What to do and eat in Quebec City and Maritimes
May 14, 2013 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Despite my feelings about cruises, I am taking my mom on a cruise for her 80th birthday (Quebec City, Nova Scotia, PEI). I am looking for help - with what to eat and what to see.

Because I am expecting to not be thrilled about the food on the cruise I want to make up for it with terrific meals when we are ashore.

We will be in Quebec city for a few days and have stops in Charlottetown, Sydney and Halifax. We will have a car and I am looking for the best restaurant experiences. What we love is GOOD FOOD (does not have to be cutting edge/fancy/served in petri dishes) paired with a great location - historic buildings, beautiful views, rolling farms, or really unique.
We will be in Quebec City for all 3 meals but the other locations only for lunch.

The only real plans we have for what we are doing (other than eating) is going to Louisbourgh in Nova Scotia. I am very interested in hearing about "must-sees" in any of the locations. I would say we like history and natural beauty and anything unique to that area.
posted by beccaj to Travel & Transportation around Quebec, QC (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of restaurants in downtown Halifax in historic buildings. I haven't been but I've heard great things about The Press Gang and The Bicycle Thief (which is right by the water). The Wooden Monkey at the Dartmouth ferry terminal should have amazing views of the harbour and you can take the ferry over to enjoy extra views (must do even if you don't eat there). Near the Halifax terminal there's Salty's and the Lower Deck has lunch (no views but historic).

A must see for me is the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck on your way to Sydney. And of course the Cabot Trail.

For Charlottetown, where the Confederation that formed Canada was signed.
posted by hydrobatidae at 4:00 PM on May 14, 2013

Eating in Charlottetown: for fine dining it's Lot 30 - I have been several times, year over year, and am never disappointed, though this may be more than what you're looking for in a lunch destination.

The Water Prince Corner Shop is a more traditionally touristy kitchen with photos of famous people on the walls and great fish and chips, lobster and so on, while Cedar's is very good Lebanese. My favourite lunch in Charlottetown, however, is Churchill Arms pub, where the curries and soups are pretty close to perfect.
posted by danwalker at 4:27 PM on May 14, 2013

Aux Anciens Canadiens in Vieux-Québec does traditional Québécois cuisine and has decent lunch specials, as you'll see on the menu.

You should also stop at any Chez Ashton and have the poutine.
posted by zadcat at 5:10 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

For QC City, my husband and I cannot recommend Le Moine Echanson enough.
posted by Kitteh at 5:17 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here are some ideas from the folks at LTHForum. Includes a contrary opinion of Aux Anciens Canadiens that I cannot defend or attack, never having been there; I merely post this because I know most of the posters and generally trust their taste and thoughtfulness.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 6:01 PM on May 14, 2013

This is not exactly Quebec City, but if you can get out to the Island of Orleans (accessible via bridge) you must go to the Chocolaterie de I'lle d'Orleans. Their dip cones are positively magical (and the island is worth the trip all by itself, with great scenery and tons of wineries and maple and cider and just go, already).
posted by tooloudinhere at 6:20 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Bicycle Thief in Halifax is a huge hit, DO NOT go to the Hamachi? Steak place around the corner also on the water front. Bish was good, I think it closed. Sweet Basil is cute, behind NASCAD, the art college. There is also a pizza place connected with the BT, maybe (uh, obv, with an Italian name starting with M?...it is sort of just across the way from it). If you are there on Fri or Sat, walk all along the waterfront and go to the Farmer's Market. It is amazing. And I guess always the Five Fishermen has always been known for its seafood. I also heard Pete of Pete's Frootique has opened some kind of vineyard in Nova Scotia...not sure if they are serving food yet but that will be interesting to see and if there is food it will be good. Sorry so scattered, haven't been there in a long time.
posted by bquarters at 6:37 PM on May 14, 2013

I work right beside where the cruise ships dock in Halifax- every two days over the summer they're blocking out the daylight and the road out front is full of day-trip buses. The routine seems to be you dock at 9am, have time ashore on your own or to take a bus trip someplace and return to cast off at 5pm sharp. The bus trips (for which people seem to spend a lot of time waiting in line and just being herded around) are either a double-decker tour of the city and its pretty minor and not too exciting sights (the Citadel, the old fort in the centre, does have nice views), the Harbour Hopper which is an old US Marine amphibious truck that give you a tour of the city and goes into the harbour (which I actually think looks kind of fun), maybe a horse-drawn cart tour, and a tour bus to Peggy's Cove. Of these I think the Peggy's Cove trip would be the most worthwhile, as Halifax itself is maybe not so interesting after having been in Quebec City, the coastline around here is pretty amazing and Peggy's Cove is a nice quaint fishing hamlet and lighthouse at the end of the peninsula in a particularly rugged and scenic spot.
If you decide to walk around and forego the tours (or maybe you'll have time for both?) , the Farmer's Market is right next to where you will be docked but not much will be open unless it's Friday or Saturday (Saturday is a zoo there), and then the boardwalk starts. The Bicycle Thief is about 5 minutes walk, and while I've never eaten there it always smells amazing when I ride by in the evening. About 15-20 minutes walk (there's other stuff to look at along the way) will get you to the Historic Properties where there are shops that sell touristy things and some other places to eat. I can vouch for the Hart & Thistle 'gastropub' where the food is a cut above your actual pub .
Other nice places downtown are Granville Street around the NSCAD art college (a couple of blocks up from the ferry terminal), and the Spring Garden Road area which is pretty much the last surviving vestige of downtown commerce - it's about a 20 minute walk from the waterfront but you'd probably want to take a cab. Highlights around here include Pete's Frootique, Jennifer's of Nova Scotia for gifts, and my favourite restaurant in Halifax, Cha Baa Thai.

posted by Flashman at 7:46 PM on May 14, 2013

I added a favorite to Le Moine Echanson--definitely worth a visit. And when you go, be sure to order something from their wine list. They also sell their own private import stock in the shop next door, although to buy anything from the wine shop, you'll need to order 'Open the Bird Cage' from the menu, which is a piece of bread and and egg--just enough food to count your wine purchase as a food order, which makes the sale of the wine legal.

All of that aside, the very best restaurant in Quebec City these days is a little converted apartment in the Saint Roch neighborhood called L'Affaire Est Ketchup. They do all the cooking on two home ranges and do a substantial private wine import business of their own (order the Fer Servadou if you get a chance). Seriously, the food here is better than 99% of restaurants I've been to--and I'm a freelance food writer.

Book now though; it's a tiny space.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:36 PM on May 14, 2013

Get a church lobster dinner on PEI.
posted by brujita at 10:48 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding tooloudinhere's recommendation for a trip to l'Île d'Orléans. Definitely worth a visit, especially if you're there during strawberry season.
posted by faraasha at 7:36 AM on May 15, 2013

ANY lobster dinner in PEI. There are quite a few. And, I don't know the name but there is a restaurant right on the harbour (the harbour is small) where you can sit outside and have raw oysters. You MUST eat oysters in PEI.

Louisburg will not have good food, but I can attest to the fact that it's really, really cool. Be warned: it's cold and foggy there. And is an all-day venture. Maybe you can find something good on the drive down? What you need is a really nice clam chowder with biscuits, on a patio. Also, cream pies are important in NS. As are oat cakes. And you should try blood sausage if you can, although I have never seen it served in a restaurant. In Halifax, stay away from the crappy fried food trucks on the harbour.
posted by kitcat at 11:20 AM on May 15, 2013

« Older Need practical advice on lettering a graphic novel...   |   Psych meds: taking my doctor at face value Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.