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Good News for Victoria: “Emmaline’s” is Coming to Quadra Village

Emmaline’s is the new Victoria-based concept from Elizabeth Bryan – the powerhouse behind former, sorely missed Mount Pleasant spot, Dock Lunch – with business partners Fabio Caboclo and Daniel Peres.

The project is still in the construction phase, but by the time summer rolls around, the 2,400 square foot space should be ready to welcome customers into each of their roughly 70 seats (26 of which will be outside on the patio).

We recently took a tour of the space, and despite the presence of drop cloths, furniture corralled to small pockets of the room, and grout drying on the tile flooring, it was easy to see the direction that things were headed. Once home to Bubba Rose Bakery, the building features large windows and a charming patio that captures the afternoon sun. The square footage is significantly bigger than what Bryan was working with at her previous Vancouver establishment, but she’s ready for it! And she is the first one to point out that, although there will be familiar elements (mismatched vintage plates and cutlery, comfort food and warm hospitality) she’s not reviving Dock Lunch. Emmaline’s is something entirely new.

This Quadra Village neighbourhood restaurant will take it’s character cues from the building, the surrounding community, and the city…as well as from Bryan and Peres – both of whom are in the space  daily, scrubbing tiles, mounting lights and painting walls.

For Victoria locals (and those hardcore Vancouverites who, like us, see Emmaline’s as a great reason to hop on the ferry) the wait won’t be very long. Stay tuned for updates. And, in the meantime, as you count off the days until this vision comes into reality, find out more about what to expect via our recent interview with Bryan below:

Tell us about the concept, in brief.

Emmaline’s will serve up neighbourhood bistro food and a welcome that makes everyone feel like a regular. We were inspired by our favourite neighbourhoods and “locals” in our favourite cities, including New York, New Orleans and Vancouver. We have two Brazilian partners, so expect to see a Sao Paulo influence in our menu, decor, pop-ups and playlists.

What do you want people to experience?

I want Emmaline’s to be a space that begs you to settle in the moment you set foot in the door. This could mean pushing tables together outside, and calling your friends and neighbours who work nearby; or curling up in a corner with a book on a winter afternoon. I’m throwing my weight behind table service in a counter service world. I miss giving it, and really miss receiving it. Casual but detailed service. Satisfying food. Smiling.

What about this neighbourhood/space caught your attention and motivated you to jump into opening a restaurant and bar, when many would be wary?

People are increasingly opting to stay in the neighbourhoods they live in when entertaining themselves. This has both up- and down-sides, but you can be sure it’s one sign of a city moving up a level on a world scale; neighbourhoods become distinct destinations in and of themselves. I watched this happen in Vancouver, and it is happening in Victoria, where I now live. The Quadra Village is lively and unpretentious, and I hope to help preserve that. The neighbuorhood sees a constant stream of foot traffic, bikes, buses… the skateboards catching the slope at Emmaline’s touch a chord. When I saw the patio here I had flashbacks to those halcyon East Van days circa 1999 – Havana, The Reef…

What is the menu all about?

We inherited a pizza oven. Pizza was a food I was happy to leave to others to sort out, but for now this is our primary cooking source. I had to reach back and lean on the first pie that changed my opinion of pizza forever: Tomato Pies in Trenton, New Jersey, the summer I was 16. We’ll have a small fixed menu of tomato pies, lasagne, rustic pastas, bistro salads, bistro boards (brandade, tartar, pickled shrimp, flatbreads and spreads), and American-style layer cakes. Plus, a larger feature menu and a brunch menu that changes often to suit whim, demand and seasonal produce.

We have a very limited kitchen, not unlike Dock Lunch. We’ll need to be careful not to put it under strain, given the increased seating. We have a “Phase 2 Plan” to expand our kitchen, but I’d like to be operational first to see exactly where we must invest to meet demand. Everyone knows how precarious this industry is. If and when Emmaline’s is working, that’s when we can afford to make it better.

What is the beverage program going to look like?

The cocktail list will be what you would find in a solid, simple hotel bar. The wine list will be curated, small, unique and changing. South American, Portuguese and local wines will be represented, with friends and former collaborators weighing in and hosting pop ups. Two beers, one cider, one cocktail, and wine on tap. My mom has asked for Egg Creams. I rummaged the glasses, but we’ll see – I’m not certain they’d float on this coast.

Elizabeth Bryan from Emmaline’s in Victoria, BC | Photo by Scout Magazine

Will you be doing all the cooking?

Not as much as I did at Dock, although I will create the menus, test the food and do long graveyard prep shifts. I’m hoping to be on the brunch line, but I’m also looking forward to moving FOH during peak operations. As much as I love cooking, I’m more relaxed when serving and running around the room.

Big question: your personality is synonymous with that of Dock Lunch, which was much loved and very hard for many to let go of. In Victoria, you chose not to resurrect Dock Lunch. Can you explain this decision?

One of my favourite lines of poetry is: “And makes me end, where I begun.” (John Donne, A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.) It’s an intensely romantic line! That it popped into my head with this question is somewhat comic. What I mean is, the line where Dock stopped and I started was really damn blurry; it was my home after all… I might try to leave a little off the table this time.

Are there elements of Dock Lunch that fans will be able to feel at Emmaline’s?

Yes. Decor, menu and service will be personal, warm and decisive. I expect a creative brunch program to be the main show. Bottomless coffee is available. Coffee drinks, espresso, are not. The Dock Lunch garden is being transplanted here, and our patio will be dog friendly. The whole point is to bring people together and get them talking. Since I’ll be on the floor more, that’s a promise.

How will Emmaline’s be different?

It’s bigger, so there are elements of Dock Lunch that won’t transfer such as a menu that changed every single day. With more hands on deck, reservations, events and stockists will run more smoothly. With more space, we won’t regularly run out of seats or food. This is good news for brunch lovers. Emmaline’s will have more structured hours and menu, which allows the customers to be more spontaneous in terms of dropping in.

Opening Team:
Elizabeth Bryan | Owner/General Manager/Creative & Operations Director
Fabio Caboclo | Admin, Finance & Business Strategy
Daniel Peres | System Operations, Admin and Creative Mediator

Anticipated Opening: Summer 2024

Region: Victoria
2571a Quadra St.
(Opening soon)

There is 1 comment

  1. Very much looking forward to experiencing the food & ambiance of Emmaline’s. Great location. I wish you success here in our cool little pocket of Victoria!

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