Award-winning chef Erin Henry, a graduate of the culinary institute in Charlottetown, is one of the owners of a new lobster restaurant coming to Victoria Row in the P.E.I. capital in early May. Henry promises some unique flavours are coming to their lobster meals.
The traditional church basement lobster supper is coming to Victoria Row in Charlottetown.
Chris LeClair is getting set to open Row House Lobster Company in the location formerly occupied by Castello’s Ristorante & Pizzeria Restaurant on Victoria Row.
LeClair, the former chief of staff for Premier Robert Ghiz, is targeting the first week of May to open. LeClair will co-own the lobster restaurant with chef Erin Henry, a graduate from the culinary institute, and Jeana MacIsaac, who spent time in the culinary scene in Toronto before moving back to the Island.
LeClair describes the restaurant as a lobster-seafood-bistro meats and wine type of concept, serving traditional Island lobster recipes and local food with some new fusion lobster concepts, such as Asian-style with gingers and green onion flavour.
“When people come to P.E.I. they experience lobster in the church basement kind of thing. We’re going to have, on our menu, the church supper,’’ LeClair said. “Not everyone, when they arrive in Charlottetown, has the opportunity to get out to a New Glasgow (Lobster Suppers) or a New London or Cardigan.’’
This won’t be LeClair’s first venture into the food business. Since leaving politics in 2011, LeClair opened the Berry Healthy frozen yogurt restaurant on Kent Street in Charlottetown, which he still owns today. Henry ran the yogurt shop for LeClair, until now.
“I’ve decided her talents are better served in a seafood restaurant. I quickly realized that she’s a very talented chef.’’
LeClair says Row the House will be a year-round operation and he plans to employ up to 20 people once the restaurant is fully operational.
“We recognize that’s not without its challenges in a small market but that’s our goal,’’ he said, in reference to his goal of serving lobster 12 months a year.
LeClair also wants the restaurant to benefit fishermen and local producers.
“We’re going to look for ways, and we’re still trying to figure this out, whatever the shore price is for lobster I’d like to make sure we’re paying above that. We have a sustainability kind of approach and making sure fishers get a fair price for their product is something that’s important to us so we need to figure out how to do that, particularly if you’re buying through distributors.’’
He also says they’d look at buying bread from local shops like Buns and Things Bakery in Charlottetown and cheese from Cheeseladys Gouda Cheese in Winsloe.
“If you’re going to do a lobster sandwich what better role to cook it on than a Buns and Things roll? If we’re going to do mac and cheese what better cheese than the Gouda cheese company on P.E.I.? The chef is really focused on identifying local products that we can incorporate into the menu.’’
The name of the restaurant references its location on Victoria Row, making it easier for word of mouth to spread.
LeClair says 2014 is the perfect time to expand his food business.
“It’s a great year to start something because the profile and presence of Charlottetown and P.E.I. is so high with the 150th (anniversary of Confederation) and food being such a big part of the P.E.I. experience.’’