The Temple
525 Fort Street, Victoria BC tel: 383.2313


To be perfectly honest, I want to like Temple and I want it to be a good restaurant. I like modern design and Temple is the only place in town where I can get a legitimate dose of contemporary elegance. If only they could get those pesky kinks ironed out...

Usually it takes a year for a restaurant to figure out want it wants to be and what works in the market - in the absence of doing that, the restaurant usually fails. Temple has chugged along for several years, pressing through multiple menu concept changes and still hasn't really found their niche. Personally, I liked the first menu the best. Granted it was lengthy, with a sophisticated tasting menu and I can only presume it was deemed too costly on the business side.

Currently, the menu is of a fairly average length and sophistication. We thought the first courses involved too many salads and the only thing that really caught our fancy was the white asparagus veloute ($10). I liked the all-white presentation and the soup was nice and the white asparagus garnish perfectly cooked. I did however find a lump of something brown in the bottom of the bowl. At first I thought it was supposed to be there, because it didn't taste bad, but there was only one, so we decided it was a stowaway.

For our mains Patty had the rack of lamb ($36) and I had the tenderloin with foie gras ($39). The meat for both dishes was cooked perfectly to order, as were the accompanying vegetables. My foie gras was a little overcooked for my preference, but I imagine my preference is probably on the undercooked side. Our observation was a thoughtful execution all round, however we thought the seasoning was a little heavy. We like a pretty intensely flavoured dish and don't shy away from salt, but it was borderline too much for us and made us think it would be over the top for some people.

Overall, we thought the food was really good, but priced a little high. If you're going to push above the $30 price point, I need to see something pretty exceptional. If nothing else, I would have made the foie gras on the steak optional and charged a supplement - I still would have ordered it, but I wouldn't have felt like I was ordering a $40 steak. Similarly, the main courses were pretty standard. Some nice ideas and good executions, but everyone in town has the same menu (one halibut, one salmon, one lamb, one beef and one vegetarian) and again at this price point I would have liked to see it mixed up a bit.

The service was fantastic. Sure, there were two servers and three tables, so it should be good, but I was impressed nonetheless. Both servers, tolerated our endless questions and gathered accurate answers from the kitchen when they didn't know the answers themselves. They exhibited an above average level of wine knowledge and were generally swell guys to chat with for a couple of hours.

They wine list is acceptable, with a reasonable selection and balance. Weirdly, there are no vintages - even on the reserve list. If I'm going to pay over $50 (let alone $250) for a bottle of wine, I want to see the vintage.  They should do more with the wine list, because to me this space screams out wine bar. Fair enough, I like wine bars, but I don't think I'm the only one. Give me more wines by the glass and I'll come more often. Similarly, improve the small plate menu and I'll come drink and eat even more often.

I used to visit Temple often, to drink and to eat, often in the later part of the evening. I liked the space and it was unique in Victoria. They have, since then, made too many menu design changes and people no longer know what to expect. I think they need to start pushing the booze, encourage small plates and get back to being a 'fun' place to go. An of course, the bed -- they need to get rid of it and put something new in its place. The bed was cool when they opened, but it's out of fashion now and everyone in town makes jokes about it. Make the bed space dynamic - make it functional art. If it's art, people will want to see it. 

My impression is that they need to get back to their roots. They don't need to be the same as they were, but they need to embrace the modernist concept they started with. Spend the weekend in a big city, get inspired and bring it home.

reviewed August 13, 2006





Having tried to visit the Temple on numerous occasions and failing, we finally walked by when it was open. (For whatever reason, their website states that they're open every day and for an extended period of time that was not the reality.)

After a slightly awkward seating experience (apparently, the server needed to check with the manager before he could seat us at one several empty tables), we took our seats and were quickly attended to by a friendly server.

Every time I go to the Temple the menu gets a little shorter, and this time they managed to get the booze and food lists on to two pages. Not a bad thing, we didn't struggle to make decisions. The wine list however, was a bit brief for my taste, but selections were acceptable.  We ended up with the 2003 Tinhorn Creek merlot ($37).

Since we're on a post-vacation diet, we opted to split our appy, settling on the tuna capaccio with heirloom tomatoes ($11). However, it was less like a carpaccio and more like slices of smoked tuna. Both the tuna and the tomatoes tasted nice and we were surprised by the freshness of the tomatoes this late in the season.

I had the halibut, with clams and yam and chorizo hash ($20). A pretty simple dish, it was very appropriate for my diet. The fish was fried with salt and pepper to a proper doneness. The clams were fresh, but most notable was the yam and chorizo hash. I nice idea, well executed, but I would have liked a little more heat in the sausage.

Patty had the beef tenderloin on cornbread with green bean salad ($21). Presented elegantly and cooked just shy of medium rare it was a satisfying choice. Patty was extremely enthusiastic about the use of corn bread as starch, saying that the sweetness and saltiness of the corn complemented the dish well. Having the cold green bean salad as an accompaniment on this hot dish, did strike Patty as unusual. While, they were flavourful, he noted the culinary school adage that you don't serve a cold item on a hot dish. Whether, the chef broke this rule deliberately or not, we don't know.

Of course, the Temple, is a beautiful restaurant (with exception to the silly bed in the middle of the room) and there's no doubt that it's a nice space to dine in. The service was good and we were pleased with the affordability of the menu. 

We also noted that they have a mussels and Belgian beer night on Thursdays - $10 for the beer and a bowl of mussels. I'll be back to check that out.


 Reviewed: October 24, 2005