Christie's Carriage House Pub

1739 Fort St tel: 598-5333

Back in the days when neighbourhood pubs were an emerging concept in Victoria, Christie's was a beacon of hope in a town desperate for casual drinking holes. That said, they've never been known for the food and at times in my dozen years as a fairly regular visitor, the food has been down right horrible. It's still not great, but they've pulled themselves out of the 'barely edible' category.

For many people, what they lack in culinary accomplishments, Christie's makes up for with an extensive beer selection and comfortable environment. Indeed, both these things are true. The interior is in need of a reno (it still smells like smoke and the carpet is pretty gross) but the atmosphere is casual and the decor appropriate. While a little understaffed on our visit (one server for the interior of the restaurant at noon on a Saturday) the service is usually friendly and reasonably competent.

Generally, I find the menu heavy on fried and pre-fabricated food, but with careful ordering we were able to have an acceptable lunch. I had the Chicken Curry ($12.5) with salad. It was pretty uninspired and presented in a fairly lazy way, but it tasted OK. Everything in it was chopped up fairly small, so it was hard to determine quality and the curry powder used was totally generic. It reminded me of the kind of curry your grandma might make - not bad, but easily forgettable. The accompanying salad could have been fresher, but I was pleased that my balsamic vinaigrette was simply that: oil and balsamic vinegar, instead of some commercially produced alternative

Patty had the Pulled Pork Sandwich with curly fries ($12). You don't often see curly fries on menus anymore and while I might poo-poo them for being unfashionable, I kind of like them. The sandwich's best feature was that it was served on La Collina bread. Nice chewy bread, I thought a good decision on the chef's part to order it in. The rest of of the sandwich was fairly predictable but tasty, and Patty gobbled it up. I seriously doubt the pork was 'pulled' in-house, but at this level of dining I shouldn't think it would be.

Our server was too busy to bring us a second round of drinks, but otherwise her attention was adequate and we were in and out fairly quickly. The prices are higher than comparable food at similar pubs elsewhere in town, but not enough to stop you from visiting. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in matters of freshness, local products and reduced dependence on the deep-fryer. That said,  I didn't leave with a stomach ache, like I thought I might.

Reviewed Oct 9, 2006