Late at night, on a rural road somewhere in the Maritimes:
Lindsay: “What should we grab for dinner?”
Me, very candidly: “I just want heirloom tomato bisque with a goat cheese crostini.”
I’ve continued to make this unreasonable demand ever since visiting the Rossmount Inn in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Being on an extended road trip inevitably results in various food cravings, and after so many hours in the car, we’ve both made some wacky requests. But sometimes you just REALLY want heirloom tomato bisque, you know?
The Rossmount Inn is the oldest seaside resort in Canada, and sits at the base of Chamcook mountain, a beautiful hike that leads to the highest lookout point in the Passamaquoddy Bay region.
The 87-acre property is tucked snugly between ocean and forest, and the Inn and restaurant are owned and operated by Swiss born chef Chris Aerni and his wife Graziella. Aerni travelled and cooked extensively around the world before choosing this corner of New Brunswick to build his business in 2001. He’s committed to creating menus based on seasonally available foods by maintaining strong relationships with fishers and food producers, and utilizing his own kitchen garden. The restaurant boasts an impressive list of accomplishments, national awards, and designations, including its recognition as a Canadian Signature Experience by the Canadian Tourism Commission.
While the grounds have a long history, the current inn was built during the 1960’s after a fire destroyed the existing structure on the property. The original foundation, chimneys, and front steps remained, and were incorporated into what is now a beautiful Victorian home that evokes both grandiosity and simple elegance.
After a delicate ‘chips n’ dip’ amouse bouche, we started the meal off with the above-mentioned bisque, which was warming, flavourful, and an excellent reminder of how utterly magnificent tomatoes can be in the right season.
Soon after, a ‘lobster cocktail’ came out. This was an appetizer of fresh, pressed lobster served with a beet salad. It was light and refreshing.
My favourite dish of the evening was the beef carpaccio—thinly sliced raw beef ‘cooked’ in lemon acid and served with toasted capers and Parmesan. It was some of the most flavourful and tender beef I’ve ever had.
Our entrees, seared elk with poached pears over spaetzel, and pork shoulder with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, were also impressive. The spaetzel was so good, we nearly requested a second plate of it.
This restaurant came so highly recommended, we worried our expectations had been set too high. Fortunately, over a hazelnut tort and a berry crumble, we happily discussed how satisfied we were with our whole dining experience. The food and the service were exceptional, and gave us a true taste of this region of New Brunswick.
I am forever doomed to wander this earth in search of an equally delightful, perfectly in season, heirloom tomato bisque. I suppose it is better to have loved and lost….
A hearty applause goes out to Chef Aerni and his team!