When both locals and tourists love a restaurant, you know it has to be good: Rhubarb Café in Nova Scotia

img_3994One of the great pleasures of travel is discovering new places to eat. Sometimes, though, revisiting a favourite haunt can be equally fabulous as illustrated by our recent road trip through northeastern US and Canada.

When visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia, it is mandatory to take a trip along what the tourism people call the “lighthouse route.” And for discerning travelers, it’s mandatory to eat along the way. There are choices: you can eat at Peggy’s Cove if all you really want is the view of the lighthouse (the food is secondary), or you can stop in at Hackett’s Cove and eat at the Finer Diner. We aren’t kidding: that’s really their name (the food is okay; the view okay). We’ve eaten at both on more than one occasion. Or you can make the right choice and stop in Indian Harbour at the best of the lot: Rhubarb Café.

Let’s back-track for just a moment. We used to live on the east coast, on the shore of St. Margaret’s Bay about a seven-minute drive from Rhubarb, a restaurant that has had at least three different owners since we first began visiting it. But it wasn’t until the current proprietors took it over that it was truly able to strike that balance that restaurants in touristy areas need – they need to offer something for tourists and locals equally so that they can thrive in both the tourist season and in the off season. Current owner/operators Diane and Jim Buckle have found just the right recipe.

You leave downtown Halifax and take route 333 along the coast, looping past Peggy’s Cove on the way to Indian Harbour. You can eventually close up the loop and head back into the city, or continue along the St. Margaret’s Bay Road (or the highway if you prefer) down along Nova Scotia’s south shore. But before you do, have lunch, dinner or weekend brunch at Rhubarb.

map-to-rhubarb

Rhubarb’s tag line is “…delicious food and welcoming service in a cozy seaside setting…” And it lives up to its press. We first met Diane when she was working at the restaurant at Peggy’s Cove many years ago. We always knew that she had exactly the right personality and customer service mentality to make it on her own in the business if the opportunity presented itself. When she and her husband Jim took over Rhubarb some years ago, we couldn’t have been more delighted for them – and for us.

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Restauranteur-extraordinaire, Diane Buckle, behind her bar at Rhubarb.

 

Located adjacent to Oceanstone Seaside Resort (but not actually a part of it), Rhubarb focuses its menu on comfort food with a dash of culinary inventiveness. For example, their kale Caesar salad is truly wonderful, as are their pork tenderloin and their crispy haddock – these are favourites of ours. However, we also visit Rhubarb for creative pizzas, and they often offer a specially-topped pizza of the day. Their 10-inch, thin-crust pizzas are really worth trying. Art’s favourite is the Lawrencetown (named after a famous Nova Scotia beach) – bacon, red onion, pineapple and hot peppers. Odd sounding? Maybe, but it works.

So the food is worth the drive. And the welcoming service is worth the drive. What about the ambience?

The cozy dining room has two focal points: the view of the bay beyond (it’s not directly on the water), and the large fireplace. As you dine, you’ll be surrounded by a plethora of local artists’ work. Every time we visit, the art work is different – and it is all for sale. It’s great fun to take a walk around and peer at the walls while waiting for lunch – although if it’s busy you might want to peer from afar so as not to annoy other diners! Feel free to buy one, though.

It’s not often that we focus on just one restaurant or hotel in our stories, but this one is worth spending a bit of time on. Wonderful people serving delicious comfort food. Need we say more?

Visit Rhubarb online at http://www.rhubarbrestaurant.ca/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/therhubarbrestaurant/?fref=ts

One perfect end-of-summer day – in Nova Scotia

As you round the point from St. Margaret’s Bay into Mahone Ba,y the ocean can be sightly rough even on an otherwise calm day.

It seems like every time we think about a perfect day that we’d like to bottle up to take out at a later date to relive, we’re on a boat.  The first one we can remember was a day of sailing in the British Virgin Islands, the only time in her life when Patty sat at a bar (on an otherwise deserted island – Norman Island to be specific) in a bikini!  A couple of years ago, we rented a boat and a captain and motored along the French Riviera, glass of champagne in hand.

This past week, as we near the end of summer, we’re traveling closer to home.  Armed with a picnic and a full tank of gas, we motored our 24-foot Chris Craft out of our cove on St. Margaret’s Bay in the Halifax region of Nova Scotia.  We headed across the bay and rounded the point of land the separates St. Margaret’s Bay from Mahone Bay and headed toward the tiny village of Chester.   More of a summer refuge for both Americans and Canadians who can afford the fabulously large, east-coast-styled clapboard dwellings, the village is on every tourist’s travel itinerary as they make their way along what is known as the lighthouse route on the south shore of Nova Scotia.  Seeing it from the water, however, always imbues it with a different kind of charm.

The Chester waterfront dominated byt the pub-like “Rope Loft” restaurant.

After Chester, we made our way along the coast and into Marriott’s Cove that is home to the South Shore Marina and one of our favorite out-of-town restaurants, The Galley.  We pulled in to top up our gas and then were off to Oak Island.  Yes, Oak Island of the buried treasure fame.  Situated just on the shore that is connected to the island with a causeway is the Oak Island Inn and Spa.  Rather than pull into here for lunch, we dropped anchor just off the mysterious Oak Island and had a wonderful lunch in the sunshine.

Just after lunch it was about time to head home thinking that we’ll remember this day next winter when we’re gazing out a window to see the snowflakes dancing on the dock!

The iconic “three churches” from the water in the village of Mahone Bay itself.
In Nova Scotia, when they say a cottage is “on the water,” you had better be more specific!
Houses on the Chester peninsula.