Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Restaurant Scene

Haven't done any updating lately on what is going on in the up-and-down world of restaurants in this part of Nova Scotia. This was brought to mind yesterday when our weekly rug hooking meeting, usually held at the yacht club in Shelburne, was disrupted due to renovation work being done there. Rilla went out and found us a temporary venue - the Loyalist Inn.

The Loyalist Inn, on Water Street in Shelburne, has been closed for a couple of years it seems. It has been under extensive renovations to the lodgings and recently to the restaurant - it was there that we had our meeting yesterday. It's an ideal time to redo an old tavern as the smoky smelling interior could be ripped out and replaced with new fittings without worry or being recontaminated now that smoking is verboten. The room has been done up very nicely - in a medium oak for the walls and booths along the window side. The booths are large - comfortable 6 person size with lots of room between the benches and table - much appreciated by those of us who are chubby. The ceiling is done in copper-look raised panels (like old tin ceilings). There are tables on the inner wall and at the back where the room widens out, a smart pub section with a massive wood bar and round pub tables. Word is the restaurant will open in the new year - we were just being given a preview. A welcome addition.

Also on the positive side in Shelburne - Monique has renovated The Bean Dock and added a larger restaurant section on the south side of the building. This will be very busy over the winter due to her creative, fresh food and the usual closing of so many places for several months.

On the closing front, The Sea Dog is on "winter" hours as of 2 weeks ago - this means open only Wednesday to Saturday - 11:30-8:00. I believe The Wreck Room will likely be open later on some weekend evenings. Lothar's, as of Canadian Thanksgiving, is only open for pre-reservations for parties of at least 6, and all most have the same dinner. When there is a reservation for a Saturday or Friday evening, Lothar is sending out an email of the chosen menu so one can join the group for that evening by making one's own reservation, same menu.

Charlotte Lane was closed for a 2 week vacation but reopened November 12th until Christmas, then they will close until around Mothers' Day.

In the Lockeport area. The Chef's Table in Sable River closed at the end of September (a month early due to back problems Zaari was having). The White Gull closed several weeks ago, The Town & Country closed November 15th until May.

Thankfully, the Parrot's Pins is going strong. Keith has a revamped menu which, thanks to Mike Cotter's new lobster holding facility, has lobster dishes all over it. We are going there are Saturday for our anniversary for some Drunken Lawyer - yummy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Excellent Day!

Saturday, November 7th was a great day all together The weather was nice - bright and sunny if a bit cool (6C or so).

In the afternoon we went for one of our exploration drives. We've been doing a lot of them lately - at this time of year we can actually see things much better through the almost leafless trees and bushes so we get a better idea of what exists down the routes we explore. This one was just a mini-drive of about an hour and a half.

First trip was down Canada Hill Road - we've been driving past it for years and ignoring it since it goes inland and we are drawn down roads to the ocean. The road is a very good gravel road going several kilometres in a nice windy path - it's wide and an easy drive. I was surprised by the number of year-round homes - several at the Allendale end and then many more up at Canada Hill Lake. At the Lake it looks like cottage country anywhere in Canada - think Lac Bernard, Mississipi Lake, Muskokas, Norway Bay etc. There is a hill (surprise) with lots of homes and cottages of assorted vintages - some looked a hundred years old or more - and sizes descending to the water. Many are just camps, many looked like very nice homes. At one point we reached a sign which said "last chance to turn around rough road ahead". We dithered then continued and after about 50 yards when we saw large rocks protruding from the roadbed, we decided to back up and continue our explorations elsewhere.

We drove down roads we have traveled many times (just not recently) - Pleasant Point and Osborne Harbour. Lovely views and we discovered friends were selling one of their properties in Pleasant Point. We then continued out to West head via east Green harbour and took a stroll out through Rupert's pastures, past the oxen, at the tip of West Head. Amazingly clear views but a mite nippy so we didn't linger long.

For dinner, we went into Shelburne to Lothar's. Lothar since Thanksgiving is only open by prearranged reservations and menu. The Ragged Island Artisans (Crescent Beach craft group) were having the opening of their knitting show at the Coastline Gallery in the Osprey so a number of them had reserved for dinner and chosen a menu. Lothar sent out their choice and invited others to come for dinner as well - a good move, all tables were occupied.

Dinner was superb - mesclun-orange salad with a buttermilk-dijon dressing and toasted almonds, whole wheat rolls, baked chicken breast stuffed with cranberry and Brie, rice, carrots, broccoli and for dessert, Bavarian Cream with a raspberry coulis - $23.95/person. I hope he continues to send out emails of what's being prepared on a specific evening because it was a lovely dinner.

We then proceeded on to the Osprey to attend the opening of the knitting show and then the performance by the Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra. The knitting was beautiful, all in shades inspired by a garden painting by Gaye MacNeil - a lot of very exotic yarns, stitches, felting - a very creative effort. As usual for these exhibit openings, there was free wine, another bonus.

The Caledonian Orchestra was very enjoyable - they are an ensemble of celtic musicians (about 25 of them) from across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The programme consisted of 19 pieces and/or sets - mostly Scottish but a few Irish. Some excellent musicians in the group - they were relaxed and obviously enjoy playing together. It was their second visit to Shelburne and I'm sure they'll be invited back again. One of the flutists was wearing my Mom's family tartan, excellent taste.

A nice drive home under a very large moon (a little late for a harvest moon so I don't know what it would be called this time of year) peeking through wispy clouds - very pretty.

But the Sens lost, the Habs lost, and the Leafs won - not a good ending at all!