The Maple Grille

For those of us in the eating-out-for-lunch crowd, downtown Charlottetown has been difficult terrain this month: Interlude is closed until January 16, the Formosa Tea House closed for a week, the Thai food place on Kent Street is closed until March. I’ve been forced to explore new terrain.

Today it was The Maple Grille, the recently renovated restaurant on University Avenue just north of Kent Street.

Every earlier visit I’d made to The Maple Grille had been disappointing. The space was cramped — tables too close to the benches in the booths, no place to hang coats — the food mediocre and the service sometimes shockingly slow.

Today’s visit erased all of those bad memories.

The space has been entirely transformed: the wall to the space next door, now a blues club operated by the same owners, has been opened up, the booths re-designed, the interior has been redecorated, and there’s even a heated coat rack near the door.

The food was excellent.

There are few places in Charlottetown that can cook vegetables properly — Cedar’s and the Delta Hotel are two that come to mind. And now The Maple Grille: the baby red potatoes were perfectly cooked; the side of celery, carrots, onions and broccoli hit the sweet spot of al dente without being too crunchy.

The meatball sandwich on a kaiser — something I ordered despite the fact that I’d never ever had a meatball sandwich before — was hot, tasty and had just the right amount of cheese.

The chocolate cheesecake, which I was warned before ordering was “more like a chocolate caramel cake” was indeed exactly that. And it was fresh and very tasty.

Service was warm, attentive, and friendly.