Eats, chews and leaves: Nothing foul about Swans Brewpub


A large group of friends needs a place to come together each week. Why do you think so many television shows take place at restaurants? Seinfeld wouldn’t be the same with the “Restaurant.” Despite my constant doubt, Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe were always able to snag the best seats at Central Perk, and the coffee shop held Friends together. Even SpongeBob gathered his group at the Krusty Krab. If a show were ever made about my friends, it would be set at Swans Brewpub. (You wouldn’t find us on network television, though — we’re more Showtime or HBO.)

Swans may not be for everyone, which is why it’s perfect for our group of old souls, lost boys and free spirits. A band plays every night of the week. Our favourite nights to visit are Tuesdays (for swing), Fridays and Saturdays (for rock ’n’ roll). Don’t be shy about scuffing up the hardwood with your signature moves: the dance floor doesn’t stay quiet once the music begins.

We usually arrive after dinnertime, but always end up ordering food for the table. My favourite dish is the three-cheese quesadilla ($10). Stuffed with bell pepper, onion and refried beans, it’s an incredibly hearty appetizer. I’ve never finished an entire plate, not that my friends mind. The yam fries with chipotle dip ($8) and hummus with pita ($9) are perfect for two or even three mouths. The fries have always been crispy and the dip not overly spicy. The hummus is made in-house and has the exact consistency needed to pair with the toasted pita.

For those who prefer dinner, my friends and I suggest either the Fan Tan pizza ($12) or the halibut fish and chips ($16, one piece of fish). The vegetarian pizza loads spinach, artichokes, tomatoes, pesto, goat cheese and olives on a super thin, crispy crust. While named after the famous Victoria Chinatown alley, the pizza’s flavours evoke the Mediterranean with each bite.

The halibut is beer-battered (of course) and never soggy. Try to get the perfect bite of fish, chip, coleslaw and tartar sauce, and you’ll understand why my friends always find room for another mouthful.

Swans beer is crafted in-house. While I’m not the beer drinker in our group, I’ve grown particularly fond of the raspberry ale. It’s slightly reddish pink and retains a touch of sweetness on first sip, with a smoky finish. My male friends can be found hoisting pints of Appleton brown ale or arctic ale. I guess they’re not man enough to be seen enjoying a pink beverage.

And since television usually involves lots of trivia questions down the road, you’ll be interested to know UVic actually owns Swans. After Michael Williams — the original visionary of the brewpub — passed away in 2000, he gifted Swans to UVic.

If you’ve ever dreamed of starring in your own television show, come find my friends and me at Swans. We’ll probably be talking about movies.