Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘Let’s just be creative’: Tombo gets ready to finally open its permanent location next week (PHOTOS)


After teasing the city with croissant cubes, pizza, salads and some of Victoria’s best sandwiches, Tombo is ready to open their doors. 

Tombo is the brainchild of one of the owners and chefs at Crust Bakery, Tom Moore, who after years of baking and growing his business is looking for a new way to amaze Victorians. 

In October, Moore launched Tombo Pop-Up and surprised Victoria with pastries that went viral online and a ton of other goodies that were conveniently grab-and-go. 

Moore wanted to show the city what his team is made of while they waited on the real space, the former Agrius and Fol Epi locations, to be completely ready. 

Now, the pop-up is closed up while the team gets ready for the real deal in their newly renovated space. 


The space is split in two with one smaller section with its own entrance being ‘Tombo To Go.’ It’s an open concept cafe that will in essence be everything that the Government Street pop-up was and more. 

“Now we’ve gone one step further and now that we’re in the actual shop, we don’t have to bring it down to Government Street, let’s just be creative,” said Moore. 

“Like this morning, we tried making a Danish pastry called an au suisse because of the way that it’s laminated.”

We put our house made ham in it and some aged cheddar and some brie, and we were like, ‘that’s the best damn ham and cheese croissant I’ve ever eaten’ and that’s what I’m excited about.”

Moore says he and his team are all getting excited about food again after working in the industry for so long, Tombo has given them all some newfound inspiration. 

The story continues below the following photos!

Tombo To Go sign (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Tombo Mural of their Yates Street neighbours (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)

The other portion which comprises most of the room is ‘Tombo Dine In,’ which will have a completely different menu that has been meticulously crafted by Moore as well as his team who are leaders in their field and some of the best at what they do in the city. 

Most of his management team he even took under his wing following Agrius’ and Fol Epi’s closure because he saw the talent and creativity in them and knew they would become an asset to him. 

Moore even continued to pay them through the many months of trying to get the doors open and the many setbacks he and his team have overcome. 

Chef Grant Gard is the Executive Chef, Rebecca Hughes is the Front of House Manager and designed the wine and cocktail program, Paul Van Dan Trigt is the Charcuterie Chef, which is all made in house and Brian Bradley is their Pastry Chef and Baker.

Everything is sourced as locally as possible and everything is made in house at Tombo.

“Even the kimchi powder we toss the fires in, we made. And it’s the best damn kimchi I’ve ever tasted,” Moore told Victoria Buzz.

“And then we dehydrated it over three days and ground it, no big deal,” he laughed. “That’s our vibe, if you have a look at the work and talent that goes into it, it’s really cool.”

Moore says he doesn’t want his food or space to come off as snooty or exclusive. From the very inception of this restaurant’s concept he knew he wanted it to be affordable and accessible, and he wants to have the opportunity to surpass people’s expectations with well done, thoughtful menu items. 

“We want to underpromise and we want to overdeliver,” Moore said. “An example of this would be our smash burger.”

“We used the best beef, we made the best potato buns with real potatoes and the bread is awesome. We used aged cheddar and we’ve made the most amazing burger sauce.”

The story continues below the following photos!

Chef Grant Gard preparing for opening day this Tuesday (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
House made charcuterie (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Charcuterie Chef, making fennel salami (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Cookies! (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)

Even down to the fries, the attention to detail is unparalleled. 

Moore says the fries are made using a renowned English chef, Heston Blumenthal’s method. 

“He’s like the Willy Wonka of the culinary world,” Moore explained. 

“He’s redefined the fry so that they are the best fries you’ve ever had, where you brine them first, then par-steam them, then blanch them, chill them and finally cook them and they’re light and crispy but fluffy on the inside.”

“It’s a lot of work but we want to make them look effortless,” he continued. 

For the wine, cocktail, beer and non-alcoholic menu will be ever-evolving, according to Moore. He says that Hughes is and has been ensuring that the available drinks will all pair well with the food menu as a whole.  

There will be a mix of affordable wines from Vancouver Island and BC as well as some old world options that are unparalleled and can complement certain dishes unlike anything else. 

“We make some great wines in BC, but because of our environment we cannot grow certain varietals. So we’ve got to bring in some wine from other places,” Moore said.

“I think the main aim we have with our wine program is to make sure that it matches the lunch program, so it will be able to go well with a sandwich or whatever Grant’s cooking that day.”

He says the goal is that someone can come in and have a glass of wine and something really good to eat for $25.

Tombo collage wallpaper inside the restaurant (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)

When people come into Tombo for the first time, Moore really wants them to feel surprised in a great way.

“I want them to have zero expectations, kind of like, what is this place,” he explained.

“When they come in and they feel welcome and relaxed, you know, really positive and happy. Then what I want to happen is I want to exceed their expectations, it’s that simple.”

Moore would love it if people embraced Tombo and it could become a staple of Victoria’s culinary landscape the same way Crust Bakery has. 

This weekend, Moore finally gets to open the doors to a strictly invite-only friends and family dinner service to give his new digs a test run and then he says Tombo will officially open to the public on Tuesday.

Tombo logo (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Curtis Blandy

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