my cousin Eden accompanying me from Toronto. Cafe Brio accommodated us, gave us a beautiful table, and all things considered the dinner was better then what my expectations were “hoping” for. During Dine Around, it’s so busy – it’s a cash-cow for restaurants who sign up, the only problem is that more often then not, you alienate your regular customers who won’t come within 10 ft of the front door because the line-up is stopping them. So, for the second last day (or day 13) of the promotion, I was wildly impressed. And we were treated like VIPs.
I would happily return to Cafe Brio for their a la carte menu, including their homemade pastas, butters, cheeses and meats that I have heard so much about.