Breakwater Bistro and Tasting Room
199 DALLAS RD, VICTORIA 250 -386 -8080
B R E A K WAT E R B I S T R O . C A
The Helm brothers and their talented team have re-imagined a popular Victoria landmark for a new generation. IT’S HARD TO CALL a restaurant a “hidden gem” when it commands a chunk of real estate with spectacular views sitting on one of the city’s most prominent points. But I have to say, the stylishly modernized Breakwater Bistro and Tasting Room (which locals will remember as the more casual Ogden Point Café) is the kind of neighbourhood local that was not really on my radar—until now, that is. The Breakwater is a tale of two enterprising brothers and two chefs, a collaboration that’s turned a longtime soup and sandwich stop in James Bay into a destination for all-day casual dining, local brews, and some of the most exceptional tacos in town. Which has put it solidly JACQUELINE DOWNEY
into my casual restaurant rotation. The Helm brothers, Mike and Adam, grew up in Victoria, where their parents built popular neighbourhood pubs like Maude Hunter’s and Christie’s Carriage House. Their grandfather founded Helm’s Inn, behind the Royal BC Museum, so local hospitality and history run in the family. In 2010, the brothers jumped into the local restaurant business themselves, opening McRae’s Bistro at the corner of Shelbourne Street and McRae Avenue, a popular place for casual dining and local music. When they acquired the Ogden Point Café late in 2012, they began the busi-
Chef s David Furlonger (L) Israel Alvarez (R)
ness of upgrading the aging building, with new structures inside and out, and rebranded it the Breakwater Café and Bistro. It’s been an ongoing process, but now there’s a big open kitchen
When Furlonger moved upstairs to create the elevated bistro menu, they lured Mexicanborn Israel Alvarez from Edmonton (more on his creative contributions later).
and modern bistro/bar with impressive ocean views, and a tasting room downstairs with its own dedicated kitchen and chef. They’ve remodelled the menu, created a cool, industrial-chic
Furlonger grew up in Canmore but headed west early in his career and soon combined
space for morning, afternoon, and late-night noshing, and created a showcase for local music.
his love of the outdoors with foraging wild foods for the plate. With experience living and surfing around the world—from North Africa to Central America and our wild west coast—
After the final, six-month reno in 2019, the new Breakwater Bistro and Tasting Room was
Furlonger brings a multicultural eye to his coastal cuisine. Though the bistro menu includes
re-launched with a grand opening party in October.
many casual favourites, from fried chicken to burgers, the focus is always on local ingredi-
Chef David Furlonger, a keen surfer, forager, and lover of all things local, has been along for the ride. Furlonger first worked with the brothers on the food offerings at the outdoor Breakwater Barge party, held every Friday night during the summer months, then found a place to show-
ents, often with a wild, foraged, or naturally fermented twist. The BC Halibut and Chips is battered with gluten-free chickpea flour and comes with kelp tartare sauce and Furlonger’s seasonal, house-fermented vegetables. Fermented ketchup
case his charcuterie and fermentation skills when the Helm brothers converted the former
tops the Two Rivers organic beef burger, sockeye salmon poke is seasoned with his own bull
surf shop into the Tasting Room.
kelp gomasio, and the wild mushroom toast features a variety of locally foraged mushrooms. “Kelp is a big ingredient for me, and we use mushrooms, berries, and lots of wild greens in season—chickweed, nettles, and sea lettuce,” says Furlonger, the in-house forager. “Here we can do it all year.” The upstairs bistro and bar is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, with a Café to Go counter just inside the entrance offering takeaway coffee and baked goods for those who want to stroll the historic breakwater or enjoy the views from a park bench. The evening-only Tasting Room (open 4-11 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday), accessed through its own entrance or from an outdoor staircase from the bistro, has a casual vibe, with happy JACQUELINE DOWNEY
hour prices from 4-6 and 9 to close. There’s a comfortable bar with high-top tables and local craft beer on tap, a cozy enclosed patio, and a unique menu available only to downstairs diners. This is where you’ll find chef Israel Alvarez and his authentic Mexican nixtamal tortillas. Transplanted from Mexico City to Victoria via Edmonton last year, Alvarez is channelling his Mexican roots with the story of heirloom corn and the tradition of nixtamalization, an
Wild Mushroom Toas t with sumac, smashed avocado, foraged mushroom, and chili oil
16 MARCH/APRIL 2020
ancient process devised by early Mayan and Aztec civilizations. His tortillas are made from