Victoria is a fantastic food destination with many brew pubs and little bistros. We tried to hit one of the local brunch hotspots but the lineups were just way too unwieldy to risk with a hungry toddler. I wish we had more time and less baby to explore the city properly, but I’m sure we’ll be back again soon.

We did get one great meal at Ferris’ Oyster Bar to catch up with Dr. Spencer and the doctor’s missus, Christina (who has posted her favourite Victoria spots).

There’s actually two Ferris restaurants. One on the ground floor which is more of a traditional setting, and the upstairs oyster bar that’s more casual and loud (which is good for masking kids’ noise).

You can’t go to an oyster bar without sampling the bivalves, so we started with a dozen shucked oysters ($24). The beautiful, shiny oysters from different parts of the Pacific Northwest came with various accoutrements like fresh horseradish, cucumber mignonette and cocktail sauce.

We proceeded to order an array of plates to share, which is really the best way to sample Ferris’ menu.

  • The smoked seafood plate ($12) showcased cherry-wood smoked oysters, hot smoked sockeye salmon, rainbow trout, cold-smoked albacore tuna, sided with butter, crostini and Cyprus black sea salt.
  • I usually don’t like paying for dips but the trio of spreads ($9) had so much flavour with cumin-spiced humous, minted Macedonian feta and a spicy Muhammarah (red pepper and walnut spread). For both the seafood plate and the dips, we had to ask for more accompanying carbs.
  • The antipasto plate ($15) had ample savoury and rich for all four of us: salty prosciutto, spicy Spanish chorizo, lemon chili marinated prawns, olives, cipollini onions, and a head of roasted garlic.

A simple watermelon feta salad, which was a special that day, was just as tasty as the more substantial chermoula-marinated B.C. halibut ($25), which we also split. You know how sides are sometimes just bit players? The bed of Greek-smashed potatoes, spicy harissa and herbed yogurt were a very strong supporting cast.

Ferris’ encompassed the best of what I think of as B.C. dining: laid-back, fresh, and seasonal.

As is the strength with most B.C. restaurants, Ferris’ has quite a few microbrew beers and B.C. wines on its list.

Of note, a children’s menu is available on both floors. For $6, H got an adult-sized plate of penne with tomato sauce and cheese that he would have tried to finish if we didn’t take it away.

Ferris’ Oyster Bar, upstairs 536 Yates St., Victoria, B.C., (250) 382-2344. Open Sunday to Thursday 5-11 p.m., Friday & Saturday 4 p.m.-midnight, Saturday brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Reservations strongly recommended.

Ferris' Upstairs Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Child-friendly notes – Children’s menu available.
Room for strollers: No. We folded ours up and put it under the table.
High chairs: Yes.
Change table: No.
Access: Long flight of stairs up to the oyster bar.