Island Restaurant Notes

There’s a new Chinese restaurant opening next door to the Formosa Tea House. Chien-Ming, owner of the Formsa, says that the owners of the new place have 20 years of experience in the restaurant business, and he predicts good things.

The Reading Well Bookstore is now the Reading Well Bookstore and Bohemian Cafe in a new location on Water Street (their fourth location since they originally opened on Great George Street). I dropped in for a croissant and a cup of tea a couple of weeks ago. Tea was excellent; croissant was, well, just a croissant. When visiting, be sure to drop into Moonsnail Soapworks in a newly expanded location right next door; even if you can’t afford their (excellent) expensive soaps, it’s a textbook case of local independent retail design done right.

All reports I’ve heard about the new place that’s opened in the space formerly known as The Honest Lawyer (then The Jolly Lawyer, then…) are negative. Conversely, all reports about the former Harp and Thistle, now Churchill’s, are very, very positive (this is Catherine’s favourite refuge from Oliver and I, and of course it always goes over well with the vocal “beer and chips” loving set; Dan James says the place is still in business because its rabid fan base and dedicated staff kept it afloat between incarnations).

I’ve only had one report in about Manhattans, the new place occupying the old Anne of Green Gables Tea Room space on Queen Street near the liquor store and it was “expensive food that’s not very good.”

The Lobster Claw is open again for the season (drive out the Brackley Point Road, past the Brackley Drive-in, turn left at Rte. 6 and it’s just up a bit on your right). The food is never bad, never excellent, but the service is always friendlier than most. They have an autographed picture of Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker (both stars of L.A. Law and pitch-couple for Shoppers Drug Mart) on the wall beside the cash register. A good place to go before the Drive-in or on the way to or from the beach.

The “Where to Eat in Summerside?” problem is still a big one. Summerside was the first place I ate out on PEI eleven years ago — we ate at the former Little Mermaid, and had one of the worst meals of my life. The place on the water run by Stan Rogers’ daughter (I think) is nice, but small, limited and seasonal (and more focused on the music than the food). Everything else seems to be a bar, a chain, a family restaurant, or fast food. I’d be happy to be disabused of this notion.

And, finally, we are about to start into our second summer without Fiddle and Vittles in Cavendish. This used to be the best place on the Island, bar none, to take kids, and the best place to go for a hot bowl of chowder after a brisk walk on the beach. Former celebrity host Dave Coffin is pinch hitting as the Mayor of Avonlea Village this summer, which can only mean good things for the people of the village and their guests.

Self-serving disclaimers: I maintain the website for City Cinema, which is run by Derek Martin. Derek’s mother Pam was one of the founders of The Reading Well. I do not drink beer, as a rule. My brother Steve used to work for Shoppers Drug Mart. I maintain the website for the Brackley Drive-in. Living in Charlottetown, I have adopted the natural rivalry with Summerside, so am prone to seeing that city in a poor light. I once worked for a company part-controlled by Scott Linkletter who was, in turn, part-owner of Fiddles and Vittles; in that capacity I provided feedback to Scott on the ever evolving dinner rolls at the restaurant.


Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on June 16, 2003 - 17:45 Permalink

Robin had lunch at te Mnahatten 2 weeks ago. She was excited to see the menu but the food and the service were truly awful. The server was unctious and knew nothing. The food tasteless and not thought through. Example no chicken in the Thai chicken salad — oops sorry we forgot it!

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 16, 2003 - 17:49 Permalink

Rob — small Island here: my source on Manhattans was Robin’s lunch mate.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 16, 2003 - 18:10 Permalink

Peter. I have a bold challenge. I know beer you will love. Would you, could you, in a box?

Alan's picture
Alan on June 16, 2003 - 19:46 Permalink

Perhaps too bold. My thoughts are two — Leifmann’s Kreik (5.5%) or a sprightly little Passion Fruit White Ale (3%), both from Belgium. Neither bitter as a more common ale nor cloying in their flavouring. Say the word and delivery shall be next week.

[hmm…neither bitter nor cloying…hmm…like me…]

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 16, 2003 - 20:23 Permalink

Alan, it’s not that I don’t *enjoy* beer — I’ve had some very good beers in my life — it’s simply that I’m a cheap drunk. Get a single beer into me, and you might as well write off the next couple of hours. Of course the “solution” to this problem is, presumably, to consume ever more increasing amounts of beer to built up a “tolerance.” Either that, or to accept that being blitzo is an okay way to be.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 16, 2003 - 20:35 Permalink

I would never wish to be seen to counselling intemperence. That is different from not liking the taste, as was my mother’s complaint until she had a proper Belgian lambic like Liefmanns. Your two dedicated alcohol busting enzymes would benefit from a regular workout but that is, as I am wont to say, a decision within your personal sphere of autonomy.

Charlie's picture
Charlie on June 16, 2003 - 20:56 Permalink

Hey Alan,

What’s your thoughts on Maclays that Sleemans is bottling now? I’m not a big beer drinker but my girlfriend enjoys a few and we went by the Sleemans store the other day and picked up a 6 pack. She said it was an excellent “cold beer”. While we were there an older gent was having three growlers filled with the black pearl one, while wearing his black pearl shirt! I thought he worked there at first, but apparently he is just a fan..

Alan's picture
Alan on June 16, 2003 - 21:08 Permalink

It may be a fine beer but it bears no resemblence to MacLays of Scotland who has granted the licence but failed to provide the recipe. Black Perarl is my favorite of the old Maritime Brewery beers. Generally, Scots ale is sweeter and less hopped as is appropriate for a more northern climate. The only source I know in the Maritimes is Caledonia /80 on draft at Maxwell’s plum in Halifax. One of the grades of Scots ales is the delightfully blunt “heavy”. You can also buy the McEwans Export at the NSLC which is of an entire heaviness again. Drinks like molasses, 8.5%. One is just the thing on a winter night. Four was the cause of a very unfortunate incident in September 1982 which we needn’t go into.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on June 17, 2003 - 01:47 Permalink

The Dunes is now open for the summer. My daughter Hope has been working with Peter’s crew to get it ready. My favourite restaurant on PEI. Great surroundings, fine food and great service