45 Bastion Square, Victoria, BC Phone: 250 381-3433 map

It had been years since I last visited Camille's and readers were noting the omission suspiciously. Of course, there was no reason for the omission other than they're closed on Sundays and Mondays. 

Camille's enjoys a solid reputation in Victoria and has for many years. An intimate and cozy restaurant Camille's has a legacy of locally inspired fine dining that precedes most of its competition.

 Upon arrival at the restaurant, I was happy to see a little aesthetic updating had taken place since my last visit. On an visit many year's ago, my dinner mate referred to the decor as "like eating in a hull of a ship." Now, from my perspective that's not really a criticism, I love themes; but I don't think it was an intentional theme. It really is just the style of wood paneling on the walls and the lack of natural light that creates the effect. 

We were seated in a mini booth and Patty and I were both intrigued by the removable booth wall someone cleverly invented to break up the space. For a busy restaurant it really was cozy, on a rainy night, when Patty and I were looking for each other's company (not always the case;)

The server was pleasant and attentive, albeit a little slow plying my with liquor (getting me a cocktail). To my surprise there were no specials or feature items available. Not vital, but it's something I like, even if it's just a deceptive way to upsell me. Similarly, I noted a complete absence of vegetarian main course items - of no consequence to me, but something to consider if you're planning a date or group event.

The wine list is substantial and well annotated. Most notably, it includes an extensive selection of Kettle Valley wines. Indeed, a treat, we went for a petit verdot. I asked the server to remark on the vintages available and to my delight, she did. It renews my faith in humanity when I can ask for an $85 bottle of wine and the person serving me can at least answer basic questions about it, ahhh.

 For our first course I had the scallops and Patty had the duck confit salad. A simple dish, I was pleased with the scallops. Nicely seared and lightly seasonsed they tasted fresh and were paired well with a celeriac and apple slaw and mixed greens. The acidity of the slaw and light sweetness of the greens were perfect for enhancing the flavour of the scallops. Patty's salad had the potential for being a snoozer, but the confit was tender and thoughtfully processed, the greens were very high quality and there was a lovely warm onion cake in the bottom of the salad, that really brought it together.

 For our main courses I had the duck and Patty had the salblefish. I thought my duck was delicious, despite my failure to have it cooked to my preferred doneness (I asked for them to cook it med-rare, the server indicated that they cook it medium and I asked her to indicate my interest in having it cooked as rare as they could without insulting the kitchen's sensibilities- it arrived medium). The accompanying gnocchis were a little over done, but I like gnocchi. The Savoy cabbage concoction was delicious and the highlight of the dish.  Patty's sablefish was less spectacular than my duck and he was jealous of my cabbage, but the fish and the mussel garnish were both carefully prepared and of good quality.

At one point in the meal, our candle went out and in this very cozy restaurant we were left in the dark. The busperson was quick to notice and came over promptly to, "rekindle our flame," -  her words!! I loved that, I'm still giggling about it. It's the kind of thing I say to customers and then walk away wondering why anyone ever lets me out of the kitchen.

We skipped dessert and Patty ordered a local Port. The server came back with the bad news, but happily had an equitable alternative. That made me happy. It's frustrating when you order something, they don't have it and then they offer you something that isn't even vaguely similar.

The food execution was good, the food quality was excellent, the service competent and friendly and the ambiance perfect for a rainy November night. I missed not having any specials, would have preferred my duck cooked less and I didn't find anything wild and crazy on the menu, but all in all it's entirely clear to me why Camille's enjoys a reputation for consistent food and quality, as well as above average wine service.