Humble and Homemade at Mateus Bistro

Mateus Bistro exterior.

Mateus Bistro exterior.

It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed a local restaurant. It seems the blog (along with Halifax) has been dominated by brand new openings. Which is great — it’s just not that cool to review a place that’s only been open a few weeks. And those are the places I’ve been trying.

So, I made the trip to Mahone Bay to explicitly brunch at Mateus Bistro, a name I’d heard thrown around a few times, especially when I was sitting on the judging panel for the RANS awards this past November.

When we arrived, on a Sunday afternoon, there weren’t too many other patrons. The building is a wee old house, situated on the main drag, but with the entrance facing a parking lot. The interior feels small; divided rooms and a low ceiling, as you would expect of an older home. This time of day it was very sunny. The space achieves a very cozy and charming atmosphere but with bright spots of colour, due to the large collection of artwork showcased on the walls.

We took a table for two in the front part of the bistro (near the tiny bar room), where the sun was shining in our window and we could look out on Main Street. Our server was genuine and sweet. After finding out the keg had run dry of the Mystique Cider I had ordered, she made me an amazing spicy caesar: horseradish, lots of worcestershire, topped with house-pickled beans.

Delicious caesar with horseradish, pickled beans.

Delicious caesar with horseradish, pickled beans.

My brunch focus was thrown off when I discovered the lunch menu also being offered. I ordered the crispy haddock burger with house made tzatziki, on a bun from La Vendeenne, served with green salad. Geir went for the local pork schnitzel sandwich with homemade chow aioli and a caesar salad. This was humble fare, and it was made thoughtfully. My haddock burger was made from a nice, big fresh piece of fish, cooked properly; the tzatziki had a nice amount of garlic. My salad was super fresh with very flavourful greens, which the menu said were local, dressed with what tasted like a simple balsamic vinaigrette balanced perfectly with honey. The homemade creamy roasted garlic dressing on the caesar was fantastic! Perfect for garlic fiends like me.

Crispy haddock burger with house made tzatziki.

Crispy haddock burger with house made tzatziki.

Simple food, prepared to a high standard, using many fresh, local ingredients. Just the kind of place we love. We’ll definitely be back next time we’re in Mahone Bay. They offer a dinner menu with some more involved entree items that I’d love to try.

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