The northern shore of the Minas Basin is a less-explored area of Nova Scotia, especially by us. I’d been there once before for a workshop at Advocate Harbour School and Gillian had never been. The three Chowder Trail stops along the route here seemed like as good an excuse as any to visit the area. We were rewarded with a couple very good bowls of chowder, some incredible coastal views and an urge to return soon to check out the many museums and heritage sites we saw along the way.
Masstown Market – Masstown
The Masstown Market (@masstownmarket) is located at the beginning of the route along Nova Scotia’s northern Bay of Fundy shoreline. Open year-round, the market offers a range of local treats including fresh farm produce, flea markets, corn boils and fresh lobster. It is a busy gathering place for people from both Colchester and Cumberland Counties, as well as for those from away.
Masstown is also one of the participants in the Chowder Trail. For $9 you get a cup of chowder, half of a turkey sandwich, a roll and potato chips, making it one of the best values on the trail to-date. The chowder is creamy and has lobster, shrimp, scallops and haddock along with diced potatoes and celery, but the broth tastes a bit like a pre-made mix and is lacking in flavour. We gave it a 6.5/10.
Bare Bones Bistro – Parrsboro (This restaurant is now closed)
Bare Bones Bistro (@barebonesbistro) is located in Parrsboro, right on the Minas Basin. It was a nice day, so we took advantage of their patio, but the interior looked equally tempting. It is designed to look almost like the hull of a ship with dark deconstructed wood paneling and nautical touches like ropes and buoys.
When the chowder arrived it became clear that Bare Bones pays a lot of attention to presentation. It was served in a large seashell dish, and was topped with shelled mussels and dried purple seaweed. Along with the mussels, there was lobster, haddock and scallops, as well as diced carrots and celery, strips of onions and cut fingerling potatoes. It was served in a light fennel cream broth. It was well worth the $13, even with the absence of bread. We gave it an 8.4/10.
Wild Caraway Restaurant & Cafe – Advocate Harbour
Wild Caraway Restaurant & Café is well off the beaten trail, almost to Cape Chignecto at the northernmost end of the Bay of Fundy. We took some time to relax in the hammocks outside before going in to try their chowder.
There are a lot of little things we liked about Wild Caraway. It is located in a house styled from the 50’s and has some fun features like wood-mounted drink menus, serving water from wine bottles (we do this from home) and vintage Advocate Harbour calendars decorating the walls.
hey split our bowl of chowder into two smaller glass bowls and served it with fresh baked rolls. The broth was piping hot, flavourful with a hint of spice and had large pieces of sautéed haddock, halibut, scallops and prawns, as well as diced veggies and corn. While it wasn’t quite our favourite to date, it ranked near the top with an 8.8/10.
We’re on a mission to taste the best chowders in Nova Scotia. Check out past chowder eating from:
Grand Banker and Old Fish Factory (Lunenburg)
Saege Bistro (Halifax)
Train Station Inn (Tatamaguche)
Canvas Restaurant (Halifax)
Sou’wester Restaurant (Peggy’s Cove)
Bell Buoy and Lakeside Restaurant (Baddeck)
Masstown Market, Barebones Bistro & Wild Caraway (Minas Basin)
The Port Pub (Port Williams)
Boyd’s Seafood Galley (Cribbons Point Wharf)