Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Is.?
Your question is quite broad - both in terms of geographic area and the types of restaurants you are asking about. What towns in Nova Scotia will you be visiting and what parts of the two islands?
Some general thoughts:
Halifax has a great restaurant scene with lots of options - including a lot of great cuisine from different parts of the world, as well as a number of fine dining establishments. As well the Saturday farmers market in Halifax is well worth a visit.
Wolfville and Lunenburg are small towns in mainland Nova Scotia that have become destinations for those with interest in good food. I would suggest searching the boards for those three locations specifically.
I rarely eat a at seafood restaurant. I tend to find that I can find plenty of good seafood options at restaurants that don't specialize in seafood. If you are on PEI and looking for a big feed of lobster and mussels, I've always been a fan of New Glasgow Lobster Suppers. It's not fancy in any way - more like a permanent fire hall supper than a restaurant - but they have great chowder and fresh homemade rolls, unlimited mussels and a good sized lobster (or at least that's how it was the last time I was there).
Our overnight stops will be in Halifax (NS), Charlottetown (PEI), Dalvay Beach (PEI), Bay Fortune (PEI), and Baddeck (NS). We will have several nights in some of these locations, and of course, we will have a car and don't mind driving 30 minutes for a really good dinner. We eat and like all food, and suppose we are looking for the best examples of regional food.
I'll stick to Halifax, as that's what I know best, and make a few suggestions of what I think places that highlight the best of what we have to offer. I don't think of this area as having a regional cuisine so much... but these places are (to me) a good cross section of the Halifax dining scene.
Fid - www.fidcuisine.ca - one of the city's higher end eating establishments. You'll find chowhounders weigh in frequently with whether this place is over-rated, whether the service has gotten better or worse over the years, but for me it's still the best for a creative, delicious meal and they really focus on regional ingredients. They do lunch and dinner - I've been for both, and think they do dinner better.
Gio - www.giohalifax.com - also a higher end place with well prepared, creative dishes. The chowder here is probably the best I've had at any restaurant. The chefs here have recently won the Annual Young Commis Competition held by La Chaine des Rotisseurs.
Morris East - http://www.morriseast.com/ - thin crust pizza cooked in a wood fired oven, this is a relatively new restaurant and one of my favourites in the city. Their menu changes monthly and focuses on what is in season. They don't take reservations and are perpetually busy, although I think they will put your name on the wait list and take your cell number if and want to go for a wander (or down the street to the pub - Henry House is nearby and serves its own mircrobrews).
Jane's on the Common - http://www.janesonthecommon.com/ - out of the downtown core, a smallish restaurant, also always busy and does not take reservations. It's busy for a reason - they have great food, with a focus on local/seasonal! (They also do brunch on the weekends and have a takeout counter next door with awesome premade sandwiches).
Sebsastien's Bistro - http://www.sebastiensbistro.ca/ -- another relative newcomer - French Bistro Cuisine with a chef that specializes in seafood. I've had several good dinners here and one really great lunch. My one problem with this place is that I've pretty consistently had disappointing service (inattentive and and/or uniformed wait staff). It's the sort of place that I want to go to for the food and the atmosphere but I have this nagging thing in the back of my head about my service experiences. I'm hoping it's just been new-restaurant hiccups.
Sushi Nami Royale - http://www.sushinami.ca/ - my current favourite sushi spot in the city.
Hungry Chilli - no web site - Szechuan. Small and unassuming, what it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in taste. The crispy fish, the hot numbing chicken and the tangy pork (or eggplant) are among my favourites here. They do lunch specials weekdays between 12-2. Here's a past chowhound post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376361
Coastal Coffee - http://www.thecoastal.ca/ - out of the downtown core, and not looking like much from the outside, this place does a great brunch and has really good coffee. They do breakfast up until lunch time or so on weekdays too. The Huevos Rancheros is what gets the biggest raves.
Midtown Tavern - no website - a Halifax institution, this is no frills, meat and potatoes (usually fried) and draft beer. Rub elbows with lawyers and taxi drivers on their lunch breaks. Friday lunch special is boiled dinner - about as close to a regional specialty as you get.
Johnny's Snack Bar - no website - good solid diner out of the downtown core. It's one of the few remaining family run diners in the city that hasn't had some lame makeover to try and freshen it up or make it modern. Here's an old post that describes it fairly well: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/370855
hmmm. I don't know if I'm the right person to ask about this. I've heard good things about this place from other people, but I haven't eaten there. my husband and I actually made reservations there once. We were sat at our table and given the menu, which looked really good, but we found the atmosphere so oppressive (really quiet, antique furniture, sort of like sitting in your grandma's living room) that we made a lame excuse and left. It's maybe my most shameful dining experience.
We both just felt really uncomfortable and out of place there - to the point that we felt that we couldn't enjoy any dinner no matter how good it might be. I think my parents have eaten there and quite enjoyed it. And we have friends our age who have eaten there and raved about it (which is why we made the reservation) but it was so weird when we there! I dunno.... (I wouldn't worry about it as a place to stay though, that aspect seems great)
Hmmm...I wonder if they have remodeled/changed since you were there. The photo of the restaurant on their website www.thehalliburton.com doesn't look antiquey at all...it looks fairly contemporary in feel. Take a peek at the picture...do you think it's the same? Also, Frommer's rather likes Stories. Thanks for your reassurance re the hotel...it gets good reviews.
I haven't eaten at Stories in a while but it looks like the same room to me. The food is good to very good. I would recommmend it.
I will also second Fid and Coastal Coffee. As for Gio, all flash no substance in my opinion. I would agree with the recommendations for Jane's and Morris east as well.
I took a peek and at least one of the rooms looks similar... it's possible that my memory has revamped the decor to match my impression of the atmosphere, which on the night we were there was uncomfortably quiet. I'm glad some one else has weighed it, and if you end of eating there I'd be curious to see your review.
For Thai, there is Talay Thai Restaurant and Chabaa Thai Restaurant
with Chabaa being the newer. Both are in the downtown core and both are really good. There used to be Baan Thai too - and they were also really good - but honestly I'm not sure if they are around any more.
For Indian, I've pretty much only been to Taj Mahal - http://www.tajmahal7wonders.com/ - delicious (they do Thai too now that I think of it, but I've never had it there, and I think they have some weird rule where you can only order from one menu - so you can't go with two people and one of you order Indian and one of you order Thai). Halifax has a real lack of Indian places and no cheap Indian that I know of. The only Indian place I know of is Curry Village and I haven't heard good things about it, although I've never been myself.
Bakeries - I would say Julien's in the Hydrostone Market (a nice destination in itself (http://www.hydrostonemarket.ca/index....). If you are here on a Saturday morning you should go to the farmers market - Julien's has a stall there as well, but there's also Boulangerie La Vendienne - which is guaranteed to have a long line but has amazing bread and wonderful pan au chocolat.
Ooh, and now that I think of it, there is an inexpensive Indian food vendor at the market too, but I don't have details beyond that.
I also went to curry village, it was pretty yucky. I haven't been to taj mahal, but my fave indian food in the city is the couple who sells it in the basement at the saturday farmer's market. $6 gets you chicken curry with rice and a samosa. Not terribly spicy but good flavour. My main complaints are that it is cold sometimes and there is nowhere to sit.
Check out Baan Thai (same area as Fid)...dined there for a 1st time and will go back and you have a choice of how hot, or not, you would like your food prep'd
FID, dined there this past Friday and was disappointed. My SO and I enjoy fine dining and weren't impressed. My halibut was dry (overcooked and dark brown...almost burnt). I should've sent it back, really....my fault on that. My SO had Monkfish but the black bean sauce was 'invisible' leaving the veggies and sprouts.
There are a lot of good places recommended...I'll add a couple more to your list...
1. Brooklyn Warehouse (Halifax)...it is a great brunch, lunch or dinner location. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is fabulous.
2. Chaa Baa...much agreed is the best Thai restaurant I've ever eaten in...open late, great dishes..highly recommend the squid dishes if you are looking for something with a fish spin on it.
3. Doraku -- this japanese restaurant is fantastic, they have the traditional booths you can sit inside, the food is fast and fresh
4. Pete's Frootique...interested in some place to explore, Pete's has every kind of fruit and vegetable you can imagine as well as a selection of imported foods from all over the world. They also have a fantastic juice bar in the store...
5.Little Fish -- looking for a traditional meal, little Fish is by far one of the best fish restaurants in Halifax. Its downtown, but not in the heart of the tourist district so the food is reasonable in price. They also have a lovely patio if you want to catch some rays of good weather.
6. Phils Seafood...great fish and chips without too much batter...located on QuinPool Road.
Hope that helps.
I agree with the recommendations except for the first one. Brooklyn Warehouse (a dumb name; it has nothing Brooklyn about it and isn't in anything close to an old warehouse) is a huge disappointment to me having been there several times. Skimpy portions, odd-tasting dishes, indifferent service. The first couple of times I was there they didn't even take credit cards. IMO it is nowhere near as good as the previous incarnation of that location, Vivo, which was hit or miss itself but at least served tasty food.
Here's my two cents worth:
* For amazing fried clams, try John's Lunch on Pleasant Street in Dartmouth, near the hospital and Woodside Ferry Terminal.
* Best fish n chips would be at Wharf Wraps in Fisherman's Village in Eastern Passage, Dartmouth. Although I did hear that it's not quite as good as it was.
* In Wolfville, go to Tempest, in Lunenburg, Fleur de Sel - both fine dining.
* The chicken/wild mushroon/gogonzola/sherry ravioli at Il Mercato in Halifax is worth the trip alone.
* Best bakery is Les Vendeenes in Mahone Bay - they sell at the Halifax Farmer's Market on Saturdays. Julien's pales in comparison - Julien's "heartier" breads weigh nothing (pick one up) which means the loaf is basically fluff inside. La Vendeene's bagettes are wonderful; their croissants are pretty good (and I lived next to one of the best patisseries in Montreal for 12 years - so I hope I'm close to being an expert on this one!).
* Salvatore's plain old cheese pizza is just wonderful - real Italian, not a Canadianized version. They are on Young St in the north end Hydrostone Market in Halifax.
* The Chickenburger in Bedford is an institution - been around since the 30's, and has the neon to prove it. I like their cheeseburgers, chickenburgers, and shakes. I worked there as a teenager - the place is spotlessly clean, the beef and chicken is fresh, not frozen.
* As for better dining in Halifax, I like Seven, Mosaic (actually a lounge with small plates), Taj Mahal, Onyx (Mick Jagger ate there when the Stones were in town almost 2 years ago), and daMaurizio - Maurizio is a wizard in the kitchen, but I understand he has sold his signature restaurant to focus on his other establishments.
* Just Us Coffee - unbelievably, this fair trade java joint has just about the best coffee I've had anywhere. Based in Wolfville, they have cafes on Barrington St and Spring Garden Rd in Halifax. Skip the Timmy's and Starbucks and go here!
* For pub food, I like The Old Triangle on Bedford Row. Probably the nicest tavern in town.
We just returned from out trip. The first night we stayed with relatives who brought in pizza from Tomasivino( or something similar to that name). It was good.
We ate out three other dinners. We had piccolo Mondo, little fish and chives. The latter 2 were excellent. Check out the pics.
We are just back from PEI and NB. We had a fantastic meal at Lot 30 in Charlottetown. It is a new restaurant opened by the former chef at the Dayboat. No seaside setting but a nice room and the food was terrific. As well, I did not go but my wife and another couple went to Flex Mussels in Charlottetown and had a great lunch.
We have just returned from two wonderful weeks in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Is. The weather could have been better, but nevertheless we enjoyed some pretty great scenery and had some very good food. The shellfish in this part of the world is pretty much unbeatable...especially the mussels, clams and oysters from PEI and the lobster from both Nova Scotia & PEI. I'll very briefly review where we ate, and if anyone is particularly interested in a particular spot, let me know & I'll try to elaborate:
Halifax, NS - first three nights!
Morris East is excellent for what it is. They serve superb wood-fired pizzas, made with the best ingredients, and all of the starters and desserts are house made. Very casual but knowledgeable service. A real find!
Five Fisherman is a good solid seafood restaurant (it's the big brother to Little Fish), whose main claim to fame is the unlimited mussel bar (and salad bar) that accompanies all entrees. This is a good, but not extraordinary in any way.
Bish World Cuisine (at Bishop's Landing). A beautiful restaurant with wonderful staff and very good food. A terrific setting right on the water makes this a special place. The food was very good but the service although extremely pleasant, was ridiculously slow. We had a very enjoyable evening, but were not blown away by the food.
Charlottetown, PEI - one night
Lot 30 was without a doubt our best meal on the trip. This is a fairly new restaurant with a clean, modern and very comfortable look. Our servers were all young, but very knowledgeable and pleasant. Most importantly the food and presentation were terrific. Everything was top quality, served promptly and hot, and really could not have been better. I had mussels (of course!) and lobster...both of which were interestingly prepared and delicious. My partner had an amazing beet and local goat cheese salad, and halibut...also excellent. This place is a winner!
Had lunch the next day at Flex Mussels...right on the water...30 or so different preparations are available...fun to go to, obviously very fresh and well prepared mussels. A good place for lunch.
Dalvay-by-the-Sea, PEI National Park - three nights
We had three very good meals at three very different restaurants. Although none was of the level of Lot 30, they were all very good places.
Dinner first night at Dalvay-by-the-Sea. A historic dining room with beautiful views, good service, a nice menu and overall very good food. Certainly would recommend it.
Dayboat (owned by Flex Mussels) is right nearby and serves very nice seafood on a wonderful outdoor deck overlooking a bay. It's certainly a place to go for a very comfortable dinner, served nicely and with very good food...especially seafood.
The Dunes Gallery and Cafe, also very close to Dalvay is a great stop for lunch or dinner. Looking through the gallery and gardens is great fun, and the food is quite good.
Accidentally we stopped for lunch at a terrific, but super casual waterfront restaurant in Stanley Bridge (also near Dalvay) called Carr's Shellfish. It was wonderful for lunch. I had a terrific lobster roll, and the oysters were just being harvested next door. A great lunch stop.
Bay Fortune, PEI - two nights
The restaurant at the Inn at Bay Fortune is touted as one of Canada's finest...it isn't! Although the restaurant has a very nice setting, and very pleasant service, the food is just good to very good, certainly not exceptional. Since there is nowhere else nearby to eat, we had two dinners at their restaurant, and although they were just fine, they were nothing special.
Baddeck, NS - four nights (to thoroughly explore Cape Breton...including Cabot Trail, Louisbourg, Marconi historic sites, and Alexander Graham Bell museum). If there is a good restaurant nearby, we couldn't find it. All of the hotels serve what appears to be banquet food to the innumerable tour buses that jam their parking lots. We had edible pizza at Yellow Cello, ok Chinese food at Wang's, and ok seafood at Bell Buoy, all in Baddeck. Nothing was better than ok!
Back in Halifax for our last night, we had a tough decision between Fid (which has received very mixed reviews both on Chow, and from locals), returning to Morris East for wonderful pizza or going to da Maurizio which was highly recommended by our hotel and some locals. We selected the later, and were very pleased. We had an excellent dinner, in a very pleasant formal dining room with good service and very good food. It was perfect for our last night, but not as good as Lot 30.
We did peek into Stories (which was at our excellent boutique hotel...the Halliburton House...and it looked very nice. Perhaps another time.
In summary, although we had much amazing shellfish on our trip, there were really only a few truly excellent and memorable dining experiences on our trip...among them Morris East and Lot 30 for sure, and perhaps Bish and/or da Maurizio.