The heat yesterday afternoon was punishing, and so once my weekly call with Yankee was over, I rushed home, Catherine and Oliver and I piled into the car, cranked up the AC, and headed out into the countryside with hopes of finding food and cool ocean breezes.
Our first choice, The Pearl, had no room for us, so we continued to head west through Cavendish. We flirted with the idea of Pizza Delight, but decided we had to aim higher. Through Stanley Bridge and New London, we almost stopped at the seafood place on New London Bay, which is where we usually end up when we’re at the end of the line. But we continued onwards ever still to Long River, with hopes that The Kitchen Witch would be open.
Fortunately, it was.
My introduction to The Kitchen Witch came almost a decade ago. A colleague of mine was fond of holding breakfast meetings by driving towards Long River, parking his truck about a mile away, and then “meeting” during a mile-long brisk morning walk that ended with breakfast there.
We’ve been back many times, mostly on family rambles along the north shore. The restaurant was always a reliable place for a good family meal, with the food tending towards the “Island home cooking” style, with chowders, lobster rolls and the like.
And so this was what we were expecting when we pulled the car up last night.
Somebody forgot to tell us, however, that The Kitchen Witch is under new management. And the new management hails from Houston, Texas.
From the outside, much looks the same, save for the sign advertising Strawberry Rhubarb Gelato, which seemed a little out of character for the Witch.
Inside, however, it’s a completely different story: take a look at the menu and you’ll see enchiladas, Texas tamales, taquitos and spicy tortilla soup alongside the more familiar reuben sandwich, French onion soup and spaghetti. The new Texan owners have brought a good amount of their southern U.S. cuisine with them, and it shares the menu with some of the old favourites.
And that’s not all: in a fashion unusual for Island restaurants, the menu points out options for vegetarians, items that are gluten free, and dishes that use local Prince Edward Island ingredients. And the beverage menu is one dear to my heart as it includes house-made iced tea, “teamonade” (highly recommended mixture of iced tea and lemonade) and Dandelion & Burdock soda and an exhaustive menu of hot tea.
Oh, and they make their own gelato, with a constantly changing collection of flavours; last night, for example, they had gingerbread flavour, the result of a fallen gingerbread cake put to good use.
The food is good too. No boil-in-bag enchiladas here: they make their own tortillas. And their own Texas BBQ. And their own bread. And their own potato salad. The service is friendly and completely without pretense. The room is as pleasant as it ever was: old wooden chairs around old wooden tables inside the old Long River school.
Did I mention that the (clean) washrooms have kid-attachments for the toilets, and a complete changing table with supplies?
The Kitchen Witch was always a reliable place to get a solid meal. Now it’s a must-see that I encourage everyone to make a pilgrimage to: you will not be disappointed.
The Kitchen Witch is located about 45 minutes from Charlottetown in the village of Long River. Be sure to drive along the scenic coastal lands from French River to Sea View while you’re in the area, and then make a generous donation to the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust to help preserve them in perpetuity.