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Adventures in New Brunswick


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Adventures in New Brunswick

idnas | | Oct 2, 2008 07:36 PM

I didn't get any responses to my pre-visit query so I thought I'd post my New Brunswick food experiences here for future visitors.

Last week I spent three days at the Fairmont Algonquin in Saint Andrews attending business meetings. The hotel's food was quite good, better than I've come to expect from hotel/conference centres.

On the first evening they put on a lobster boil down by the beach. Hard to go wrong with fresh lobster, especially if you're from inland. The rest of the meal was a nice buffet featuring other seafood (baked salmon, seafood chowder, etc.) and a good variety of other dishes. The stand-out for that meal and the others, though, was dessert. The hotel's pastry chef does a great job on pies and cookies like Gramma used to make. Tart rhubarb, nicely spiced apple, and a hot blueberry crumble were my favourites. I ate more pie in three days than I've eaten in the past year...

The other meals weren't outstanding but were still very good, always with great desserts, and even the boxed lunch they prepared on the last day was nice, with hearty roast beef sandwiches and a selection of fruits and baked goods.

My weekend in Saint John wasn't great. I've learned that late fall is not a good time to visit Saint John since there's not a lot going on. The various seafood places around the harbour didn't look appealing at all. Very touristy and I couldn't shake the feeling that the food likely came out of a Sysco truck. Some of them might be great, but with no recommendations I went with my gut and steered toward smaller independent places.

I had a decent dinner at Thandi's a bar and bistro atmosphere serving somewhat westernized Indian dished. I had lamb saag and it was reasonably tasty but the lamb was tough and the saag a bit bland. I'd chosen the place because they had a sign promising live entertainment, but that was in the bar which was full so I was seated upstairs. The entertainment turned out to be a girl with a guitar singing covers of the Beatles and the like. The crowd downstairs was very enthusiastic but she wasn't to my taste.

Lunch on Saturday was at the Garden by the Reversing Falls, just because I was there doing one of the requisite 3 visits (high, low and slack tide). There I had fish and chips made from haddock very lightly breaded in-house. The fish was good, though the fries were standard the freezer variety and not worth eating. Continuing my national pie week activities, I tried their home made lemon meringue and although it couldn't compete with Gramma or the Algonquin, it was better than many.

Saturday dinner was at Taco Pico, a Mexican/Ecuadorian place that was supposed to have merengue dancing after 10 but didn't seem to have it this week. I had an ok salad with guacamole, just basic green salad with guacamole on top and a few tortilla chips stuck in it. Forgettable. I also tried the Taco Al Pastor which was better. The pork inside was very moist and flavourful. I would probably go back there to try other things. Service was great.

My last meal in Saint John was breakfast at the infamous Reggie's. On the "when in Rome" principle, I had breakfast with fishcakes. The fishcakes were like croquettes - mostly mashed potato, mixed with white fish, crunchy onions and maybe some seasonings. Not something I'd go out of my way for again, but they made me feel like I was getting a little taste of the local flavour. They came with eggs, toast (a nice dark multigrain) and house-made baked beans. The beans were great -- dark with molasses, with the flavours really soaked into the beans.

So while I didn't find anything in Saint John that rocked my socks, the eating was pretty good at least at the small places I tried.

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