My dear friend Alice and I visited Rebar on a Tuesday night after I learned that she had never been there before. As a vegetarian dining-out enthusiast, Rebar is old stomping ground to me. In a way, it represents the epitome of creative vegetarian food in Victoria – for me, anyway. During my many visits to Rebar over the years, I have had a variety of experiences – some great, some less great. The thing I love about Rebar is also the thing I hate about Rebar: their cuisine is creative, innovative, and complicated. Perhaps sometimes too complicated. Rebar does not do simple food, but at least you know it won’t be a boring meal. Also, I should mention that they have a great line of freshly prepared juices and smoothies, which are delicious and definitely worth trying.
I will preface this section of the review with the fact that I have a personal affinity for colour and eccentricity. If you don’t, then this may not be the place for you! Rebar is has brightly coloured walls, floral oilcloth tablecloths, and jello molds/plastic dinosoars as decorative objects. It is quirky and fun, with a lot of charm that makes you want to go back.
I have always found the service at Rebar to be quite good. The servers do their job, and are polite and friendly. They don’t ask you about your day or compliment you or appear thrilled to be serving you but that’s probably a bit much to ask for an overworked university student anyway.
As I mentioned earlier, the food at Rebar is creative and innovative, which is normally a good thing but can occasionally be problematic. One thing I have noticed about Rebar is that certain items on their menu tend to change, and certain other items seem to be mainstays (the quesadillas, enchiladas, curries/stirfrys, burger, etc). In my mind, if you stick with the mainstays, you can be guaranteed a good meal. However, that way exactly what I didn’t do. Just for fun.
Following the delivery of Rebar’s delicious, herby, salty bread (which was a little too oily for my liking, albeit good); our entrees arrived. Alice got a bowl of Monk’s Curry, which, for 12$, was a generous portion. The curry had an excellent veggie+tofu-to-rice ratio, and she seemed to enjoy it very much. I’ve also had the curry before, and I always found it to be delicious.
I feel like I could write a novel about this meal. I had the Tempeh Reuben, with a side of the daily soup (carrot, rhubarb, and poached pear), and it left me with mostly positive, but somewhat mixed feelings. The soup, as you may imagine from the ingredient list, was weird, and I almost contemplated not eating it following my first bite. It was sort of sour, kind of sweet, and ‘gritty’ – as if it hadn’t been pureed well enough. It was ok, but not good – possibly another case of overcomplication. However, the Reuben left me pleasantly surprised. I am a big fan of tempeh (fermented soy product), but had never had a reuben before; I found the combination of flavours unique and rather yummy! Dijon mustard, russian dressing, sauerkraut, beets…. it worked! It was good! I was happy.
Dessert! Of course! Now, I’m not generally one to get dessert when I go out; but Rebar’s mouth-watering dessert case greets you as you walk through the door, and leaves you thinking about dessert throughout the meal. Rebar brings in their desserts through Cascadia bakery, as they are jointly owned. The pie was delicious, and had a unique almond essence flavour that brought it to the next level. However, I would argue that they could probably tone down the almond a little. It wasn’t detrimental to the pie, but it was a little overpowering.
Rebar is pretty good value. They have good food, much of it is local/organic etc, and the prices aren’t bad. However, I wish their ravioli wasn’t 18$, because it looks delicious – I would have tried it had it been a couple dollars cheaper. Most of their entrees hover around the 14 dollar mark, which is doable, and pretty standard for Victoria.
Rebar is, in my mind, something of a must-do Victoria experience. It is quirky, usually yummy, and always interesting.