Posted by: njbrown | May 29, 2013

Eating in Cape Breton – Or Not


In this blog, I try to avoid negative comments, but George said I needed to blog our eating experiences on the Cabot Trail of Cape Breton Island.

Cabot Trail

Cabot Trail

Friends had encouraged us to drive the Cabot Trail (Canada’s equivalent of the Amalfi Coast), and George really wanted to see what had been described as spectacular ocean views from the high and steep mountains that run down to the sea.  From our guidebooks, it looked as though food would be available on the six-hour trip from the beginning of the Trail, through the highlands to Louisbourg where the French had a thriving colony in the early to mid 18th century.  Weather is unpredictable, and fog can close in rapidly, obscuring the views and making the hairpin turns even more hazardous.  By a great stroke of luck, the day we had chosen for the drive turned out to be sunny.

Pleasant Bay on the Cabot Trail

Pleasant Bay on the Cabot Trail

At the half-way point in the Trail (Pleasant Bay) was a small motel with a very small restaurant.  The lady who served us was married to a lobsterman who docks his boat closeby.  George ordered lobster, and found it to be excellent and very reasonably priced.  Still recovering from eating too much Quebec City food, I opted for seafood chowder.

We completed the drive late in the afternoon and arrived in the town of Louisbourg to find that our motel was attached to an RV park.  Things went downhill quickly from there.  We “upgraded” our room for one with an ocean view, but as we unpacked the fog rolled in and we had a fog view for the rest of the stay.  The very pleasant lady at the desk told George that no place else in town was serving meals – the tourist season apparently begins in June.  The motel advertised “18th century dining,” and all I can say about the meal is that I didn’t know canned peas existed in the 18th century.  We had gone from the sublime in Quebec City to – words fail me.  To summarize, probably the best approach to eating in the Louisbourg area of Cape Breton before tourist season is a very well-stocked picnic basket.

Historic Lousibourg

Historic Louisbourg in the fog

The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site was very interesting, although again, only a fraction of the buildings were open given that tourist season had not begun.  Built in 1713, the fortress had about 700 soldiers, and the town was built around it.  Approximately one quarter of the original buildings have been restored.   In 1758 as part of the Treaty of Utrecht, the French gave up Louisbourg to the English.  It’s been many years since I visited Colonial Williamsburg, and there are similarities and differences; both were capitals in their prime.

The next day, we arrived in Halifax – a city new to me – and we checked into a lovely boutique hotel where we were booked for three days.  I was ready for more comfort and more dining choices!

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