March 12, 2013

Oaks Restaurant and Grill, Oak Bay

I've always been amused when a place is called a 'grill'. Commonly you don't have the 'bar and stove', or the 'cocktail lounge and oven'. Why is having a metal grid for heating food over flame so commonly advertised, such that it gets top billing on a restaurant's name? Well, I can't solve every question I have, but here's a review of the Oaks Restaurant and Grill. Which I assume had a grill in the kitchen. I didn't check. It does not have an apostrophe in the name.

Oaks replaces the Oak Bay Bistro (or OBB) which in turn replaces The Blethering Place Teahouse. The former was okay, and had a hot waiter. The latter was widely reviewed as a horrible pastiche of a British tea shop for those with no taste buds, standards or will to live. I'll go to questionable places at times, but never summoned up the courage to rub shoulders with Oak Bay's older clientèle for a bad cup of tea and hardened scone. The Oaks has been open a while now, but this was my first time in. A quick look around and it looked much like the OBB, with the same dark wood, open feel and solid, contemporary chairs and tables.

My friends were already there, and I joined them on one of the two tables of four we had. Slightly the staff didn't offer to push them together, so we slightly isolated as two groups, rather than one bigger set. The menu is short, and too the point. Four different omelettes, 3 different eggs benedict, and your standard set of eggs, protein and starch. There was also a choice of French cinnamon toast with fresh fruit. More on that later. Nothing is particularly different, but it covers the bases.

I went for the Tex-Mex omelette. Ground chorizo, peppers, beans and salsa. Sounded like a good mix to me, spicy beef mixes being a favourite of mine since I moved to North America. I ordered a big pot of tea to go with it, and chatted. The Oaks does have several big flat screen TVs above the bar and in the corners. Instead of your more typical sports and rolling news, they were showing pastoral scenes of Britain and Canada. I assume they use from TV at some point, otherwise seemed a strange touch, and an expensive way of having digital photographs.

My tea arrived. I can tell when I'm not in the UK... tea was served as a do-it-yourself kit of tea bag, hot water and milk. Plus one mark for bringing milk out with it (and not cream). Minus two for not making me an actual pot of tea. Tea is far better when the boiling water is introduced directly to the tea bag, and not a minute or two later. I don't expect to grind my own beans when I order a coffee, but only a few places seem to serve me a pot of tea. Charging me $2.25 for a (cheap) tea bag and pot of hot water is annoying. I should just order coffee to keep my annoyance level down.

The meal arrived, from a very friendly server, who seemed pretty keen to help us out. I did have to ask for pepper, kethcup and hot sauce for the table. These should be offered or provided automatically at breakfast, but there was no trouble getting them. I just hate waiting to eat while I get the condiments, and like some hot sauce to go with my eggs. I think I might getting into the picky territory now, but there is several great breakfast joints in Victoria, so just being good is not enough to stand out for me. The food was also just good-to-okay. The omelette itself was cooked perfectly, solid, yet fluffy. The ground chorizo though just tasted almost gritty, and didn't really help the dish out like I'd imagined it would. Not terrible, just vaguely disappointing, like the season finale of a popular television comedy.

The big fail was the cinnamon toast. It, according to my friend, tasted faintly of meat. As she eats vegetarian, tasting of meat isn't quite what you expect cinnamon toast to have a whiff of. I guess they used the same segment of grill. The fresh fruit was a handful of blueberries (I'm not entirely convinced they were fresh either). Pretty poor showing. No complaint was sent to the kitchen, cause we don't like to make too much of fuss. But this kind of put my off going back. Lack of care in the food preparation is a black mark for me.

So, an average place to get breakfast, with reasonable service and food that didn't shine. No-one seems to want to go back again.

Final Bill
Pot of tea - $2.25
Tex-Mex Omelette - $11.65
Total :  $Total : $18 with Taxes and tip
Phone : 250-590-3155
Address : 206- 2250 Oak Bay Ave, Victoria, BC V8R1G4
Website : Oaks on Facebook

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