|Amuse Bouche Quail's Egg|
When you walk in you are struck by the calm and elegant lighting and design. Quiet classics like Edith Piaf were playing on the speakers and somewhat cliché posters of Matisse paintings hung on the walls. Rather surprising since it is next door to a Youth Hostel. It is very dark with all the windows covered as the obscured view of brickwalled industrial buildings and loud bars is not what the concept desired.. apparently. It is small and seats about 20. So I was expecting a nice, tranquil dining experience. I mean, that is what the design seemed to imply. Alas, it was not so.
We were greeted by a vivacious manager who was very friendly and obviously very proud of his establishment. He is extremely knowledgeable on the menu and wine list. However, his exhuberant personality and dress seemed a bit at odds with the setting at times. This was exacerbated by the fact that we were sat directly next to personal friends. Let me repeat, the restaurant seats 20 or so. During the evening, it ranged from 60-20% full. It felt 130% full sitting near this table. There was a loud and energetic conversation constantly with the owner, with him usually standing table side. Shop talk was constant. You would barely have guessed there was anyone else in the restaurant and at times felt that way. It was unpleasant to be in an otherwise romantic setting with a raucous, insider pow wow 1 ft away.
I have no issue with raucous in the appropriate setting. I love some of the rowdy bistros in Paris where people have incredible French food in a setting louder than a mall. The sound design in La Matisse was not conducive to this at all nor was there any other distraction from it. No windows, no large groups of people to watch. It was like being in someone's living room where there is a party going on to which you are not invited but they're serving you dinner in a corner.... for 3 hours!
Now you will recall that at on my review of C Restaurant, I made a point of saying that I enjoyed the relaxed pace of the meal and chastised a nearby table for complaining. That is because it was befitting of the concept and the environment. Not so here. The sophisticated, romantic ambiance was turned boring waiting room where we were drowned out of our own conversation while we waited excructiatingly long for food.
The food. The food, as I said was good for the most part. I make that qualification because D's main was not at all cooked well. We perused the menu with some lovely Arancia Saffron Infused Vodka Martinis, the Sommelier/Bartender's specialty.
|Cauliflower Vichyssoise Soup|
|Snow Crab Nicoise Salad|
The main for myself was a Seafood Fricassée which was a mix of Scallops, Lobster knuckle, Prawn on a bed of Risotto. To be honest, the menu read as if I were ordering a whole Lobster. That was not at all clear and I was rather surprised and disappointed when it first arrived. That said, the dish, as it was was wonderful. Everything was cooked delicately and was piping hot. D's dish on the other hand, the Halibut was unacceptably over cooked. It was dry and flaked up too easily. We assumed it was a matter of timing for our two mains but that was a shame.
|D's Dry Halibut|
|Mealy and Dry Flourless Cake|
|Meursault Chartron et Trebuchet|
Service: Excrutiatingly slow
Ambience: Boring with an identity crisis
Wine list: Limited on variety of price points
512 Yates Street
Victoria, BC V8W