Fredericton / Blog / 201810 / Six Delectable Fall Dishes Found Only in Fredericton

Six Delectable Fall Dishes Found Only in Fredericton

Six Delectable Fall Dishes Found Only in Fredericton

1. Duck with spaetzle and smoked walnuts at Maxwell’s Restaurant and Bar

The new menu at Maxwell’s, launched the day before the official beginning of fall, is almost entirely autumn-inspired, making it difficult to choose just one dish that really exemplifies the season. So, we opted for two dishes, an appetizer and a drink -- let’s just say it’s not the sort of menu that lends itself to moderation!

Our server recommended the “peach shrub” cocktail in a tall glass topped with mint and thinly sliced peaches, which she brought out along with a bowl of steaming, fresh biscuits. The drink is tart but not sour, and the Wild Turkey bourbon base mellows out what first appears to be a sweet, fruity drink.

The polenta fries -- also new to the menu -- made a perfect appetizer. The piquancy of the pimento cheese and poblano (which is a mild chili pepper) jam fuse flawlessly with the grainy texture of the cornmeal polenta.

The chicken galantine, one of the main meals we ordered, is stuffed with wild mushrooms -- it’s essentially a compact paté of earthy flavour on a bed of kale and the creamiest pureed potatoes I’ve ever tried. Sweet-and-sour pears are a surprising accompaniment to the layered chicken dish.

The standout dish, though, was the duck. It’s succulent, rich but not greasy, and so tender it practically melts in your mouth. Smoked walnuts scattered artfully on the plate add a welcome crunch. Food and beverage manager Chris Cornhill told me that the ducks are raised by Strawberry Hill Farm just outside Woodstock specifically for the restaurants in the Lord Beaverbrook hotel: the legs are served at Maxwell’s, and the breasts make the duck reuben at the Joyce Pub next door.

Our server was as knowledgeable and passionate about the food as the management. She explained that the spaetzle that pairs with the duck was dyed a vibrant green using fresh herbs such as cilantro and parsley. She compared the meal to Thanksgiving dinner, and I had to agree -- you could call it an elevated holiday meal with an emphasis on local ingredients. She added that Chef Matt’s speciality is his knack for successfully balancing all different flavour profiles -- spicy, tangy, tart, earthy, sweet, bitter, et cetera -- in a single dish.

2. Roasted carrots with whipped tahini at 11th Mile

It’s hard to imagine this time of year without root vegetables plucked from the garden, and the roasted carrots at 11th Mile make the perfect centrepiece for a spectacular fall meal.

I don’t tend to think of carrots as a comfort food, but that’s what these ones are: their natural earthy flavour is accentuated by the toasty whipped tahini and zatar generously slathered on the plate for dipping or savouring on its own.

Presentation is everything, and the carrots in contrasting colours adorned with mint sprigs and seeds are laid out on vintage china plates -- it’s almost too pretty to eat (but not quite).

11th Mile’s menu is mainly smaller plates for sharing, and this lets the customers be creative, choosing a robust meal from an array of options. One of the chefs brought out the beef tartare crostini, which was so sumptuous I could have eaten them by the dozen, but you get the full flavour profile of the juicy beef with even one bite.

Then we were treated to the brassica, which is roasted broccoli, radish, kohlrabi cress, and walnut crema -- essentially a salad, but it eclipses anything you could make at home. The chef told us that this dish makes people like broccoli; well, I already liked broccoli, but I could understand how it could convert a veggie skeptic or two.

Ribs with fresh chili sauce and crunchy pickled cucumber were next; it was interesting to sample a dish with such a distinctly Asian flair after the Middle Eastern flavours of the carrots. 11th Mile’s menu really resists pigeonholing -- there’s no one theme or style restricting the co-owners’ and chefs’ culinary experimentation.  

Finally, the cutest dessert you could ask for: buttermilk and milk chocolate panna cotta topped with cocoa nibs and chantilly cream in a teacup to share. Overall it’s sweet but not cloying -- an achievement considering how rich each component of the dessert is on its own.

3. Halibut in cream sauce at [catch] URBAN GRILL

It’s a sign of a versatile menu when offerings are light enough for lunch, but satisfying enough for dinner. Sous Chef Chris at [catch] URBAN GRILL has certainly struck that perfect balance with his fall halibut dish.

It’s probably the white cream sauce that carries it from midday to evening so well -- it’s rich but not heavy -- and what makes the difference between a simple home-cooked meal and a more sophisticated entree.

The truly “fall” aspects of the meal are the fresh harvested vegetables: potatoes, carrots, peas, and corn, all bathed in that creamy sauce and topped with a green tomato chutney, which Chef Chris said is their take on the traditional mustard pickle. I sampled the vegetables in cream sauce first before trying the halibut, which is lean, yet dense, and has a fine texture and light taste that is balanced by stronger accompanying flavours. The fish arrives fresh to the restaurant from Georges Bank every Friday, and we agreed that it was the best halibut we’d had in this city or elsewhere.

The house-made chips on top resemble latticework, and though they serve mainly as decoration, they’re attention-grabbing enough to make the meal stand out from other restaurants’ standard fish dishes. I asked Chris how the chips were made. He laughed and said he gets that question a lot from customers, and that the look is done by running potatoes through a mandoline, turning it ninety degrees and slicing them again. I may have to try this at home!

4. Halibut with caramelized pears and sweet potatoes at Wolastoq Wharf

Seafood is Wolastoq Wharf’s year-round forte, but I think fall is the best time to make a reservation, because the northside restaurant has found innovative ways to update their signature fish dishes using sweet autumn accents.

No matter the time of year, each meal starts with complimentary bannock bread dipped in warm molasses. We ordered an appetizer of pan-seared scallops on cauliflower puree topped with crisp bacon and green onions to follow the bread. The more subdued flavour of the cauliflower makes it the perfect base for the sweet scallops and smoky bacon -- it’s a mouthwatering combination.

Owner Adam Turnbull created the main harvest-themed entree: pan-seared halibut with caramelized pears and roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. There’s a lot going on in this dish. It’s sweet, crunchy, tender, savoury, rich -- a surge of textures and tastes, none of which overpowers the others.

The second entree -- an apple cider-glazed pork chop nestled among colourful veggies and roast parmesan-topped potatoes -- is a hearty dish that warms you from the inside out as the temperatures drop. It’s a traditional meat-and-potatoes dinner, but clearly crafted with care and expertise.

The finale was no less indulgent: a pumpkin crème brûlée with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, adorned with an eye-catching -- and edible -- candied sugar decoration. Nothing says fall like pumpkin, and like the rest of the meal, this dessert is a celebration of the season.


5. Beef tenderloin with butternut squash at B.B.L.

I was honoured to be among the first to try the fall menu from B.B.L. in the new Radisson hotel, next to Kingswood Entertainment Centre and golf club in Hanwell. The spacious B.B.L, which stands for Bistro Brew Lounge, overlooks the golf course, with its serene lake and lush fall foliage. Given the view, it’s little wonder a patio is already in the works for next spring.

And with “brew” right in the restaurant's name, you have to try some local craft beverages; we opted for the Braunschweig German pilsner from Grimross, and the B.B.L. pomegranate cider by Red Rover, created specifically for the Radisson.

As we sipped our drinks, our friendly server, Kayla, brought out a layered salad of arugula, heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, dotted with toasted pine nuts and balsamic drizzle. The mild cheese and silky tomatoes make a peerless foil for the bitter arugula and tangy dressing.

Chef Lisa told us that fall is her favourite time of year, and the beef tenderloin dish she prepared is probably the most unequivocally “autumn” feast we’d tried in Fredericton: creamy butternut squash pureed with brown butter, grilled asparagus, snap peas, a scattering of sweet potatoes, and the tastiest beef tenderloin I’ve had to date. A thick blueberry sauce was drizzled over the whole meal, with juicy whole blueberries throughout. And to add visual appeal and a sugary crunch -- paper-thin slices of dried candied apple that melt on the tongue.

The dessert, which has yet to hit the menu but will have by the time you’re reading this, is a deconstructed delicacy: one part earl grey ice cream, one shot of Tanqueray gin, and one shot of espresso. You can take it cold to hot, vice-versa, or pour the gin and espresso over the ice cream and sweet ginger phyllo crust. Kayla told us it’s sort of a London Fog meets Affogato -- another triumph by Chef Lisa.


5. Squash gnocchi with truffle oil at Pickle Jar

Step into the Hilton Garden Inn from Queen Street, turn right, keep walking and you’ll find yourself in Pickle Jar, a cozy bar and restaurant that offers sharing plates of small but inspired dishes of surprising variety.

An eclectic menu means anything goes when it comes to drinks, so when we visited we chose the Boysenberry Persuasion by Niche Brewing, a fruity sour ale, and Trailway’s Luster, a hoppy session IPA.

If you want food with aesthetic value, the duck confit spring rolls with sweet-and-sour cherry sauce do not disappoint. That sauce happened to be almost the exact magenta hue of the boysenberry sour, and though I chose the beer myself, it seemed as though they were meant to be paired together.

Next up, the beef carpaccio with grated Parmesan, earthy roasted mushrooms and salty capers. This appetizer is bold in appearance and flavour, and accented by a tempura deep-fried egg yolk that geysers up as your fork pierces it, creating an impromptu sauce for the raw beef.

The harvest showpiece, squash gnocchi, is a riotous burst of buttery flavour from the first bite. With peas, arugula, and Manchego cheese -- which is “like Parmesan, but fancier,” food and beverage manager Matthew Brown told us with a laugh -- it’s compact yet decidedly hearty. Drizzled with truffle oil, it’s as decadent as a dessert (which you won’t need afterward).

Fall is the perfect time to get out and try some of the best food Fredericton restaurants have to offer. The colours and tastes of the season are brought to life by our city’s talented chefs.