Nova Scotia for 1
I am heading to Nova Scotia for a week in June...no set itinerary yet...but at least 3 days in Halifax, and probably some time in Cape Breton. I am wanting to do the tourist thing and eat as much lobster and seafood as I possibly can. Going alone, can anyone recommend some places that are not going to be ackward for one to dine in alone (maybe something with a nice bar area that has food)...I would like to try a mix of mom and pop joints, to the fancy shmancy seafood places. Would love to hear feedback. Thanks
Lobster is in season on Cape Breton in June so should be good time to find fresh. Second the response about Herring Choker on Cape Breton. Also suggest The Water's Edge( www.thewatersedgeinn.com ) in Baddeck for excellent seafood chowder and great desserts (if you are not on a diet). Hometown kitchen in Cheticamp is a family run place with pan-fried fish n chips. The locals are often good with recommendations for good local food. Ask for local lobster pounds or lobster fisherman. Some will cook them for you.
If you pass through Truro/Bible Hill, you have to stop by Roadside Willies Smokehouse & Bar. Very nice food, great atmosphere and reasonable prices. Check out www.roadsidewillies.ca. It's not on the main drag but easy to find. I drop by every time I'm in town. Haven't been disappointed yet!
This is a fish and chips review.
Halifax NS has just okay fish and chips, and I've been on a search for decent fish and chips for over 50 years, having been brought up in the UK. Even there most fish and chips are awful except in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the deep west. Then our family moved to Canada in 1959, and I've been back to the UK many times since then, including a 5 year stint.
The Nova Scotia general idea of fish and chips is tiny pieces of fish coated in way too much batter, and hence oil. There is nowhere here that I've found that has a real decent -sized piece of fish as you'd get anywhere in the UK (even if those folks generally don't seem to do much with that basic ingredient).
So, anyway, if you want to try the best NS fish and chips I've found, you need to go on Highway 3 about 50 miles west of Halifax to a place called the Island View Restaurant in Western Shore (the name of the hamlet). It's right on the sea shore side of the road.
A two piece fish and chips there costs about 7 bucks, if you can avoid trying the fried clams, which are really great as well. Tables are basic, the staff local and friendly, and they also sell decent baked goods, including real honest to god bread, something else Halifax lacks in a general way.
You won't feel weird here dining alone. If you do, go outside to the picnic tables and join the inevitable seagulls, who will watch in stern amusement every mouthful you take, becoming increasingly agitated as the pile on you plate diminishes.
Have a good trip.
If you're interested in lobster, check out "Lobsterpalooza" (http://www.lobsterpalooza.ca/). As someone else mentioned, your best bet would be to go to a church supper or a similar event -- no one would blink an eye at you being alone b/c they'll all be too busy eating lobster and mussels and chowder, lol. This would definitely give you an "authentic" seafood experience.
If you're interested in a great "foodie" experience, I would recommend Chives (www.chives.ca). They focus on using fresh, seasonal ingredients and are big supporters of local/regional producers. In fact, it's very common to see Chef Craig Flinn at the Halifax Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, scoping out the fresh produce and it gets you wishing you were dining there that night!
As for Cape Breton, I have to mention the Herring Choker on the main highway (105) just outside of Baddeck (before it if you're coming from Halifax) in Nyanza. It is a great little bakery/deli that offers amazing sandwiches (it's the only place I know of where you can have a hunk of Brie added on to any sandwich) including a mean lobster sandwich and the *best* oatcakes anywhere, IMHO. (Oatcakes are quintessential Cape Breton fare). Check their website at http://baddeck.com/herringchoker/
Someone below mentioned the Five Fisherman -- while it is on the casual side, they do right by their guests in terms of seafood. They have an all-you-can eat mussel/salad bar to start out and their menu items are usually solid. Another notable seafood joint is McKelvie's near the Historic Properties.
The Coast is Halifax's free weekly paper and its food critic, Liz Feltham, also has a website with past reviews from the paper. Check www.thecoast.ca (archives also) and www.foodcritic.ca for past reviews (though be warned they are not date-stamped).
Hope this helps some...Have a great time in Halifax and CB and post some reviews when you get back!
Thanks for all the info. I am visiting in June so I will post after I get back. I have a friend dining with me a few nights as well. From what I have heard and read, these are the places I have in mind:
*Seven Wine Bar
Still debating - Bish (not great reviews) Press Joint (some love it, some hate it), Five Fisherman ($$$) could be a nice send off meal. I am after some good Seafood, so the Italian places don't really interest me even thought they offer fish. I have not read about any dedicated lobster place in Halifax yet, but I have to research that a little more I guess.
(Oatcakes are quintessential Cape Breton fare).
Thank you for the memories. They certainly are. Oatcakes and molasses cookies ARE Cape Breton to me.
I fondly recollect the oatcakes at The Telegraph House in Baddeck where my godmother used to cook and her molasses cookies that she baked for me and would mail from Boularderie Island to Halifax when I was at Dalhousie and then to Edmonton when I moved westward
I have never found anywhere here that makes me feel at all odd dining alone, so don't let that concern you.
Fancy schmancy, the Five Fishermen in Halifax has a new chef and her new menu looks pretty interesting.
Probably the best for simple lobster, if you know how to do the chopping yourself, is to buy it from the pounds, most sell it cooked as well as live. Shatfords, outside Hubbards in Fox Point is on a very beautiful coastal drive (do the entire loop around the Aspotogan Peninsula), and they have a new sit down place tthat will probably be perfect for you.
I think there is a similar place right along the 104 at Mulgrave, just before you cross the causeway to Cape Breton. You won't miss the signs.
If you are doing the Cabot Trail, there are a bunch of places in the Grand Etang/Cheticamp area that sell crab legs fresh cooked. And in the right season, some people just sell them along the roadside.
One idea is to check the tourism website(s) and find out where "Lobster Festivals" are being held, and time a visit when they are on. Usually a one day thing, but some places go all out. Some local organizations get their annual events posted. You eat at a church hall, or Masonic Hall, lobster, potato salad, and fresh bread. If in August, you might also get strawberries and cream. In June, you may be a bit early for a lot of this, though.
I just googled "lobster festival" nova scotia and got lots of info.
Here is one, for example:
Now I've said all this, but I don't eat the stuff! Allergic.
I hope you eat well and have fun.
Gee I wouldn't consider calling the Five Fisherman "Fancy schmancy" at all...I'd consider calling it very casual dining..wouldn't be my first pick in Halifax..
If you want something fun and entertaining..go to the Lower Deck on a Fri or Sat night for a very very very casual beer time...always a fun treat..Middle deck for pasta and stuff and Upper Deck for more "fancy schmancy"..Or Bish, Da Maurizio, Salty's on the Waterfront is always good for mussels etc...nice view........
Fancy schmancy for seafood.... that is what was asked for. Have you been lately? $38 entrees..... Great service, among the best in the city, and the new chef comes with a very good reputation. The menu is all new.
Obviously there are lots of other places that are not seafood focussed. Halifax is rich in fine dining right now. Of course that will result in losses of places - I heard Jon Allan's is shutting down and Da Maurizio is being sold.
Lower Deck is OK for fun and food, but very very poor beer selection. A tied house, really.
There is a thread here somewhere about the best in Hfx. Mine would be FID, I suppose. Da Maurizio and Gio close. Others liked Fiasco. janes on the common for value and quality.
Interesting if disappointing rumour concerning da Maurizio's potential sale. Agree wholeheartedly with your observation about Halifax being "rich in fine dining right now". Even though it is a destination tourist city and the cruise ship traffick, given its population I am surprised at how many good restaurants it does have in the upscale market since the owners have to continue to make a buck when the weather turns nasty and the "tourists" like me have gone home to contend with their Mastercard bills....