The Landmark Cafe: Funky and Fabulous
The Landmark Cafe is one of the two best places in Victoria for a meal, the other being our bed and breakfast, the Victoria Village Inn. Chef Stephen Hunter, the owner of the Victoria Village Inn, highly recommended that we visit Landmark for a meal during our time in village. For a "competitor" to so highly recommend one's cuisine should tell you all that you need to know. (And FWIW, the folks at Landmark rave about Stephen's culinary prowess as well - everyone in this village seems to be friends and admirers of both places)
The Landmark Cafe has terrific food. But to me, what sets it a little bit apart from your usual "great" place to eat is attitude and demeanor. These guys are a little bit funky... you get the idea that they have fun running the place. It's pretty much a family operation, with father and chef Eugene Sauvé leading the pack. Chef Eugene and I actually got off to a rough start a few weeks earlier... I called looking for information, and he said to me "I can't talk now, I'm trying to run the kitchen". End of conversation. Well, I had two choices, I could either decide that the guy was a jerk and could move on. Or, I could decide that he really WAS busy and that I should just understand and try again later, which I did. When I finally met Eugene, he was such a nice guy. I brought up our first conversation, and reminded him that he'd brusquely brushed me off when I called. He grinned at me with one of those "split coconut smiles", and his eyes literally twinkled as he said "gee, that doesn't sound like me". It was so obvious that he was admitting and apologizing in a quirky way.
Our waitress at the Landmark was Eugene's obviously free-spirited daughter Rachel. (She was heading to Maui for the winter upon the Landmark's season ending in a few weeks) Her service was great and very personal.... she reminded me of a cross between a beach volleyball player and Jenna Elfman. :) Not your typical waitress. We had a chance to chat with her socially the next evening over at the Victoria Village Inn. The Landmark is set up such that you can see into the kitchen, and Eugene and company were again very busy. Luckily for him, no yahoos from America called that evening. There was an excellent "best of reggae" CD playing on the sound system, and I was somewhat amused, and thoroughly entertained, by the combination of fine wine + outstanding reggae being paired in a small cafe on Prince Edward Island.
The Landmark had a varied menu - not a huge number of items, but a nice cross-section making use of local products of all kinds. PEI folks are very proud both of their seafood and their produce. They swear that PEI potatoes and corn are the best in the world. :)
The Landmark... if you are in Victoria-by-the-Sea, you need to make a reservation for dinner here at least one night. Come as you are and prepare to both relax and be wowed.
Favorite Dish: My daughter and I both had a scallops dish that featured an oriental sake base + some peppery zip. FWIW, Chef Eugene travels extensively (he visits India once a year) and he loves good spicing. Soooooo, he's partial to spicy concoctions. The beautiful part is that he can make each dish to your specifications... more or less spice? Slightly different spicing? CAN DO.
My wife chose a more traditional PEI style meat pie and fresh veggies. Bonnie considers such items truly "comfort food" and she was very impressed and happy with her selection.
My advice on selecting dinner at the Landmark.... look over the menu and then have a chat with Chef Eugene. You may be able to take a great menu item and then put your own personal stamp on it via slight spicing changes and such. Quite satisfying and kind of fun, too.
The Victoria Village Inn, B&B and Restaurant: ....and dinner, too
We actually stayed at the Victoria Village B&B. One thing that attracted us to the property was that it was owned and operated by a highly regarded chef, Stephen Hunter. It turns out that in addition to the B&B gig, Chef Stephen also serves dinner on some days of the week. (It may very much depend on the season, I suspect that in later fall and winter, there are fewer "dinner nights")
The Village Inn has a very small dining area, and during high tourist season, I'm sure that reservations are a must. You can probably have breakfast at the Village Inn even if you are not a guest, but again... it probably depends on how full the inn is with overnight guests. Guesting there or not, I would highly recommend Chef Stephen's breakfasts.
I guess I'd describe Chef Stephen's basic culinary style as classic continental, with a new age flair. Maybe you should mix in a bit of local pride as well, he's keen on fresh local seafood and veggies. The menu isn't extensive, and varies by night. But you can be assured that whatever you order is being taken care of PERSONALLY by the head (and only chef) and that it will be perfect. Some people are born to create in a kitchen, and Stephen Hunter clearly is such a person. It is clear that he enjoys what he does, literally pouring his heart into his menu and cooking. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy. :)
Did I mention that Stephen's cuisine is an excellent value as well? You could easily pay twice as much for the same meal in a larger city in Canada.
Favorite Dish: Well, let me just tell you what we ate during our two breakfasts and one dinner at Victoria Village:
For dinner, Bonnie and I both chose the excellent and expertly prepared halibut steak, accompanied by local carrots, potatoes and green beans. For dessert, I did the chocolate torte while Bonnie went with creme brulee. Sara seemed to be having a scallop catharsis during her visit to PEI (she'd done scallops the night before at the Landmark Cafe) and went with Chef Stephen's pan-seared Digby scallops, again accompanied by fresh local vegetables. She also did the chocolate torte.
The meals also included an excellent crusty French bread and a fine cabernet, making it just perfect. I will admit that my "legal to drink in Canada" daughter maybe had a little too much of that fine wine, rendering her with a serious case of the giggles. :)
How about breakfast? One day brought fresh fruit and freshly baked croissants. Then, it was scrambled eggs with cheese, freshly sauteed mushrooms and onions and toast. Oh yes, this IS Canada - there was meaty bacon on the side.
Another breakfast started with a fresh bran/blueberry muffin and fresh fruit. Then, the main course were poached eggs with bernaise sauce. Again, bacon on the side. Did I mention that both days featured excellent fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Darn good coffee, too.
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