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Oct 2, 2008 07:36 PM

Adventures in New Brunswick

I didn't get any responses to my pre-visit query so I thought I'd post my New Brunswick food experiences here for future visitors.

Last week I spent three days at the Fairmont Algonquin in Saint Andrews attending business meetings. The hotel's food was quite good, better than I've come to expect from hotel/conference centres.

On the first evening they put on a lobster boil down by the beach. Hard to go wrong with fresh lobster, especially if you're from inland. The rest of the meal was a nice buffet featuring other seafood (baked salmon, seafood chowder, etc.) and a good variety of other dishes. The stand-out for that meal and the others, though, was dessert. The hotel's pastry chef does a great job on pies and cookies like Gramma used to make. Tart rhubarb, nicely spiced apple, and a hot blueberry crumble were my favourites. I ate more pie in three days than I've eaten in the past year...

The other meals weren't outstanding but were still very good, always with great desserts, and even the boxed lunch they prepared on the last day was nice, with hearty roast beef sandwiches and a selection of fruits and baked goods.

My weekend in Saint John wasn't great. I've learned that late fall is not a good time to visit Saint John since there's not a lot going on. The various seafood places around the harbour didn't look appealing at all. Very touristy and I couldn't shake the feeling that the food likely came out of a Sysco truck. Some of them might be great, but with no recommendations I went with my gut and steered toward smaller independent places.

I had a decent dinner at Thandi's a bar and bistro atmosphere serving somewhat westernized Indian dished. I had lamb saag and it was reasonably tasty but the lamb was tough and the saag a bit bland. I'd chosen the place because they had a sign promising live entertainment, but that was in the bar which was full so I was seated upstairs. The entertainment turned out to be a girl with a guitar singing covers of the Beatles and the like. The crowd downstairs was very enthusiastic but she wasn't to my taste.

Lunch on Saturday was at the Garden by the Reversing Falls, just because I was there doing one of the requisite 3 visits (high, low and slack tide). There I had fish and chips made from haddock very lightly breaded in-house. The fish was good, though the fries were standard the freezer variety and not worth eating. Continuing my national pie week activities, I tried their home made lemon meringue and although it couldn't compete with Gramma or the Algonquin, it was better than many.

Saturday dinner was at Taco Pico, a Mexican/Ecuadorian place that was supposed to have merengue dancing after 10 but didn't seem to have it this week. I had an ok salad with guacamole, just basic green salad with guacamole on top and a few tortilla chips stuck in it. Forgettable. I also tried the Taco Al Pastor which was better. The pork inside was very moist and flavourful. I would probably go back there to try other things. Service was great.

My last meal in Saint John was breakfast at the infamous Reggie's. On the "when in Rome" principle, I had breakfast with fishcakes. The fishcakes were like croquettes - mostly mashed potato, mixed with white fish, crunchy onions and maybe some seasonings. Not something I'd go out of my way for again, but they made me feel like I was getting a little taste of the local flavour. They came with eggs, toast (a nice dark multigrain) and house-made baked beans. The beans were great -- dark with molasses, with the flavours really soaked into the beans.

So while I didn't find anything in Saint John that rocked my socks, the eating was pretty good at least at the small places I tried.

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  1. I had one of the best lobster rolls ever at Reggies once. I visisted Saint John on a weekend once, and enjoyed some good fare at one of the harbourside places...but this was summer, there was live music and good beer, and I got my first taste of deep fried pickles. It was at the Ale House

    Can't remember what i had for my meal, but i sure liked those pickles.

    1. If you want pie in Saint John, try Beattie and the Beastro. I'm not a butterscotch fan, but those who are claim B & B makes a fabulous one. Their coconut cream pie, however, is my favourite pie anywhere and I've tried to find a way to have it shipped since I moved.

      1 Reply
      1. re: quof

        You've just given me a reason to go back to Saint John. I've never tried butterscotch pie but it sounds heavenly.

      2. idnas, when was your "pre visit query"? I don't see it on the Canada board?

        1 Reply
        1. re: troutpoint

          Hi troutpoint,

          I posted to an existing thread:

          My query focused on seafood so maybe I should have posted a follow-up asking for broader reservations. Anyway, I found some good stuff. :>

        2. Okay, as long as we are talking New Brunswick here, can anyone assist with a recco for Edmunston, New Brunswick? We are doing the big road trip from Toronto to Sotuh Shore Nova Scotia for Thanksgivng later this week and breaking the trip in Edmunston...any ideas? or is it chili at Timmy's (sigh....)

          1 Reply
          1. re: LJS

            LJS, sorry....I don't know of any rec's in Edmonston. If in Fredericton go to the Bluedoor or Brewbakers.. Or the Palate. All are in the downtown core and not too far off of the travels.

          2. Sorry idnas - had I seen your request I could have recommended the Rossmount Inn, a five minute drive from the Algonquin. This is the best restaurant in the province, in my experience.