Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Black Hat Bistro - Local Goodness in Touristville

The Black Hat Bistro is currently renovating and changing names to North 48….and we checked them out and liked what we had!

There are some people in Victoria who are convinced that the Government Street/Wharf Street area near to the Visitors Information Centre is lost to tourists, restaurant-wise. And while the recent introduction of a BK doesn’t scream ‘fresh’ or ‘local’ – there are some bright spots. At a recent birthday dinner, a group of us enjoyed the upscale Black Hat Bistro. Not been? Scratching your head where it is? Langley Street at Broughton Street. Depending on your arrival time, you may be serenaded by a lone saxophone player out front.

The room is open, with the kitchen and a few tables situated on a level 2-3 steps up from the main floor. If bar seating is more your style – you can saddle up and enjoy your dinner there and have a first-hand view of the spirit inventory and the wine preservation system that allows for a long list of wines by the glass.

We decide on drinks (while happily munching on homemade potato chips with a lovely hint of truffle oil….although the friendly snacking turned into a battle for the last-chip-crumbs in each bowl) and three of us at the table order a local drink with a twist – a Victoria G&T. Pairing the already popular Victoria Gin with New Theatre Tonic (made & bottled locally). The latter is a thick, concentrate of real tonic (and I admit to not knowing/thinking much about my tonic…until now). The drink is quite different from your regular G&T – and all of us quite enjoyed it (and have sought out and already purchased bottles of the tonic for our home-consumption).

But onto the food.

Black Hat has a nice and varied selection of appetizers – whether you want charcuterie, ceviche, soup, tartar or cheez whiz.


Cheez whiz. Adult cheez-whiz.

Two orders at the table, served with, what else – celery sticks. A secret blend of cheeses and spices – both bowls were quite clean going back to the kitchen.

Gourmet Cheez-whiz

Other appetizers includes a fresh, spicy ceviche served with lettuce cups (although we did ask for bread to aid in the scooping and were happily supplied with fresh grilled bread) and short ribs (artfully and tastily decorated with gourmet pork rinds....wait, is that an oxymoron? Well maybe, but they were good!).


Pork Belly and Rinds

The final appetizer at our table was Halibut Baos - open-faced Chinese buns with halibut, carrots and spicy sauce. The buns are very soft (much like the steamed buns served at a dim sum) and form a pillowy "taco" for the halibut pieces.

Chinese Open-Faced Baos

We had a selection of five main courses at the table. The "Chicken" was said poultry done two ways - butter chicken (served in a bowl, with naan bread leaning against it) and a breast (encrusted with crushed papadums and set atop Jasmine rice). Lovely and filling. We had three orders of beef at the table - first up was the Rib Eye Steak - a tender, mouth-watering 12oz with jus. Classically served with roasted potatoes and mushroom caps.

Chicken 2-ways - butter and papadum crusted

Ribeye steak with potatoes & mushrooms

Next beef was in burger form - ground and mixed with bacon and onions. Served on a brioche bun with truffled fries. Very nice burger...tasty and may need to enlist an extra napkin (we did). And beef number three - Steak Frites - an 8oz strip loin, also served with the truffled fries (and mayo, in keeping with the European-ness of the dish). Great steak - served perfectly (medium-rare) as ordered.

Burger on Brioche

Steak frites

And the final entree selection - the daily pasta. Handmade fettucini noodles with house-cured bacon and snap peas. The fresh texture of the noodles was great - very rustic, allowing much of the light olive-oil sauce, cheese and bacon to hang-on and get scooped up.

Pasta of the day - with house-cured bacon & snap peas

We did order a few desserts at the table (but I was moving into a food-coma and was unable to get my iPhone camera finger working). Sufficed to say - the selection of gelato was delicious (including a grown up rum-soaked raisin) and the lemon tart was perfect for a lemon-lover - tangy & delicious.

It was a very enjoyable dinner at The Black Hat Bistro for all of us. The food great (prepared & plated very, very well), the service is excellent (a nice balance of knowledgable, helpful & friendly) and the ambiance is comfortable (suited to both "jeans, burgundy & steak-frites" and "cocktail dress, prosecco & three-courses dinner").

Black Hat Bistro
1005 Langley St,
Dinner 7 days a week from 4:30pm

The Black Hat on Urbanspoon

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