Our first evening in Victoria found us wandering along the bustling waterfront of Inner Harbour, trying to decide where to eat. The street side tables at Garlic Rose were almost all filled, people eating from heaping plates. Across the street, Wharfside Eatery looked equally inviting, with balcony seating overlooking the harbor. We even peeked through the window of Canadian chain Pita Pit, where a young woman was deftly filling meats and veggies into pita bread and rolling them up wrap-like to serve. But it was clever Chandlers that lured us indoors with free appetizers, generously served to passers-by at their front entrance. Wild B.C. King salmon on cream cheese with dill did the trick. After a glance at their menu, we decided to stay. We sat in one of the upstairs dining rooms, attractively furnished, with most of the tables in glossy oak finish, a few covered with tablecloths. The floors are hardwood, also buffed to high polish, and floor tile matching the wall tiles, in terracotta and dark blue. Other walls are rough brick. We sat at a center table.
Behind us, a fireplace, though on this balmy night the windows were soon opened wide, unscreened, by a server. "I guess they don’t have any insects in Victoria" commented my wise-acre husband. Maybe not, because none appeared throughout the course of our meal. On the high shelving around the dining room lay and stood old books. From the six-person booth in the corner came sounds of conversation in German, creating an international feel.
To start out, we ordered a couple of pints of Vancouver Island Brewery’s Piper’s pale ale and an appetizer of stuffed mushroom cups. The copper-colored ale was smooth and malty, a perfect accompaniment to the broiled brown mushroom cups filled with crab and shrimp in a cream cheese sauce. These were served in the cutest circular dish with hollow depressions for the mushrooms.
Our shared main course was grilled salmon fillet with creamy reggiano cheese sauce, sweet local hand-peeled shrimp, artichoke hearts, roasted red and yellow peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes. This scrumptious entrée was served with seasoned rice and asparagus spears, cooked just right. Two more pints of Piper’s and our first Yorkshire pudding, a giant moist puffy baked creation, guaranteed our complete satisfaction. Our cost (with tax, without tip): C$58.
Chandlers has been voted Victoria’s best seafood restaurant 8 of the last 10 years. Salmon is their specialty, notably wild B.C. red Coho and Chinook (King) salmon—prepared in appetizers and entrees in a wide variety of ways, including grilled, poached, and battered. Wild halibut, shrimp, prawns, crab, lobster, scallop, calamari, and escargot dishes, plus giant seafood combo platters are offered as well. Not in the mood for seafood? Various chicken entrees and certified Black Angus steak dinners are on the menu too.