Brasserie l'ecole

1715 Government St. Victoria, BC Canada V8W 1Z4 Phone: (250) 475 6260 Fax: (250) 475 6261 Email:


Update - November 2009

Brasserie L'Ecole no longer accepts reservations, see details here:

It's a bummer, but I'll get over it. I still love them and if I had to stand in a queue for anyone, I guess it'd be them.


It seems the Brasserie has gotten all fancy on us -- indeed, you heard it here first, they're using rectangular plates. Happily the incidental cost  for this aesthetic pleasantry has only been $1 per plate, with the average main course dish going from $18 to $19. I'm teasing of course, the Brasserie is well justified in the minor price increase and while I'm not a big fan of the fancy new dishware, there are greater culinary crimes than spiffing up your presentation.

In the company of my mother Jeanne and my good friend  Katherine (her first dining experience at the Brasserie), we started with several first courses. My Reed Island Regal oysters ($2 each) were fresh and delicious -- the Brasserie is one of only two places in town I'll eat raw oysters. After that, being the piggy that I am I had another first course, the grilled prawns with harissa seasoning and blood orange ($13). The prawns were big and plump, with a prominent grilled flavour. The harissa spice however, was as not evident as I would have liked. I did enjoy the accompanying herb salad, with mint, chives, friée and pea shoots. My mum had the chicken-liver mousse ($9). This dish is a favourite of both of ours. As with any favourite, they're bound to change it once you get accustomed to it. Previously the chicken liver mousse had been served with cornichons (gherkins) and grainy mustard. This traditional presentation has gone by the wayside and the mousse is now served with a chutney. I liked the chutney, but I preferred the authenticity of the classic presentation. Brasserie sommelier and co-owner Marc, did make a good argument about making the mousse more accessible to diners less familiar with the dish, so I'll suck it up and buy myself a jar of gherkins. Katherine had the smoked tuna and celeriac remoulade. A classic Brasserie dish, other than a somewhat more sophisticated presentation, the core of this dish remain intact. I love celeriac remoulade and it's something you never see on restaurant menus, but if you make it at home you have to eat too much of it.

My mum and Katherine both had the halibut and clam special ($23). Fresh and flavourful, with a simple provençal style dressing and chorizo sausage. I had the steak-frites ($23 - 8 oz) with the frites, fancy-style. Salty and indulgent goodness, I love the fancy-frites (I also love that their description is called - fancy). The steak was on the high side of rare, but close enough for sirloin. 

We had ordered the 2000 Clos de Caillou to accompany our meal. It was funny that I didn't even notice when Marc presented an entirely different bottle of wine, without me noticing. Note to self: pay more attention, avoid looking like door-knob. He explained that, while he had been a fan of the Clos de Caillou, the particular batch that they had was not up to snuff. He had presented me with something comparable from the Languedoc-Rousillion region (I forget what it was, it had a long name). The alternative was better than I had expected of the first and I appreciated not being served a crappy bottle of wine.

We finished our meals with a round of 12-year-old Oban (single malt scotch) a favourite of my mum's and mine.

One of the reasons I rave about the Brasserie, is because they're so damn consistent. So, I must say I was momentarily off put when I saw the fancy plates and the chutney. Happily, these changes seemed to have little bearing on the general experience. The food was great, the service top-notch and prices insanely reasonable.

  Reviewed: March 15. 2006


Reviewed: August 20, 2005

I think the Brasserie l'ecole is one of the best restaurants in Victoria. I've thought this for several years and they have yet to do anything to disappoint me.

The Brasserie is a very honest restaurant. They're honest to the genre of cuisine (rustic French), they're honest to their ingredients (always allowing them to shine independently of heavy seasoning or the like) and most importantly they're honest to their customers. The Brasserie is true value dinning  - first courses around $8-$10 and main courses usually around $18 (steaks and specials vary a little more). It's an elegant restaurant that I can afford to eat in regularly. No wonder they're so busy - what a concept, regular diners! Similarly, the wine list is creative without being pricey with a wide variety of thoughtfully selected low and middle priced wines ($30-$60). Of course, they do have a reasonable selection of 'special occasion' wines ($100-$200).

The food is unpretentious, but always mouth watering. I'm constantly amazed with chef Sean Brennan's ability to maintain the integrity of his ingredients. The flavours of any one ingredient always permitted their own glory in his dishes. Last night, Patty had the Coho salmon with white beans. Perfectly cooked fish with perfectly cooked beans, baby tomatoes and other vegetables - all maintaining their distinct flavours while blending in culinary harmony. Patty declared 10/10 for the salmon dish. I had the mussels and frites. Local Quadra Island mussels, these babies were so plump and fresh I was (nearly) speechless. Served in a Maudite (beer from Quebec), bacon and onion broth, it held it's own with the heaping pile of super fresh frites and Dijon mayo.

I digress somewhat. We also enjoyed a variety of local oysters. I love fresh oysters and the Brasserie is the only restaurant in town where I don't hesitate to order them. I've never had a not-perfectly-fresh oyster at the Brasserie. We also had starters, I had the heirloom tomato and pecorino cheese salad, which was lovely, light and full of flavour. Patty had the chanterelles on toast - sooo creamy and delicious it inspired a long discussion about a) how we should go mushroom picking and b) the Swedish obsession with mushroom collection (who knew?)

While I usually order French wine at the Brasserie, since it's a French restaurant and their wine list is overwhelmingly French, I instead ordered the Dr Pauly-Bergweiler 2003 Riesling. Indeed, 2003 was a hot year for Rieslings in Germany and Dr Pauly didn't disappoint - the vanilla nosed wine held up well to the heaviness of my mussels in beer broth.

I do have to mention that we noted one wee little problem. We sat down for dinner at 9 pm on a Saturday night and they were out of four menu items. One or two, might be acceptable, but I thought four was kinda pushing it. Otherwise, the service was great and I really enjoyed our server James; although he did seem a little frantic for most of the evening. Finally, Patty would like me to note how much he likes the men's room at the Brasserie and their proper cloth towels.

 Reviewed: August 20, 2005