I just finished what counts as a whirlwind vacation on P.E.I., Canada’s most relaxed and relaxing province. We toured a mussel packing plant, cooked and ate more than our fair-share of lobster rolls, and saw a traditional Acadian clay oven. These will all get due coverage in later posts but, while the experience is fresh with me I want to spend a few words on the restaurants in Charlottetown where we ate and drank.
On our first day on The Island we looked for lunch by foot and when we found that the much-discussed Lot 30 doesn’t open until dinner service at 5 PM, we turned to our second choice, The Daniel Brenan Brickhouse.
Our meal started with the curried mussels ($10) that showed a vibrantly spiced sauce on fresh, lightly-cooked, and meaty mussels. All we could have asked for was a third piece of garlic toast for sopping the delicious broth.
The lobster poutine and local’s chowder ($15) is an interesting sort of high-low combination. With its light broth and ample variety of seafood this was the weekend’s best chowder. The poutine had a good punch of lobster flavour but as usual for lobster-and-something-else dishes could have used more generous chunks of meat.
The highlight of our meal–and arguably the best restaurant food of the weekend–was the 3 Pigs Burger ($15 and pictured at the top of post) of pulled pork, flecked with bacon and held together in a ground pork patty. It’s twin shining accomplishments are managing to distill the essential taste of pork and to use bacon as an ingredient without letting its flavour dominate.
Judging from the pdf menu posted on the website there is a moderate discount for eating at lunch.
Really the only bad thing we took away from DB Brickhouse was the suggestion that we might find Colville Bay oysters at Fishbones on Richmond Street’s Victoria Rowpedestrian mall. (I belately have discovered that DB Brickhouse and Fishbones are owned by the same restaurant group.)
Fishbones was a forgettable, tourist-trap experience. Our server asked “do you know about oysters; will it make a difference?” before she would admit me to the secret cabal that is privy to the day’s (impressively long) list. Some would be hard-pressed to tell a Malpeque from a Galway Bay but I’m guessing they don’t ask for the oyster list.
The three Pickle Points and three Raspberry Points were fresh and good-sized but not perfectly-shucked–bits of grit and shell lingered in at least half of them. At $3.01 a piece (the cent above three bucks also strikes me as bizarre) I might as well have been on King Street in Toronto. The trio of accompanying sauces, especially the mango habanero, were a small step towards redemption.
With Keith’s as the closest to local beer in stock at Fishbones we needed a short, pleasant walk through downtown Charlottetown to their regular craft beer supplier, Gahan House Brewery.
If like we were, you’re only at Gahan for the beer start with the sampler of eight generous sample portions, for under five dollars. My favourites were the Sydney Street Stout which is murky brown, topped with a creamy head, and has a refined smoky, roasted flavour. The Harvest Gold Pale Ale is quite good but could use more dry hops and the Sir John A. Honey Wheat is one of the best honey or wheat beers–neither are favourites of mine–I’ve had in a long while.
After discontinuing the 1772 India Pale Ale, Gahan may be the only microbrewery in North America that is brewing fewer IPAs than they used to. Service was efficient and friendly and the space is what you’d expect from an old-house pub.
Later this week I’ll have the highlights of restaurant food we ate outside of Ch’town.
Daniel Brenan Brickhouse: 125 Sydney Street (at Queen St.), Charlottetown, PEI; 902-466-5620; Sun to Thurs 11 AM to Midnight, Fri and Sat 11 AM to 1 AM, Sun Noon to 11 PM; @DBBrickhouse (Off Broadway used to be at this location and for now that is what Google Maps thinks is still here)