We dare you to not get hungry as you scroll through the colourful Instagram feed of @chef_ilona. The Charlottetown chef posts pics of gorgeous charcuterie boards, mouth-watering pies and salads and, of course, lobsters and potatoes. So there’s no better person to ask about the best places to eat in town than ILona Daniel. The owner of Chef ILona Events, Media & Consulting and a chef instructor at The Culinary Institute of Canada, Daniel is also a food and lifestyle presenter on CBC Radio. Here, she shares her favourite places to grab a bite in town, including the best spot to settle down with a cup of joe.
Harrowsmith: So, where is the best place to sit down and have a coffee in your town?
Chef ILona Daniel: Probably my couch, but that only sits two comfortably, so I would recommend Receiver Coffee’s The Brass Shop on Water Street. They serve up ethically produced coffee, along with some delicious pastries. It’s perfect for a rainy-morning daydreaming session, or an intimate chat with that special someone.
HS: When you go to the local farmers’ market, which vendor do you visit first?
Chef ILona: This question couldn’t be more difficult! There are so many tasty treats to be found at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. If you’re looking for some of the best plant-based cheese, Fresh Start Fauxmage’s Chilli-Lime is just the ticket. Gallant’s has a lobster grilled cheese not to be missed, and if you are looking for something sweet, grab a cupcake from City View Bakehouse.
HS: What’s your favourite independent business?
Chef ILona: We have a lot to choose from here in Charlottetown! My favourite place for clothing and accessories is Luna, located in the Charlottetown Mall. At Founders’ Food Hall, you will be met with some of the most vibrantly passionate entrepreneurs, including Doughnuts by Design, Founders Delicatessen and Holy Fox Food. You will also find beautiful artisan prints from Oh Hey PEI.
HS: When company arrives from out of town, where do you take them?
Chef ILona: There is always a quick spin around the downtown core and along the waterfront on the way back from the Charlottetown Airport.
HS: Does your town have a mascot? Any unusual roadside attractions or monuments?
Chef ILona: Charlottetown is an idyllic seaside city. Our downtown core is inherently walkable and filled with many wonderful independent, locally owned clothing shops, restaurants, jewellers and so much more. You would fall in love with Charlottetown instantly if you found yourself walking along the boardwalk at sunrise or sunset—it’s ethereal. The giant, bright red year marker by the Prince Edward Island Convention Centre is always a fun spot to grab a selfie.
HS: What’s the strangest annual event or festival or little-known fact about your town?
Chef ILona: From a tradition that dates back to the French rule of Louis XIV, we in Prince Edward Island celebrate New Year’s levees. The levees are hosted by various local businesses, the military regiment, the naval unit, the premier; it all kicks off at the official residence of the lieutenant-governor. You can expect refreshments and treats at all the venues, along with heaping helpings of that signature East Coast storytelling. It is my absolute favourite day of the year!
HS: What kind of bragging rights does your town have?
Chef ILona: We are the birthplace of Canadian Confederation!
HS: It’s Friday night and you’re not in the mood to cook. Where do you go? Or order in?
Chef ILona: After a long week, ordering in can be a nice treat. I’m a big fan of the Spud Islander pizza from Famous Peppers. The sauce base is a maple cream sauce. It’s then topped with thinly sliced potatoes, bacon, caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese. It is so delicious!
HS: What’s your favourite road, house or tree?
Chef ILona: I love going for walks in historic downtown Charlottetown. My walkabout includes walking along the boardwalk. En route to the boardwalk, I walk along Euston Street. In early summer, there is a wall of lilacs. It is one of the most ethereal 75 steps in the provincial capital. I love breathing in their sweet nectar while running my right hand gently along the weighty blossoms. Life is all about the simple things.
HS: Is there a community garden? What’s the most popular item at roadside stands in your area?
Chef ILona: We have three community gardens around Charlottetown. For me, the Irish Cobbler new potato stands are my absolute favourite. It’s my favourite potato varietal, and when the new Cobblers come out, I’m like a kid in a candy shop.
HS: What does your town smell like?
Chef ILona: The ocean and endless possibilities!
An editor with 15-plus years in the publishing business, Catalina Margulis’ byline spans travel, food, decor, parenting, fashion, beauty, health and business. When she’s not chasing after her three young children, she can be found painting her home, taming her garden and baking muffins.