April 10, 2015: Victoria, Old and New

We have finally found ourselves in our old stomping ground. That’s not to say it hasn’t changed. In our absence, things have opened and closed and moved on without us. Here are a few places we've been enjoying lately.

The Bent Mast

Coming home was great, but we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle when it came to throwing our first “we’re here” party. We’re staying with my husband’s parents and while they’ve been nothing but accommodating, I wasn’t about to invite our cohorts en masse to descend on their sleepy Oak Bay home. So we invited everyone to a little place that Adam and I have been frequenting for the last ten years, The Bent Mast.

It sits on the five way intersection in James Bay and has been around since 1884. Originally a house (and rumoured to have been a brothel sometime in the years that followed), it has since been converted to a pub that still feels very much like a home.

Over the years, this building has gathered a few ghosts (three to four if the legends are to be believed) and a loyal local fanbase. It’s got good food, an unpretentious atmosphere, and local beers to keep the discerning clientele happy. That, and they didn’t mind when 20 or so of us took over a portion of their dining room over the course of the evening. (Thanks guys!)

Hank’s Non-Traditional BBQ

We stopped here on the recommendation of one of Adam’s co-workers. It’s prominent bar seating and softly lit interior gave it a friendly atmosphere. Drinks served in mason jars also lent to it’s hipster cred. The service was good and the food even better.

We tucked into a plate of pork belly, corn bread and grits, and fell into ravenous silence as we cleaned our plates.

Niagara Grocery

An oldie but a goodie, a little grocery store tucked into the James Bay neighbourhood we used to live in. They still roast coffee beans weekly, and they’re as tasty as ever. They’re also still stocked with some of the best local munchies Victoria has to offer.

We stop by as frequently as we can for drip coffee and a pastry. In particular, a little cake thing that looks a bit like a twinkie, but is a marbled chocolate and vanilla cake, draped in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. It’s not for the faint of heart of those who fear calories, but I’d gladly face death at the hands of that tiny cake.

Little Jumbo

We were happy to discover that our favorite speakeasy bar was still in operation, though disappointed that they actually put a sign out on the street. Before we left, the only indication that anything was there was a neon pink elephant blazing over an unmarked doorway. If you entered the door, you’d find yourself at the beginning of a long white hallway leading the a frosted glass door. Large black letters proclaimed “Little Jumbo,” and it was the only indication that anything existed past that door.

Beyond the door, you’ve finally made it to the small windowless bar lined with red brick and some of the most knowledgeable bartenders you’d hope to meet. I still consider the bar the best seat in the house, especially on Sundays when there isn’t a huge crowd and I can pepper the bartender with questions.