I’m Dining Out Here
by Andrew Sprague
Over the last ten years there’s been a dramatic jump in the number of high end restaurants in Charlottetown. From Sim’s Corner to Lot 30 it’s hard to turn a corner in this city without passing a restaurant whose dinner menu items average well above twenty dollars a plate. That might be peanuts in a place like Montreal or Vancouver, but here on the Island, prices like that have a way of excluding a large portion of the population. Off the top of my head I can think of at least five restaurants in the downtown core alone that fit the bill. You’d think at some point, Charlottetown would hit saturation, and another high end restaurant would only serve to thin out an already small market. The owners of the city’s newest high end eatery must be confident that saturation point has not yet been achieved.
The Redwater Rustic Grille is located on the first floor of the new Holman Grand Hotel on Grafton Street. It’s a very tastefully decorated space that projects an air of exclusivity. Even the front entrance feels exclusive; the location of the hostess stand prevents customers from actually entering the restaurant before being greeted by staff. The window side of the room is all tables and chairs while the back and side walls are booths that seat four to six. The bar is right in the middle of the space and seems quite suitable for after work cocktails.
On our first visit to the restaurant we made an early reservation so we could catch and early show at the cinemas. We arrived at five and had a glass of wine at the bar before taking our seats. There weren't too many other tables seated because of the early hour, so we were surprised when the hostess sat us at the table closest to the entrance to the kitchen. I don’t understand why they didn’t sit us somewhere a little quieter? It’s not like the place was packed or anything. Anyway, we got over it and barely noticed the noise by the time we ordered.
The menu at the Redwater Rustic Grille features pizza, pasta and steak as well as a number of other meat and fish dishes. I was surprised to see the beef selections were all organic, grain fed Alberta beef. But then I realized Redwater Rustic Grille is actually a franchise, and that franchise began in Calgary. Hence, the Alberta, not Island, beef. It also features an excellent selection of wine by the bottle.
To start we split the tomato chorizo mussels. They were spicy and delicious, and the broth left over could have stood up well on its own as a pasta sauce or a zesty soup. It made for a lot of bread dipping, needless to say. I bet there was more chorizo than mussels. For our mains Jinny had the field green salad and the seafood chowder. She really liked the chowder, and while the salad was extremely fresh and crispy, it was a bit on the bitter side. For my main I decided to sample the Alberta beef to see how it stood up against our own. I ordered the rib eye and was given a choice of two sides from a list of six. I was also given a choice of three sauces for my steak. I went with baby bok choy and carrots on the side and managed to get two kinds of dipping sauce; peppercorn and barbeque. The steak was excellent and perfectly cooked. The sides were good as well and came out swimming in butter. The sauces were tasty, but a steak that good could be left to stand on its own.
All together, we had a great meal at Redwater. The bill came in at about $135 with tip, and in an Island context, that’s quite expensive. It will be interesting to see how this new high end dining room makes out in a market leaning so close to saturation.