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Best in New Brunswick

I would like to assemble a list of the best restaurant finds in New Brunswick. I am in Saint John, which is not exactly a culinary mecca, but can add the following three to the list. I have already posted these else where on the board, but hope that we can start to generate a comprehensive list. Here they are:

Suwanna - authenic Thai in West Saint John. This restaurant/B&B is owned by a couple - I understand that she is Thai and I believe he is Polish (both of which are reflected on the menu - European desserts). The restaurant itself is interesting in that it is in an old Victorian home with high ceilings and elaborate plaster moldings. The food is very good - especially the curries (i.e. green, duck and red). They also have a really good shredded cabbage and carrot salad to start and the stuffed eggplant is excellent. I am not a fan of the pad thai, which is quite different than what I am accustomed to. But hey - pad thai is street food that probably has no place in a proper thai restaurant in any event.

Sam Pam - chinese in West Saint John. From the outside this place looks like a typical canadianized-chinese joint, and this is partially true (you can get chicken balls and fried rice and such, which is likely an economic necessity in Saint John at this point in time). On the inside it is not the fanciest place (they have a couple of poker machines). But - they have dim sum on weekend mornings (11:00 until 2:00 I think) which is equal to that which can be found in chinatown in Toronto; it is excellent. This is reflected in the patrons that you will see at the tables, who are mostly Asian. Also, the lunch and dinner menus offer some more authenic chinese dishes that are very good. The woman who runs the front of the house is very friendly. Be a little careful - sometimes it is easy to get a table for dim sum, and sometimes the place fills up.

Rossmount Inn - Saint Andrews. Heard about this place and gave it a try this summer. It is a B&B / restaurant owned by a European couple as can be seen at:

http://www.rossmountinn.com

This place is great - locally sourced food prepared with skill and enthusiasm. You will find that many of the dishes showcase a local ingredient or two, and the restaurant even has its own garden. The morning we left the chef/owner served us breakfast and was then heading into the woods to pick chanterelles. The other owner chatted with us about raw milk cheses. In foodie terms, this place is the real deal.

There was a 3-course meal included in the overnight package we opted for, but an extra $15 upgraded us to a 5 course tasting menu, which was amazing. They also have an excellent cheese plate with artisnal offerings from all over New Brunswick and Quebec. The food itself is on par with high end restaurants in Toronto that cost two or three times as much. Also, the menu is huge for a place of this size and anyone should be able to find something that appeals to them. The service is more local/friendly than professional, but that is a good thing in my books. Best in New Brunswick, or at least the best that I have found thus far.

All right folks, let's hear some more recommendations!

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  1. I am not giving a recomendation, but I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on The Marshlands Inn in Sackville New Brunswick?

    1. Although Saint John is not, I suppose, a "culinary mecca", it sure seems like a lot of new things are happening in that city. Have you been to Opera yet? www.operabistro.com I hope to make it there next time in town.

      The Shadow Lawn out in Rothesay has always been good.

      And a Guatemalan place I ate at during the ECMA's was awesome.

      1. I have to agree about the Rossmount Inn, in St. Andrews. I have eaten there several times this summer and it is (IMHO) the best restaurant in NB. The naked lobster with nasturtuim (sp?) perogies was to die for.

        1. Yes - I have eaten at Opera, but only for lunch, at which time the menu is quite limited. I have heard mixed reviews about dinner, but I think it has more to do with portion sizes and cost (Saint John is a very conservative town when it comes to food). i will try dinner there soon.

          The same couple that runs Opera has a place over on the West side called The Dufferine House Inn (a B&B) where I once had a lovely meal. It seems to me that I recall hearing that the chef/owner had a Michelin star at his old restaurant back in Germany, but I am not certain of this.

          2 Replies
          1. re: BarnNB

            I am afraid I would give Opera a thumbs down in the dinner department. Weird attempts at pan-Asian cuisine that really don't work... Not impressed.

            1. re: studiotoronto

              Can you elaborate? The Opera Bistro doesnt do pan asian. Where did you get that from? Sorry but some false info there .

          2. Brewnoser - you are correct, things in Saint John are getting decidedly better in the last few years. Your post has also reminded me to try Taco Pica again. The first time I ate there was a miss, but I should give it another go.

            1. I have read in "Where to Eat in Canada" that the Delta Hotel in Moncton has a restaurant with a good chef. I think it is called Windjammer or something like that. Has anyone eaten there?

              1. My best recommendation on where to eat in Saint John would be the Church Street Steak House at 10 Grannan Street (corner of Church Street). OMG! Really good steaks and seafood and my husband and I have always had lovely service there. A bit pricey, but the menu is extensive and the food is plenty. That has been my experience, anyway. Other than that, were to eat in NB would be Comeau's Seafood in Pennfield, if you're a fish/scallop lover. Bon Appetit!

                4 Replies
                1. re: mrsjmac1961

                  I have to tell you that I had one of my MOST horrible restaurant experiences EVER at Church Street steakhouse. We were hosting a group of ten from out of town after a wedding, and I have never been so mortified at the service and food in a restaurant. I couldn't even begin to tell you how bad it all was, but suffice it to say, that after talking to the Manager, (I wrote a letter, the supervisor on that night pretty much just gave up) I got a refund for our entire bill. For all ten people. And it wasn't enough.

                  1. re: troutpoint

                    I pay to drink beer at the Church Street establishment - period. Occasionally I will order bar-type food if friends force me to eat there. Fairly pricey, and totally banal.

                    It is part of the Grannans group of restaurants, who's existence seems premised on a concerted effort to keep good restaurants and food out of the city. The popularity of these places, especially the namesake operation in Market Square, cannot be explaned by resort to rational principles. I am at a loss as to why people who obviously care so little about food would ever be in the business. It is a shame.

                    1. re: BarnNB

                      What are your thoughts about Opera Bistro? My husband entertains clients fairly regularly in SJ, and it is his current favorite. (Bearing in mind that most everything else downtown is owned by Grannans)

                      1. re: troutpoint

                        Opera is good. I've only ever eaten lunch there (maybe 10 times), so I am probably not the best judge of this place.

                        The food has typically ranged from fair to good, with a couple of stand-outs and a few misses. My wife once ordered a ceasar salad and the dressing tasted like it had been made with melted frozen orange juice concentrate (and not in a good way). I don't know whether this was a mix-up or what.

                        The price-point of the meals is bang on for SJ (at least for lunch). Some of the desserts seem a little steep, but they have always been very good (and they look great!). Good coffee too.

                        The place looks nice, but they have made a few odd decorating choices, which have given the place a little bit of a strange vibe for me (I seem to recall that for a while some of the kitchen staff were wearing bright, lime green mesh fedora-style hats, for some inexplicable reason - it was a bit distracting). Also the seating is a little tight.

                        The woman who runs the front of the house needs to lighten up a tad and perhaps let go of the reigns a bit. No real service issues, I just sometimes feel like I am being sold in a fairly wooden way. She just seems a little stiff and proprietary, if that makes any sense. My advice would be to hire good waitstaff, let them do their job, and watch the money from the till.

                        I once ate their other establishment, the Dufferine House Inn over on the west side, and that meal was great. Price point was too high for SJ though.

                        I hope this doesn't sound too negative, or that it can be taken as constructive criticism because this place is a definite win for SJ. I few minor changes and it would have the full package.

                2. A couple of new additions for the Saint John scene.

                  A new Japanese place on Waterloo called Sense of Tokyo. The chef/owner is Korean and worked at Nobu in Tokyo. I havve only been for lunch, where a Bento-box style meal runs about $10. There restaurant is quite nice, simple and pragmatic. The chef obviously knows what he is doing. I am a little worried about the location, but this place is good enough that I believe it will catch on and be successful. Finally a decent sushi place in the city.

                  Also there is Saigon Noodle on Union and Charlotte. Excellent pho. Maybe stay away from the bun, which seemed to be made with a wheat noodle similar to spaghetti and not rice noodle vermicelli. I think this is wrong. I am not an expert though, and they may have changed it since I last tried it in the early days of restaurant. They may have been having difficultly sourcing authenic ingredients is SJ.

                  1. I've had fantastic meals at Sasha's and Little Louis Oyster Bar in Moncton. I sampled many of the offerings from local Moncton restaurants at the Taste of Moncton event at the Delta Beausejour. Tickets were $1 per and you'd get a taste of something from each restaurant, bakery, etc. I went back twice for the Lobster with White Chocolate that the Windjammer chef had on offer. Also had a vanilla shrimp from one place and a great scallop ceviche from Toscana, and their menu sounded very interesting. Plus many more i can't remember. I've enjoyed Graffiti and enjoy the Pumphouse for one or two items, and love their Scotch Ale. I've had some great times at Boomerangs (love the blooming onion and bang bang shrimp...wish they'd bring back the bruscetta bread )and while not always wow'ed by the entrees, have enjoyed many a basket of chips and salsa with frozen margarita's at Lone Star. Bogart's was good when i was last there. I like the Old Triangle for many reasons, i find the pub food good there.

                    Was underwhelmed by the new Maverick's location. Used to enjoy Mexicali's when they had a couple of more authentic items on their menu like the chili relleno and was disappointed to see the vegetarian tamales go. They've gone even moreso mainstream and my last couple of experiences there, food and service wise have been HORRIBLE.

                    I've heard many people talk about how great Vito's is....but just as many say how horrible it is. I've no desire to try it based on some of the descriptions i've heard. The raves were mostly from people who don't cook much themselves, and i don't think it's indicative of the local palate. Another place i didn't understand the hype about was the Bell Inn in Dorchester. Same goes for Cora's.

                    Other likes are Joey's in Sackville, and the Marshlands can be good (and is beautiful at x-mas). The Irving Big Stop in Aulac has THE best cakes with boiled icing ever. Make a meal out of a slice. I also enjoy the Schnitzel Haus in Aulac...tacky decor and lots of german music, but i love it there, it's a fun experience, plus the food is pretty good.

                    In Fredericton, i loved the pub in the Lord Beaverbrook...and the pizza place that does theirs with the cream cheese stuffed into the crust and has all the weird and wonderful topping variations (only place i've ever seen sliced eggs as a topping)..the name escapes me.

                    Loved the uptown harbourside places in Saint John, and had the best lobster roll ever at Reggies there. I think a must for anyone in any area is to check out the markets...love the ones in Moncton, love the one in Fredericton, just a couple of good items i found at the Saint John location.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: im_nomad

                      Don't believe a word people tell you about Vito's, unless it is bad. The pizza is okay, but most other dishes are just wrong.

                      For some inexpicable reason, they put so much sugar in the caesar salad dressing that one is liable to experience a tooth ache. Okay - that is an exageration, but the lead taste is sweet. Just in case they read this, I will state the ingrediants for a proper caesar salad dressing - fresh lemon juice, garlic to taste, dijon mustard, egg, anchovie, salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper sauce blended into a thin emulsion by slowly adding good olive oil. NO SUGAR!!! NO MAYONNAISE (unless you want it to have the consistency of pond slime).

                      It will take a long time to negate the influance that Vito's and Grannan's have had on the Saint John palate (i.e. the fact that many people here think that caesar salad should be sweet). Even a decent chain restaurant like Montana's should help a bit, as odd as that sounds. When it opens, the people who normally go to Vito's will at least get to taste something new and a bit different, like ribs that have actually come into contact with real wood smoke.

                      I had to get that off my chest - sorry for the vitriol....

                    2. I wanted to make a correction to post above. The Chinese restaurant mentioned above is called "Sampan" not "Sam Pam". All else mentioned rings true. This past summer I had the opportunity to eat in many authentic chinese restaurants outside of Vancouver in Richmond, BC and Sampan is equal to many of them.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Venus26

                        Hi, I'm reviving this thread in hopes of getting some suggestions for seafood in Saint John. Based on the threads I've read, there doesn't seem to be an outstanding must-do place for seafood. The only restaurant that seems to get consistent raves is Opera Bistro, but its menu looks so much like what I get in Toronto that I'm not inclined to go there. If there is anything outstandingly Atlantic about the Opera, I'd love to hear about it.

                        Otherwise, I'm not looking for anything too fancy, just really good fresh seafood. I'd prefer a simple mom-and-pop operation but I'm willing to pay the $$ if the more expensive places have the best food.

                        I'll be in St. John for 2 dinners and 2 lunches, so please help me make the most of it.

                        Thanks.

                        1. re: idnas

                          will be in St-John in august and since this thread is nearly 1 year old, I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for 1 nice meal and also for other local bests such as pizza, chowder and anything else really.

                          1. re: gerrythegreat

                            You one nice Dinner should be at Beauty and the Beastro in the Lord Beatty building opposite the Park at the Top of King. All meals are made from scratch and the Veggies all come fron the Owners Garden. It is Cusine du Marche during the Summer months.The Leg of Lamb is local and tender and sweet, the filet of Sole is covered in nordic shrimp is a delicate pink sauce, the Digby Scallops are wonderful and there is a Daily Table d'Hote .Now blueberrys are in season so watch out for the Chef's home cooked desserts BB Pie, BB Crumble BB Cake.
                            Lunchtime try the Urban Deli on King Great Fish Chowder home smoked Turkey sandwiches and great sides and home smoked ribs that will shame a place like Montanas. Keep away from anything from the Grannon's group they are ripping off tourists with Jail Food at outragous prices. no kidding !!!!!!!!

                          2. re: idnas

                            Unfortunately, Saint John (and to some extent the Maritimes in general) is not a great place for seafood. I think the Irish / Scots heritage failed to import any real respect or appreciation for fish, such as one would find in Asia or the Mediterranean counties (or the immigrants therefrom). We don't eat enough fish to ensure sufficient turn-over and freshness at the markets, plus we tend to way overcook it. Of course their are exceptions, but unless you buy it off the wharf and cook it yourself, you may be disappointed.

                            I hate to say it, but the seafood is generally better in larger centers like Toronto. If you want good seafood at a restaurant in the Maritimes, you must do your research and leave nothing to chance. Shellfish is generally safer that fish, but I have often had mussels cooked beyond recognition.

                            The 3 Departments of Tourism are arranging a hit as you read this....

                            1. re: BarnNB

                              Nonsense. While I have never had a decent meal anywhere in that valley of despair called New Brunswick, there are numerous good places in PEI and NS can and do produce an outstanding seafood dish on a consistent basis.

                              1. re: Greg B

                                Okay Greg B - name me 3 really good seafood places in Halifax (sushi excluded).

                                1. re: BarnNB

                                  No, because then you'll say you disagree, and we aren't any further ahead. Besides, that wasn't what you stated. Your post indicated that you could not get good seafood in the Maritimes, not just that there weren't any good seafood restaurants. That is absurd.

                                  1. re: BarnNB

                                    Yes, nonsense. I've had three very good seafood meals in NS in three days: Little Fish in Halifax, Lighthouse at Cape D'Or, Waterfront Warehouse in Halifax. The comparison to Toronto is totally unfair.

                                  2. re: Greg B

                                    "I can second the recommendation for the Rossmount. Normally my advice to people asking for recommendations in New Brunswick is to keep going to Nova Scotia, but the Rossmount is an exception. Truly excellent.

                                    Greg B Jun 18, 2009 08:04PM"

                                    I agree Greg B - the Rossmount does fish, and everything else, wonderfully. I guess you've had one good meal in the Valley of Despair.

                                    1. re: BarnNB

                                      Haven't you just contradicted yourself? If the Rossmount does seafood wonderfully, then isn't your theory shot full of holes?

                                      1. re: Greg B

                                        I don't think so, but others will have to be the judge of that.

                                        My initial point was that many visitors come here looking for seafood, which is natural, but they have to be careful because the average seafood in the average seafood restaurant in the Maritimes is not very good. For instance, I can't think of a single great "seafood place" in Halifax, although I have had good seafood dishes at several regular restaurants there (I would never recommend McKelvey's or the 5 Fishermen to fellow Hounds).

                                        However, I explicitly stated that there are exceptions to the rule - "of course their [sic] are exceptions" is the exact phrase I used.

                                        I've not been to Portugal, but I have heard people say that you can walk into any seaside town and get excellent seafood at any one of many different restaurants. I suspect same thing probably holds true for Tokyo, Nice, or Ho Chi Minh. I suspect local preferences and competition there probably necessitate a certain skill with fish. My view is that this may be lacking in the Maritimes, and it is therefore very important to research to ensure you are going to spot where the fish will be good.

                            2. The best restaurant in Saint John is "A Sence of Japan" probably one of the best Japanese Restaurants in the Northeast (excluding NYC) The owner is from Japan and was trained at one of the top schools.He has made relationships with the fishermen and his products are the freshest.Order the $40 tasting menu and be blown away.Don't be put off by the location(in between a sex shop and a drop in center)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: finefoodie55

                                This is the restaurant called "Sense of Tokyo" mentioned above.

                                I agree with everything except the typo in the name (no judgment - I messed up Sampan, above).

                                Angry tuna roll is killer.

                              2. I see most people got on the track of just Saint John. Well the request was where to eat in NB.
                                I travel the province alot. From Bathurst to Edmundston to Sackville and St Stephen. I try not to eat at the chains (except Montana's) so have had quite a few experiences. My favourite restaurant (I will change my schedule to get here at a meal time) is called Chez Doris. It is in Rogersville and is run by an older, retired, couple. Her salad dressing is made on site by Doris herself and the staff say no one is allowed in the kitchen when she is making it so when she dies it dies. It has to be the most incredible dressing I have ever had. My favourite dish is her salmon. Incredible. Second favourite restaurant is called the Lighthouse. It is in the mall in Shediac. I normally get poutine rapee which is offered a couple times a week (Tues & Thurs I think) if you do not get there by 11:45 you do not get any. Third is in Miramichi called Cunard. Beautiful chinese food best I have ever had and last I can recommend is Grandmas in Florenceville. Have only had the chance to eat here a couple times but was not disappointed in anything I had (muffins are fabulous).

                                1. I enjoy Calactus Cafe in Moncton. It's vegetarian, and I'm not, but I think it's still as good a resto as Moncton can offer. I'll second the nomination of the Shadow Lawn Inn in Saint john as a place to try. I stay there when I can, and always enjoy the Oven Head Smoked Salmon.
                                  The Blue Door in Fredericton seems well run and has turned out a nice meal or two as well. The best kept secret might be the Kingsbrae Arms Relais & Chateau in St. Andrews. Treat yourself if you can.

                                  1. Sense of Tokyo - Saint John http://senseoftokyo.ca/
                                    The Bourbon Quarter - Saint John
                                    Opera Bistro - Saint John www.operabistro.com
                                    Savour - St. Andrews www.chefalexhaun.com/
                                    The Rossmount Inn - St. Andrews www.rossmountinn.com

                                    1. I have visited Saint John over the past 18 years, travelled most of the world and now live in the US. I have these comments in regards to dining in Saint John:
                                      - Mother's day brunch at the Hilton Hotel is great!! Do this if you have the opportunity
                                      - Everything I have had to eat, the atomsphere, etc. is wonderful at the Sahdow Lawn Inn. They do an especially great job of receptions having had a small post wedding dinner for my new husband and me there in 1996 - food was outstanding!! It is great to see that it is still open as I thought this establishment was for sale
                                      - Grannen's Seafood in Brunswick Square is good...not great...but good for Saint John

                                      I highly recommend the Three Fisherman restauarnt in Halifax, Nova Scotia - outstanding!!

                                      1. Does anyone have any specific recommendations for Bathurst, NB? I'm heading there for work and would love a couple options for dinner. Definitely don't want a chain restaurant - anything that's popular wtih the locals is good with me.

                                        1. How would you compare the Kingsrae Arms restaurant to rossmountinn?

                                          http://www.kingsbrae.com/foodwine.html

                                          We have one dinner in St. Andrews before heading to Grand Manan and want to make the right choice. Thanks.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: nyawira

                                            In my opinion, nothing compares to the Rossmount. It is wonderful. Perhaps tea or lunch at the Kingsbrae ?

                                          2. Looking for a great place to eat half way between Montreal and Halifax, right on the Trans Canada? Try Perth-Andover-exit 115, from excellent Pizza, to Chinese to Lobster (York's), etc. The newest is a The Black Lion Restaurant and Pub, 3 minutes from the TC across the beautiful Saint John River near the Hospital. It serves excellent meals, has a good selection of NB beer like Picaroons, a good Scotch selection, friendly ambiance. You leave relaxed, satisfied and having made some new friends from New Brunswick !!