Sherman's Food Adventures: Wild Mountain Food & Drink

Wild Mountain Food & Drink

While looking over the candidates and winners of the annual Vanmag's best restaurants, I noticed that Wild Mountain Food & Drink won for Victoria.  Although located in Sooke, I guess it still qualifies as being in "Victoria".  Low and behold, guess where I was schedule to be during the May long weekend?  Yep, we would be staying at the Prestige Oceanview Resort that happens to be just steps away from Wild Mountain!  Of course I went ahead and booked resos for the highly coveted tables there as the restaurant isn't very big.  That also meant we had to eat at 5:00pm since that was the only reservation left for the May long weekend.

So we made the really long drive of 30 seconds from the nearby Prestige Oceanview Resort (we should've walked) were seated next to the window with a view of the water.  We started out with a few snacks including the Albacore Tuna Tartare with preserved lemon and borage atop a slice of Hakurei turnip.  This was super simple, but really fresh and delicious at the same time.  At first, I thought the softened turnip would mean a lack of texture when combined with the buttery tuna.  It definitely was the case, but the little bite still worked as the tuna was the star especially hit by a balanced amount of acidity.  We also had the Halibut & Spot Prawn Ceviche served on a prawn tapioca cracker.  Now this had an airy and super crunchy textural contrast to go with the sweet delicate prawn and meaty halibut.  Again, the acidity was "spot" on (bad pun I know) by allowing the ingredients to shine.

Another snack that caught our fancy was the Crispy Polenta Fritters with dill pickle dip.  More like polenta "fries", these were served piping hot.  As such, the exterior was not greasy at all while being crispy.  On the inside, the polenta was on point with its classic soft creaminess that was also dense enough to remain intact as a "fry".  Trying to achieve that balance isn't as easy as it sounds because I've had one too many polenta fries that was either too mushy or too firm.  Tangy, creamy and briny, the dill pickle dip was a nice compliment to the polenta.  Originally, we weren't going to get the Red Fife Wheat Bread, but my son seemed a bit disappointed (he loves bread), so we added it just for him.  Good decision as the crusty bread was soft and airy on the inside.  It came with a creamy bee pollen and honey butter that had only a hint of sweetness.

The kids weren't super hungry so they ended up with half-orders of the 2 available pastas.  My daughter had the Risotto of Grains with mushroom cream, fresh oyster mushroom, asparagus, arugula and smoked pork hock (extra $3.00 for half order).  There was a lot going on with the "risotto" where the grains were firm and chewy.  As much as it was a cream sauce, it wasn't as heavy as it sounded or appeared.  Naturally, there was the classic mushroom earthiness at play as well as the mild smokiness of the tender pork hock.  It was surprisingly not salty, which allowed everything else to be noticed.  For my son, he chose the Handmade Ricotta Cavatelli Pasta with smoked Sooke chicken breast, asparagus, spinach, green olives and Grana Padano.  Also with a lot going on, the pasta was firmly al dente while the sauce was pretty cheesy.  The ample amount of chicken was tender and lightly smoky.  I felt that they put just enough green olive in for effect that didn't overwhelm the dish.

Viv decided on the Quadra Island Clams as here main dish ($17.00 as an appie, $31.00 as a main).   Buttery and super plump, the clams were steamed in an XO-humpback shrimp broth with housemade salami, komatsuna & winged kelp and Wild Mountain bread.  This was an outstanding dish as the flavours were so impactful while balanced at the same time.  The briny broth had some spice and plenty of natural sweetness (as well as umaminess).  The clams couldn't have been prepared any better, so good.  For my main, I went for the Pemberton Flat Iron Steak with smashed root veggies, broccoli shoots and red wine jus.  I added a pat of Washington black truffle butter ($3.00) for good measure.  Oh man, the steak was fantastic being nicely seared and prepared a perfect medium-rare.  It was rested properly where the juices remained within the meat.  Super buttery tender, the properly seasoned steak was further amped by the truffle butter.

As for dessert, Viv and I shared the Poached Rhubarb & Citrus Curd Tart with mint.  Rustic-looking, the tart shell was firm, buttery and texturally consistent throughout.  I found the citrus curd to be creamy and on point in terms of viscosity.  There was a good balance between tang and sweetness.  Interestingly, I thought the bits of crunchy rhubarb to be a distraction from the excellent tart itself.  It did provide a different texture as well as a brightness to the tart, but it was unnecessary in my opinion.  For the dishes we tried, it definitely confirms, in my opinion, the win for Wild Mountain as "best of Victoria".  Mind you, out of the contenders, I haven't tried OLO, so that will be up next.

The Good:
- Quaint house, nice setting by the water
- Carefully prepared simple menu
- Genuine and kind service

The Bad:
- On the pricier side
- Small place, getting a table is difficult

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