Weekend Island getaway to Victoria and Sooke: Dining & beer recap

Nearly five years later and we were back in Victoria. Why aren’t we there more often? Because of the blasted ferry rates. And the slow pace and lack of activities for us. But the exchange rate is still quite terrible and it has been five years. And I made an Aeroplan redemption to stay in Sooke at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort, a Moana Surfrider lookalike (but not really at all) so the accommodations were free. And since NPY’s discovery of craft beer, there were at least four breweries he really wanted to visit.

Category 12 Brewing

To kick things off in Victoria, the first stop was beer! It was also because this brewery is halfway between the ferry terminal and Victoria and it would not be open the other two days we would be in town.

I was so happy in that brewery and our trip was off to an auspicious start. From the cool 3D taps to the cheerful orange and black decor to the use of tulip tasting glasses, I was recording it all. I coveted their small growlers. I admired the mounted artwork of their labels and noticed how all of their labels except Waveform have chemistry motifs. Why is that?

We see Category 12 beer at our local liquor store but NPY hadn’t tried it before. NPY tasted the Waveform (witbier), Insubordinate (session IPA), Disruption (black IPA) and their cacao espresso stout. We liked the last two and he bought a Critical Point to finally try and a Disruption. We were off to a good start!

Jam Cafe

This place came into my radar because they just expanded to Vancouver on Beatty Street. We hadn’t been to yet and would get to try the OG cafe instead. A good sign, there was a small queue even after 2 p.m.!

While waiting, E peered inside at the table at the window and amused them and I thought their enormous buttermilk biscuit looked good. To sample most diversely, we ordered a breakfast and a lunch.

The Mushaboom sandwich was pretty good with a big smear of herb sauce. There were too many matchstick fries and they were too crispy.

NPY ordered the chicken with country gravy and eggs with biscuit. He learned he doesn’t’ like country gravy and we thought it was too much. The hashbrown that looks quite good was mushy inside.

Mom’s Cafe [Facebook]

Mom’s Cafe was a recommendation we received from one of NPY’s clients with whom we unfortunately were not able to meet up. NPY popped in to check it out when we had picked up a quick service meal dinner. They had run out of lemon meringue pie for the day and had three set out that were cooling and slate for the next day. Darn! NPY was sold on the chocolate cream pie.

Our first day came to an inauspicious end with Mom’s Cafe pie and McDonald’s salad in our hotel room. NPY thought the salad was surprisingly large and it provided us with some greens for the day.

We would try on Sunday to get lemon meringue pie for our dessert but they were already closed when we drove by. Booo!

John’s Place

At first, NPY seemed to want Chinese food for breakfast/lunch but he vetoed Frank’s Honeybun Cafe on sight (I was wary just based on how diverse their menu was) and we drove by Wah Lai Yuen and he didn’t jump on it. I saw a queue outside John’s Place and he was circumspect about waiting again but it was worth it!

Items on the menu marked that they were featured on “You Gotta Eat Here”. NPY got of course the eggs Benedict and I steered him towards the one with bacon and spinach which, it seems, was introduced to the menu in 2013. The Hollandaise sauce is made with real butter and is gluten-free and the autographed headshot of Bryan Myskiw with piercing green eyes eye-level to the table next to us raved about the Hollandaise sauce (as do Yelp reviews). It was indeed very good sauce with the zesty lemon coming through and the sauce was kind of airy in mouthfeel and didn’t feel sickeningly heavy. The bacon was excellent in colour and crispness and NPY also liked the hot sauce proved for their well-season and crisp hashbrowns.

Meanwhile the waffle was crisp and fragrant. I chose the cream cheese syrup of course because maple syrup is so normal and was upsold to have blueberries because the server’s, “Just the waffle?” made me nervous it would look so plain and empty and I was looking cheap. Blueberries were far cheaper than fresh strawberries and it did the trick of jazzing up and balancing the waffle and syrup. Those limp run of the mill waffles don’t hold a candle to this one.

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.

One of the breweries NPY was excited to go to was Phillips. We like the branding and their space near Chinatown in Victoria is nice. Once again, I saw a lot of details I enjoyed like the antlers over the beer fridge, the calligraphy on their small growlers and the eye-catching cycling jerseys available in their artwork. They don’t have a tasting room and had just started being open on Sundays so they were setting up for an event to celebrate later that day.

I asked NPY if we could start collecting small growlers like we do Funko Pop! dolls. He did not agree to it. Booo!

I finally got something bottled – their ginger ale! – while NPY got root beer and a bottle of Apteryx, an IPA.


Moon Under Water Brewery & Pub

NPY came to know Moon Under Water because they collaborated with Parallel 49 in their Brews Brothers box. Their artwork is intricate and striking, particularly on their vehicles featuring their Light Side of the Moon label. But… their brewpub had this sketchy vibe and we were shortly informed they were not licensed to allow minors admittance so I had to leave with E. NPY picked up a bottle of their copper kettle sour though.

Driftwood Brewery

Driftwood was nearby but I didn’t know NPY would be so interested and had messed up – they were only open on Saturday, of the days we were in town.

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

I was feeding E in the car so NPY went in first and also to check if minors were allowed. From their website, they tried to be an elevated brewpub in terms of the food offered so I thought they would have a better license, and I was correct. I went in to find NPY happily perched at the bar with a flight of 4 5-oz glasses on a paddle.

We were shown to our seat shortly after and the place reminded me of Seasons in the Park, a house amidst a garden… but a bit grimier. NPY was sold on the daily pub pie which was a chicken masala and he urged me to get the beets and lentil burger, to be healthier. The burger was not bad by any means but it wasn’t juicy! I did like the crisp patty and it was lighter fare. The daily soup was a cream of potato and lovage which was not bad but wasn’t served hot enough.

NPY was very happy with his pot pie which was – hurrah! – not served in a pot and had plenty of pastry. I didn’t identify any Indian spice to it but it was served hot and did I mention the pastry was so good?

After dinner, NPY went to the store and when he returned, he was quite abashed to have spent $55 and purchased 7 bottles of beer including their chocoholic stout, oyster stout, coffee stout, snake bite, their anniversary quince sour (2 bottles) and a nut brown ale! There was also a taproom upstairs that NPY will visit next time (no minors allowed there).

Shirley Delicious [Facebook]

When trying to wade through reviews and “Best of” lists for Sooke, I came across Shirley Delicious which, strictly speaking is in Shirley and not between Sooke and Victoria. NPY had already done all the driving and it was 45 minutes each way between Sooke and Victoria. I “justified” going to Shirley (Delicious) because we were going to Whiffin Spit which was recommended we check out.

Would it be worth it, driving 20 minutes in the wrong direction? Yes!

Nestled amongst the trees of dense forest off a single-lane highway winding into the wilderness, Shirley Delicious is actually right next to the trailhead for Sheringham Lighthouse View Trail. The parking lot was full and the cafe was immediately cozy. The two front staff were full of energy and friendly.

On the brunch chalkboard, I saw a Brekkie Bun and the words “homemade cheese bun” had me sold. It was an ample creation that had good balance of cheesy bun and bacon and oozing fried egg and fresh and refreshing salad greens and tomato. I could hardly stop eating at the halfway point. When NPY stood to dispose of the garbage, one of the staff called out to him, remembering his name, and asked how it was. “Delicious!” I chimed in, “You had me at homemade cheese bun!” Everything is homemade, she laughed, they like doing things the hard way!

Our fellow customers were either locals or hikers and uniformly so chill and casually dressed in an unspoken West Coast outdoorsy uniform. We looked like overdressed city-folk with NPY in dark jeans and clean dark fleece and particularly me in a casual black dress with cardigan and pretty scarf!

4 Mile Brewing Co.

I don’t know why I thought 4 Mile was north of Victoria, in Duncan or Nanaimo, but we drove by it on our way to Victoria and why not pull in and check it out? E was being a particular brat about going into his car seat so I stayed in the car.

NPY returned to report it was a dark sports bar style pub with old people (but it was early afternoon on a Monday!) and he didn’t receive any service so did not buy any beer.

Lighthouse Brewing Company

Going purely on labels, I recommended NPY check out Lighthouse Brewing. NPY was reticent because he had been to quite a few (and so many were kind of busts) but was intrigued after visiting the website.

Again, I stayed in the car with E while NPY went in. It was just an office, NPY reported, with aspiration to start up a taproom in the future. He returned to the car abashed because he was carrying a six-pack each of Keeper’s Stout and Shipwreck IPA!

Hoyne Brewing Co.

NPY was excited to visit Hoyne which hadn’t a real tasting room either. Someday! I didn’t go in and NPY came away with a small growler filled with his favourite, Dark Matter.

Discovery Coffee

NPY and I had to tag-team going into Discovery Coffee. I really wanted to try their Chocolate Coconut Cold Brew at home but they weren’t bottling it and so I pressured NPY to get it. $5! It was a nice accompaniment to the signature Tim Hortons donuts I bought when I went to get my $1 iced coffee (haha): raspberry truffle and chocolate whoopie pie, both with chocolate yeast donuts, yum.

Here is the whole haul! We used to be all about the wine and now it’s beer!


On this day..