Inside the Bel-Aire Clarion Hotel and Conference Center at 2800 West 8th Street is Victor’s Restaurant. Amanda and I stopped in to try some appetizers on Friday night. There were only a few full tables so we didn’t need a reservation. Our server, Rebecca, told us about the featured dishes, got us some drinks, and left us to look over the menu. We asked Rebecca about some of her favorites and we ended up settling on four appetizers for us to share: Margherita flatbread pizza, Bavarian pretzel sticks, Reuben egg rolls, and coconut shrimp.
All of the food came out together and in good time. We started with the Margherita pizza. A thin stretched pizza crust was topped with butter, garlic, slices of roasted tomatoes, chopped basil, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. The crust with the butter and garlic was delicious. I would have loved the pizza to feature more of the roasted tomatoes. The acidity from the tomato was a great contrast to the heaviness of the cheese and butter as well as added some extra moisture to the crust. The cheese was chewy without being tough and was perfectly salty. Basil gave a fresh pop to each bite without being overwhelming. The outer crust edge by itself was pretty plain, but it didn’t take anything away from the pizza as a whole.
Next came the Bavarian pretzel sticks. Three large pretzel sticks were fried to a crispy brown. The insides had the wonderful, malty, soft pretzel taste and texture. I was happy to see that their wasn’t a ton of salt on the outside which allowed me to actually taste the pretzel dough. They were served with a house-made beer cheese. The cheese was super creamy and just slightly sweet which paired well with the salt. I started to dip my pizza crust into this cheese when I was done with the pretzels and probably could have finished it off with just a spoon. I sure the pretzel sticks would be just as good baked instead of deep fried.
The Reuben egg rolls were wonton wrappers stuffed full of corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut with a side of thousand island dressing for dipping. These were a bit on the heavy side. There seemed to be more wonton than filling so they ended up being doughy. The flavors of the Reuben components were delicious. The rolls weren’t overly greasy, or nearly as scalding hot as they appeared. Cutting them in half allowed the steam and heat to escape so they were edible without burning our mouths. The sauerkraut still had some of its funk to it which to me, makes a Reuben good. The corned beef was lean and fell apart with each bite. I wished there were more than just two, especially if these are being ordered as a shared appetizer. This wasn’t my favorite that we ordered, but I think it is still worth trying.
Finally came the coconut shrimp. I was shocked by how large they were. Six butterflied shrimp were coated in a light coconut breading and fried till golden. These were served with three different sauces: a pineapple mango chutney, a sweet Thai chili sauce, and a pineapple coconut cream sauce. All three paired well with the light coconut flavor of the breading. I felt that the creamy sauce was too sweet for me, but I loved the texture of it. The Thai sauce was my favorite because it added some heat to the sweetness. I would also try ordering these with a side of hot sauce or buffalo wing sauce next time. The extra spice would be fantastic.
Thank you to Rebecca for the great service and recommendations. Thank you to the kitchen for the quick and tasty meal. These are all great options for smaller options or as a bite to have with a drink.
The phone number for reservations is (814) 838-9270. The hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday Lounge from 4:30pm to 9pm, Kitchen from 5pm to 9pm, Friday and Saturday Lounge from 4:30pm to 10pm, Kitchen from 5pm to 10pm, and they serve lunch daily from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Until next time,
Andrew – Beard vs. Food