It’s good to be writing for The Buzz again! We’ve been through a lot together as a community and while it’s definitely not over, it is very good to return to some level of normalcy. For me, it was three months of not eating out, which had its benefits (I nailed down my sourdough), but I definitely missed writing this column and talking to people about what’s new and exciting in the PEI food scene. Luckily, a lot of my favourite places were still doing takeout and at this point many seasonal places are starting to open.
I’ve been very pleased with how restaurants pivoted to a take-out and curbside model during the pandemic. On special nights, Slaymaker & Nichols in Charlottetown always delivered. I was surprised at just how well the food travelled, even up to an hour. I ordered strategically, but the mac and cheese, the avocado and mushroom tower, and the little French dips were just as good as I remembered them in the restaurant. I’m looking forward to eating in their dining room, which has been modified with safety precautions. They did a very good job and were even able to retain their bar seating. I’m also happy to see that their sister restaurant, the Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico, is open and taking reservations for the first time ever. I’ve never been disappointed at either spot and I’m looking forward to visiting both with friends and family over the summer months.
I’ve always had a fraught relationship with Fishbones on Victoria Row in Charlottetown. They seem to try something new every summer and while I appreciate it, sometimes it just hasn’t worked. This year they’ve basically created a Murphy’s all-star restaurant with Kyle Panton and Mikaela Russell from Sim’s in the kitchen and the excellent serving team from Brickhouse led by Dylan McIntyre and Emily Duggan. The results have been great: better cocktails, solid food, and great service. Whether you’re going for a patio drink or a nice dinner, things have finally clicked. Get the pork tacos and the Elderflower gin and tonic.
One of my consistently favourite spots, The Wheelhouse in Georgetown is expanding. They’ve taken over the kitchen at Bogside Brewing in Montague. I love Chef Shak’s chicken sandwich and the wedge salad is outstanding. The menu has expanded, and they’ve added a beer garden, so it’s kind of the perfect summer destination. They have also parked the infamous pink Terrie’s Berries food truck outside Lone Oak Brewing in Borden. You might recognize celebrity Chef Lucy Morrow out there, making some of the best sandwiches on the Island. Shak and Lucy won my favourite dishes last year, so The Wheelhouse has built quite the team.
It has also been a great time to rediscover some of my favourite take-out spots. The Poke Shack in Souris is definitely worth the trip—try the snow crab. I’ve had great meals from Bombay Indian food on University Avenue and Spicy Chef on Belvedere Avenue, both in Charlottetown. Richard’s in Covehead has opened and is still making some of the best seafood that I’ve ever had.
So here we are. It’s going to be a different summer, but there is still plenty of good food to enjoy. More than ever it is important to support local restaurants, they rely heavily on a successful summer. Be kind to your servers, tip as well as you can, and get out there and enjoy some food either as takeout at home or, finally, back in a dining room.