Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chez Christophe

St. Mary's Bay, seen from St. Bernard, a few minutes in advance of Chez Christophe.

When in Digby, I make sure I get to eat at Chez Christophe, thirty minutes away in Grosses-Coques.

A lot of notable restaurant food is elaborate, complex, and easy to discuss because of the elements that are unfamiliar to us in our own cooking. Food that is excellent, but not necessarily unusual is rare in my restaurant experience. Chez Christophe is one of those experiences. Regularly listed in Where to Eat in Canada, it’s menu is short but highlights the regional specialties of the Acadian Peninsula: chicken fricot, rappie pie, haddock, chowder, scallops, fresh vegetables, etc. The food is ‘plain’ – cooked just right in only the basics essential to the dish: butter, garlic, cream, etc. It’s in a white house, and what would normally be the rooms, are filled with tables and mismatched chairs with little baskets of sugar and dollar store mugs. Local art of all kinds hang on the wall. In the front room is a wood stove and a copy of Eaton’s magazine from the 30s. Little stacks of paper, etc. are stacked on the windowsill. It looks like your second aunt’s kitchen.

My favourite dish is the scallops: the biggest Digby scallops out of St. Mary’s Bay (the size of toonies), with fresh peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, and decorative lettuce and tomato that is so fresh you do actually eat it. I had it for lunch.

And then I went back for dinner and had their famous seafood lasagne. This is so good it’s been featured in Gourmet magazine and people make little moan noises when they eat it. So I had to try it. It was good: a creamy alfredo sauce made with a cheese I couldn’t place (asiago?). Small shrimps, pieces of lobster and baby scallops (size of nickels). Smooth, creamy, flavourful, but not so rich that it made me feel ill. It was served with a lovely fresh tossed salad in light vinaigrette – olive oil dressing.

They also have an army of pies (with meringue mountains) and excellent cheesecake- creamy, light, rich, and 3.00 for double the portion you would normally get at other restaurants. For 20.00, I had an incredible meal, with a good friend, in an atmosphere made for relaxed home-style meals. It's easy to see why Chez Christophe is so well loved.

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