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On the Acadian Shores, Scallops and So Much More to Adore


Scallops at the Sydney Street Pub in downtown Digby include edible flowers and an apple butter reduction. This dish costs just $7.50. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Scallops — and seafood, in general — provide one of the most compelling reasons we have to breathe. I can’t remember the first time I devoured scallops but I can remember the best. It was a 24-hour shellfish extravaganza in Digby, the self-anointed scallop capital of Canada. The small seaside town in southwest Nova Scotia is home to Scallop Days, an annual summer festival that fills the waterfront with shell-shucking revelry. On a day-to-day basis, though, you can savour these delicacies on the menus across Atlantic Canada.

Nowhere have they tasted better, to my palate, than at the Sydney Street Pub. The casual favourite in Digby is where a restaurateur from Montreal and a chef trained in Ontario’s big cities have teamed up to showcase the flavours of the rural Acadian Shores with culinary touches you’d expect in an urban dining scene. The scallops are pan-fried and served with reduced apple butter. A plate of three costs only $7.50 — a rare bargain in a time of exploding food costs. Other standouts include lobster salad with citrus horseradish avocado, beer-battered haddock taco with spicy salsa, well-balanced seafood chowder, and a banh mi sandwich made with smoked meat from famed Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal.  


Seafood chowder and focaccia at Sydney Street Pub is served in antique dishware. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Owners Claude Perreault and his wife, Saskia Geerts, brought their background in hospitality to the property — which had been a church from 1902-25 — and turned it into a pub after making the purchase in 2015. In 2021, they recruited chef Patrick Weiher to help shape the menu. Without shying away from his culinary experience at locations such as the Four Seasons Toronto and The Exchange on Hollis in Halfiax, Weiher and the pub’s team have brought creative flavours to the menu.

“There was more of a concern not to do it,” Weiher says of pushing for diverse and upscale offerings. “There was a learning curve with the local customers but it’s getting better and they’re appreciating what we do more and more. This is the kind of food that I think really best serves the ingredients we have access to here.”

Foodie Finds in Southwest Nova Scotia

And, again, the prices are reasonable for the quality and professionalism that goes into the cuisine. Such affordability is not unusual in the Acadian Shores either. Getting here is a challenge but once you arrive the experiences and cost savings make it a genuine relief from a disheartening time of inflation and global instability. The Fundy Restaurant is traditionally downtown Digby’s go-to location, with an expansive patio and the Dockside Suites, which are located above the dining space and feature luxurious rooms with water views and lavish interior features: heated floors, gas fireplaces, large en suite bathrooms, and ultra-comfortable beds.


Ecole Dans l’Anse Resto Sur Mer offers spectacular views of St. Mary’s Bay in the coastal town of Belliveau’s Cove, a notable centre for Acadian history. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Down the road from Digby is Ecole Dans l’Anse Resto Sur Mer, a labour of love that is easy to adore. The restaurant is in the historic school building in the community of Belliveau’s Cove and has been converted by chef/owner Pierre Boissonnault. He renovated the property after purchasing it a few years ago and opened for business in September 2019. That timing was poor—the world had plunged into a pandemic before the property could enjoy its first full tourist season—but the restaurant is now seeing a steady flow of guests as travel to the Maritimes resumes.

What makes Ecole Dans l’Anse Resto Sur Mer so memorable, besides its outstanding dishes, is Boissonnault’s commitment to preserving the building’s history and the culinary heritage of his Acadian community. The seafood is as delicious as can be, oozing of sweetness. Boissonnault specializes in Acadian staples, several of which are made from the recipes of his grandmother. He has embraced his heritage so much he has devoted himself to keeping Acadian food and culture alive.


Chef and owner Pierre Boissonnault serves authentic Acadian cuisine at Ecole Dans l’Anse Resto Sur Mer. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Ecole Dans l’Anse Resto Sur Mer, or School by the Sea, is also planning to host a free wine-and-cheese evening for people who attended its classes as children. He already organizes a feast at the nearby seafood market each week. Every Friday in the summer for the past two decades, Boissonnault has run Les beau viandre, or Good Fridays, a seafood feast of chowder, lobster, mussels, snow crabs, and more at the town market.


Scallops au gratin at La Cuisine Robicheau is served with L’acadie blanc, a grape grown exclusively in Nova Scotia. Maison Meuse is one of the family-owned wineries on the Acadian Shores on the southwest coast of the province. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Nearby is La Cuisine Robicheau, a family-run business that has operated for decades and, like Boissonnault, its owners are dedicated to keeping Acadian recipes alive. The scallops covered in cheese and butter is one of the more popular dishes in the region. In recent years, it can be nicely paired with a glass of L’acadie blanc, a grape unique to Nova Scotia. The floral, dry white wine from Maison Meuse is an example of the rising connoisseurship in the region, which is reinventing historic recipes for items such as rappie pie—a mix of grated potatoes, pork fat, and onions—to suit contemporary palates.


A lobster claw is topped with lemon verbena garlic butter and served with homemade focaccia. In the background is Inner Oaks, a wellness retreat started by restaurateur Laura Muise. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

If you want to explore the history of Acadian food and your own spirituality, head farther south to Inner Oaks, a unique destination run by Laura Muise, a restaurant professional with decades of history in the region. Her new project, set on her home property in the community of Quinan, is designed to pull guests into the nature and energy of the sprawling 100-acre space. Muise is developing an experience that encourages guests to explore their inner awareness as well as connect with the environment around them and the foods they taste. Muise specializes in growing herbs and incorporating them into her dishes. She runs a lavender experience where guests can tour her farm and savour lavender-infused dishes. She’s also an accomplished home cook committed to preserving the recipes of her region, including the signature Nova Scotia Creamed Lobster, a decadent dish that includes a hearty amount of cream in a pot with lobster meat.

Like so many others in the area, Muise has devoted herself to bringing guests into her part of the world and showcasing the qualities of the place that she is proud of. And why wouldn’t she? Great food, a deep connection to culture, and a coastal setting that enthrals you with its beauty will nourish any visitor salivating for flavours and a good amount of soul.



Fundy Restaurant features many dishes with Digby’s favourite shellfish, including a Scallops Eggs Benedict for breakfast that’s served on the shell. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Getting There: Yarmouth, the main town in the Acadian Shores, is about 3 1/2 hours from Halifax. Travellers to Nova Scotia have the choice to journey along the south shore of the province, visiting notable attractions such as Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg, or circling north, driving through the wine country of the Annapolis and Gaspereau valleys, and then heading south to Digby. Another option in Canada is to drive eastward from New Brunswick, taking a ferry near Saint John and the Bay of Fundy to Digby. The crossing takes about 2 hours, 15 minutes. A ferry from Bar Harbor, Maine to Yarmouth crosses the Gulf of Maine in 3 1/2 hours and is a principal driver of tourism to the Acadian Shores.

Where to Stay: Dockside Suites above the Fundy Restaurant features exquisite accommodations with modern touches and water views. Nightly rates start at around $169. Ecole Dans l’Anse Resto Sur Mer also has recently renovated suites above its restaurant. Nightly stays start at $200 for a two-bedroom suite and $225 for a three-bedroom suite.

Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and VacayNetwork.com. He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and Vacay.ca co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world.