ISO Great Food in PEI and NS South Shore.
I just took a trip through PEI/Nova Scotia a few weeks ago (from Toronto). Unfortunately, I traveled through everything *but* the south shore. My route went Halifax - Advocate Harbour - Charolottetown - Baddeck - Halifax in a loop.
PEI is probably the easiest to describe. It's like a giant manicured golf course with lots of tourist destinations, so much of the food reflects that. Two places worth trying are Ship to Shore restaurant (near Malpeque) and Dalvay by the Sea. For fresh off the boat seafood, the roadside shacks can be hit or miss. If you're not careful, you'll find yourself wasting valuable space on meals that you can get easily/cheaply in Toronto. An example is oysters - it cost me $1-1.50 (before shucking fee) for Malpeque oysters on Malpeque Bay. It cost me 30 cents each to buy the same oysters from Diana's Seafood when I got back, and they didn't taste much different. On the other hand, $7 for a 1 lb cooked lobster from a shack in the Summerside wharf was a fantastic 10 am meal. If you're staying for several nights, I'd recommend going to a lobster supper (New Glasgow) for the novelty. We found that most of the restaurants in downtown Charlottetown didn't really offer us anything we couldn't get cheaper/better back home. Also, it's really easy to get around in PEI, so don't worry too much about travel time.
The most sophisticated meal we had was at Chives in Halifax. It was great food, and reasonably priced - comparable to a mid-range bistro in Toronto. Our favourite meals were at Wild Caraway in Advocate Harbour. We stayed there for a couple of nights, and this place is really a gem in the wilderness. You can find a lot of recommendations on Tripadvisor.
If you expect to be traveling through some of the regions I mentioned, I can certainly elaborate on more places to eat.
We live on the South Shore and are big fans of the local places in our town, so I will stick to those.
Check out Fleur de Sel in Lunenburg (very sophisticated, with prices and service to match),
Trattoria della Nonna also in Lunenburg (local produce, seafood with authentic Italian treatment: superb wine list).
Also in Lunenburg, try Knots Pub for local pub grub. Avoid the mussels, but the fish and chip dishes are good and you can't go wrong with their fish sandwich.
If you are starting from Halifax: try Morris East, FID, the Henry House...the list is big and growing of places worth eating in Halifax: some great chefs are living here now.
5212 Morris St, Halifax, NS B3J, CA
Best dining in PEI? Knowing your budget would be nice :) but presuming you want only the very best restaurants here and money is no object, then there are only 5 places of the 65 most recommended restaurants in PEI that I personally recommend for cuisine PLUS ambiance. I like 'em all equally so I've listed them in alphabetical order
Dalvay by the Sea (in PEI Ntl Park just past Stanhope)
The Inn at Bay Fortune (way out east!)
The Inn at St Peters (St Peter's Bay)
The Pearl (between North Rustico and Cavenish)
Victoria Village Inn & Restaurant (Victoria by the Sea)
There a few more where the fare is commendable but the setting is without merit. In no particular order these are as follows:
Historic Maplethorpe Inn in Bedeque, The Lobster House in Summerside, PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow, The Dunes Cafe & Shaw's Hotel Restaurant in Brackley Beach, The Shipwright's in Margate, Windows on the Water at Montague, Clamdiggers in Georgetown and Charlottetown's Claddagh Room, Sirenella, Castellos, Off Broadway, Lot 30 and Simm's Steakhouse.
(Yes, I have visited all 65 on the list of "PEI's best" and conclude that for about 1/2 of them the reviewers for some reason forgive the presentation of overcooked meat, vegetables, fish and pasta plus invariably the heavy handed use of salt. I never cease to be amazed that so many Islanders [and tourists] recommend restaurants here with the most gawdawful food that would never be acceptable to cosmopolitan diners elsewhere.)
I must respectfully disagree with 'bill in pei'. Dalvay by the sea is beautiful but the food is mediocre at best.
PEI Preserve Co has a beautiful garden, but the food is geared towards bus tours.
The Dunes has the most remarkable room, and view. And the food is served on the pottery made on location. (To say nothing of the gallery and the art hanging around you).
Lot 30 is probably one of the best restaurants in PEI- fresh, innovative, well thought out food. Granted the room is stark, but the food speaks for itself.
For oysters, the Claddagh Oyster House (It changed it's name about 3-4 years ago, from the Claddagh Room to Oyster House) is FAR superior (and cheaper) to Simms Steakhouse/Oyster Bar. (Simms has a more refined room, but the food is better at the Claddagh)
Off Broadway is very good and has an excellent wine list.
The Pilot House and the Merchantman Pub (both in Charlottetown) have consistently good food and service.
Ship to Shore Restaurant in Darnley has wonderful, fresh seafood.
Personally, I would stay away from Sirenella, Castello's and Shaw's but that is just me...
I also feel that for seafood (it's not fancy, but it is SO fresh) the Water Prince Corner Shop has great food...we get lobster to go from there all the time.
I agree, ship to shore is worth the trip, good interesting take on yummy east coast standards like the lobster sandwich, served club style on an english muffin, and the buffalo mussels that are served like hot wings with a side of blue cheese, but much healthier as they are not fried. I also had the haddock which is expensive at $31 but very yummy. The wine list is decent, we had the cote du rhone and it was lovely.
In Summerside be sure to try Five Eleven West, a hidden gem in the Credit Union Center. The food is amazing and consistently tasty, great sandwiches and the seafood chowder is perfect; when I had it there were large chunks of lobster in it. There are daily specials that are always yummy, I tried the seafood linguine and loved it. The restaurant is hard to find in the Credit Union Center but worth the trip!