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Help with itinerary

Hoping for some thoughts on our 8 nites in New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia in late Aug. Coming from Boston but will spend a nite in Bar Harbor on a Thurs. then drive into Canada on Fri. My first thought was St. John but thought maybe going further to Moncton would be better then we'd be closer to PEI and NS. Go to PEI for 2 nites, Halifax for 2, then St. John before the drive back to Boston (or maybe stay in Portland). I'm basically a city gal but since we'll be in such a pretty place, I figure maybe one nite in a little town or village. This is supposed to be my "relaxing" vacation so trying to drive in the most efficient way possible. And of course eat well on the way. I've read quite a bit here but this isn't the most active CH board. Will want one really nice dinner during the trip (would Halifax be best for that?) and a lot of fun places in between. And of course the requisite good seafood. We also like places both for a fancy cocktail, maybe with a good view, as well as dive bars and rock clubs.

So if you know a good route with some tasty stops in the cities and on the road, that would be great. I'm full of Boston info if you need it. Thanks.

Joanie

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  1. Nothing? I think I've decided on one nite in Moncton, 3 in Charlottetown or closeby, 3 in Halifax and one some place in NB close to Maine. All driving. Seems like a pretty good route to me but if someone knows something better with some good eating on the way, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Joanie

      Based on the route you're describing - here's a few things I would mention.

      Moncton: go for a drink at the Laudromat - it's an espresso place/bar on George Street in the downtown. They have a pretty casual atmosphere, open concept, brightly painted walls. Good selection of local and microbrews and an amazing espresso martini.

      Sackville NB - depending on which route you go from Moncton to PEI you could go past Sackville, a small college town in NB. I'm a big fan of Mel's Tea Room - which is not a tea room but actually a diner. It's not much to look at - but that's half the charm - but they make a solid (and cheap) burger and fries.

      I haven't been to PEI in awhile, so I can't be much help there, except to say the Provincial government has set up this pretty neat looking information site just on culinary experiences in PEI: http://www.peiflavours.ca/

      Halifax - you could easily fill three nights in Halifax both food and entertainment wise. Most of the posts on this board seem to debate the merits of various Halifax establishments, particularly the ones that would qualify as your nice dinner. I'm a fan of Fid - my preferred location for a great meal out. Weekend brunch at Jane's on the Common is also a favourite of mine, if you you can handle the wait. Coastal Coffee on Robie street also has a great upscale breakfast menu - and they offer it on weekdays which is an awesome time to beat the crowds. For Halifax, check out the Coast - the free weekly news/entertainment magazine: it'll give you a good idea of both restaurant and also music happenings around town (you mentioned rock clubs

      )

      If you think you'd like to spend a night in a more small town Nova Scotia setting, Lunenburg is a great spot - about an hour from Halifax and a really cute little town on a small harbour. Fleur de Sel is there - which consistently wins awards and such. There are lots of small B and Bs in that town too - as well as a number of other restaurants that would make it worth a visit. One that's caught my eye a bunch of times but never seems to be open when I'm in town is Magnolia's Grill.

      Depending on the time in August you are here, you might catch the IncrEdible Nova Scotia Picnic - a province wide picnic event that celebrates local food. I don't see a date for it yet this year, but its been in August the other two years its been held. There should be an update here soon: http://www.selectnovascotia.ca/

      For your last night on the way back to Maine, there are a number of people on this board who have raved about the Rossmount Inn in Saint Andrews. Never been there myself but the previous posts I've seen here have definitely added it to my "to visit" list.

      1. re: parleek

        Oops. The Laundomat is on *Saint* George not George in Moncton.

        Also, if you didn't already see it, this post from last year is still pretty relevant: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637094

        1. re: parleek

          Thanks for the response. A friend in the Moncton area had just mentioned Laundromat, someone on Trip Advisor mentioned St. Andrew and I had Fid on the list. That stop in Sackville might be good and I'll add your other thoughts. We're probably in Halifax Aug. 24 for 3 nites and I didn't see any festivals at that point but maybe we'll luck out. Thanks.

          1. re: Joanie

            Hey - saw today that the dates for the Incredible Picnics have been announced. Some of them are late August. Halifax (being held in Dartmouth) is the 22nd - earlier than you mentioned, but in case your schedule changes.

            http://www.selectnovascotia.ca/?cid=56

            1. re: parleek

              Thanks for the info but we're committed to Aug. 24-27 now cuz I just pricelined a hotel (the Westin for $63!). If anything specific is going on then or you have some more general recs, bring it on. What nearby places/sights should we check out besides Fisherman's Cove? I read about Emma's and Boondocks for food. Keep in mind this is a ton of driving already (Bos-Bar Harbor-Monc-PEI-NS-St Andrew-take our time back thru Maine) so don't want to wander too far from Halifax. Thanks.

              1. re: Joanie

                I'm kind of curious about your plans to hit Fisherman's Cove. Particularly as you said you don't want to do a lot of driving - it would be probably 30 minutes from downtown Halifax by the time you cross the bridge and pass through Dartmouth.

                I'd be inclined to suggest Emma's for food out there. It's very casual (only breakfast and lunch) but has a small town feel while still offering quality food. Especially if you like fish cakes. I haven't been out there for probably a year but I used to go out every few weeks for brunch. I've never been to Boondocks.

                If you are coming through Dartmouth, stop for coffee at Two If By Sea Cafe on Octerloney Street. Easily the best coffee in the city.

                1. re: parleek

                  Yes, the coffee at Two If By Sea is pretty good, probably the best in Dartmouth (not a lot of competition) but the pastries are nasty. Eat elsewhere.

          2. re: parleek

            Any thoughts on a stop between Bar Harbor and Moncton? That's a longer drive than I thought it would be and we might want to get a snack somewhere.

        2. In Charlottetown I would highly recommend Lot 30...And Flex Mussels, but it may be closed. (It is seasonal-I'd heard it wasn't reopening this year)
          Others include Off Broadway, The Dunes (15 minutes outside of Charlottetown) The Inn at Bay FOrtune (close to Souris) The Inn at Spry Point (but you used to have to stay there). And for a classic "unfussy" lobster meal The Water Prince Shop.

          If in NB, two musts are The Rossmount (St Andrews) and Fresh (Bristol).

          Fiasco is my Fav in Halifax.

          -----
          Flex Mussels
          2 Lower Water St, Charlottetown, PE C1A, CA

          9 Replies
          1. re: troutpoint

            Flex Mussels is no longer open. A suggestion for a lobster supper is New Glasgow Lobster suppers, about 20 minutes from Charlottetown http://www.peilobstersuppers.com/

            -----
            Flex Mussels
            2 Lower Water St, Charlottetown, PE C1A, CA

            1. re: gxqpp

              PEI:

              In Charlottetown I would suggest Lot 30 (www.lot30restaurant.ca), which is considered by many to be the best restaurant in town. The Pilot House (www.thepilothouse.ca) is a crowd pleaser, too, though I wasn't totally impressed when I went there. There is also the Gahan House (www.gahan.ca) which is a brewery with pretty nice beer. If you are in town a day that the Farmers' Market is open, go there! There are smoked salmon sandwiches that are incredibly good, and a bunch of prepared food vendors that offer really delicious snacks. You could also pick up a few local things to nosh on back at your hotel.

              It's also worth it to drive out to Darnley and check out Ship to Shore (www.shiptoshorelounge.com). This is one of my favourite restaurants on the Island. It's also a really lovely drive. I am also quite fond of the Two Sisters is Miscouche. It's a bakery and homespun diner. The food is pretty good---standard fried fare---but the baked goods are fantastic. Their molasses cookies are to die for.

              If you are near Cavendish, The Pearl Cafe (www.thepearlcafe.ca) is pretty good. I've found their food bland at times, but they have a nice menu and a lot of people are crazy for it.

              The Inn at Bay Fortune (www.innatbayfortune.com) is the high-falutin' choice. It's the former home of Chef Michael Smith, the Island's celebrity chef. It lives up to it's reputation, though.

              A trip to the potato vodka distillery (www.princeedwarddistillery.com) is also fun. And if you're up on the West end of the island anyway, you could always check out Myriad View distillery (www.straitshine.com) though their booze isn't so great, and Rossignol Winery (www.rossignolwinery.com).

              If you decide to check out New Glasgow Lobster Suppers (I'm not a fan, but it definitely has a market), you could also hit the PEI Preserve Company. I don't love their restaurant, but the preserves are fantastic and they have a beautiful garden to walk through.

              Halifax:

              I definitely think you should eat at Fid (www.fidresto.ca). That restaurant is great. They focus on using local products and do the region proud. It's fine dining quality food in a more casual, unfussy atmosphere, too, which is nice.) Another option for finer dining is Gio (www.giohalifax.com) which is more of a world fusion menu. The menu runs the gamut when it comes to influences, but everything is beautifully composed. The lunch prices are fantastic, too.

              Coastal Coffee (www.thecoastal.ca) really is a great suggestion for breakfast. Two if By Sea (www.twoifbyseabakeshop.com) in Dartmouth is also great. I personally don't really love their baked goods, but the coffee is super fantastic. I agree with the best in town sentiment. (I would say that Sam's Macchiato in the Granville Market area of Halifax is the best on this side of the bridge.) Even if you end up choosing not to head to Fishermen's Cove, you could just take the ferry from the Halifax waterfront to Dartmouth for a coffee there. It's just a short walk from the terminal. And the ferry ride is definitely a novelty that doesn't wear out its welcome, at least in my opinion. I also found Ma Belle's Cafe, just a few doors down from Two if By Sea, to be a really charming lunch spot. Delicious quiche and a homey made-by-Mom kind of feel to it.

              Five Fishermen (www.fivefishermen.com) is worth checking out if you're looking for a seafood experience. They have an oyster bar, and a new wine cellar and chilling contraption---an Enomatic---that is kind of cool. Ryan Duffy's (www.ryanduffys.com) is also a good seafood choice as they are really committed to sustainable fisheries. They also have rooftop honey bees that make the honey that they use in their dishes, which is kind of neat. I just had a nice lunch at Moda Urban Dining (www.modaurbandining.com) recently. I find that the dinner menu is a little expensive, but was fine with the lunch prices. And they have a great dessert menu.

              Morris East (morriseast.com) is another restaurant that is worth a visit. Really awesome pizza. And they have great brunches on Saturdays where they make their own wood-fired bagels. They are really close to the Farmers' Market, too, so if you wanted to take a jaunt down there just to check it out, you can head there afterwards. (I'm not sure if you're here on a Saturday, though.) It's right around the corner from the Westin, too. Tomavino's (www.tomavinos.ca), which right by the Westin also has fantastic pizza.

              Talking about things right next to your hotel, there is the Trident Cafe (www.tridenthalifax.com), which has wonderful coffee. It's just down Hollis Street about a half a block, and is worth the walk since the coffee at the Westin (in the restaurant at at the "Starbucks") is godawful. Boneheads BBQ (www.lickthebone.com) which has amazing ribs, and a really awesome spate of Southern side dishes, is just a little bit of a walk past the Superstore you'll see by the hotel. There are actually a lot of restaurants in the neighbourhood if you get lazy or tired and don't want to wander far.

              If you do want to go on a bit of a wander, I also second the idea of heading out to Fleur de Sel (www.fleurdesel.net) in Lunenburg. The drive through the South Shore is really, really beautiful and there are lots of beautiful photo ops in Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. And Fleur de Sel can't really be beat.

              I have no recommendations for New Brunswick, sorry!

              1. re: MB.

                We have a short (5-day) trip planned--driving up on the 20th from NH--our first visit there. Staying 1st and last nights at Treadwell Inn in St. Andrews, then 3 nights at the Orient Hotel in Victoria. From what I have read we have chosen for dinners The Rossmont Inn for St. Andrews. Then for P.E.I.--Ship to Shore in Darnley, The Pearl Cafe in N. Rustio, and Lot 30 in Charlottetown. Any comments, suggestions? Is there another place in St. Andrews or nearby we should try? Thanks!

                1. re: MB.

                  Thanks for all these extra comments. Some questions. Is Fiasco still good? I see some not great reviews plus the web site wasn't working. What are the prices at Lot 30? They have one of those annoying menus with no prices. Also, do they have a bar area? Fleur de Sel looks nice but maybe too sedate. If you were going for the fancy meal but with a bit of buzz, where would you go?

                  And will we see lobster shacks/suppers as we drive that aren't as organized as that New Glasgow one? Which still seems fairly pricey to me. The ferry to Dartmouth sounds like a good jaunt, and I see some good happy hours which I always appreciate coming from Boston where happy hour isn't allowed (only food deals, no cheap booze).

                  Thanks.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    Maybe you could try the Blue Mussel Cafe (www.bluemusselcafe.com) in North Rustico for some fresh lobster/seafood. The location is absolutely gorgeous, and if you change your mind you could always just go pick up cooked lobster at the seafood stand that is on the wharf and make a picnic of it? I'll be honest -- I never go to restaurants for lobster in PEI. It's just too easy to get some fresh off the boats and make a meal of it at home. If you are staying in cottages, that would be really easy. Harder at a hotel, obviously. But if you are down with eating the lobster cold and can figure out a way to melt some butter (a hibachi or something?) it'd make for a fantastic picnic on the nearby beach.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      IMO, Fiasco is the 2nd-best resto in town, after Gio. Fid has some very devoted fans but I am not among them. I have been disappointed in my visits to the place.

                      1. re: Greg B

                        just curious as to what your disappointments were. I have rarely been disappointed.

                        1. re: Greg B

                          This is going back to their pre-bistro days. I was there on two seperate occasions. On the first, the meals were simply not very good -- some kind of Asian dish that resembled and tasted like a Mr. Noodles with some chicken tossed on top, and a ridiculously tiny steak. On the second, food was better but overpriced (I had a curry dish that was fine but cost more than twice what Gingergrass or Cha Baa would charge for a better dish) and the hostess/co-owner was rude. That was enough for me. There are far too many places in town that are as good or better that do not overcharge and are friendly.

                      2. re: MB.

                        The food and abience rock at the Coastal Cafe. However don't sit near the door. We had snow on our Dirty South plates every time the door opened. Surely a sheet of plexi between the first table and the bench would solve the frigidity problem. Otherwise A1.

                  2. Do not miss a feed of clams at Chez Leo, in Shediac Bridge. Just thinking I will be there in August makes my mouth water!!! Last time I went there in 2006 I had them for breakfast, soooooooooooo soooooooooooooo good.