I’ve been living in Victoria for over two years now and it astounds me just how little I’ve really explored this place. You KNOW that says a lot because if you follow llvi’s instagram (shameless plug) you know I get around. That’s one of the things I love most about this city, though, is that there is always a new spot to explore or a new experience to enjoy. Enter Venus Sophia Tearoom & Eatery.
I kind of hate to admit that I hadn’t heard of this delightful tearoom before Sallie (co-owner along with Alain) reached out to me over instagram. Where has this gem been all my life?! Or at least over the last two years? I figured I couldn’t be the only one who didn’t know about Venus Sophia yet when I asked around friends and co-workers alike all responded, “Oh yea! That place is so good.” WHY HAVE YOU ALL BEEN KEEPING THIS PLACE A SECRET.
Venus Sophia is a tearoom and vegetarian eatery tucked away in Victoria’s historic Chinatown. If you’re surprised by the location, don’t worry – even Sallie and Alain express how unlikely of a location it is. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way and I don’t think they would either. From the outside, Venus Sophia looks like a quaint and unassuming street-side café with large windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. However, when you enter through the cornflower blue doors, the unexpectedly large space welcomes you with open arms.
The open concept layout of Venus Sophia is incredibly warm and inviting (thanks in part to those big windows I mentioned that let in the sunny afternoon light). As my cohort (and reluctant model) Jenna and I arrived, we were greeted by Sarah who showed us to a table tucked away in the corner overlooking the tearoom.
As we took our seats in plush, cozy chairs, Sarah notified us we would be treated to the Signature Afternoon Tea then handed Jenna and I the tea menu to peruse. Most of the tea offered at Venus Sophia is organic with a select few even being fair trade.
Venus Sophia offers you the usual suspects such as Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and Jasmine but they also have a number of pretty unique teas. Take the Blue Sapphire Earl Grey (complete with beautiful blue cornflowers!) or the Mint Chocolate Rooibos (the kids seated at the table nearby where only slightly ecstatic to see mint chocolate tea). With so many great choices, it was great to have Sarah guide us through the tea menu. Eventually Jenna opted for the Cream Earl Grey (classic) and I the Genmai Cha (one of my favourite green teas flavoured with toasted brown rice).
After having just enough time to settle in and take a few preliminary snaps, Sarah came back with our pots of tea and a little amuse bouche.
Venus Sophia is incredibly accommodating with their menu – I have a nut allergy and Jenna is celiac which proved no problem, there was still PLENTY for us to try. Venus Sophia even offers dairy free items! With that in mind, Jenna was served a gluten free (GF) cheesecake and I, lavender shortbread. You guys, I don’t know if you know this about me but I freaking love the taste of lavender. This shortbread was oh so buttery with the perfect hint of lavender, making my tastebuds yearn for what was coming next.
As previously mentioned, we were partaking in the Signature Afternoon Tea (GF for Jenna) and y’all, I was NOT prepared for what was coming my way.
As per their menu, The Signature Afternoon Tea “changes by the season to reflect the best local/regional ingredients. The traditional 3 course meal of delectable savouries, tea sandwiches, pastries and scones is served with a vegetarian twist on a three tiered tray. ”
Venus Sophia prides themselves on wholesome, nourishing, homemade food that’s prepared in-house daily. Sarah also informed us that all the GF recipes are original recipes from the owner’s Oma.
Where do we even start?! Jenna marvelled at the quality of the gluten free items – in particular the cranberry sandwich and the cheesecake. Most GF cheesecakes Jenna has come across are super crumbly but not this one. Golden, buttery, light and melt in your mouth delicious.
As for my favourite it’s a toss up between the chai scone and the Egyptian date cake. First the chai scone was fresh out-of-the-oven-warm and served with the most delicate clotted cream. As for the date cake, I was a little hesitant as I’m not a fan of dates but oh my lord this rocked my world. As I recorded on my phone’s notes: “DATE CAKE. OH MY GOD. IS THIS HEAVEN?!” It was incredibly moist and subtly sweet with a hint of warmth and spice from… nutmeg? Ginger? Literal pieces of heaven?!?!
Experiencing Venus Sophia Tearoom & Eatery was honestly such a joy. The whole experience from the warm and relaxing atmosphere to the decor to the mouthwatering food to the smell of Egyptian date cake baking away… Just shear perfection.
It’s amazing that Venus Sophia can offer such an oasis from the hustle of downtown Victoria. What a perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Whether you want to pop in for a quick snack, a coffee to go, or for the full afternoon tea shebang, please please please do yourself a favour and visit Sallie and the rest of the team at Venus Sophia. It will not disappoint!
“Everything here is made with love from our hearts to yours, from our family to yours.” ~Venus Sophia