February 12, 2013

The Tartan Toque

The Tartan Toque boasts 20 different types of wings, and that it is "Victoria's First True Wing restaurant". Owned and operated by the same people that run Shine, and nestled back to back with the Stadacona branch, they have a least form for running successful restaurants. Having had less than good experiences at the Downtown Shine, I was curious to see what we'd get. There are a couple of good places to get wings in town (The Monkey Tree has some fine wings, for example), and most places do a passable plate.

We got wings. 5 different types were ordered, from the front of house counter. The deal is you go in, and find a seat, then go up and order.

This is a bit different, and creates a bit of scrum around the entrance. When I got their 10 minutes before my friend I was told the place was full. 10 minutes later, we were seated at one of three empty booths. Might have been lucky, but with the queue to place orders mingling with the queue to get in, it's hard to tell if it's actually worth going in. They do have a second entrance, and I suggest they use that for getting people in and out. They may need to have a host to get people seated and sorted, though I'm guessing that adds to over heads. But people are less used to the random seat and serve yourself that you'll get in a British Pub.

The booth would seat 4 very friendly people, but fine for two. After placing an order for the first plate of wings, we sat back down with a beer and chatted. The acoustics are fine, though the place was mobbed, busy and full of conversation, you could hear and talk across the table just fine. Despite being warned that the kitchen was backed up, my buffalo wings were out fast. I went for the medium-hot wings, and the sauce was a pleasant heat. Thicker sauce than I'm used to, and the wings were smaller with less meat than some places. Almost shrivelled, had they been cooked a bit too long? Possibly. Tasted great, but the portion seemed a little small for $9.

My friend ordered the Jerk wings. These were not to my taste. Too much cinnamon in the blend, which accentuated a sweet taste to the sauce. My friend thinks he's tasted the same sauce on commercial brand he's tried, and he does know his jerk sauces. There was also a plate of Candied Bacon. I've editted this review, as I was reminded these were also ordered. I'd forgotten about them. I think that's all you need to know about this flavour.

The beer, was perfectly served. A cold, crisp Phillip's Kolsch, perfect accompaniment to wings.

Still a touch hungry, we decided for three more plates of wings, to check out the other styles. We went for the Cajun Spice, Coconut and Ginger Wasabi. These came out much plumper, juicer and fatter wings. So much so, we were full after a few more wings. These were what I was expecting from a place specializing in wings. The Coconut wings were subtly flavoured, but had just enough in there reminding of Chicken Korma curry. The Cajun Spice was just okay, and as it was a dry rub, I'm not sure if they'd sat around in the spice long enough to really draw in the flavour, and I'd like a bit more heat from a Cajun wing.

But the Ginger Wasabi... oh yes. Thick, flavourful sauce, with the sweet bite of ginger balanced with the heat of the wasabi. Excellent, and the plate that made the trip worthwhile. I'll have to try the Hot Wings again, to see can come out like these did, in terms of sauce and cooking. If they do, they'll be among the best I've had in town.

In one week, I think they've become a bit of a hot spot, as people check out the concept. Some teething troubles, but at least the owners are in the kitchen and behind the till to see what needs changing. Lots of students, and 20-something's in the crowd. Sport on the TVs, and clean and tidy toilets. Important factors. Not sure the price point is great value, though the burgers and fries look like they'd be decent as well, but they'll live and die on the wings. They also have a lot of gluten free options, if that's important to you. And you can get Tofu Fingers or Boneless wings in the same sauces and rubs as the everyday wings.

As I left the owner asked thumbs up or thumbs down. I told him thumbs up, but I think it's a three quarters thumbs up. Good, but can do better.

Final Bill
Buffalo Chicken Wings - $9.00
Cajun Chicken Wings - $9.00
Phillips Dr Funk - $5.00
Analogue 78 Kolsch - $5.00
Total :  $28.00 with tip (taxes included in price list)
Phone : 778-265-9464
Address : 1507 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC V8R 6P9
Website : The Tartan Toque

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