I’m Dining Out Here
by Andrew Sprague
Two friends and I recently traveled up west to say so long to a friend’s father. The wake was in Tyne Valley and like a lot of things this past winter, it was delayed a day because of weather. Anticipating a big crowd we decided to get on the road early to beat the line and get a little more time with the family. That also meant we’d have some time to grab a bite to eat and a cold drink before heading back to town.
From the get go I was confident The Landing would be open. It’s a great spot, if you haven’t been, and it’s one of the only places open for miles with food and a liquor licence in February. At least that’s what I thought. On the way past the ten foot high snow bank covering the entire front entry was a clear sign we would not be eating at The Landing. So where do you go to eat in Tyne Valley in February? I put that question to the nice lady from the funeral home and she suggested the grocery store. That was not the kind of environment we were looking for. That’s when it dawned on me. I asked if the Pig and Whistle served food. She said she thought so. That was good enough for us.
The Tyne Valley Fire Hall hasn’t been called the Pig and Whistle for a long time. Years ago on Boxing Day my dad and I pegged twelve points to go out against four in an epic game of cribbage at the Pig and Whistle against my uncle and a buddy of his, so there’s some history there for me. My aunt and uncle live nearby and the Pig and Whistle was the only place to go within a short drive. So when we visited, it was a common destination for the parents. Some time ago a major addition at the Fire Hall included ten pin bowling lanes and a larger event space. Before that Thursday in February, I had been there maybe once in fifteen years.
Walking toward the door we all joked that we were glad we’d left our man bags in Charlottetown. Something told us purses would make us stand out just a little more than the embroidered vest one of us was already sporting that day. There were four people in the bar, one on the gambling machines, two at a table and a bartender. Conversation didn’t necessarily stop when we walked in, we couldn’t tell, it was hard to know if they were talking to begin with. We got a nod from one guy, so that was a good sign. We walked up to the bar to have a look at the menu. It was all fried food save the pickled eggs. There were fries, chicken fingers, bar clams, wings and a few other assorted deep fried offerings. I got the chicken finger basket, as did one other. The third got bar clams, wings and a pickled egg; truly a lunch of champions. We retreated to the pool table with an Alpine each and waited for the food.
It came out one order at a time ten minutes apart. I didn’t ask, but I suspect that’s because they have one fryer, just one. To tell you the truth, as fried food goes, it was pretty good. The highlight, aside from the pickled egg which is always a highlight, was the bar clams. There should be more bar clams on menus everywhere.
We left full and happy after some high quality pool and fried food. The Tyne Valley Fire Hall definitely exceeded our expectations.