5 delicious Seafood Chowders along PEI’s North Shore

PEI seafood chowder is such a popular dish with both Islanders and tourists that we asked Island food blogger, Barbara Mayhew, to check out some north shore chowders and tell us how she found them. Here are her impressions of five seafood chowders in the Green Gables Shore Region.

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If there is one thing that Islanders and tourists alike can agree upon, it’s that PEI has great fresh seafood fished from the cold Atlantic waters. A popular offering on menus of many local restaurants is seafood chowder which is a great way to sample several different kinds of seafood all in one dish.

While there are many ways in which seafood chowder can be prepared, a typical PEI chowder will comprise the following elements: 1) the chowder will be cream-based meaning it is made with milk or cream or a combination of both; 2) more than one kind of seafood will be present; and 3) PEI potatoes will be found in the chowder.

It’s amazing that different chowder makers can take essentially the same basic ingredients and produce different flavored chowders. Some chowders will be ultra thick, almost resembling a casserole, while others will have a moderately thick base and still others will have a thinner cream base. Some will have no additional seasoning beyond onion, and perhaps celery, while others will add some herbs, spices, and finishing oils.

I am often asked where to find the best seafood chowder on PEI and that’s a tough question to answer. This is because there are many great seafood chowders on this Island and, I venture to say, there is one for ever seafood lover’s taste. By way of example, here are five fabulous chowders to be found in the Green Gables Shore Region.

Blue Mussel Café, North Rustico

This seasonally operated restaurant in the picturesque village of North Rustico offers an ultra thick creamy chowder packed with salmon, mussels, scallops, and haddock along with some celery, red pepper, and some fine PEI potatoes. How fresh is the fish? Well, two trips daily are made to Doiron’s Fish Mart, about 1 km down the road to the wharf, to pick up fresh seafood. You can’t get product any fresher than that! This is a hearty thick-with-ingredients chowder made completely from scratch starting with the traditional roux for the chowder base. Layers of flavor are added and the chowder is lightly seasoned with some herbs and spices with just a hint of lemon and finished off with a drizzle of caper dill oil. This flavorful chowder comes to the table attractively garnished with four mussels in their shells and is accompanied by a tasty homemade biscuit. Be sure to arrive with a hefty appetite as this chowder is the full meal deal.

Enjoy this chowder in the casual style open air restaurant while watching the fishing boats returning with their daily catch to nearby North Rustico Harbour.

312 Harbourview Dr, North Rustico Harbour, PE http://bluemusselcafe.com/ (902) 963-2152 info@bluemusselcafe.com

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Chez Yvonne, Cavendish

The seafood reigns supreme in this delectable chowder that comes from a restaurant that has been a familiar icon in Cavendish for decades. There is no shortage of a variety of seafood in this creamy chowder – look for lobster, haddock, shrimp, scallops, crab, clams, mussels, and salmon. The chowder, made fresh daily, intentionally contains no extra seasonings so that the seafood is the star of the show. Potato, onions, and butter are the only additions. The medium thick consistency of the chowder base is built upon homemade fish stock and is naturally salted from the seafood so no extra salt is added. Chez Yvonne has been making this chowder recipe for many, many years so patrons can enjoy the same tasty chowder on return visits. This chowder presents well with a mussel in the shell as a garnish. The chowder is served with one of the delectable homemade rolls made daily on the premises.

This chowder is the perfect lunch time treat or finale after a day of activities in the Cavendish area or an afternoon at the beach. Dine inside or on the restaurant’s deck.

8947 Rte. 6, Cavendish, PE http://chezyvonnes.com/ (902) 963-2070 lindal@pei.sympatico.ca

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Carr’s Oyster Bar, Stanley Bridge

Lobster, haddock, scallops, and shrimp combine with potato, onion, butter, and a blend of cream and milk to make a rich and flavorful chowder with a silky smooth texture. The restaurant proprietors also own a seafood mart just a stone’s throw away on nearby Stanley Bridge wharf so you just know the seafood is fresh. There’s nothing better than chowder by the shores from which the fish comes and this chowder is certainly a taste of the seaside. The foundation for this delightful chowder starts with cooking the liquid from the fish to make the stock. Served piping hot in a shallow bowl filled to the brim with bite-sized portions of the seafood, this chowder is subtly seasoned to let the flavour of the seafood come through. This medium-thick chowder, garnished with a sprinkle of paprika and chives, is served with classic crackers. While a gluten free chowder option is not a regular menu offering, the restaurant will, with sufficient advance notice, accommodate a gluten free chowder request.

Carr’s is a casual dining spot with a large outside deck that overlooks Stanley Bridge Harbour. Enjoy their fine seafood chowder while touring the Island’s picturesque north shore area.

32 Cambellton Road, Stanley Bridge, PE http://carrspei.ca (902)886-3355 oysterbar@carrspei.ca

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PEI Preserve Company, New Glasgow

You’ll want to set aside the diet on the day you sample the delicious seafood chowder at the PEI Preserve Company in beautiful New Glasgow. This chowder is made the authentic and traditional way with heavy cream (yes, the really good stuff!) and potatoes which provide the natural thickener. The stars in this hearty chowder are scallops, shrimp, haddock, and salmon with potatoes, onion, and celery playing supporting roles. Hints of tarragon and dill blend well with the salty flavor of the seafood. The ingredients cook in the cream and no fish stock is added to the base. This is a sinfully thick and creamy chowder packed with natural seafood flavour. The chowder is served with a homemade biscuit. This is a gluten-free chowder and gluten free homemade biscuits are also available.

Diners can enjoy a hearty bowl of this chowder while overlooking the scenic River Clyde, one of PEI’s prettiest vistas, from the large comfortable dining room.

2841 New Glasgow Rd, New Glasgow, PE http://preservecompany.com/ (902)964-4300 customerservice@preservecompany.com

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New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, New Glasgow

For almost 60 years now, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers has been synonymous with good seafood. The all-you-can-eat seafood chowder is offered as one of the appetizers at the lobster suppers and they know a thing or two about making chowder – during the busy summer season, they make 180 litres of it daily! This is a traditional homestyle cream-based chowder that combines lobster, clams, and cod with onions, celery, and potatoes. Served piping hot in small stylish cup-bowls, this chowder is just creamy enough to support the generous chunks of potato and seafood. You’ll find each spoonful of this chowder is heaped with a seafood medley. Attractively presented with colorful lobster pieces on top, this chowder is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. The chowder is served with the restaurant’s famous housemade rolls, baked daily onsite.

Enjoy this special treat as part of one of the homecooked meals at the lobster suppers in the scenic community of New Glasgow. Bring your best appetite to do justice to the bountiful meal that awaits you at the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.

#604 Route 258, New Glasgow, PE http://peilobstersuppers.com/ 902-964-2870 info@peilobstersuppers.com

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What differentiates chowders is the selection of seafood and the seasonings used (or not) to flavor the chowder bases. Each of these five chowders is distinctively different in flavor and base consistency yet equally delicious. Any one of these chowders is a treat to the palate but why stop at one when you can try all five!

Barbara Mayhew is a PEI food blogger. Visit her website, My Island Bistro Kitchen, at www.myislandbistrokitchen.com and follow her on twitter @PEIBistro.