My visit to the Port-Royal Habitation had given me great insight into the life and hardships of the early French settlers. It had been a full day so far, from my early morning explorations at the Grand Pré National Historic Site, my drive through the Annapolis Valley, my walking tour through Annapolis Royal including a quick visit to Fort Anne and the Historic Gardens – I had already seen a lot and worked up quite an appetite along the way.
The Garrison House dates back to 1854
So in the late afternoon I arrived at my abode for the night: The Garrison House Bed and Breakfast, located right across the street from Fort Anne and the Garrison Graveyard. The perfect spot for my evening’s explorations. I checked in and one of the wait staff kindly helped me carry my luggage up to the second floor of this historic Victorian mansion. I settled down in my comfortable room, and started checking my messages from the convenient wireless network available at the Garrison House. I tried to catch a bit of a rest but by about 7:30 pm it was time for dinner.
My cozy room
I walked downstairs to the ground floor which houses the restaurant consisting of a large kitchen and three dining rooms holding 45 patrons. I took a seat in a cozy corner by the window facing the church next door. The restaurant is open from early May to the end of October and Fodor’s has recommended the Garrison House Restaurant as the best place to eat in the area. The menu features a selection of fish and seafood dishes such as lobster salad, Norah’s Acadian Seafood Chowder, fresh Digby scallops and other delicacies such as a wild mushroom risotto, a Vietnamese coconut milk curry, lemon-grass Thai chicken and many more.
A tasty House Salad
To start my meal I enjoyed a tasty house salad followed by a Maritime favourite: pan-fried haddock, caught not far off the coast of Nova Scotia. The atmosphere was pleasant, several couples were dining and I had an opportunity to talk with the chef for a bit. Norah Folks has worked at the Garrison House for the last 20 years and filled me in on the culinary details of this restaurant. She mentioned that she and owner Patrick Redgrave who also cooks, prepare all the meals fresh and from scratch, using as many local ingredients as possible. My haddock for the evening for example, came from the Bay of Fundy.
Pan-fried haddock from the Bay of Fundy
Norah told me about a new trend in cooking: the focus is on traditional food with a twist. For example she would serve a rice pudding with a Chai (Chinese tea) flavour. She mentioned that the Garrison House changes its menu on a regular basis, and flavours and spices also vary. About 30% of the diners at the Garrison House are locals while 70% are travelers from other places.
As a chef, Norah mentioned that she is passionate about looking after her guests and whenever she or owner Patrick go traveling, they always come back with new flavours teasing the taste buds of their customers. It comes in handy that Norah has lived in Vancouver and been exposed to that city’s ethnic restaurants, including Greek, Italian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine.
One of the dining rooms at the Garrison House
When I asked her about living in Annapolis Royal, Norah mentioned that she is a local maritimer and enjoys the calm, easy-going life-style. Many artists have recognized the charm of this town and set up workshops and galleries here. The King’s Theatre provides theatrical entertainment in the summer, and Norah also told me about the Tidal Generating Plant, one of only two such electricity producing plants in the world. I decided that I would need to see this unique power station tomorrow morning.
But now after this enjoyable dinner, it was time for my next adventure: the Annapolis Royal Graveyard Tour at the Garrison Cemetery across the street, led by local celebrity and history expert Alan Melanson.