McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant

Address: 18 Kentucky Court, New Minas, NS

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Date / Time Visited:  6:45pm on 10 May 2014

Genre: Casual fine dining

Meals served: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Reservation: Available but not required

Here are some of our thoughts (please listen to the podcast for a complete description):

Ambiance / description of place / music / WIFI

Chris Picture grandparents dancing to this music, or a 1930’s movie – waiting for Humphrey Bogart (Frank Sinatra playing ‘How about you’ (“I like New York in June, how about you?  I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?”).  Wifi is available

Margaret Quiet with gentle big band music.  Nice use of cloth napkins.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Display Case

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Display Case

Greeting / reception

Chris Asked if we had a reservation (none required).  Very friendly waitress – remembered Charlotte from the week before.

Margaret – After she took our order, about 5 minutes later offered an “amuse” Margarita in a shot glass.  Also had a child-friendly version.  Very tasty, especially since the rim was salted!  Charlotte gave a ‘Thumbs up’ on the amuse.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Amuse Bouche

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Amuse Bouche

Menu prices

Chris Upper teens to upper 20s – on the higher end but still reasonable considering the quality.

Margaret The quality of the food is reflected in the prices of the menu items.  Well worth it.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Scallops with Bacon Jam Menu

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Scallops with Bacon Jam Menu

Variety

Chris One deep in all the major meats.  I liked the rotating ethnic theme – we happened to come during Mexican week.  It was a tough call on whether to go salmon or burrito, but Margaret couldn’t decide on what to eat so I ended up taking her choice so she could try something else.

Margaret It’s not a large menu but the weekly theme menus do add more variety and choice.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Main Courses and Dessert Menu

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Main Courses and Dessert Menu

Smell / look / taste of Scallops and Bacon Jam

Chris – I love bacon-wrapped scallops; this was an interesting twist.  Scallops were cooked perfectly, and the jam was had the right amount of sweetness (if I was to make it I’d make it a ‘smidge’ less sweet).  A good job on the plating.

Margaret – It looked beautiful and inspired me to go home and make some bacon jam.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Scallops with Bacon Jam

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Scallops with Bacon Jam

Smell / look / taste of Wonton Purses

Chris – Yet another tasty treat.  It’s interesting that both of the appetizers we had contained a thick sauce to complement the dish (jam or chutney).  Although these were really good (especially the chutney), I liked the scallops more.

Margaret – These little morsels had a tasty pork filling inside a wonton wrapper shaped to look like an evening bag.  They came with a spicy chutney that really complemented the pork.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Wonton Purses

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Wonton Purses

Smell / look / taste of Burrito and Corn Salad

Chris – I’ve had burritos from many places in the world (excluding Mexico but including many Mexican restaurants), and this is arguably the most flavourful that I’ve ever had!  Burrito shell looked and tasted great (not over-grilled), and the refried beans were perfect (I’ve had so many that were mush.  I’m not a big fan of salad, but the Mexican corn salad was surprisingly light and fresh-tasting. Again, great presentation.

Margaret – I didn’t get a chance to try the Burrito since Chris ‘inhaled’ it.  The salad was nice and something I have tried to copy at home.  Good combination of flavours and ingredients I wouldn’t have thought to put together.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Burritos

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Burritos

Smell / look / taste of Artichoke and Spinach Bake

Chris –This is one of Margaret’s ‘go-to’ dishes when she sees it on the menu.  We’ve tried this at so many places, only to be disappointed – not here!

Margaret –This was delicious.  The texture was thick without being stiff so you could dip your chips in without them breaking.  It was accompanied with multi-coloured tortilla chips and warm, grilled pita chips.  The grilled pita chips were a great addition to this dish.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Artichoke and Spinach Bake

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Artichoke and Spinach Bake

Smell / look / taste of Mexicano Helado Frito

Chris – I’m not normally a fan of deep-fried ice cream but it was part of the set menu, so what the heck!  It’s hard to tell what I enjoyed more, the texture / freshness of the ice cream or the contrast of the hot and cold.

Margaret – This dessert was beautifully presented.  The ice cream was cold (!) and the coating was crispy.  The smooth ice cream with the crunchy topping was a nice contrast and it was delicious.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Mexican Helado Frito

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Mexican Helado Frito

Smell / look / taste of Chocolate Ancho Crème Brule

Chris – I love spice, so it’s easy to see why I would be attracted to this dish.  I’ve tried several other spicy chocolate combinations, but this is the best that I can recall.

Margaret – Another beautifully presented dessert.  It has a creamy texture, a nice chocolate taste with a bit of spice!

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Chocolate Ancho Crème Brule

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Chocolate Ancho Crème Brule

Smell / look / taste of Haddock and Pomme Frites

Chris – These are fries that are highly addictive – try for yourself if you don’t believe me!  I would go back JUST for these fries.

Margaret – I didn’t try this.   Well, to be honest, I had to try the pomme frites and they were yummy.  I could have eaten them all but I restrained myself!

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Haddock and Pomme Frites

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Haddock and Pomme Frites

Why we chose menu items

Chris Scallops and bacon jam – sounded so interesting!  You can never go wrong with bacon and scallops.  Burrito – Margaret wanted to try so I was easily convinced.

Margaret I chose Beggar’s Purse, Spinach, and the Artichoke Dip because the menu descriptions enticed me to try them.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Haddock and Pomme Frites Menu

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Haddock and Pomme Frites Menu

Service / wait staff knowledge

Chris Great recommendations on the menu

Margaret Very attentive wait staff and very familiar with the menu.

McGill's Cafe and Restaurant - Pomme Frites

McGill’s Cafe and Restaurant – Pomme Frites

Overall dining experience

Chris – Quite simply one of the best meals that I’ve had in a long time.

Margaret – The meals were served in a very timely manner, the staff was great (had the manager and chef come out to speak with us) and the food was very tasty.  The menu items were quite varied and there was something for even the most particular palate.

Would we go again

Chris – Absolutely, and we have.  We even made a special trip to bring our Australian friends!

Margaret – If we lived closer to the restaurant, we would be there every week!!

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