GC: Olde Victoria at the Oak Room has deep roots in community

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Sept. 30, 2011 at 4:30 a.m.

Nestled on the top floor of one of Victoria's few high-rise buildings, Olde Victoria at the Oak Room prides itself on offering diners a "unique and exceptional, wonderful experience" possibly unmatched by any other in the city.

"We offer steaks, fresh seafood and a variety of different cuisine," said Ferydoun Darshard, one of the owners and chefs of Olde Victoria. "We offer an upscale, romantic, impressive setting to guests and diners."

The restaurant is owned and operated by three brothers from Persia who have been able to work together to bring the area fine-dining, in an upscale environment for more than 20 years.

Purchasing what used to be a restaurant based in Houston, Ruggles Grill, the trio, ages 48, 55 and 57, brought Olde Victoria to fruition.

The original restaurant, located in the historic Craig House, opened in 1988 and moved to its current perch, atop the Wells Fargo bank building in downtown Victoria, in 2006. It has been serving the Golden Crescent world cuisine and offering private venues for special occasions ever since. "There is a wonderful, beautiful panoramic view of Victoria," said the oldest brother of the three standing before one of the restaurant's windows.

"At night its unbelievable. During the day, you see all the trees and it's just country, but when the lights shine, it's a completely different feel."

On any given night, the three brothers work in unison to ensure that everything is moving along smoothly from preparation to presentation at the guests' tables.

"All three of us are chefs - we all help in the kitchen," explained Ferydoun, with his not-yet broken Persian accent. "I work the front, Farmarz is in the kitchen and Farshad is the gadget guy.

He does a lot of the POS systems and tech things. But there is usually two of us in the kitchen."BEFORE OLDE VICTORIA

Uprooting himself from his homeland of Persia, Ferydoun decided to move to the U.S. to pursue a higher education. He settled in Houston in 1978 to attend school and earned an associate's degree in management. But what he hadn't anticipated was unearthing a love of a different kind.

Working under the direction of a French chef, learning the ins and outs of the industry at Cafe Moustache, which is still thriving in Houston today, he discovered a desire that pushed him to work in a field that allowed him to be surrounded by people.

"I found out that the restaurant setting was a place where you could constantly meet hundreds and hundreds of people, and it's a wonderful thing," he said with a warm smile and genuine eyes peering through wire framed glasses. "And I found out that I love cooking."

When Ruggles Grill decided to open a Victoria location, Ferydoun went along in tow.

After moving to Victoria in 1981 as a chef for the grill, Ferydoun Darshard called in some help from his brothers to buy the restaurant and name it Olde Victoria.

"Cooking is a great way to relate to people, it's a way to connect to people, and I want them to have that gift. The joy of pleasing others when you cook for them is just unreal. It's a wonderful thing."NEW MENU, NEW FLAVORS

In June, Olde Victoria revamped its menu to include some new additions and add to the already famed menu that they boast in the lfirst-level obby of the Wells Fargo building.

"Most of our food is continental cuisine, we have a lot of steaks and seafood." said Farmarz Darshard.

And just as seasons for vegetables and fruits change with weather, the availability of meats and seafood vary throughout the year. Farmarz Darshard attributed the variety of dishes on the menu to freshness.

"All the steaks we cut to order, and the seafood, we try to get it as fresh as possible."

He recently anticipated some Chilean sea bass to take center stage among other dishes.

"It's cooking from the old times. Recipes from mom, family and recipes from living in different countries and experiences," said the 55-year-old brother. "We try to bring different things to the menu. And every few months, we change the specials. It depends on the things that we can find."

He added that the brothers get together to change the menu usually once a year and strive to meet the desires of their loyal patrons.

"Our customers, they know us," Farmarz Darshard bragged. "They have been coming here for the last 24 years, and they are a lot of the same people. Every once in a while, we change the menu, and we try to make them happy. We do it for them."



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