Discover the Incredible Flavours of Southwest Nova Scotia
10 Mar 2023
Southwest Nova Scotia is renowned for its abundance of fresh seafood, wide-ranging farm produce, and unique restaurants serving up delicious, locally-sourced cuisine. From freshly shucked Digby scallops to succulent Atlantic lobster, tasting the flavours of Southwest Nova Scotia is an experience not to be missed.
There’s something for every palate to savour – whether you’re looking for sweet indulgence, comfort food classics, or bold new flavour combinations. You’ll never forget the taste of Southwest Nova Scotia.
Eating amazing food in the beautiful setting of Southwest Nova Scotia is a pleasure that simply can’t be beat. I got to experience 3 days of indulging in delectable treats, exploring quaint restaurants and trying new foods, and experiencing the history and culture of the Bay of Fundy, Yarmouth, and Acadian Shores.
The Landscape of Grand Pré View Park
On the way to catch the ferry to Long Island, our stellar guides stopped at The Landscape of Grand Pré View Park. Located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Grand-Pré National Historic Site), this park overlooks the Minas Basin and is a perfect spot for anyone looking for a truly unique outdoor experience. Grand Pré View Park offers one of the most spectacular views in the region, and is the perfect place to learn about the Acadian people and their culture.
Grand Pré View Park is a stunning landscape of rolling hills, farmland, and meadows that span across hundreds of acres. Like a perfect painting come to life, its beauty is breathtaking, with vivid blooming wildflowers dotting the land and majestic cedars standing evergreen against the horizon.
The area serves as home to many species of wildlife, making it a delight for birdwatchers and nature photographers alike. Whether you are exploring the park itself or one of its nearby trails, venturing into Grand Pré View Park is sure to bring you a sense of peace and serenity.
We got to explore the story of Le Grand Dérangement (Expulsion of the Acadians), the heroic tale of Evangeline, and the many artifacts and statues that tell the story of this turbulent history.
I took a moment to soak it all in – the beautiful scenery, the emotions, and thinking what it must have been like to be an Acadian during those times.
A visit to Grand Pré View Park allows travelers to experience both an extraordinary panorama and an unforgettable journey into a unique cultural history.
Tiverton – East Ferry
In order to get your vehicle from the Digby Neck to Tiverton, you’ll need to take a self-propelled ferry across Petit Passage. The ferry service runs 24 hours a day on demand. It departs Tiverton on the hour, and departs East Ferry on the half hour. The entire trip (including loading time) takes 15-20 minutes.
Bay of Fundy Scenic Lobster Tours
Once you get off the ferry, you’ll see a little shack off to the right. That’s Just Above Water Cafe, which is also home to Bay of Fundy Scenic Lobster Tours. Once aboard The Second Secret, Captain Kyle will take you south into Petit Passage and stop in front of Balancing Rock, giving you a very different perspective of this local landmark.
The waters are a bit rough depending on timing, especially when the currents and tides travel in opposite directions.
They will then turn the boat around and take you north past Boar’s Head Lighthouse into the Bay of Fundy. Once in open water, you will learn all about lobsters and how the local lobster fishing industry works before stopping at the trap locations.
There the tour guide will haul in the traps with lobsters and show you how to band their claws. If you are lucky, you’ll get to band their claws and hold one.
Once you get back to shore, grab yourself a scoop of ice cream or a sundae from Just Above Water Cafe. You won’t be disappointed!
Pro Advice: Do not lean up against the doors on the boat. That door will end up in the water, Captain Kyle will have to fish it out, and everyone with you will wish they had caught the whole thing on video. I may or may not have been the one who almost fell in. 🤣
Dinner at Sydney Street Pub and Cafe
After an adventurous lobster boat tour, we stopped for a multi-course dinner at Sydney Street Pub and Cafe, a refreshingly unique pub in the heart of scenic Digby.
We started our multi-course meal with a yummy Smoked Trout Mousse, which was locally and sustainably sourced from farmed rainbow trout.
Next up was this refreshing Lobster Avocado Ritz salad with fresh and local Bay of Fundy lobster, avocado, and pickled onions.
We were then served this delicious Seafood Chowder with shrimp, haddock, and scallops in a fennel dulse cream. It was so warm and rich!
When in Digby, you’ve gotta have pan-seared Digby Scallops. These beauties were served with apple butter, and were so good!
Next up was a Coconut Shrimp Skewer on a corn and bean salad with a tequila orange cream. Very different from a traditional coconut shrimp dish, and extremely tasty!
Known for its fresh seafood dishes, this restaurant serves up some of the crispy haddock tacos around. The secret lies with their special house-made chipotle sauce that gives the tacos a kick of flavour and sweetness.
And we couldn’t have all of these amazing courses without a sweet finish. For dessert, we were served “Eat ‘n Mess” which consisted of merengue, Nova Scotia blueberry compote, and fresh local strawberries. It was heavenly!
Scallop Shucking Experience
Digby is home to the world’s largest inshore scallop fleet along the eastern seaboard. Scallops are widely considered one of the healthiest kinds of seafood and are they ever tasty.
We got to experience shucking freshly caught scallops with Mayor Ben Cleveland and the Digby Area Tourism Association Board of directors at the former Provincial Visitor Information Centre. It was quite the experience!
Once they were all out of their shells, they were pan-seared in butter for us to enjoy. You can’t get much fresher than that!
Overnight at Dockside Suites in Digby
Our accommodations for the night was Dockside Suites in Digby. While this waterfront property may not look like much from the outside, it offers guests spectacular views of Minas Basin and easy access to all of the local restaurants and attractions. Feel like a true Nova Scotian as you see the tides change and watch fishermen coming in and out with their daily catch.
The tastefully decorated one and two-bedroom suites themselves are beautiful. They provide all the modern amenities you would expect from a luxury hotel, from cozy king-size beds, large flat screen TVs, and a cozy sitting area, to roomy balconies where you can watch the boats sail by.
Even the washroom was luxurious!
With its prime location, modern comforts, and breathtaking scenery, it’s hard to beat a stay at Dockside Suites in Digby.
Breakfast at Fundy Restaurant and Bar
We didn’t have to go too far from our room at Dockside Suites to enjoy a hearty breakfast. Fundy Restaurant and Bar in Digby provides generous breakfast servings of top-notch grub in a cozy atmosphere that many patrons come back to time and again. Whether you’re looking for a big helping of pancakes, a classic breakfast sandwich with crispy bacon and egg, or just a strong cup of coffee to get your morning started, this Digby hot spot is your one-stop shop.
What truly sets Fundy Restaurant apart from the rest is its high-quality menu options: farm-fresh eggs on a bed of spring greens; thick-cut bacon that’s always cooked to perfection; the most tantalizing textures coming from their fresh and fluffy french toast. I ordered eggs and scallops with a side of home fries and toast. The scallops were served in a shell, which gave it an East Coast feel. Very tasty!
A Tour of Église Saint Bernard
The massive Église Saint Bernard is one of the most beautiful examples of 20th-century Gothic Architecture and is the pride of the Acadian community. The soaring arches and intricate details are a sight to behold.
The granite stone church took over 30 years to complete and is truly a labor of love. The future of St. Bernard Church is uncertain following its deconsecration in late June of 2022. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Clam Digging at Belliveaus Cove
Our next experience is something I thought I would never do… clam digging. As this tour was all about the tastes of southwest Nova Scotia, we were going to experience eating seafood, and seeing how the seafood is caught and prepared. In this case, we were going to be digging for clams while the tides were out.
Belliveaus Cove is a small fishing village known for its vibrant clam-digging activity. Offering some of the best clam-digging experiences in the area, the beach has large tidal flats with access to clams and crabs. In addition to this, it provides scenic views that you won’t find anywhere else.
Every year, a dedicated legion of locals and tourists flock to the shoreline to experience the thrill of gathering fresh-from-the-sea clams. The warm summer waters boast large hard shell clams waiting for eager diggers to collect them.
There is an abundance of clams buzzing below the surface, just waiting to be unearthed and enjoyed. The best time to find them is in the summer months when the tides ebb low enough for the clams to be exposed. All you need is some basic clam-digging gear, such as a shovel and bucket, and you’ll be ready to go.
Lunch at Ecole Dans l’Anse Resto Sur Mer
We certainly worked up an appetite after all the walking we did while clamming in Belliveau Cove. Our next stop was lunch at École dans l’Anse Resto sur Mer, an awesome seafood restaurant in a beautiful historic schoolhouse, overlooking la Baie Ste-Marie.
Chef/owner Pierre Boissonnault converted the old schoolhouse and opened in the Fall of 2019. He uses recipes handed down from his grandmother to preserve his Acadian heritage, and offer tourists and locals a tasty journey through his culinary offerings.
One of the dishes we got to try was Râpure, more commonly known as rappie pie. It is a hearty and savoury dish with a unique flavour. Potatoes are grated and then squeezed through a cheesecloth to create the succulent base of this mouthwatering meal before hot chicken, pork, or seafood broth along with meat and onions replace some of the removed liquid. The finishing touches come in the form of additional layers comprised purely of grated potatoes. It’s definitely something you want to try at least once when in an Acadian area.
We then enjoyed a hot bowl of chaudrée aux fruits de mer. This rich seafood chowder was made with freshly caught seafood and was incredibly delicious.
Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre
After an amazing lunch, we departed for Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre in the municipality of Clare. Steeped in culture and history, Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre provides a wealth of significant information about the area’s Acadian heritage.
Through engaging interactive programming, visitors learn more about the vibrant community of Clare through an exploration of its inhabitants and their stories. The centre also offers educational activities such as traditional music performances, as well as art exhibitions, providing an engaging and immersive experience into this unique culture.
Taking a few hours from our day to explore Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre was a rewarding experience filled with learning and cultural appreciation.
Dinner at La Cuisine Robicheau
La Cuisine Robicheau is a hidden gem that deserves to be discovered by all food lovers. The charming eatery exudes a quaint maritime atmosphere and serves traditional Acadian cuisine.
Seafood dishes like seafood chowder, Fricot, and the Fisherman’s Platter are must-try items on the menu.
While there were lots of amazing looking dishes to choose from on the menu at La Cuisine Robicheau, I chose this delicious charbroiled striploin steak with a Caesar salad. The steak was cooked just the way I ordered it, and it was mouthwatering!
They also had homemade pies for dessert. I ordered the coconut cream pie, which was the perfect end to an amazing meal.
Overnight at Au Havre du Capitaine
Our lodging for the night was Au Havre du Capitaine, charming accommodations nestled along St. Mary’s Bay shoreline in Meteghan River. This unique waterfront hotel embodies the spirit and hospitality of the Acadian people, providing guests with an unforgettable experience.
The rooms at Au Havre du Capitaine offer classic amenities such as spacious bathrooms, comfy beds, and relaxing seating areas. While the decor could use some updating, the accommodations are still warm and cozy.
Au Havre du Capitaine is the perfect place for a taste of maritime history and culture. This seaside setting is an idyllic spot to take in nature’s beauty and relax with friends and family.
BMC Seafoods Ltd.
Our first stop for the day was a tour of the lobster facility at BMC Seafoods Ltd in Meteghan. With decades of industry experience and a combination of technologically advanced systems for fishing operations, BMC Seafoods Ltd. has become an esteemed leader in the Live Lobster Market. They have an impressive storage facility that can house up to 600,000 lbs of live lobster at any given time – making it one of Atlantic Canada’s largest wholesalers & exporters. They are well-equipped with premium quality seafood coming year-round from more than 70 sustainable harvesters across the Maritime Provinces.
The facility uses a sophisticated system that pumps 1000 gallons per minute of filtered water from St Mary’s Bay into holding tanks and utilizes sensors for continuous monitoring – all remotely managed via smartphone. The BMC Seafoods Ltd team manually inspects each tank 3 times daily in order to guarantee perfect conditions, with salinity levels precisely calibrated as nature intended.
BMC Seafoods Market & Take Out
But the lobster facility is not the only highlight of BMC Seafoods Ltd. BMC Seafoods Market & Take Out sells freshly caught seafood and locally canned Maritime favourites.
The Daily Fresh Market features: Haddock, Smoked Haddock, Flounder, Cod, Clams, Halibut, Oysters, Dressed Haddock (ready to bake), Salmon, Mussels, Lobster (Live), Jonah Crabs (Live), Lobster Meat, Dulse, Dried Fish, and Scallops.
The Daily Caught Fresh Frozen inventory includes: Haddock, Sea Shrimp, Scallops, Halibut Steaks, and more.
You can also find specialties like Pickled Whelks, Bottled Bar Clams, and Salted Green Onions.
Of course, you cannot come to a facility like this and not grab a bite to eat! Their Take Out or Eat In menu includes:
Scallops & Fries, Clams & Fries, 1/2 Fish 1/2 Clam & Fries, 1/2 Clam 1/2 Scallops & Fries, Bar Clams (Paloudre) & Fries, Fish & Fries, Fish Cakes (3) with Chow, 1/2 Seafood Platter (Fish, Clams, Scallops & Shrimp), Lobster Roll – Salad Style, Creamed Lobster Roll, Scallop Burger, Clam Burger, Bar Clam (Paloudre) Burger, Fish Burger, Lobster Poutine, Hot Lobster & Fries (Cream Lobster Served On Toast), Scallops Only, Clams Only, Bar Clams (Paloudre) Only, and Fish Only.
For non-seafood lovers, they also have: Hamburger, Cheese Burger, Bacon Cheese Burger, Hot Dog, Sausages, Chicken Strips & Fries, Hot Hamburger & Fries, Hot Chicken & Fries, Grilled Cheese, Wings (6), Mozza Sticks (6), Pickles (6), Onion Rings, Poutine, and Fries.
Classic eats that are sure to please every appetite! Those in search of flavoUrful seafood should definitely make their way to BMC Seafoods Market & Takeout next time they’re craving some delicious seafood.
The World’s Smallest Working Drawbridge in Sanford
Our next stop was at the Sandford Drawbridge in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Known as “The World’s Smallest Drawbridge”, this wooden bridge was originally built so that fishermen and visitors could cross from one side of the wharf to the other without having to travel back to the main road.
Today, this pint-sized drawbridge is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike and offers a great backdrop for unique photos.
Honey Bees Restaurant, Ice Cream Parlor & Juice Bar
Our next stop was a sweet one! Honey Bees Restaurant, Ice Cream Parlor & Juice Bar serves up the best ice cream around.
They have both soft serve and hard ice cream. Oh, and they have 36 flavours of Belgian chocolate dip, which you can have on your cone, whether you get soft serve or hard ice cream.
I got vanilla soft serve in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone sprinkled with Reese’s Pieces, with the ice cream dipped in Bailey’s Belgian chocolate. Now that’s a cone, bay-bay!
Honey Bees Restaurant, Ice Cream Parlor & Juice Bar is located at 409 Nova Scotia Trunk 1 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Savour the Flavours of Southwest Nova Scotia
Southwest Nova Scotia is an area offering unique and delicious cuisine as well as breathtaking scenery. I really enjoyed my 3-day culinary experience through one of the most beautiful areas in Canada.
A big thank you to Doug Ralph, Tourism Development Officer with the Digby Area Tourism Association, and Henry Wieglicka, owner of Hillside Landing Bed & Breakfast in Digby, for being our stellar tour hosts for this amazing 3-day itinerary. These two gentlemen made this experience very memorable for our group and were a wealth of knowledge.
The warm and welcoming atmosphere of the restaurants coupled with generous portions and friendly smiles will keep guests coming back for more. Taking the time to explore Southwest Nova Scotia’s culinary offerings will be an unforgettable adventure, and will leave you with a full stomach and lasting memories.