During a September trip to the Cape Breton Highlands, we ended up spending the night in Pleasant Bay. There are plenty of things to do in the Highlands, from hiking to whale-watching to cycling, but things shut up pretty early in the evening. This is especially true when you start getting into the shoulder season in September.
We were hungry, but were intent on seeing the sunset from the Skyline trail. By the time we got back from the coastline, it was past 8 o’clock, and pitch black as we headed back to Pleasant Bay. In addition to worrying about moose jumping out in front of us, we were increasingly worried about our grumbling stomachs.
We had been told that the Rusty Anchor closed around 8 but the open sign was still lit so we took a chance that the staff wouldn’t mind us coming in before closing. The server didn’t even hesitate to welcome us even though there was only one other table left dining.
The restaurant overlooks Pleasant Bay, and has a large patio perfect for sightseeing during the day. At night the interior is spacious yet cozy, with low ceilings and hardwood floor and beams. We ordered a Propeller Bitter for me and a J’ost white wine for Gillian. We were considering something light but when the server told us the evening specials – ½ price full lobster and snow crab legs and ½ price snow crab dip – we opted for both.
The crab dip came out first. Filled with fresh shredded pieces of snow crab, it was even more delicious than we expected. It could have been a meal for one of us on its own, but it was just a warm-up to the special.
That afternoon we had gone whale-watching, and on the way back in, our captain pointed our a snow crab boat. He told us that if we hadn’t yet tried snow crab, this was the place to do it. If you’ve never had snow crab before, it’s quite different from lobster. The meat is a little harder to get to because the shell is softer so it’s actually more difficult to crack open, but the sweeter meat rewards your efforts. It was an excellent compliment to the 1lb lobster we were served. With the sides of potatoes, a roll and cole slaw, we felt like we were at a royal feast.
The Rusty Anchor Restaurant
23197 Cabot Trail
Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia
June 11am – 8pm
July & August 11am – 1pm
Sept & Oct 11am – 8pm