Just returned from doing the Nova Scotia loop, Yarmouth to Cape Breton and back. Food notes follow:
* Upper Woods Harbour: Of a week's sampling, the only chowder worth eating at Cap'n Wayne's Cafe. Fresh fish, lobster, potatoes, milk/cream broth unadulterated and wonderful.
* Lunenberg. Lots of restaurants in this cutesy Boothbay Harbor-looking town. Lovely pastry and good coffee at La vendeene French Bakery on Lincoln St.
* Halifax. I understand there are a number of good restaurants which time prevented trying. Had a more than respectable dinner in the restaurant at the Citadel Halifax hotel.
* Sherbrooke. This town is known for St. Mary's Smokehouse, which turns out glorious smoked salmon. Metro New Yorkers should know better than to order a bagel ANYWHERE beyond about a 30-mile radius of NYC (or Miami). The Sherbrooke "Inn" committed the grossest of insults to this salmon -- a cold, Lender's-type "bagel" with a sheen of cream cheese and dill SEEDS (where fresh dill grows 4 feet high) along with a dismal chowder.
* Baddeck. The Telegraph House on the main drag in town adjacent to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum serves a good, reasonable dinner in a fascinating old house loaded with Bell/Grosvenor turn-of-the-century memorabilia. Several restaurants of different kinds here. Buffet at Silver Dart Lodge mediocre to less because of the first of two dining experiences related to late propane delivery.
* Louisbourg. Grubstake, a pubby sort of place, on the main street. Excellent lunch. Fish cakes and baked beans, a Newfoundland influence, flavorful and delicious homey food.
* North Cape on the Cabot Trail. Late propane again so no hot food at Morrison's, which nearly everyone recommends and which looked worthy of the praise. A disappointment was made sorer by a dreadful "chowder" at the Highlander Restaurant, "Home of the (leaden) Sticky Bun." A club sandwich actually looked good. They advertise homemade bread.
* Magaree Forks. The Normaway Inn a longish ride off the highway is little changed in the decades since I first went there. The dining room and menu are much updated, but not much else seems to have altered the cottages and the old farmhouse. Dinner here is available as a 3- or 4-course price fixe without wine between $29 and $34+. Dinners were superb -- baked brie with pears and cranberry coulis, nicely dressed salad from greens and herbs grown in the garden visible from the dining room, citrus-accompanied salmon and fresh vegetables, and chocolate ice cream pie (not the blueberry crumble we just missed -- if you spy it, reserve it!). This menu borders a bit on the precious, but everything was delicious and came in
about $45 CN with a glass of wine.
* Truro. Had only a lunch stop at the Truro Emporioum Tea Shop in a good-sized town with several eating options. The caricature of the clueless waitress, sweet but somewhere else, delivered over an inordinate amount of time even by rural standards a mediocre chowder, iced tea, and oatcakes.
* Wolfville. A college town, Wolfville lies in a gorgeous setting off the Minas Basin. Dinner at the Blomidon Inn, a large, Victorian house with guest rooms, indoor dining, and a lattice-covered patio for outdoor dining served the finest meal we had on the trip. Like The Normaway, price fixe dinners follow the same pattern at the same prices. Menu choices are similar; but dining was more comfortable in all ways, so this got our first-choice star. Tattingstone Inn a little closer to town was another option among many. Its menu sounded interesting and would be a choice if there were more time.
* Digby. At the Captain's Table, scallops, what else?
Mediocre everything else, but delicious scallops. Go for the big plate; skip the salad with Kraft dressing packets and ask for sliced tomatoes and lettuce; skip the "baked" potato in foil.
re: Jim Leff
Oops! Correct that spelling boo-boo -- MaRgaree Forks in the Margaree Valley. And you're welcome! I did check this web site before the N.S. run, noted a dearth of info, and decided that some first-hand notes might be useful. I didn't mention a stop in Pictou, which looked as if it had some decent, casual restaurants. It's an interesting town that capitalizes on its Scottish and marine heritage and is finishing a first-inhabitants replica (a la Mayflower)of the Hector planned for launch in September. Pretty cool to watch the building.
For anyone going that way, a book with the silly title "Nova Scotia: Doers and Dreamers" is very useful. It's a paperback giveaway I got from NNJ AAA. I also saw that some of the hotel front desks had copies.
Oh, and beware bad coffee almost everywhere!
#1 Eat scallops. They are better there than anywhere I have been.
#2 Went to a great Austrian restaurant (3 weeks ago)on the lake just outside of Annapolis Royal. I think it is called The Austrian Restaurant. Great food through out the Maritimes. Be adventurous. Even small out of the way places served great fresh local food.