Blog By: Gillian MacDonald
Described by National Geographic magazine as the prettiest place to watch the Bay of Fundy tides sweep in and out, Parrsboro is one gem of a coastal small town. Located off the beaten track from Highway 104, Parrsboro has become a popular stopping point for theatre lovers and geologists alike. Finding yourself in a town complete with a beautiful theatre built around an old dilapidated ferry, the world renowned Fundy Geological Museum, and all the natural beauty to enjoy while hiking and rock hounding, allows for a pretty great weekend getaway.
If you add a meal at Bare Bones Bistro to the agenda, then your getaway will quickly go up in the ranks from an enjoyable weekend to a vacation worth scrap-booking about. And since I aspire to be a scrap-booking master myself, to Bare Bones I went during a recent visit to this sleepy little town.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the house manager, Rebecca, who showed us to a table on their patio. With such a prime location, the patio was a wise investment – Bare Bones has the best view in town.
We enjoyed a magnificent sunset over the Bay of Fundy while savouring an incredible tasting menu chosen for us by owner and chef, Glenn Wheaton. Heavenly does not begin to describe the experience – and no scrapbook could ever highlight the tastes we experienced.
Calamari with plum tomato marmalade, tatziki, and fresh cilantro
The calamari came from a local fishing weir in Partridge Island and was blackened with Glenn’s very own blackening spice mix, which could put Cajun folks to shame. The light batter provided a nice crunch to the calamari, which paired wonderfully with a glass of Tidal Bay wine from Avondale Sky.*
Bay of Fundy Lobster Soup with Thai lime & coconut broth, julienned summer vegetables and Bay of Fundy lobster
This soup is light and not at all like a bisque or chowder in texture. It tastes like vacation and conjures up images of palm trees and exotic beaches. My mouth is watering as I write this.
Gin and tonic shooter with a twist
This gin and tonic was no ordinary bar drink. It was doctored with homemade vanilla bean simple syrup, maple candied lemon zest and a corn sprout. My husband begged the waitress to tell him what the secret ingredient was so he could learn how to make it at home, but I think we’ll leave that to the professionals!
Oven Roasted Atlantic Halibut with farm fresh vegetables, kissed with a maple beurre blanc sauce
This was the highlight of the meal – the halibut had a perfectly crispy exterior and the sweetness of the beurre blanc sauce still has me dreaming of living the life of a fish in a maple-infused ocean. Perfection! Especially when said maple syrup is produced recreationally by Glenn’s father who runs the service station up the street.
Bare Bones Dessert Sampler: Flour-less chocolate cake, “Lady Jessica” warm blueberry cake and cheesecake filled wonton
All three desserts are equally incredible and made my cheeks hurt from smiling with glee as I devoured each one. I even looked over at my husband’s plate to see which dessert he seemed to be enjoying the most to find all three had completely vanished before I had even finished my first. I’m confident that Bare Bones has single-handedly revived his sweet tooth.
The flourless chocolate cake was perfectly fudgey and the Chantilly cream was a decadent addition. The cheesecake-filled wonton made me feel incredibly sinful. Apparently I’m no saint because I ate every bite of the warm and crispy pastry which combined perfectly with the melting ice-cream and berries.
Lastly, the “Lady Jessica” was my favorite of the three. I normally favor chocolate flavored anything, but this dessert was special. Maybe it’s because the dessert is named after chef Glenn’s late grandmother, Jessica Katherine Colpitts, who inspired him throughout his career as a chef – the warm blueberry cake is a dessert Glenn enjoyed as a boy and has been added to his menu in her honour. Complete with a brown sugar sauce, this warm blueberry cake is definitely a recipe I’d like to add to my own baking repertoire.
After the meal we finally had the pleasure of meeting the man behind the culinary art we had heartily devoured – Chef Glenn Wheaton.
Chef Glenn moved back to the Parrsboro area (after training and spending time working as a chef in Halifax) so that he and his wife could raise a family in the area they grew up in. And what could be a more perfect location to start a restaurant than the place you first called home? Some things in life you just can’t experience when you’re far from where the home fires burn. As Glenn says, “It’s a way better flavor in your mouth trying to deal with someone you know – and spending the money in your own backyard.”
The restaurant reflects the history of shipbuilding in Parrsboro as well as the livelihood of Glenn’s grandfather who was a shipbuilder himself. Every piece of art, furniture and even the walls themselves tell a story.
The building is comprised of four 100-year-old barns that were taken apart and put together in Parrsboro back in the 70’s. If you look under the siding outside, you’ll see barn boards staring back at you. Inside the restaurant, the wainscoting is made from old doors, old lanterns have been re-purposed into light fixtures, and the ribs of an old ship are hanging on the wall above the entrance to the washroom. This is not typical fish and chip shack nautical décor, every piece has been hung with care and has a historical event or incredible tale tied to it.
When you’re inside the restaurant you can’t help but feel pure respect for local shipbuilders gone by as you stop and admire Glenn’s treasures. He has created a safe haven not only for artifacts, but also for the spirits of shipbuilding yesteryear.
*Bare Bones features a wine list comprised of only Wines of Nova Scotia. They offer a beautiful selection from Avondale Sky Winery, Blomidon Estate Winery, Domaine de Grand Pré Winery, Gaspereau Vineyards, Jost Vineyards and Luckett Vineyards.
Bare Bones uses scallops from Cape D’Or fisheries and halibut, beef and chicken sourced from local fisherman and farmers. 65-70% of the vegetables are grown by a local farmer Glenn works with up the road and the rest are from the Five Islands Market just 20 minutes away.