Review: The Gahan House
126 Sydney St., Charlottetown, PEI – Website
Date of Visit: July, 2016
Having already sampled many Gahan beers during my visit to Charlottetown, I felt it only fitting that I should make pilgrimage to the source of all bounty, as it were. The Gahan House, situated on the very quietly pleasant Sydney St., is not merely a Pub and restaurant, as the outside would suggest, it also houses one of the breweries for the beers I had thus far enjoyed. Also, as a bonus, one can even purchase beer for drinking elsewhere, if desired. I perused the online menu before my visit and came for lunch on a Sunday morning…
I arrived at the place just after 11 in the morning with the idea of having a beer or two and then a spot of lunch. It was empty when I got there but that allowed me to take a bit of a tour and see everything, including the brewery in the basement. It is a nice and comfy sort of place, chiefly stone and brick with wood and brass trim here and there, and it is divided, almost maze-like, into separate seating areas. Unfortunately, I found the music inside to be way too loud and irritating and I sat myself out on the rear patio, which was a little breezy but still very nice.
The menu is mostly pub style and is divided into ‘Half-Pint’ and ‘Full-Pint’ offerings, these basically being small and large plates. The former include the sorts of things that drinkers like to accompany beers, nachos and so forth, while the entree sized affairs have quite a decent range and include Fish and Chips, Jambalaya, and Steak.
Seafood Chowder – Seafood Chowder is one of the things you have to sample when visiting a seaside town and the version at Gahan is claimed to have won an award. It is made with lobster, mussels, haddock and scallops, according to the menu and one can order either a small or a large ‘Pot’. I went for the small. It came served with a biscuit, which I didn’t bother with, and was garnished with fried potato slivers. It looked pretty but, sadly, was a disappointment. A real seafood chowder needs an ‘in your face’ sea flavored punch but this was basically like a cream of mushroom soup with a vague shellfish taste here and there if you managed to snag a large enough chunk of something. In Calgary, or Winnipeg, say, one might ‘forgive them because they know not what they do’ but, in the Maritimes, this effort was a major fail. I could only give it a 1 out of 5.
Brown Bag Fish and Chips – The fish, in this dish, is Atlantic Haddock and comes in a batter made with the house ‘Sir John A. Honey Wheat Ale’. It actually comes served in a brown paper bag (in homage, I presume, to the English newsprint wrapped variety) and you tip it out onto a supplied plate. After the chowder disappointment, I thought the place might redeem itself, especially with something as fundamentally foolproof as fish and chips. Unfortunately, this was not to be; the batter was nice and crispy golden brown on the outside, but was mushy on the inside, with the suggestion that the oil cooking temperature was too hot. The fish was fresh, but somewhat bland for haddock, and I had to resort to liberal lashings of tartar sauce. The fries were great but, this is PEI, renowned for potatoes, so this has been pretty much true every where I ate them. I could only give this dish a 2 put of 5.
The one redeeming feature of my experience here was the service, which was polite, friendly and efficient. I am sure I would like this place as a drinking spot, or even as a place to grab a burger, maybe. But, for fine dining (even decent pub food dining), my inclination would be to go elsewhere. I gave the place a very generous 3 out of 5.