Riverside Bistro – a “Must try” restaurant in New Glasgow, NS

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, chefjrc@msn.com

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.

Coincidence?

About a week ago I remarked to my son that our aging van will be turning over 200,000KM soon, and that I hoped I would actually see that happen to celebrate our “old girl’s” faithful service.  I then continued to drive to and from work for several days, and didn’t give it another thought.

On my way home this evening, I stopped at a light, and by sheer coincidence happened to look down at the dashboard to see this:

Odometer at milestone

Milestone reached – ready for the next 200,000KM

Taking a short “wander” around Unionville, ON

Yesterday Basia, her brother Andy, his wife Crocetta and I took a short walk through the charming Main Street in old Unionville, ON.  It is quite pretty with a number of buildings on the main street and surroundings looking to be well into the “Century Home” category. However, yesterday’s cold temperatures were biting enough that we didn’t want to spend hours exploring the side streets.

After nosing around for a while, we ended up at Blacksmith’s Bistro for a late lunch (around 3PM) partly because their menu looked intriguing, and partly because everything else except the coffee shops was closed.  This turned out to be a very happy turn of events, as everything we ate was absolutely excellent.  Our waiters were very attentive and knowledgeable, the food delicious, and the upstairs dining area at the back of the building had the most beautiful light pouring in the windows.

If you’re ever near Unionville (ideally not in winter though it has its charms),  both a walk down Main Street, and the Blacksmith’s Bistro for lunch or dinner are highly recommended as time well spent.

Vienna – Sightseeing Dec 2012

At end of November and beginning of December, 2011, I had the great good fortune to spend a full day exploring Vienna, Austria.  I was staying at a business hotel in Uno City on the north shore of the Danube, across from an intriguing old building which was Vienna’s first Coptic church.

I caught the subway from Uno City to Stefansplatz, in the centre of the old city and the heart of a huge shopping district.  The photo below is the view of Stefansplatz a few paces from the exit of the subway.

First view upon exiting the Subway at Stefansplatz, Vienna

First view upon exiting the Subway at Stefansplatz, Vienna

I wandered around what I presume was a small fragment of Vienna, and yet was able to find almost endless opportunities for photography as I went.

Unfortunately, the sky was fairly steadily overcast the whole day, withe only a few minutes of blue sky and sunshine fairly late in the day. This led to rather flat photos, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Using my compass, I ensured I always knew roughly where I was relative to where I had started, so I ended up doing a series of roughly circular loops, like the petals of a flower, radiating from the Stefansplatz area.

For now, I’ll let the photos tell some of the story and will come back to this article to flesh out the narrative and add more photos sometime soon.

Interior of the Stefansdom cathedral

Interior of the Stefansdom cathedral

Next a group of horse-drawn carriages waiting outside the Stefansdom for customers.  Very picturesque, I thought.

Horse carriages queued up by the Stefansdom church between tours

Horse carriages queued up by the Stefansdom church between tours

Part of my walking took me into a beautiful park – the Stadtpark (City Garden), in which there is a beautiful statue of Johann Strauss.  As it turns out, this is one of the most photographed statues in the world, so here’s my photo to add to the be artistic burden of tributes to this statue.

For more on this park, see: www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/parks/anlagen/stadtpark.html

Johann Strauss statue in Vienna's Stadtpark

Johann Strauss statue in Vienna’s Stadtpark

The park is full of statuary of various dignitaries, artists and mythological figures.  Very serene and relatively unpopulated in the late autumn, it must be very beautiful during the summer and a magnet for the Viennese and legions of tourists.  I spent some time beside a small pond, taking photos of the ducks, swans and some birds bathing themselves that looked like ravens, but smaller, with long tails.   I’m going to presume these were some kind of magpie but that’s only a guess.  The river that courses through the park is paved on the sides and enclosed by stonework, and near the end of the park where the river goes underground was this lovely cupola. It was really too bad it was so overcast, as during the summer with some green colour, this must be even more beautiful.  I must come back to Vienna with my wife – soon!

The Wien river passes through the Stadtspark. Ornate and beautiful copolas are located near a bridge over the river close to the Stadtsoper - Opera House

The Wien river passes through the Stadtspark. Ornate and beautiful copolas are located near a bridge over the river, close to the Stadtsoper – Opera House

Travel to Bratislava, Slovakia

In early December 2011 I had a chance to travel to Europe (Bratislava, Slovakia) for work, and I ended up staying the weekend in Bratislava and in nearby Vienna, Austria to do some sightseeing.

Here are some pictures from Bratislava, Slovakia, a very beautiful old city that I recommend as being well worth a visit. The weather was overcast and cold, but I was still fascinated to be there.

Bratislava Bus Station below the Novy Most (New Bridge)

Bus Station below the Novy Most (new bridge) in Bratislava, Slovakia

This first one shows a series of tall poster images on the support pillars holding up the Novy Most (New Bridge) as it’s about to join street level.  I thought the colouring very interesting in the sodium lamps, as well as the seriousness of the faces.  I don’ t know who these men are.

The second is of carving of a bearded Knight set into the outside wall of a large church, and a crypt (presumably that of the knight in the carving) located outside the walls of a very old church in Bratislava.  This one struck me, as it’s a remarkable combination of ornate carving and a rather odd looking physical posture of the knight who looks like he has difficulty standing (I presume from some old wound or too much time spent astride a horse).

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