My wife, brother-in-law and his wife and I had the great good fortune to eat at the Riverside Bistro, a very new, cozy and elegant little haute cuisine restaurant that has recently opened in at #15 Riverside in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, upstairs in a building just adjacent to the dock/marina where the pleasure boats tie up on the East River of Pictou. It seats only 23 at this point, so get in before it becomes too well known, then spread the word! It’s a little tricky to get to, so use the Google Map link I provide below, because just google-mapping 15 Riverside, New Glasgow, NS will point you to some oddball place not particularly close to where you need to be to find it.
About the experience: The decor is subdued, subtle, the service is excellent and attentive, and the food is nothing short of amazing. I had what I think was one of the finest seafood chowders I have ever tried, for openers. It was light-textured, not a heavily-thickened soup like traditional clam chowder – more milky/creamy in texture, with all its ingredients at the their freshest best and full of their own individual character. This is a soup that’s made at the moment, not idling on a stove waiting for the next customer order.
My wife had a trio of seafood-and-vegetables-in-a-mille-feuille appetizer which was truly delicious (think of the best spanakopita (for the texture), but as light as air, fragrant and full of fresh fish and seasonal vegetables, baked to crispy light perfection).
My baked haddock entree came with a salad, which was deliciously but subtly graced with a very simple vinaigrette of sorts, made of milled herbs, probably a dash of oil and a light hand with a quality vinegar – I’m guessing here, it just tasted excellent and the flavour of the greens came through delightfully, complemented beautifully rather than being overwhelmed. The fish was cooked to the point of perfect tenderness, and was presented beautifully, the delicious flavour of perfectly fresh fish coming to the fore and just delicately augmented by a light hand with spices, herbs in a delicious savoury thin sauce with a light cream base.
My wife had scallops, graced with some lean and very delicious bacon – it seemed to be too lean to be regular bacon, so perhaps it was Pancetta, which I haven’t had often enough to tell by taste. The whole was complemented with subtly garlic-y mashed potatoes (our charming waitress recommended these are the best potatoes she has had in ages, and she’s part Polish so she knows from potatoes).
My brother-in-law’s wife had a shrimp pasta dish with a cream sauce and a salsa at the side that she initially thought would not go together, but found yet again the chef’s innovative and sure hand had created another great combination. She loved it, and found the combination melded perfectly.
Dessert was excellent, too – fresh, innovative, delicious. I had an excellent carrot cake, and my wife had an apple torte with cheese cake and almonds on top.
Recommendation: If you are ever traveling Highway 104 east-west across the top of Nova Scotia, this wonderful restaurant is absolutely worth a few minutes side-trip into New Glasgow.
How to get there: The street address is #15 Riverside, but it’s actually located on the small roadway by the river that leads off Riverside Street to the left, and this roadway goes under the bridge at George Street.
Effectively, it’s just north of the intersection of George Street and Riverside Street, but you need to go down to the marina along the marina access road off Riverside Parkway (which turns into Riverside Street north of George Street). There you’ll find this one building facing onto the water.
The Riverside Bistro is upstairs, above another restaurant, so once you find the building go around the left (north) side where you’ll find the door and stairs leading up into the Riverside Bistro.
You owe it to yourself to try this charming restaurant! The chef has a wonderful, subtle way of enhancing all the dishes we tried, while being true to the ingredients which all shone through, making their own flavours be the primary element of the dish. Being family we all got to try each other’s dishes, and all agreed everything we ordered was delicious. It was unfortunate our stay in New Glasgow was short enough that we could only eat there once, but we’ll definitely be back!
Here’s a Google Map link to this approximate location… If you use the Satellite image, the rectangular grey building across from the boats is it.
For those who cannot go in person, the Riverside Bistro’s chef also offer event catering, and you can contact the chef directly at JCONWAY CATERING, firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: Tragically, the owner of the building where this wonderful restaurant was located is also the owner of the Marina next door, and somehow this guy neglected to tell his restaurateur tenant that he fills up the parking lot with the docks from the marina during the winter months, making the whole parking area into a complete mess and eliminating any hope of parking any cars … thus completely killing the hopes of these restaurateurs to have a workable business in the winter months (ie. there’s now no parking). No amount of reasoning with the building owner could make him see sense, and so (sob) this jewel of a restaurant has closed. I understand they are still catering out of other premises, and I really hope they will one day re-open as a restaurant.