Camping through Nova Scotia/Cape Breton
My hubby and I are heading out in a couple of weeks to drive, camp and eat our way through NS. I've made notes from lots of good posts on this board, but maybe someone can help me out with a couple of good markets to pick up our cooler food. Also, we love little, out-of-the-way "locals" joints. We haven't come up with an itinerary of any kind, so feel free to cover it all! Thanks!
Things are not as "closed" as I might have indicated in my previous post. Only some isolated tourist places might be closed for the season. Here are some good places to eat on the island.
Port Hawkesbury - The China King- excellent Cantonese and Szechaun
Mabou - The Mull - A favourite family restaurant - be sure to have a brownie pudding cake with whipped cream....yum
Mabou - Duncreigan Country Inn - upscale dinningroom
Glenora Inn and Distillery - route 19 -Canada's only single malt distillery - dinningroom
PLeasant Bay - The Rusty Anchor - informal dinning
Sydney Mines - The Gowrie House - fixed price, one sitting dinner. Reservations required. Highly recommended, but pricey.
Sydney- Mescalero's Open Grill Steak House- fine dinning
Sydney - If you have a craving for Swiss Chalet , there is one on Grand Lake Road.
St. Peters - Bras D'Or Lakes Inn
Isle Madame - L'Auberge Acadienne
After you cross the causeway and enter cape Breton, stop at the Tourist Information Centre. Pick up a Doers amd Dreamers Guide and you will find the places I mentioned and many others.
We live on Cape Breton Island . I hope that I can be of some help. You have picked a rather unpredictable ( weather wise) time of the year to travel here. Unfortunately many of the restaurants and tourist attractions in certain areas will be closed for the season. All that being said, I myself would choose this time of year to visit here. Cape Breton is back to it's normal self and the hoards of tourists have gone. There are absolutely no pesky flies and the weather can be fantastic. The Fall colours should be at their peak. Both on the mainland of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, there will still be farmers markets on Saturdays in the larger centres. If you take the less travelled roads ( which I highly recommend), often a sign at the end of a driveway will direct you to fresh produce, smoked fish, ect. Just before you cross the Canso Causeway which takes you onto Cape Breton, look for a large building on the water side. If you go around the back you will find stairs to the offices of the snow crab processing plant. Here you should be able to buy flash frozon cooked, crab clusters. Pick up some french bread and salads in any grocery store in Port Hawkesbury and you will have a treat. You will not be able to buy lobster at the docks. The season is over. It is still available at a premium price, both live and cooked at the grocery stores. I think it may come from Newfoundland this time of the year. You may be lucky to find on the docks, scallop draggers bringing in their catch. Many fisherman will sell the scallops to you. The small village of Whycogamah has a good grocery store called The Farmers Daughter. They carry baked goods, some produce and other treats like jams, pickles ect. In the same area closer to Baddeck, The Herring Choker Deli has wonderful cheeses and cold meats and bakery items.
If you are in the Sydney area, on Route 4 you will find Harold's Bakery. Try one of their chicken pies, saussage rolls or some of their wonderful pastries and cookies. Another option if you don't feel like cooking is to look on a bulletin board in any grocery store to see where "suppers" are being held. Local groups will serve full course home cooked meals in fire halls or community centres. It is a great way to have a reasonable meal and to meet some local very friendly Cape Bretonners. I hope you are going to be on Cape Breton for Celtic Colours. If you don't know what this is, do a Google search. The spirit of the Gaelic culture comes alive with this annual event. As far as "the crazy Cannucks" as mentioned in a previous post, even we don't swim at this time of the year unless we have wet suits on! Hope you enjoy your holiday and let us know how you make out.
When my husband and I were dating, we did a two-week camping tour of Nova Scotia. We had a tent and a big pot for cooking lobsters. We circled the island, buying live lobsters down at the dock every evening. It was a wonderful experience; the country is beautiful, and the lobsters are great. Just don't be deluded by those crazy Canucks swimming -- that water is way too cold!
The fish market in Cheticamp on Cape Breton has seasonal fresh fish from the boats tied up in the back on the water. Had some great snow crabs last time we were there camping in the National Park. Also try the boulangerie as you leave town towards the park, great French bread and pastries.
Just came back from Cape Breton today, and I hate to say I didn't find anything spectacular (much to my disappointment).
In Baddeck, the Yellow Cello had great homemade pizza (homemade dough and sauce, thick cheese) but curiously not many seafood offerings. I had a lobster and mussels dinner for $19.95 at the Lynnwood Inn, which was a great price but it was pretty mediocre lobster.
Our kayak guide in North River (just past St. Anne's Harbour) recommended the Clucking Hen, which was about 15-20 minutes north on the Cabot Trail. I had a crab sandwich on porridge bread (which is a Cape Breton oatmeal bread with molasses)which wasn't bad, but as I asked for it without mayo, it was simply a bit of crab meat between two slices of bread. They had fresh baked goods though, and the lemon merengue pie was delicious.
In Chetticamp, we stopped at the Boulangerie Aucoin for yummy molasses cookies and acadian meat pie, which were both yummy.
On our way out of Nova Scotia, we stoped in Antigonish and had luch at the Main Street Cafe which was in a small hotel (Maritime motel or something like that?) They had tasty smoked haddock cakes in a ratatouille, and nice organic mix salads. They had some desserts made on site, and the maple caramel pecan bread pudding was great. However, the dining room didn't have much atmosphere, pretty much your standard budget hotel restaurant feel, and if you weren't planning on stopping in Antigonish, I wouldn't do so just for the restaurant.
Just be aware that many of the communities on the Cabot Trail are not more than a few scattered homes around a gas station, whale watching business or a store or small cafe, and as mentioned elsewhere on this board, many of the items tend to be frozen or fried, so it pays to ask first. I was a bit disheartened and disillusioned as I had visions of eating fresh seafood morning noon and night, but oh well. Still found a few gems, thanks to tips from chowhound and locals.
By the way, great plan to camp, my bf and I really regret not doing so ourselves. Spend as much time as you can in the Highlands National Park, we only got to do a couple of trails because of the weather. And if you're planning on going whale watching, Pleasant Bay seems to have the most places that guarantee whales, which we took to mean it was the place where you're most likely to see whales. You can call ahead and ask them about the conditions in the days before you go, as there hadn't been any whale sightings the two days before we wanted to go. A storm forced us to cancel the excursion anyway, so make sure to take advantage of any good weather you have to do everything you'd like. Good luck!
Out of the way joints would be anything you find that looks interesting. I drove though Cape Breton last year and found that just pulling up to anything that looks interesting usually is. You should bring a Lodge Ironman Hibachi on your trip sp you can cook the fresh snowcrab or lobster or other seafood you can buy fro the boats along the shore. I will reccomend two places in Peggy's Cove. One is the only diner(the Sou'Wester)in Peggy's Cove thst is on top of the hill. Don't let the tourist bus' scare you. Sou'Wester makes a mean lobster and great mussels. The other place is called Shaw's Landing which is 5-10 minutes north of Peggy's Cove. I only had breakfast there and the homemade smoked salmon and trout is not to be missed. They have a dock for kayakers if you feel like roughing it. Have fun and don't be afraid to drive into the lonely roads you see in Cabot's Trail.