Here’s what’s new in the restaurant trade in Charlottetown.
The Taj Mahal, serving Indian cuisine on University Avenue, has closed its doors until June 1st. While I can’t claim to have had any barn-burner Indian meals there, one doesn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I’m sad to be without them for the long cold winter.
Perhaps it’s just me, but after a good start, things at Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch seem to be flagging a little. My perennial favourite the fruit crunch (granola, English cream, and lots of fresh fruit) used to be presented with much fanfare, and lots of extra fruit bonuses on the plate. This took something of the edge off paying close to $8.00 for a bowl of fruit. Lately, though, and especially this morning, this dish has been significantly reduced in spleandour: gone are any trace of plate garnishes, and the variety of fruit is diminished, with much more of the [traditional, for restaurants] reliance on melon and cantaloupe. Over Christmas, Catherine ordered the “St. Nicholas Special,” which is a hot turkey dinner with stuffing and mashed. She said, and I quote, “that’s the worse turkey dinner I’ve ever had.” Service at Cora’s has also suffered: it’s not unusual to see a line 5 or 6 customers deep waiting to cash out. I hope the downturn isn’t permanent, especially as they’re very nice to Oliver there, and he loves their pancakes.
The folks at the Formosa Tea House are hard at work in the former premises of Big Momma’s (which Gary insists on calling “The Windmill” for historical reasons). Word on the street is that they are shooting for a March opening, with a menu and hours expanded from the Formosa. No definitive word on the future of the University Ave. location; I hope they stick with it, because it’s so handy to the new office.
Catherine and I had dinner at the new St. James Place on Saturday (it’s in the old Home Hardware location on Kent Street). I had the vegetarian mushroom burger which, although too drenched in various fats, oils and cheeses to be considered technically “healthy” was very tasty. Catherine, who had breakfast there early Saturday, urged me on to the roasted potatoes over the jasmine rice, and they were, as she predicted, very good. Catherine had some sort of complex pasta dish that was baked in parchment. It didn’t change her life, but she enjoyed it. There were a wide variety of beers on tap (I’m not a beer drinker, but I was impressed with the various unusual names that seemed, to my untrained eye, quite exotic). The only downside food-wise was an expensive ($7.00) piece of mediocre raspberry cheesecake. It would have been pleasant at $3.95; at $7.00 I want the earth to move. I could take or leave the “ye olde” decor; I’m not sure why we feel compelled to recreate pretend olde interiors with fake plaster and fake beams, but I’m not mortally opposed to it, and the room has a nice feel. We were back last night around midnight, and the place was hopping with a crowd of 25-35 year olds, all looking very sophisticated. Presumably the St. James Place is an upgrade path from Myrons, and it certainly is handy by.
Now that I have used the phrase “handy by” I must stop writing.