The Black Hat Restaurant Review
1005 Langley Street Victoria, British Columbia
By Matthew Davies
A muted grey interior with natural wood floors, and red accents highlighting drink napkins greets the diner upon entry. Tthe trademark black hat is prevalent inside with a mannequin wearing suit jacket and a black bowler hat, as well as multiple black bowler hats hung upon the walls and featured in the artwork. There is also a nostalgia filling the dining room that evokes a film noir essence, very reminiscent of a 1930s speakeasy with the ambiance of blues music and musical instruments behind the bar. A special detail to note is the wine cellar created from an old, large safe next to the bar area.
Appetizer: Truffled potato chips made in house
- A very light and airy chip with a crisy crunch and light salt cresting.
- Presented on large piece of kale, and a long Himalayan salt block. Sesame seed topper with green onion. Very fresh tuna aroma with a strong first salt taste, which transcends into a smooth tuna palette. Easy on the pallette going down.
Second Course: Beef tartare
Marc, the bartender, recommended this one. This is one of the only places to actually serve this dish.
Served with in-house sourdough bread
- Smooth start, with a slight hint of salt and white onion, and it combines for a kicker of green onion on the back of the pallette. A simple dish, and it’s easy to enjoy. For those with a discerning taste, this is certainly one dish not to be missed. The sourdough bread is crisp, fresh, and very tasteful; mouth-watering on its own.
Third/Main Course: Pan roasted duck breast, chili sesame sautéed snap peas, braced daicon, house sriracha sauce, duck spring roll
The spring roll is amazing. It has a classic fowl taste, combined with a crispy, light, yet fluffy filo pastry. This will surely make a duck lover smile with appreciation at this simple yet divine creation. The pan roasted duck breast is matched perfectly with the sriracha sauce, creating a fusion of flavour that electrifies the taste buds. The after taste has a simple hot mustard that lingers in your mouth keeping it watering for the next bite. The snap peas in the house sesame soy sauce are a delectable conflagration of heat and crunch. The soy has a fast salty bite to begin with, but quickly saturates the tongue with a kind of sesame joy and an infusion of classical heated spice. The fresh sprouts are another perfect combo with the snap peas.
Dessert: Lemon ricotta zeppole
Fresh Italian doughnuts fried to order with raspberry sugar and a lemon honey frozen yogurt. A warm waft of raspberry delight fullness accompanies the dish sending shiver through your sweet tooth. Made to order they are a simple looking yet surprising dish. The lemon honey yoghurt contrasts sharply with the raspberry zeppole to create an explosion of hot and cold tastes all at once. While a complex flavor with many directions, this beautiful dish with surprising depth is the perfect palette cleanser. Be careful when ordering, you companions will be fighting you for this dish. It is that good.
About the proprietor, Sam Chalmers
Sam has lived in Victoria for 10 years and is orginially from Prince George and Edmonton. He has been in the restaurant industry since he was 13 years old. H’e s inspired by his life events and experiences in the dishes he creates, and his mother is also involved in creating the food. Tuna tataki is his signature dish, and both he and his mother designed the look, feel and decor of The Black Hat.
Sam has always worn a black fedora while cooking, which became his trademark.
Overall, the restaurant is food forward, with a priority placed on food first, but with ambiance of a speak easy to enhance the experience. I loved the historical significance and look of the rattenbury building.