dayboat in nine bullets

Sunday morning. Out on the town violating all my deeply held beliefs doing some Sunday shopping: looking for a 2-1/8” plastic thingy to fit into the 2-1/8” hole Catherine drilled in the desk at home to route the cables for the home iMac. Home Depot. Staples. Canadian Tire. No luck.

Catherine professes great hunger, and suggests an emergency trip to Wendy’s. Concerned about my family’s health, I make an emergency diversion out of town, away from Wendy’s and 15 minutes later we’re in one of the Rusticos pulling in to dayboat, the self-important two year old restaurant that, among other things, was the subject of an episode of the television program Opening Soon.

I’d resisted dayboat from the very beginning: the owners came across on TV as highfalutin New Yorkers eager to pull primitive Islanders into their century; trusted restaurant aficionados reported meek service and lackluster food. And I wasn’t sure, given all that, that I was willing to risk $100 on what might turn out to be a mediocre, or at least pompous experience.

I was bought off by the promise of a lobster lunch. Somewhat at odds with the high-class halo of the place, dayboat advertises $13.95 “Lobster Lunches” on a big sign out front. We were hungry, Wendy’s was nipping at our heels, and I had to take quick evasive action. Here’s how it went:

  1. Service was alternatively excellent and absent. When it was good, it was attentive and helpful. When it was absent, well, we felt abandoned. It took 15 minutes to pay.
  2. Flies, dead and alive. Okay if you’re on the wharf; when you’re paying $7 for a salad I would like there to be no flies.
  3. There weren’t actually any “Lobster Lunches” on for $13.95. One assumes, perhaps naively, that a “Lobster Lunch” means you get to eat a lobster; there were products-of-lobster on the menu — sandwiches, salads, pasta, etc. — but not any actual lobsters. And they were out of chowder.
  4. My “Lobster Club” was excellent: everything you would ever want in a clubhouse sandwich served on very nice break, with lots of lobster. I would order it again.
  5. Catherine’s “Lobster Napoleon” salad, she reported, needed more punch.
  6. Oliver’s green salad was a green salad.
  7. The view is spectacular, and the space has been completely enlivened from its dark old days as Café St. Jean. They may be highfalutin, but the owners know how to design a restaurant.
  8. The washrooms are shockingly small and poorly arranged; they are a glaring hole in an otherwise well thought-out space.
  9. The video cameras in the ceiling — the Opening Soon episode pointed them out as a way for the owners to monitor the place from afar — are creepy.

In the end, we walked away well-fed and not overly disappointed. But certainly not with the impression that there’s anything all that special about dayboat; it doesn’t live up to its transcendent billing.

For dessert, by the way, we drove up Route 6 to The Dunes. The Dunes is transcendent, but its transcendence is completely without self-importance. The service was excellent, the setting out-of-this-world, and the dessert was very, very good.


Robert Shapiro's picture
Robert Shapiro on August 28, 2007 - 04:12 Permalink

Dear Ruk,

I am one of the “highfalutin” New Yorkers and I am wondering what you mean by this? I am not pompous nor pretentious, as the dictionary defines it.
I never really believed I was “falutin” at all and think you would be wise enough to understand that Opening Soon is just TV Drama. They shoot 60 hours of tape and distill this down to 22 minutes. They spin the episode to add drama and excitement. I figured most people would get it, but alas. In fact, we are the second restaurant on PEI to be featured on Opening Soon. We didn’t ask to be on the show, we were chosen. In our estimation, the response to the show has been very positive.
In the three seasons that Dayboat has been opened we have received accolades from newspapers, magazines and television — does this make us self important? We don’t think we are self important at all, but we do believe that we and anyone else that tries to produce a credible product and a great experience are important to the Island’s tourist industry and therefore, the Islanders.
We opened the restaurant because we love the Island and the bounty of products. We will continue to evolve and grow in a very difficult seasonal market. Believe me when I tell you that it is easier to do business in New York than it is on PEI. Providing quality food and service on this island is the ultimate restaurant challenge.
I do listen to my guests and I would like to add the following:
I appreciate your comments regarding the service — We are trying to make it a better experience throughout the season. The flies are an ongoing problem. Our restaurant is surrounded by farms and flies love farms. It would be unreasonable for you to believe that you would get a lobster in a restaurant for $13.95. If you know of one, let me know, I love lobster. We have a very positive response to our Lobster Lunch and the perception is it is a great value. I understand the comment regarding the Napoleon and passed this on to the chef. We appreciate the comments on the decor and view. The bathrooms were remodeled but are in the original space that they occupied as the Cafe. The men’s room will be expanded for next season. Last but not least, the video cameras. Actually, they were installed for security purposes, not for viewing. This reduces our insurance costs. The last thing we want to do is watch people dine in our restaurant — we would rather go to a movie or watch Opening Soon.

Thanks again,

Bobby Shapiro