Kate the Spice Lady Café in Charlottetown
by Ann Thurlow
Kate Lee, aka The Spice Lady, is well known for the fresh and delicious herbs and spices she sells at her shop and at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market. But something that was almost an afterthought—“hey, let’s sell soup and sandwiches, too”—has turned her little spice store into something even more special. Tucked away as it is behind the shops of St. Avard’s, going to this spot feels like a real find.
The first thing you notice when you walk in is the rich smell of spice. Then, underneath, something good cooking. Kate greets you and, through the window into the kitchen you spot her secret weapon—her life and business partner, Simon Pullan. He used to be a chef but got fed up with only working seasonally. So he became a carpenter and fix-it man. But when Kate realized she couldn’t handle cooking, serving and running the shop, she asked Simon nicely and the result turned out to be magic.
So what are you going to eat? Do not miss the cooler noodles, which is a sesame/noodle salad with marinated mushrooms and carrots. There’s macaroni and cheese (smooth and very cheesy). And marinated white bean salad. With a few exceptions, like the noodles and the swiss tomato and sprouts sandwich, the menu changes all the time. Simon likes to be inspired by what’s on hand—the last time we were there, the specials included an open-faced ham melt on focaccia or calzone with meat or with vegetables. In fact, a vegetarian could eat pretty well here. The soups include a spicy lentil or baked beans as well as a chicken stew with dumplings.
The food is all delicious and beautifully presented (always with an herb breadstick) and very both comforting and inspiring. But truly, the star of the show is the sweet little place itself. It’s full of art and funky decorations. There are just sixteen seats (well, seventeen if you count the big arm chair) but set up so you can enjoy your lunch with a happy crowd or as a romantic tete a tete. Or there’s take out, if you absolutely must.
Kate the Spice Lady is at 25 St. Peter’s Rd.—behind Butcher and Butcher. Lots of free parking.