1150 Cook St, tel: 250-385-4747

If you don't want to wait in a line for breakfast or look for parking on a sunny Saturday morning, Pluto's may be just what you're looking for. Of course, with all luxuries, comes sacrifice.

Pluto's is located in a former automotive garage. With retro 1950s architecture, they enjoy high ceilings, large floor space and a lavish patio. However, contrary to what you might expect the decor is not 1950s retro - it's a hodge podge of southwest and tropical motifs, with a 1950s hangover. At the very least, it gives you something to look at.

We decided against the patio, concerned about service levels and went for an inside seat. We waited a few moments to be seated, when we were handed menus and directed to seat ourselves at a booth on the far side of the restaurant. We sat and we waited. The restaurant was about 45% full  - busy, but not so much that we should wait just shy of 10 minutes for any attention from the server. I think it's fair to say, that when people go for breakfast they're thirsty and that it's important to serve a beverage promptly upon seating - maybe more so than any other time of the day. 

When the server finally arrived, she was polite and competent and took both our drink and food orders. She returned with our drinks fairly quickly, but no water was ever served.

The menu at Pluto's is extensive. We speculated that they've been adding new dishes since they opened 18 years ago and not ever removing any. Our experience with this style of menu management is that cooks get overwhelmed and quality declines.

Patty ordered the special burger of the day - the Louisiana chicken burger ($8.50). The burger arrived and the contents were three breaded chicken strips with Frank's Red Hot on top, lettuce, tomato and pickle. It doesn't sound that appealing, but the chicken strips were of reasonable quality and Patty and enjoyed the burger. The bun could have been toasted, but overall Patty was happy. The accompanying fries on the other hand, were a serious disappointment. The fries were room temperature and severely overcooked. We speculated that they had been fried multiple times before serving - the result of a lazy kitchen.

I had the 'famous' nut burger ($8.50). Stated on the menu as being the same nut burger that had been on the menu for the past 18 years, I felt compelled to try one. Not bad, it had a distinctive flavour and homemade quality. Again, a toasted bun would have gone along way to make this sandwich delicious. I ordered the 1/2 fries 1/2 salad, so was also subject to the crappy fries, but the salad was a little better. I was disappointed by the iceberg lettuce, but liked the chickpeas and the cucumber yogurt dressing.

It's nice that they have some dishes that have past the test of time on their menu, but the need for some revision is clear. The restaurant may not be retro 1950s, but they're menu is retro 1988 (a year not known for its culinary accomplishment). If you don't mind making some compromises on the food, Pluto's has a laid-back atmosphere, low prices and lots of specials. With limited patio space in Victoria, who's going to complain about their ample outside seating on a hot day. 


May 13, 2006