Saturday, 28 September 2013
I recently had the opportunity to make a very, very quick day trip to PEI for work. I'm talking, maybe four hours spent on the island. Knowing that we'd only have a short stay there, but wanting to get the chance to chow down on some good food, we decided to go to a restaurant that we'd seen on a `You Gotta Eat Here" episode. The Churchill Arms is in a nice little building downtown Charlottetown- pay attention when looking for it; it doesn't stand out, and we definitely walked past it the first time. On entering, one can see the effect that being on tv had- there are signs outside advertising the establishment's tv appearance, and little notes on the menu to show you what food was featured on the show. I have to admit that I wondered a little how the pub's regulars felt about this sort of advertising-it struck me as a little cheap, to be honest; if the place really is that good, the signs shouldn't be necessary. I was, though, tempted by the advertising, and opted for menu items that were indicated as being featured on the episode. The waitress we had was very friendly. She made a point of letting us know that the kitchen was a little backed up, and that our orders would take a little while. We started with an appetizer- chips and curry. Fries and curry (no, not curry mayo- you actually pick a proper curry as your dip) isn't a combination that had ever, ever occurred to me before, but it was a very satisfying appetizer, combining a crunchy, salty fry with a spicy, savory curry. In spite of the warning that our food would take a while, it certainly seemed to come within a reasonable time frame- maybe it's just because I was kept entertained by the appetizer, but I certainly feel like I've waited longer for food without warning. This isn't a complaint- it's most certainly a compliment, that the staff would care about customer service enough to advise of a rather-average waiting time shows a commitment to the customer that many places squarely lack. To the food, then. I ordered the steak and stout pie: a thick potato crust atop a stew made with Guinness as a base. The top of the pie was thick- so much so that I actually just peeled it back to allow the heat to escape- but quite tasty. The stew portion was very, very good: the steak was nice and tender, and you could taste the Guinness in it. My coworker ordered butter chicken: he found it a little different than what he was used to; to my taste, it was closer to the more traditional restaurants I've visited. It was, however, very good, strong flavour, and not overwhelmingly spicy. I need to take a minute to talk about the decor and atmosphere. The pub has that dark, pub like feel, with dark wood walls, and a nice bar. Pictures and newspaper clippings featuring Sir Winston Churchill himself are posted around the dining room, and the bar seems to attract an eclectic mix of patrons. Honestly, this probably ranks in my top ten in the Maritimes on atmosphere. Overall, I enjoyed the Churchill Arms. The food certainly was good, and I'm inclined to return. However, I'm not quite at the point of echoing that you "Gotta" eat here; rather, I'll say that you aren't likely to be let down if you do.