Here’s a fact: Victoria’s Inner Harbour is gorgeous. Follow the waters edge and you can walk through heritage James Bay, check out the Parliament buildings, snap a few selfies in front of the world famous Empress, check out LoJo and Chinatown, walk across the iconic Blue Bridge then look back and marvel at the Inner Harbour from the picturesque Songhees walkway. Now imagine a beautiful restaurant where you can rest from your walk, taste some of Victoria’s finest fare, sample craft beer, scan the impeccable wine list or imbibe on some hand crafted cocktails – all with the backdrop of that incredible view. Welcome to LURE.
We spoke to General Manager, Randy Burla and Executive Chef, Dan Bain about what it’s like working in such a beautiful place and what they’ve got up their sleeves for the fall at LURE.
TASTE MAG: Now I know we have to say goodbye to the Victoria’s Hottest Patio event as the summer has come to a close, but I understand that you’ve got some really great weekend parties planned for the fall!
RANDY BURLA: Yeah, this summer for Victoria’s Hottest Patio: Sunday Sessions we had DJ’s on the patio every Sunday afternoon and it just took off! The response was so incredible that we wanted to keep the party going so-to-speak. So we’ve moved the event inside and now we’re hosting Weekend House Party every Friday and Saturday night from 6pm-11pm. We didn’t miss a beat and neither did our guests! We’re packed and they’re such fun nights!
TM: I can imagine! LURE is such a great space! But I understand that as well as hosting Weekend House Party you’ve also got a new fall menu rolling out. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
RB: Sure! Our Fall Menu is really about taking our current menu and re-creating the dishes to be heartier. We’re going for a menu that really says comfort – exactly what you crave when the weather gets cold. Chef Dan is going to be working with root vegetables a lot. They’re so abundant, plus they only get sweeter with time! We’re also bringing on new local suppliers and adding new products to enhance our menus for the fall. Our goal is always to be as local, sustainable and seasonal as possible.
TM: That sounds like a perfect fall menu! Victoria certainly is in for a treat! Lets talk about the restaurant itself for a moment. I’ve been here a few times and with each visit I’ve left feeling the same way: LURE really has something special about it. What do you think gives it that je ne sais quoi?
RB: LURE is unique for so many reasons. First, I’d have to attribute that ‘something special’ to the view. You just won’t find such a stunning, un-impeded view of the Inner Harbour. Then there is the patio. It really is a ‘wow’ factor. It’s large so it accommodates lots of guests, which means that everyone gets to enjoy the incredible view. The size of the restaurant itself is also a huge draw for people. We can accommodate almost any size of group because of the sheer size of the space. Our menus are so well thought out and our food made with such care, our guests are always impressed. Plus, because we work in such high volume, our menus are designed to cater to any party size. We’ve hosted everything from birthday and office parties to pub-crawls, so if you’re looking for experts when it comes to large groups – you know who to call!
TM: Thinking local is obviously so important for you at LURE, does that extend beyond the food to any local charities?
RB: Yeah! We’re very committed to supporting our community, which is why we utilize as many local products as possible. But, how could you not?! There are so many amazing local producers; from farmers to breweries, we’re very fortunate here in Victoria to have access to such high quality products. Besides our support of local suppliers though, since our re-opening, we’re really proud to say that we’ve been involved in and supported, many local charities and charity events and will continue to do so in the future. In July we were really proud and honoured to have a float in the annual Victoria Pride Parade. It was a great event, a fantastic turnout and it gave us the opportunity to support the Victoria Pride Society and promote and celebrate diversity in Victoria. Plus, we had a blast!
TM: Pride is one of my favourite events. It’s totally a summer must! Now it’s time to get personal guys. We want to know more about you two! Tell me something not many people know (or would suspect!) about you. Dan we haven’t heard much from you, why don’t you start:
DAN BAIN: Ok…well I originally wanted to be a marine biologist!
TM: No way! That’s awesome! Randy?
RB: Hmm…I used to own and operate my own restaurant. That counts right?
TM: Totally! It makes that sense LURE is so successful; you’ve got lots of experience under your belt! So how long have you both been in Victoria?
DB: I’ve been here for about 15 years now. I grew up in the Cowichan Valley though, so I consider myself a long-time local.
RB: It’ll be about 3 years now. I spent last fall and winter, about 7 months in all, opening a new restaurant at our sister hotel in Toronto. Before that, I spent 3 years in Vancouver but I’m from Winnipeg originally.
TM: You find yourself totally free on a day off, what are you most likely to get up to?
DB: When I can, I love cruising around North Saanich looking for Farmers Markets and little stands to buy local produce and products from. I’ve found some great stuff on my hunts!
RB: I love just rambling around Victoria and soaking it in, it’s such a beautiful city. I also love having dinner parties with my friends. There’s nothing better than cooking, eating and drinking with the awesome people in my life.
TM: Who inspires you?
DB: Steve Jobs, because he thought outside the box
RB: There are so many people who inspire me for different reasons, so I wouldn’t be able to choose just one! But I do love the saying “always leave things better than you found them” which is what I always strive for.
TM: Thanks for the honesty guys, no more personal stuff I promise! Let’s get back to LURE; how does being a Victoria restaurant inspire LURE?
RB: Hands down, the location and the view. It just doesn’t get better than this. Victoria is such a gorgeous city and we have arguably the very best view of the best part of the city, the Inner Harbour. Our customers can’t get enough of it and our staff loves it too.
TM: What do you love about working in the Victoria dining scene?
RB: It’s a pretty tight knit community so it’s really great to have so many familiar faces coming in. Everyone really knows everyone, it’s like our own little support group!
TM: What have you seen change in the Victoria dining scene in the last decade? And what do you see changing in the next decade?
RB: People have become more aware of the importance of buying and consuming local products. Not only does it stimulate the local economy and support local agriculture but buying local means that the produce is so fresh and flavourful, our dishes are just that much better. In the next decade? Wow. I dunno, probably more casual dining and more socially inspired food.
TM: How would you describe LURE if it were a person?
RB: LURE is that awesome, loyal friend that knows the community like the back of their hand. They’re smart but never pretentious and are awesome at meeting people and making friends – they make everyone feel comfortable and welcome. They’re that friend that you always call whether it’s a huge party or just the two of you, they somehow know exactly what you need.