611 Courtney Street
T: 250 220 8008
Brief Description: A very cute French bistro in downtown Victoria. Self-described as “French inspired with a West Coast spin”, the bistro is moderately priced and full of charm.
Back in early April I took my parents, who were visiting from Australia, on a trip to Victoria. Whilst looking for somewhere to eat we stumbled across a cute little bistro called Bon Rouge Bistro. Unfortunately we didn’t end up eating there but it did stick in my mind. Just recently, I was back in Victoria and I was thrilled when B was easily coaxed into going there for lunch. We were both a little hungover from the night before so we were looking for some serious sustenance.
Admittedly, the main reason that I so desperately wanted to eat there was because I was completely attracted by its appearance. Superficial? Yes, but it is just so damn cute! It looks as though the restaurant has been plucked from the streets of Paris and placed in the middle of downtown Victoria. I felt like we were on the set of the Pixar animation, “Ratatouille”. Although, rather than a little rat chef, we were greeted by a cute little man in a chef’s hat and apron, whom I can only assume is the chef/owner. He was so proud of his restaurant that we actually saw him “rounding up” new diners from the street. :)
Centrally located, on the corner of Courtney Street and Gordon Street, Bon Rouge is a wonderful spot to stop for lunch or dinner when in Victoria. The outdoor patio is beautiful and inviting. Plants are in abundance and the heaters and fireplaces add much needed warmth. Comfy chairs, candles and eclectic art pieces add personality. Inside, they have stuck with a dark, sexy atmosphere, with splashes of red, to complete the Parisian bistro vibe.
Service was extremely professional and our waitress was more than happy to answer our questions regarding the menu. Prices, as previously mentioned, were more than reasonable. Because of the look of the bistro, I was expecting the prices to be much higher so it was a pleasant surprise that the lunch prices mostly came in at around the $15 mark.
We started our meal with some much-needed recovery Caesar’s and many, many slices of an incredibly soft baguette. The bread was so fresh that I knew that it had to be made on-site and after querying the waitress, my thoughts were confirmed. I also overheard another diner asking the same question so it really seemed to make an impression. Disappointingly, it wasn’t until after I returned to Vancouver that I found out that they also have a boulangerie (bakery) attached to the bistro. I would have loved to have tasted more of their baked goods. Although, it was probably a good thing that I didn’t find out until later – I am dangerous when let loose in a bakery that makes good quality treats. ;)
B and I agreed to share an appetizer of the venison carpaccio in a paprika oil. The meat was sliced so thin that it practically melt in the mouth and the paprika oil gave it an earthy flavour without being too over-powering.
For my entree, I ordered the Old Country Fettucine which was unbelievable. It had so much flavour! The delicate flavour of the white wine butter sauce was made more robust by the addition of the salty prosciutto, smoked chicken and green peas. It was exactly what I was craving – flavourful, delicious carbs!
B ordered the Bon Rouge Burger, which he thought was fabulous. The patty was actually a combination of pork and beef, so that made it slightly different to the usual beef patty. Apart from that, not much else really needs to be said about the burger except that it hit the spot.
I had to end the meal with the crème brûlée – it has become a bit of a tradition for me to order it at French restaurants. The caramelized sugar top was firm and took a good whack to crack (to me, this is a sign of a good crème brûlée). Unfortunately, the crème was too cold for my liking. I prefer my crème brûlée’s to be slightly warm on the inside. However, I did like the presentation: sat opposite the crème brûlée on the serving plate was an unimposing, lone truffle.
Final Thoughts: I absolutely loved Bon Rouge. I fell hook, line and sinker for its elegant French charm. The atmosphere was incredibly romantic, the service was fabulous and the food was delicious and hearty. And above all, the prices are surprisingly modest. I will definitely make another visit to Bon Rouge, of course for the food, but also for a touch of Paris.