So, first the good things. :: The View: It was exactly as I had hoped it would be. You are right on the beach, with a breath-taking view across the strait, and if you can, try to be there at sunset. It was just magic. :: The Service: it was polite, and friendly albeit a little awkward at first, but our server really grew on us. I found all the server's styles to be a little less formal than I would have expected, perhaps even a little scattered, but this is Parksville after all, and I think overall you should expect a more casual approach. Maybe not always a bad thing.
So, then there were a few not so good things. Coming to Vancouver Island we were very much looking forward to starting our meal with fresh oysters, which were on the menu. It seemed odd to us that our server was surprised when we ordered oysters, was a bit dismissive, and was unsure if they even had any. We are complete oyster dorks - so very disappointed that they were unavailable. Instead we opted for the Pan-Seared Spinach and Portobello Mushroom Crispy Onion Salad? (Lightly Sautéed Spinach, Roasted portobello Mushroom Caramelized Shallots in a Buttermilk Dressing). This was pretty tough to get through. It was completely overdressed, absolutely swimming in dressing - and served on a flourish of even more dressing! The "crispy" onions we concluded had been fried earlier in the day as they were ice-cold and left a cold-oil coating on our tongues. But, the view was nice, as was the company, as was the wine -- so we overlooked it, didn't say anything and just moved on.
The Main :: We both ordered the steak & Lobster...and we were really disappointed. My entire meal was under-seasoned and flavorless, and had the tell-tale signs of sitting under the heat lamp too long. The demi-glace had set on the plate, the lobster tail was dry and pulling away from the shell, which made me wonder if it was a fresh lobster tail, and maybe just sat for too long under the heat lamp -- or it was frozen, and I was being charged for the price of a fresh lobster tail.
Don't get me wrong - I don't blame our server -- I think he was doing a very good job serving half the restaurant. But this is pretty typical of a Wednesday night, when restaurants are often understaffed, and usually the customers wind up suffering if the restaurant finds themselves busier than anticipated.
I will be honest, again we didn't say anything, because this was a special night for us so we did not want to ruin it by complaining. But...
Then Dessert :: We had the trio of Creme Brule. They were meant to be three different flavors of Creme Brule, but they all tasted exactly the same - all but for a couple of exceptions. One was so underdone it was pure liquid, one was so over cooked it was curdled, and the third one seemed to me to have been left over from the night before... Finally we had to say something. Fortunately our server immediately removed our dessert from the bill, no big explanation was required at all -- which we really appreciated. But, that doesn't change the fact that we are now 0/3 and kicking ourselves that we hadn't said anything sooner.
So final impressions. Our bill (which in all fairness - did include two bottles of lovely red wine) was over $270 dollars. This is more than we would have paid for the same meal at the Empress in Victoria, which we have had several times -- and which has always been impeccable. To be honest, I've had better meals at the Tapa Bar (Victoria), Bon Rouge (Victoria) and at Yew (Vancouver - Four Seasons) for way less.
Bottom line -- I hate to write such a negative review, but looking at our Visa statement tonight, I find myself really angry that I paid so much for so little.
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