June 11, 2012

Shine Cafe, Downtown, Victoria

The Shine Cafe has two locations. The original, up on Fort Street near Strathcona Park, and a newer location, almost a year old, downtown. I've been to the Fort Street location on three occasions, and had excellent meals. The downside to great breakfast locations in Victoria, is there is always a big line up. The Strathcona location often requires a wait of an hour if you are 6 people (it's quicker for couple), but they provide for you with coffee and a seat outside in the sun.

The downtown location doesn't have the luxury of a large outside area to let people wait in the sun. They also seem to be not to set up for groups larger than four. We got their just before 11.45, and asked for a table for six. We were told they'd be a forty-five minute to an hour wait, but that was plenty of time to chat. No offer of coffee was made, so two us wandered into Habit and got coffee for us all. Habit, in the Atrium at Yates Street is a wonderful place place, open till 10pm, and excellent drinks.

Anyways, we waited for around an hour, but with no sign of being seated, despite several smaller table being empty inside. Nobody came out to check up, or tell us to keep waiting, or to discourage us from waiting. If you can't seat 6 people, just let 'em know. Eventually, seventy minutes in, one of our group went in and asked to be sat at a smaller table. They let us in, and as we got in we noticed a lot of two person groups sat at four person tables... doesn't seem the most efficient way to get the volume through the door. Yeah, we were a bit grumpy at this point. But it's Shine! They do great food!

Or at least the Strathcona venue does. This, this was not good. It wasn't really bad, but I'm not going back again. I ordered the Burrito Del Sol. This a wholewheat wrap around avocado, scrambled egg, refried beans, cheddar and caramelized onions. On reviewing the menu it also claims bell peppers and tomato, but I didn't get any of those. A breakfast burrito can be a wonderful thing. Fluffy eggs, some tasty veggies, savoury beans to round it out. This was a stodgy lump of eggs with the merest hint of beans, a scattering of avocado and the caramelized onions had soaked into the wrap, making the tortilla soggy. My side of corn bread was over cooked, and instead of the light, savoury mass I expected, it was dry, and crumbly, and tasted a bit burnt. And it was cold. The sour cream livened it up, and the salsa was pretty good too, but those two things didn't rescue a disappointing dish.

Two of my friends had the special Yorkshire Pudding Benedict. Pretty good was the report, though the sausages were uninspiring. Pretty good, that was until they found broken egg shell in their eggs. Only a bit, but you expect a bit more for $12 food. The guest eating the vegan platter was happy though. While the gentleman who tried the Blintzes (cream cheese filled crepes with a mound of blueberry compote) reported them as 'so-so'. The waitress offered 50% off for his disappointment at least.

There was ample coffee, and the service was pretty good front of house once we got in, though it took about thirty minutes to get the order out. That's okay, but we were really ready to east as soon as we got in.

I feel Shine downtown is not set up for large groups. My previous experience when it first opened was also poor. My simple breakfast was the last to come out, missing the ham on the platter I had ordered. I think the kitchen struggles to get six plates out at the same time. If this is the case, they should discourage large groups more actively. I won't be going back again though... long wait, average food, higher prices. Victoria has a surfeit of brunch places. I can find somewhere else...

Final Bill
Burrito Del Sol - $11.95
Coffee - $2.50
Total - $17.00 with taxes and tip.

Phone : (250) 595 2134
Location : 1320 Blanshard Street, Victoria BC, V8W 2J1
Website : http://shinecafe.ca

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