by Doreen Marion Gee
This is the first in a six-part series of profiles on some of the Saanich Peninsula’s wonderful restaurants and pubs.
Beer on ice cream? Caressing my mouth, the malty thick liqueur and sweet dessert seem deliciously made for each other. The Charles Dickens Pub & Eatery in Sidney is an innovative, progressive restaurant, always wanting to thrill the palates of their customers with new cutting edge culinary creations. They offer excellent food and service but take it a step further – exploring a new universe of mouthwatering delights and treating people with that caring personal touch. Respecting their customers always means giving them more to enjoy. Welcome to the new age of food service.
Nick Coates is the general manager of Sidney’s Travelodge complex, which includes the Charles Dickens Pub. He exudes that warm easy confidence and silvery charm of someone with a lot of experience and success under their belt. The Pub and Eatery says “classy,” with a rich old-fashioned interior and a bar that literally shimmers with polished wood, brass and coloured glass. “We have this warm and cozy old English-Style Country Pub,” Nick reflects. They go the extra mile to have one of the largest selections of draft beer on the Peninsula.
Charles Dickens Pub & Eatery is breaking new ground with its innovative top-quality cuisine. “I would rank our food up there with any fine-dining place in Victoria,” says Nick, who speaks glowingly about his new chef, Joseph DuQuette, a Red Seal Certified and Chef de Cuisine Certified Chef: “Joe has made the quality of our food second to none.” The personable chef cooks his fare with “Joey Love:” “Our food is almost completely made in-house. Everything is cooked fresh and nothing comes in frozen.” He raves about his succulent Boneless Beef Short Ribs: “It’s a trade secret! The ribs are ‘Triple A’ Alberta beef, seared and spiced, giving them a dark rich taste. They have melt-in-your-mouth texture. The flavour will make you want more!”
At this eatery, boldness and innovation pump up the wow factor. That good old pint has been rebranded with a new chic. Beer is now a culinary experience: it is paired with and infused in their food. Joe: “A good portion of the menu has beer in it. Our Signature Burgers are made with Guinness-infused Cheddar and beef free of hormones and pesticides. Smithwick’s Beer is in our Mac and Cheese.” The friendly Chef assures patrons on alcohol-free diets that all the spirits are burned off during cooking, leaving nothing but a rich savoury taste behind. “The deep hops flavour gets back to Mother Nature,” Joe muses. Beer enhances and brings out new dimensions of palate-pleasing bliss. Due to today’s sophisticated palates, Charles Dickens keeps their menu cutting-edge and exciting.
Always trying to stay ahead of the game, Saturday afternoons will feature a pianist doing jazz and classical music on their new piano. They also keep their prices reasonable, so anybody can enjoy their fare. For another special touch, their entire menu is available all day.
As I sat enjoying the comfortable ambiance of the Charles Dickens Pub & Eatery , I watched the servers interacting with customers: a warm arm around a shoulder, a kind touch on the arm, a female server going to great lengths on her busy shift to make sure that an older man had his perfect HDTV image of the latest soccer championship. Customer service gets top billing along with the food. To Nick, two things are important: Acknowledging your customers and being able to anticipate what their needs are. “People like it here because they are treated the way that they want to be treated,” he says. Customers are greeted at the door and enjoy caring service. Respect for clients is paramount: their ground beef is pasteurized to ensure a safe eating experience.
“I want to get your trust and make you smile,” says Joe softly. When it comes to being “movers and shakers,” that says it all.