Intimate dining suggestions for Valentine’s or anytime
by Philip Homburg
Even if it’s not really your thing, Valentine’s Day looms large in the desolate month of February. Like most commercial holidays, I view it with healthy suspicion, but, at the same time, I do love a good excuse to grab a meal with someone special. And, from the point of view of someone who likes to talk about food, it’s a good time to highlight some of the more intimate dining spots on the Island.
If seafood is your thing then it doesn’t get much better than Claddagh Oyster House. I remember the first time I ate at Claddagh, I was catching up with an old friend just after I moved to Charlottetown. We shared some oysters, jerk crab legs and their take on surf and turf (pork belly and scallops!). The service was top-notch, the food was amazing, everything you want in a oyster house. Everytime I go back, it’s just as good, which I think is one of the highest compliments you can pay a restaurant. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that they have one of the best sticky toffee puddings.
If Claddagh nails the traditional oyster house experience, then Terre Rouge is the one of the best examples when it comes to fresh locally-sourced food. Chef Lucy Morrow is one of the most talented chefs around, her care for every aspect of a dish shines through. The overall dining experience—from the carefully curated cocktail menu to the artisan bread baked in-house—is one of the best on the Island. It’s the kind of place where everyone wants to order a different dish just to sample as much of the menu as possible. I recommend the mushroom toast or the carbonara made with homemade pasta.
Sometimes you just want to hide, which is sometimes not the easiest task on PEI. One of the best places to do this is Marc’s Lounge, perched above The Brickhouse. When you enter Marc’s you feel transported; its exposed beams and brick walls convey a sense of warmth and intimacy. If you can, go on a Wednesday evening and take advantage of their Wine Wednesday, they have a great selection of bottles available at half-price.
We all know that some of the best dining experiences on the Island are outside of Charlottetown, but the unfortunate reality is that a lot of these options are seasonal. One restaurant that is not, and one of my top meals of 2018, is 21 Breakwater in Souris. Their Portugese fish and chips, Peri Peri chicken and burger are all unique spins on classic dishes. A beautiful drive and great food. What more can you ask for?
But, what if you want to reject the whole thing and stay home? There are two equally good options in my opinion. Option 1: grab a frozen handpie from the Handpie Company in Borden-Carleton. I recommend either a simple side salad or a second handpie as an accompaniment. Option 2: grab some takeout. My recent favourite take-out spot is the newly opened Asia Republic in the former Prince Edward Restaurant location in Charlottetown. It’ll be awhile before I work my way through the more than 150 items, but I can say the stir-fried ginger beef and the seafood and pork rice are outstanding.
The Buzz welcomes Phil Homburg to our roster. Phil is semi-retired academic and small business owner and, yes, a foodie.