Opinion: I (finally) had a legendary meal in Victoria but the restaurant has shut down

I passed the three-month mark of living in Victoria recently and have been looking back at all of the things that have happened to me in that time.

From dealing with sleazy landlords while searching for housing to enjoying how little traffic there is here compared with Metro Vancouver, it’s been a wild ride.

The food scene in Greater Victoria has been a revelation, especially the large number of lunch options that are only a few blocks from our downtown office.

I’ve had some pretty good food in the past three months, but what I haven’t had yet is a truly legendary meal with food that made my toes curl.

Until Wednesday night, that is.

That’s when I stopped by the Oak Bay Marina Restaurant for dinner and had the doors blown off me.

This, of course, should be good news, but it was more sad than anything because the Marina Restaurant is closing its doors forever on Sunday, March 5.

The management asked diners to come out to help the restaurant go out with a bang after being in this spot since the 1970s.

I figured I might as well help them do just that – and I wasn’t disappointed.

The meal was incredible, with a burrata salad and then a mind-blowing entrée of sablefish with duck fat potatoes, grilled onions, vegetables, pumpkin puree, lemon hollandaise and a cucumber salad that cut through all those rich sauces.

Simply the best meal I’ve had since coming to Victoria – made even better with that stunning view of the ocean.

And now it’s all gone.

It was an emotional night. Customers were hugging all of the serving staff and people had actual tears in their eyes.

My server couldn’t even talk about how she felt because she was losing her job at a place she’d worked at for 22 years.

I should note here that I received the best service of any restaurant since I’ve moved here.

Just impeccable.

Oak Bay and Greater Victoria diners are losing a real gem as conditions have made life extremely difficult for any restaurant that doesn’t have deep pockets behind it like Cactus Club.

“This was a very difficult decision to make, and our first concern is for the staff and their families. We know this is hard for them and we are doing everything we can to transition them into new employment immediately,” CEO Brook Castelsky said in a statement earlier this week.

“Labour shortages, supply issues and inflation have made it difficult for many in the hospitality industry. Many hospitality companies are desperate for workers and we believe our employees will be welcomed by many organizations.”

The Oak Bay restaurant joins a list of eateries in Greater Victoria closed in recent months. After 90 years of serving the community, Old Vic Fish and Chips on Broad Street in Victoria closed in January. The restaurant was located in a building scheduled for redevelopment.

Agrius Restaurant on Yates Street in Victoria also cited inflation as factor when it closed mid-January.

Add to that list the Lotus Pond Vegetarian Restaurant on Johnson Street after more than 20 years.

Expect more eateries to close as inflation continues to skyrocket.

– With files from Christine van Reeuwyk

RELATED: ‘It felt like home’: Beloved Victoria restaurant closing after more than 20 years

Chris Campbell is an editor with Black Press Media in the Victoria hub of newspapers. You can follow him on Twitter @shinebox44.

Do you have a story tip? Email: chris.campbell@blackpress.ca.

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