86 Queen St, Charlottetown – Website
Date of Visit – July, 2016
I found this place on Queen street in downtown Charlottetown whilst exploring the neighborhood near my hotel after arriving from Ottawa on Canada Day. It looked very much the sort of place that would serve an excellent dinner (albeit a fairly expensive one) but it was mid-afternoon and I had had no lunch as yet. I was also more than ready for a refreshing beer after a long flight and this looked like an excellent spot for a quaff and a little bite…
During my visit, I elected to sit on the very pleasant patio as it was a lovely sunny day, but I did take a look around the inside first and I liked what I saw. It is quite plushly ornate with lots of dark wood but it manages a comfortable feel rather than being stuffy or overly done. The place features both an oyster bar as well as a wine bar, and the wine list is quite lengthy and comprehensive.
The lunch menu is fairly brief but has some nice items, with only a few being what one would call typical bar food. Beyond the salads and appetizers, one can have a steak or lobster, as well as some lighter choices. I asked to look at the dinner menu and it, too, is not extensive. This being a steakhouse, steak is obviously the focus, although there are a number of different seafood dishes available as well. I was surprised that the prices were a bit cheaper than I first thought when I saw the place, although a steak will still run you anywhere from $35 to $90. All in all, though, that’s not horrible when the $90 ones are meant for two.
The service was mostly pretty good during my visit. There was a lengthy delay in getting my first beer but it transpired that they could not locate the one I ordered. The waitress eventually appeared empty handed and was much more distressed and apologetic than I was thirsty or frustrated. After that, though, everything was generally pretty good if still a trifle slow
Having come all the way to PEI, I was not going to pass up the chance to sample as many local varieties of the local oysters as possible, despite this not being the best time of the year. The menu at Sim’s lists 11 different types of homegrown oysters but, as is usual not all are available at one time and, on this visit, there were just five available. I have had two of them before many times so, for this meal, I just tried the remaining three.
Conway Cups and Carrs – The Conway Cups (pictured on the left) come from from Cascumpec Bay. There is already a type called Cascumpec but these ones are a bit different in that they have a very deep cup with a slight greenish hue to the shell. Now, it may have been July but the flavor of these was still exquisite and the ‘bite’ was really good and chewy (rather than being mushy soft as often happens off season). The brine component was sharp at the start and the finish was sweet with some great grassy notes. The Carrs variety (pictured on the right) are harvested in London Bay and also have a fairly deep cup. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked them as much as the Conways but they grew on me by my second taste. The brine was sharp right away but the then taste flattens out a bit. After a moment, though, there are some great sandy, earthy notes with a delicate little sweetness as well. I thought both types rated a 4 out of 5
Gooseberry Bay – As one would expect, these hail from Gooseberry Bay, which is at the Summerside end of PEI. My waitress recommended these and I have to concur with her choice as these were the best of the three I sampled. They were salty to the optimum degree all throughout and cucumber notes were interspersed with some great cantaloupe highlights. I could easily make a bigger meal of these and felt they deserved a 5 out of 5.
I was only able to sample the oysters on this visit but my brief dalliance with the place made me want to return to try their steak. I definitely enjoyed my visit and liked the atmosphere as well as the drinks and oysters. The service really was a bit too slow for the crowd and time of day so, instead of full marks, I gave it a 4 out of 5.