Countdown: Pictured yesterday are chef de cuisine at Victoria Grill Tom Tabor, right, discussing the menu for the opening day with Kevin Rhyno, manager and maitre d'. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Countdown: Pictured yesterday are chef de cuisine at Victoria Grill Tom Tabor, right, discussing the menu for the opening day with Kevin Rhyno, manager and maitre d'. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12: There is a new North American-style bistro in town. Victoria Grill, named because of its location at 29 Victoria Street, opens its doors today for business.

The former Latin restaurant, part of the Island Restaurant Group, has undergone a rebranding and is very much a response to the needs and tastes of diners.

Philip Barnett, president of Island Restaurant Group Ltd, said: “We should point out that the idea for the Latin restaurant came up five years ago. People change, the economy changes, but we continue to look forward to provide our customers what they need on a regular basis.

The restaurateur explained that after canvassing his regulars and his key guests, what emerged was the need for a widely appealing menu and “we obviously have responded as necessary”.

Kevin Rhyno, who for the past two years has become a well-known figure running Barracuda Grill, will now be the manager and maitre d’ at Victoria Grill.

“Clients know what Kevin stands for,” Mr Barnett said. “Attentive excellent service with a personal touch, attention to detail, and making sure that everyone’s needs are taken care of. Those things Kevin will focus on here.”

Tom Tabor, formerly of Seahorse Grill, is chef de cuisine. “Tom has been working for us for a couple of years,” Mr Barnett said. “He had already established a reputation cooking at Seahorse Grill and now he has established a name for himself cooking for us.”

The Bermuda Sun asked Mr Barnett, whose other restaurants are Barracuda Grill, Hog Penny and Pickled Onion, whether over the past five years people’s dining habits have changed and whether this was owing to an economic decline.

“I think it is combination of both,” Mr Barnett said. “If you talk to any restaurateur in Bermuda they will tell you it is certainly a tough market to exist in. That is why it is more important than every to listen to what your customers are saying and to give them what they want.”

Victoria Grill is a response to that listening and provides a neat fit with the other restaurants within the Island Restaurant Group, according to Mr Barnett.

“We do fine dining at Barracuda, and casual is covered by Hog Penny and Pickled Onion. We are strategically placed in the middle ground — not quite casual, but definitely a place where business people can bring their clients, and also a place for people to go without having to save up to do so, as well as being ideal for a special occasion.

“I think Victoria Grill’s appeal is from a value point of view. We are making sure our menu has as wide appeal as possible. Everyone is looking to get maximum value that is why we need a menu that appeals to everyone in the group, but not only from the menu point of view but for price and value.”

As for the menu, Mr Barnett said they have cast their net as wide as possible.

“We have our fabulous steak frites [char grilled skirt steak] and at the same time we recognize that some people might just want a hamburger.

Guacamole lovers can relax, as Victoria Grill will continue to serve this popular dish.

Brazil-style churrasco dinner will be served on Sunday evenings and patrons will be treated to swords of fire grilled meats and seafood.

Vegetarians are not forgotten, as a vegetable-style jambalaya will be available along with Mediterranean vegetarian lasagne. At Victoria Grill Mr Barnett believes in letting the food speak for itself. “Many chefs will tell you that you must present the food well, make it appealing, and cooking it in such a style that it looks fantastic — and more importantly — tastes fantastic.

There will be a wide range of wines but they recognise that some diners just want an $8 glass of wine, while others prefer a better quality wine at around $13 a glass.

Recognising the growing wine culture in Bermuda, Victoria Grill invite patrons dining on Sundays and Mondays to bring their own wine (BYOW), either from their private cellar or from a store, for which a $25 corkage fee will be charged. This concept will be familiar to Canadians and Australians but may not be as familiar here.

Further, corporate and private catering will still be available at Victoria Grill, Mr Rhyno said. Clients will have the choice of dishes and wines available from the pool of the restaurants within the Island Restaurant Group.

These are difficult times, but dining can sometimes relieve the stress. “We all recognise that times are tough,” Mr Barnett said. “But a nice dinner, a glass of wine with friends, makes you value what is important in life.”

Victoria Grill is open seven days a week. Monday to Friday lunch is served from noon until 2:30pm, and dinner from 5:30 to 10pm. Saturday and Sunday they are open for dinner from 5.30pm. They can be contacted on 296-5050.