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.

Odds and Ends: Spicy Chile-Lime Red Cabbage & Butternut Squash Salad

redcabbagebutternut

Today I lucked out. Poking around the fridge, I noticed we only had odds and ends, none of which seemed to make any sense to me, flavour wise, to put together. After about five minutes of Googling, I found inspiration from a few different sources, and was feeling confident.

What I came up with is possibly the longest salad description out there, but here goes: spicy chile-lime red cabbage and roasted butternut squash salad with garlic scapes, cilantro, basil, and double goat’s cheese. Served warm. So good.

What I did was roast the butternut squash in small chunks (tossed in olive oil), seasoned with salt, pepper and a little chili powder. That took about 20 minutes. Using the leftover oil from roasting the squash, I then sauteed the sliced red cabbage quickly with hot red chiles and garlic scapes.

Next, I threw them together in a bowl and let them cool off a bit. Then I tossed the ingredients in freshly squeezed lime juice, salt and pepper, fresh cilantro, basil and chives – plus chunks of firm Ran-Cher Acres goat gouda. To top it off, I crumbled Ran-Cher Acres regular goat cheese. SO delicious. Glad I went out of my way to make those odds and ends work.

IMG_4316

Spicy chiles, creamy squash and goat’s cheese plus crunchy cabbage made this salad balanced and tasty!