Victoria’s Secret Tastes - Take Two

 Bengal Room

 Another not so secret Victorian spot is the Bengal Room at the Empress Hotel. Whenever you see a picture of downtown Victoria, invariably it is focused on the Legislative Building and the Empress Hotel, two of Victoria’s most recognizable landmarks.

Tucked inside the Empress is the large leather couched, tapestry-walled, tiger-motiffed Bengal Room that transports you immediately into the Victorian Era upon entrance. They do have mint juleps on the menu, with freshly muddled mint, if you’re there on a warm, summer afternoon. If you’ve popped in for a nightcap, try their “Bengal,” a hot coffee drink with Kahlua, Grand Marnier and Bailey’s (notice the and, not or).

Breakfast At Victoria’s

If you’re up in time for breakfast, you’ll have a big, tough decision to make. Pancakes with fresh, stewed local berry compote accompanied by organic island turkey sausage is one choice at Aura restaurant. You could also go for their in-house made organic granola – so good guests frequently request if it’s available for purchase at the gift shop (not yet).

Aura took its seat in the exquisite Inn at Laurel Point where Chef Brad Horen continues with his “locally-sourced, organic ingredients” philosophy while outdoing himself with his innovative cuisine. Horen blends Japanese and European flavors with local ingredients fresh from Vancouver Island and the west coast. He and Sous-Chef Patrick Gayler both have spots on Culinary Team Canada for the 2011 World Cup in Luxembourg and 2012’s World Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany. Horen is active in the Canadian Culinary Federation and was a mentor on the Food Network’s Next Great Chef.

The view from Aura Restaurant, looking out its floor-to-ceiling window/walls onto Victoria’s Inner Harbor, will prove one of the most memorable of your stay in Victoria. They serve lunch and dinner and host wine tastings, such as the Naramata Bench Spring Releases 2010.

Fresh baked bread from Fol Epi.

Another breakfast – or snack - choice is Fol Epi, a bakery which sports an on-site stone mill and outdoor oven. Artisan baker Cliff Leir bakes his organic, heritage and whole grains into succulent baked goods such as quiche, pastries, pizzas and baguettes. Caffe Fantastico next door serves up aromatic coffees and both offer spectacular views of Victoria’s Inner Harbor. Fol Epi was voted by Eat! Magazine readers as their favorite bakery in Victoria. Both businesses are housed in the developing Dockside Green which is 15-acre mixed use community development that will be the world’s First LEED Platinum community.

Notable: Taste Victoria upcoming this Summer For more info: http://www.victoriataste.com/

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