We certainly made our way around rural PEI, and I honestly think it might be some of my favourite countryside in all of Canada. The rust-coloured ground makes the grass look a richer shade of emerald green, and the colours contrast the bright blue sky perfectly. With the dirt of the countryside still on our boots and car, we arrived in Charlottetown, and were pleasantly surprised with what this small, vibrant city had to offer. PEI has an abundance of local products to choose from, and some very talented chefs that put them all together. Allow me to take you on a virtual culinary tour of some of our best eats in Charlottetown.
Lot 30 was the restaurant most recommended to us upon our arrival on PEI. Its name is rooted in the historic development of Charlottetown, from the 1771 Charlottetown city plan. The city area was divided into 5 sets of 100 lots, and the restaurant sits on the 30th lot of the fourth hundred. It’s the foremost fine dining restaurant on the island, and we particularly enjoyed the butter-poached lobster with PEI potatoes, spinach and autumn corn sauté and the scallops gratin.
We sought out Sims Corner Steakhouse specifically in search of Raspberry Point oysters. We got a selection of RP’s signature cocktail oysters, including their slightly bigger and more rare Lucky Lime oysters, and some oysters from Coleville Bay (from the Eastern shores of the Island, possessing a uniquely green shell). With our new knowledge of oyster anatomy, we happily slurped the slimy organisms off their shell, noting the distinctly salty sweet flavour filtered in by the Raspberry Point oysters. We also got the Steamed Island mussels in a fennel white wine sauce, both because we love mussels, and because I am in a committed, long-term relationship with anything fennel.
No trip to PEI would be complete without a stop at Cows Creamery. With seven locations on the island alone, there is no justifiable reason to miss out. This local company utilizes milk gathered from the many seaside-grazing cows on the island, and started producing ice cream in 1983, then cheese in 2006. It’s considered one of the top ten ice cream producers in the world, and voted Canada’s best by a Reader’s Digest opinion poll. We visited the shop on a few different occasions, the first to get a bowl of Brownie Explosion ice cream, the second to try the chocolate covered potato chips, and the third to acquire some Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. Each product was worthy of their individual accolades. We all know how dangerous a bag of chips on a road trip can be (recall: Covered Bridge), but we realized a new level of hazard after trying the sweet/salty appeal of chocolate-coated crispy potatoes.
My favourite restaurant of all was also one of the newest additions to the Charlottetown dining scene, Terre Rouge. For some reason, we assumed the menu portions would be tapas-sized, which resulted in an order more suited to a table of 5. Luckily, everything we ordered was fantastic, most notably the mushroom toasts (with Al’s black garlic!), and the ‘Eat your veggies’, a selection of seasonal produce that was simply and beautifully prepared. We also tried the smoked bone marrow, seafood chowder, some more oysters and mussels (why not!?), and a braised pork amouse bouche prepared for the Island’s week long ‘Porktoberfest’.
Go to Charlottetown, take in the beautiful old downtown architecture, and go for a walk around the oceanfront Victoria Park. But whatever you do, be sure to slurp some oysters, and cram some dairy at Cow’s.