Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Skinnytato: Fine Dining is a Mixed Bag

Skinnytato Polish Restaurant
615 Johnson Street
Victoria, B.C.
(250) 590-6550

J: A lesson to be learned by one hungry bloke is that a barely populated establishment does not a poor restaurant make. Or at least not below average in any sense of the word. It was a shoot-out between Skinnytato and Lotus Pond.

Ed had reinforced my doubts about the fact that we had recently done the Asian food scene to death. It was time to call for a change.

E: Yes, a change of pace was certainly in order. But on the street that I tend to traffic regularly, I was determined to try the three restaurants that sat alongside what I like to dub "Comic Book Row."

Today, we can knock one off the list. We initially showed up in that "in-between" time when restaurants take a break from serving the public, We killed time at Legends Comics & Books and upon returning, we could not help but admire the post-modernist decor of the digs.

We certainly soaked in the atmosphere. After ordering our meals, I think I can begin a certain love affair with the potato. Normally, I don't find these vegetables inviting, but in what they made it was deliciously addicting. I could eat two in one go!

J: The one thing I have to commend is that the owners are very personable. But that can be good or bad depending on if you want a conversation while you dine. At least the patrons at the table near us didn't appear to mind.

I was wishing I wouldn't have a server roosting around my table like the time I was at Langford's London Fish and Chips. But I was soon soothed, they knew where the line was drawn and they stepped back.

E: The appetizer and main dishes were very good. The red lentil soup very simple and delicious. The orange rind brought out the flavours.

And as I said before and I'll say it again, I found the potato pancake very appetizing. I've had versions thereof elsewhere, but they were not as good. On the side, there were four mini-scoop sized salads. They were more like teasers to a full plate. While I enjoyed the multitude of flavours, I think some menu tinkering is in order. When customers know which salad they really want, a full sized portion should be offered instead of a fixed menu listing.

I liked their version of a coleslaw. It had peas and that helped give this salad an extra oompa that I could dance along to.

J: And my Deluxe Polish Platter ($17.85) certainly did have some wee Wonka worker in it (so that would explain why only Deep Roy was left in the cast of the new film). The polish sausage was only as good as the best pre-frozen store-bought. Great for a Mr. Tube Steak option but not for a restaurant hoping for fine dining at these prices.

The perogies were of various fills (sauerkraut was my favourite) but these were definitely home-made. The cook moulded them with a fork rather than the fingers. The cabbage rolls come in a pair on the deluxe order. I had only hoped they would multiply into a herd. A really good cabbage roll is one that is soft on the inside as well as the outside. Someone cooked them to perfection. The marriage of rice and meat was a happy one.

E: Too bad the desert was not. I saw that James had problems with it. I liked the little side of the pineapple topped with a round scoop of ice cream. In terms of taste, I thought the coconut crepes were off. I could smell the heavy sprinkling of cinnamon, but I did not taste it. The plum sauce made the ice cream stand out, but it cancelled out some of the other flavours.

J: Even the ice cream in the desert wasn't exceptional. I suspected Island Farms but unless I had a kitchen pass, I'll never know without asking. Crepes should usually be served warm but a chill was set in mine before they were placed at our table.

I'll have to ask if these were reheated or if the cook took too long in adding the finery. In either case the desert was still overpriced especially with cream that tasted like it came from a can.

Would I pay more if things were improved? Perhaps. Skinnytato may wave the fine dining flag, but if one is going to compete in Victoria's do or die restaurant scene, I would like to see them succeed.

But if no improvements come then I'm hoping the fine service will carry them. If that's not enough, Skinnytato has enough loyal customers to hoist them high in the air.

3 Blokes out of 5

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