Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lady Marmalade: An Homage To Freshness And Quality In Retro-Hip Confines

Lady Marmalade, 608 Johnson Street Map Victoria, BC

Imagine Cabin 12 or Flyod's Diner, but with a patchwork of random, time machine-obtained 1960's kitchen tables and chairs, which indubitably secures Lady Marmalade's retro-hip ambience among local hipsters. This was my first time dining here after countless walk-bys, and once inside the restaurant I was pleasantly surprised to discover an entire section hidden from passerby view.

We arrived yesterday around mid-day, which had us debating whether to go with breakfast or lunch. We ended ordering from both sides of the menu and shared it all. One distinctive feature of their eggs Benedict (we had the brie, avocado and bacon version) is the hollandaise sauce with its bright, cheerful incorporation of lemon. And when served on two free-run eggs, nothing wrong going on here. In fact, I'd say it's among the best eggs Benedict in the city. In addition to pan-fried potatoes, the well presented plate comes with a small cup of salad, which is a nice touch, and I suspect very intentional from a culinary vantage. This dish at most other places tends to be a sauce-rich, starch fest. Marmalade's addition of a salad has the vinegar in that salad nicely cutting the fat and starch in your stomach. It's the same reason sauerkraut goes so well with schnitzel, or why purple vinegary cabbage is almost a must with fatty roast duck. As such, Marmalade's eggs Benedict leaves one feeling satisfied, yet not food-comatosed and bloated.

Our lunch selection was the chicken club sandwich, which lacks the traditional third layer of toasted bread, so I'm more inclined to simply call it a chicken sandwich. Semantics aside, it's a good sandwich, especially the really chewy, fresh Wildfire Bakery sourdough bread. The accompanying  potato & cheese soup was less of a highlight, more of an afterthought. But I've had worse soups with my lunches in this town.

What really stands out at places like this is the homage to freshness and quality ingredients. Consumers are increasingly smart about food quality and gone are the days when a kitchen can simply use Wonderbread and processed foods and hope to get away with it. The plate presentations at Marmalade are also a cut above, not what I expect for a hipster diner. Such attention to detail does end up making a difference, and my hat is off to Lady Marmalade for knowing this.

Some cretins on Urbanspoon have complained about the relatively long time it takes for a meal to reach the table at Marmalade, to which I reiterate what is written on the menu: "Good food, made to order, takes time, be patient." In other words, chill out. If you want fast food, go to McDonald's.

Lady Marmalade on Urbanspoon