Brasserie L’Ecole (Victoria, BC)
I arrived at Brasserie L’Ecole around 8pm on Thursday evening to see for myself whether the place lived up to its hype. I had seen on my media kit that Brasserie L’Ecole had been suggested as a great venue for dinner. And I am, as you know, a sucker for all things French. I spent A LOT of time in Paris, so I am used to (and love) French cuisine. Yes, even though it includes cheese, for the most part.
From their website:
Brasserie is defined as “an unpretentious restaurant that serves drinks, esp. beer, and simple or hearty food”. This definition parallels the restaurant design and menu. The name “l’école” (French for The Schoolhouse) is a nod to the history of the building, which once was a Chinese Schoolhouse
Brasserie “l’école” opened in late 2001 and has been nominated for awards provincially and nationally.
“L’école” features fourteen-foot high ceilings and a long space making it a comfortable size with seating for thirty – plus a slate topped bar with eight dining seats. The décor has borrowed from classic French bistro/brasserie style with red walls, rich chocolate brown wainscoting and ceiling, dark stained hardwood floors and white linen tablecloths. Chalkboards above the bar highlight the extensive selection of French wines as well as dinner features and the day’s choices of oysters. “It is a cozy space, striking a balance between a place to relax with friends in an unstuffy environment and to also enjoy great food and impeccable, but not formal service” says Sommelier/Owner Marc Morrison.
The menu reflects Chef/Owner Sean Brennan’s approach to using seasonal, locally available products cooked in a classic French country style. Menu items include Brennan’s well-loved duck confit, beet & goat cheese terrine and braised beef short ribs.
Upon arrival, I was promptly seated at the bar, as I was arriving alone. I ordered a Monkey Gland (gin, orange juice, absinthe & pomegranate syrup, $7) which was sweet, fresh, tastes of citrus and rather alcohol-charged (i.e. strong). As far as the ambiance and customers, I noticed that folks from all ages patronize L’ecole. I saw people who ranged in age anywhere from 23 to 67. Definitely this place is for fine dining.
For dinner, I ordered Creamed Chanterelles on toast, bacon, herbs ($12). At first I thought I would feel still hungry when I saw the size of the dish. But after I tried the first bite I realized I was in for a treat. The combined flavors of creamy tomato an the Chanterelle mushrooms, cooked to perfection, were simply to-die-for. While the dish contains bacon, the creamy herbs sauce doesn’t let the bacon overpower the dish.
I was a bit concerned about drinking the Monkey Gland paired with the Chanterelles but my concerns were assuaged as I didn’t find that the drink overpowered my dinner plate. The service at L’Ecole was, as so many people touted it, absolutely outstanding. The bartender made sure I was entertained, and gave me great tips on where to eat and drink in Victoria.
I ordered a Soupe a l’Ognion Gratinee, bacon, Gruyere crouton (aka a French onion soup — very traditionally French), for $8. My French onion soup was a bit of a sacrilege request on my part. I hate cheese so I asked for my soup so have the cheese removed. I felt very guilty but the fact of the matter is – it’s in the small requests that you really see the level of service. The soup was absolutely delicious even I’d ask for it without cheese. Extremely hot when served, I did love having it so warm when I knew I was going to go walk around Victoria in the cold.
Even though the place was packed on a Thursday night (no less), the servic was outstanding and very prompt. I wad in and out in a hour! Overall my dinner at Brasserie L’Ecole was simply superb. I will definitely come back again for a good meal.
Disclosure: While I was in Victoria on a media trip, I had dinner on my own dime at Brasserie L’Ecole. I just wanted to share my experience having dinner at a place that was heavily recommended online and on my media kit. I wasn’t paid to write this post, nor was I required to do so either. In anything I write or publish on my site, I retain editorial control at all times. Should you have any questions/concern feel free to contact me via e-mail through my contact form.