Fredericton restaurant scene improves--a bit
Fredericton, New Brunswick has a deservedly dismal dining repulation so I thought I should let fellow Chow Hounds know that things have improved just a bit. Mostly of the improvement can be attributed to the advent of Panda, the first decent Chinese restaurant I have tried since moving here from Toronto in 2002. Panda is located at the corner of Regent and Prospect in the City Motel. (Panda Chinese Restaurant, 1216 Regent St, Fredericton, NB E3B3Z4 Tel: (506) 455-5050). It has been open for about a year. I have dined there numerous times. They seem to have a mediocre chef on Monday nights but other nights have been good. The dishes are not consistently exactly the same but they are done well. The seafood is nice. I don't eat meat but my friends have praised the duck. This restaurant has a two-part menu. The front section has the more conventional Chinese cuisine (still authentic but in a more popular style), the rear section (wtih green pages) feature what I believe to be more traditional fare. I am not sure what region the food is from. There are some dishes I never saw in Toronto and others which I have seen only rarely. For example, stir-fried potato shreds with chili, which I have had in Toronto at Chinese Traditional Buns and in Halifax at the Hungry Chili. There is also a terrific raw cucumber and garlic salad which I always order when cucumber is in season. All in all a real asset in our restaurant-poor town.
I have been to some of the high-end places lately. I continue to dislike the Blue Door. Good apps and cocktails but the mains do not seem to gel, although I understand they do a good steak. Racine's was expensive and disppointing: a bit over the top but not as much flavour as the hype would warrant. However, I was pleasantly surprised by a recent dinner at the Palate. I had the Tofu Meatloaf and my partner had something with Pernod-flambe'd scallops and shrimp. Both were fresh and enjoyable.
I continue to rely on Snooty Fox and Isaac's Way for reliable cheap-and-cheerful with very good local beer.
I post this with gratitude for all of the great Chow Hound tips I rely on regarding where to eat when I travel.
Your post encouraged me to try Panda for lunch (not on a Monday). I ordered two half portions of quite different dishes with great expectations, looking to try out their kitchen....crispy duck and Pad Thai. Alas, the Fredericton norm of mediocrity was much in evidence. The duck was reheated, no spicing at all and the bed of stir fried veggies was flavorless. The Pad Thai had absolutely no relation to any Thai dish I have ever eaten....basically, noodles with a few slivers of chicken breast stirred in oil and a bit of chicken broth. What am I doing wrong? In fifty years I could count the secent meals I have had in this, my home town, on the fingers of one hand and have enough digits left over to salute the Fredericton food industry.
In your opinion, has Panda gone down the tubes or was I just unlucky?
I'm sorry you had a bad experience at Panda. I've had some good meals there and some not as good. I wouldn't order Pad Thai in a Chinese restaurant (I hadn't noticed it on the menu). I recently tried the Twice-Cooked Pork and it was fantastic. The best food seems to be in the Chinese menu. The last time I was there I had to insist on getting the Chinese menu. It is in a big hard covered menu book. That menu had the more Canadianized dishes at the front and the more Chinese dishes on the green pages at the back.
I still think that Panda is the first authentic Chinese restaurant to open in Fredericton in the 10 years I've lived here. Two other authentic-type places have opened since: Arom on Regent St (where Mei's used to be) and Oriental Pearl in a small strip mall on Kimble. Arom was closed down by water damage after a big fire in the apartment above but I believe the owners plan to re-open. I haven't yet tried Oriental Pearl, just snooped in and picked up the menu, which looks promising.
I hope that helps.
I was into the Asia Beef Noodle for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Their rice rolls, as an appetizer, were great - just what I was hoping for with peanut sauce for dipping. I had the spring rolls with vermicelli - rolls were good, but the vermicelli was cooked almost to the same thickness of spaghetti which was a litte disappointing. The meal came to $21 (with pop) which I thought was a little pricey.
Miso in the Brookside Mall has the best Chinese food in Fredericton! And they deliver!
Sweet Belgian Desires in the Charlotte St Arts Centre is another amazing find. The best breakfast/ brunch in the city and its very very afforable! It also has a phenomenal hot chocolate/coffee. I am tempted to move back to Fredericton just to eat here!
I am very familiar with Miso. Their food can be tasty but it is not as authentic as Panda and their menu is far more limited.
I am finding the boosterism on this thread discouraging. I presented a post about a new restaurant which I thought might be nice for people living in or traveling to Fredericton to know about. That is all. There is not a single best place to dine in Fredericton. There is a range. Surely it is reasonable to discuss that range on a Chowhound board?
Troutpoint, read my comments on Panda carefully. I said it is 'decent'. It would not compare with the really good places in larger cities but I think they do a good job with what they have (consistently better than Misu, Mei's or Mandarin Palace, imho) and I appreciate that they are making more authentic Chinese cuisine available in F'ton.
I have had some tasty meals at El Burrito but tend to stay away because of the dicey rep.
I didn't know that the Snooty Fox had been closed because of health violations. Are you sure? I know that Cannons Cross, as sister pub, was closed down a few years ago.
I don't love Snooty Fox or Isaac's Way, but I am willing to patronize them, whereas I stay away from most places in F'ton. If you have restos you would categorize similarly I would be interested in hearing about them.
eebee, I agree that Sweet Belgian Desire is good. The quality is very nice. Unfortunately, the menu is limited.
I agree that there is a range of restaurants in Fredericton, as in any city. And that it is a very subjective thing. I don't understand your reference to "boosterism"?
Also, foodhead, my "seriously" was directed to the post below you. About El Burrito Loco and Frank's finer Diner being the "only" places to go.
Yes, I am sure that Snooty Fox was once closed for violations. It's sister pub, Canon's Cross was shut down because people had gotten sick after eating there. I believe it had to do with chicken, but I can't remember exactly. That being said, the NB health dept. has ramped up its inspections and has a "zero" tolerance for repeat violations now so I am sure that it is fine. Anyone who wants to check a restaurant's last inspection report may do so on the province's website.
I have had good meals at the Palate on Queen St. as well. I have enjoyed my meals at Racines, but find the wine list very limited. Lately, we have enjoyed lunches at the Bluedoor more than dinners-we share a few things and the wines by the glass are interesting. We have had some surprisingly great meals at Brewbakers in the past few months, and the wine list (like the Bluedoor) is great. (I say surprisingly because prior to that, we had been disappointed several times by lacklustre food and service there)
I also find the Rogue consistently has above average food and service for the price. And it's obviously the only place to go if you are looking for whisky...I am not a fan of Isaac's way. I couldn't put my finger on it if asked what, exactly, I dislike, but i seldom go there. The Garrison has a great burger.
I'm sorry to hear about El Burrito. I used to go there all the time when they first opened and I was working around the corner from there. It got to the point where Carlos would simply make me something for lunch without me asking and it was always good.
As for Cannon's Cross, I was there a couple of weekends ago and ordered diet pepsi. It had a funny taste and when I mentioned it to the waitress, she said they had been having that problem for quite awhile and had several visits from the pepsi people. I was surprised that they would still be serving it. Says something about their lack of committment to quality in my books.
The Cabin! Great food, great prices. I had a meat loaf dinner there a couple of weeks ago and it was fantabulous. Now, I just have to learn how to make meat loaf like that!!
First, that is two experiences. Two different places.
Secondly, El Burrito Loco has been flagged for NUMEROUS health violations - on NUMEROUS occasions. (Which anyone can see if they go on the Province of NB/Health website) One of which is that the owner keeps its family dog in the kitchen. And they use frozen vegetables. That is really ok?
Snooty Fox has also been closed due to health violations.
I have heard both good and poor reviews of the Panda.. perhaps the bad reviews were only on Mondays?