The Bite House, Baddeck NS

We just got back from a great trip to Nova Scotia.  You can check out my posts here and here.

While the scenery was beautiful and the drive pleasant, I’d be remise if I didn’t talk about the food.  We had many good meals, great seafood and fresh lobster.  Ryers Lobster Pound in Peggy’s Cove is lobster at it’s best; and Baddeck Lobster Suppers in Baddeck for their mussels was great.  But our BEST meal hands down, without hesitation or question was from The Bite House.

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Bryan & Mary Isabelle are making fantastic food in this small little unimposing spot truly off the beaten path in Baddeck, Cape Breton (Nova Scotia, Canada).  They have only a fixed tasting menu (60 CAN /person), so no need to fuss with choosing what to eat… they do it for you.  And I’m so glad they do.

To begin, you are brought little snacks, like the ‘haddack, basil mayo, dulse’, which is a crunchy ball of delight.  Crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy on the interior.  It’s light and tasty finger food.

As a matter of fact, there are no forks served.  The first three snacks are to be eaten with your fingers.  The ‘coldwater shrimp, spinach, chives’ is as tasty to eat as it is to look at.  We have to make this at home.  It’s so simple, yet so delicious.  A simple chive yogurt ‘glues’ the bay shrimp to a fresh spinach leaf dressed with the perfect chive flower.

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The final snack, just as before is eaten with your fingers.  This time using a buckwheat pancake for the carrier of fresh herbs and butter.

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As we start the parade of 4 main courses and dessert, I am struck by the beautiful presentation, simple fresh flavors and great textures.  All the courses have a perfect balance of freshness, crunch, color, and texture.  I love Bryan’s use of flowers for that nice added color and floral element, and the crunch of greens or cracker make for the perfect bite.

The next course may be my favorite, and it’s so surprising… roast radish with sesame, mint, and sea chickweed.  It would convert even the radish ney-sayer.  It’s not only beautiful, it’s crunchy, herby, and creamy.  I loved it.

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We move on to a fish course of ‘hot-smoked trout, pickled pumpkin, and crispy rye’.   The salad of fresh greens has a lovely buttermilk dressing.  The trout is perfectly tender and vaguely smoky.  The chards of rye cracker bring that terrific crunch to the party that finishes this tender luscious mouth feel with just the right textural crunch.  It’s perfect.

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The next course is called ‘goat dumpling, bacon thyme broth, sunflower shoots’.  In reality it’s more of a de-constructed preparation with meatballs in a flavorful broth with a pancake-ish dumpling cover on top.  Staying true to Bryan’s perfect balanced bites, it is topped with a fresh crunch of sunflower shoots.

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Our final main course is a perfectly cooked boneless chicken meat served with fiddleheads, a green sauce and hakurai turnips.  The green sauce adds a wonderful freshness and sauciness to the dish, while the fiddleheads and turnips give it that fresh crunch.  Together with the tender flavorful chicken, it’s a beautiful combination.

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By now I think I was just swooning over the inspiration of these wonderfully balanced bites.  I took no photos of the beautiful dessert of ‘grilled rhubarb, lemon balm ice cream, woodruff’.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it… it was a beautifully delicious closure to a very fine meal.

If you find yourself in Baddeck, Nova Scotia… do yourself a favor, and stop in at The Bite House.  You’ll need reservations in advance, as the word is out.  They are making inspirational delicious bites, full of freshness and creativity.  It is not to be missed.  Thanks, Bryan and Mary Isabelle for a terrific evening… our best of the whole trip.

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