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No. 27


THIS IS VANCOUVER-BASED Toptable Group’s first restaurant in Victoria, and as soon as you push your way in through its well-polished rotating door, you will clock the family resemblance to their earlier outings (Blue Water Cafe, CinCin, Elisa, etc.). In short, the space is large and looks expensive. Back-lit art, dramatic lighting, plush banquettes, an open kitchen with its own tasting bar, a separate raw bar with stools of its own, a traditional bar with a vast wall of glinting bottles behind it. But it’s culinary ambition that makes this place interesting. The goal was to give coastal Victoria the grand, modern seafood restaurant it’s theoretically entitled to. To get that job done, you’ll find Clark Park (ex-Miku) at the raw bar, and in the main kitchen, the exceptionally talented Kristian Eligh (ex-Hawksworth). Their combined menus are vast, but not at the expense of detail. The nigiri excels with local harvest (say, spot prawn, albacore and an exquisite, mildly chewy halibut belly topped with Northern Divine caviar). From the main kitchen, start with a crudo — perhaps kampachi with Meyer lemon, EVOO and chili. Next, succulent, tender grilled octopus on a mound of creamy gigante beans, lifted with ’nduja spiked sofrito. Then, a luscious crispy-skinned fillet of striped bass with wilted yu choy and pork XO sauce. For the beef enthusiast who dropped in by mistake, sliced tenderloin fanned over pommes purée, drizzled with salsa verde, or, in the right season, showered with black truffle. Service is slick and the wine cellar as ambitious as the rest of the program.

Thank you for coming home, Kristian Eligh. Lanita Layton

Photography by Allison Kuhl

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