Le Petit Dakar, 711 Douglas Street,Victoria, BC
Le Petit Dakar is among the several new tenants occupying the small shops at the Crystal Garden building (see my review of Awesome Coffee), across from the bus station. While this Senegalese food place does have a couple of tables, it is primarily a takeout restaurant, which I think will work well in that transit-oriented part of downtown. And when they aren't catering to tourists and transients, Dakar will be serving the healthy population of civil servants who work in the area and desperately crave an alternative to the dreaded Spaghetti Factory.
The cuisine of Senegal is influenced by French, Italian and Portuguese colonialism in the region, so you're likely to see some familiar foods here. I tried the Domoda (Sengalese beef bourguignon), which normally comes with rice, but I was given couscous. Le Petit Dakar's rendition of this classic French dish is quite good, more rustic (bone-in beef chunks) than the European version, and goes wonderfully with couscous. And at $8.25, it's a lot cheaper than what you'd pay at a snooty Euro-bistro. My only complaint was that it was served lukewarm, which I take some responsibility for. I arrived well before noon as they were setting up their food bar, and obviously their food wasn't yet at its ideal temperature. In addition to Domoda, I had a couple small somasoa-like pastries, which were stuffed with sweet potato -- very yummy. They do everything from scratch.
Their menu has some really interesting things on it, which will add much needed diversity to the downtown food scene. I'm a big fan of African chicken dishes, so I look forward to trying the Yassa Au Poulet. You will also find curries, seafood, eggplant lasagna and even pizza on the menu.
The owners have their food roots in the catering business, and it was apparent during my visit that they are no strangers to food preparation, evidenced in the well organized, sparkling-clean kitchen. They are also very nice people, cheerfully answering my many questions about their operation.