With streets named after the monarchy and an historic Garrison called Officer’s Square, you could be forgiven for thinking that the entire city of Fredericton, New Brunswick is a tribute to Britain--as it may well have been, when it was settled by Loyalists in 1783.
Almost 250 years later, the British appeal of Fredericton is still reflected in its red-bricked buildings and wide tree-lined streets, but also in the cautious palates of its inhabitants. Simple food such as steaks, burgers and pasta have long been popular choices when eating out in New Brunswick's capital city, perhaps because these dishes pair so well with the local beer. Fredericton is known for its craft beer scene, with names like Picaroons, Graystone and Grimross becoming popular throughout New Brunswick, and across the Maritimes.
But soon, I predict, Fredericton will become a city is known for its food. Leading the way is 11th Mile, a modern restaurant and cocktail bar that, in its first year of operation, made headlines in local newspapers and magazines such as The Maritime Edit, Daily Gleaner and Halifax’s Chronicle Herald, but also nationally in House and Home, The Globe and Mail, and on Eat North.
This week, 11th Mile opens again in a new location, a few streets over from the old one. The move, due to a redevelopment of their former building, enabled owners Jennie Wilson and chef Peter Tompkins a unique opportunity. While their new premises were being fitted and decorated in edgy Scandinavian-industrial style, the break in service allowed Wilson and Tompkins to engage in some serious research and development, which meant travelling throughout Eastern Canada to see what chefs and cocktail artists were doing and, how they could inform the menu at 11th Mile, Mark II.
“Joe McLellan's sous-vide squid blew us away,” says Wilson, referring to a February R&D session this at Halifax’s award-winning restaurant and bar, Little Oak, “…and we had coconut milk dishes at both The Watch that Ends the Night and Little Oak that inspired a version of coconut shrimp on our new menu.”
In Montreal, Wilson and Tompkins took note of the menu at Le Petit Mousso and the cocktail selection at Mal Necessaire. The opening menu at 11th Mile features Welsh rarebit inspired a version at Maison Publique.
For East Coast cocktail inspiration, Wilson and Tompkins attended Evan McNeil's cocktail session for Sovereign at Lot Six, learning about the history of Halifax cocktails from luminary bartenders such as Cooper Tardivel, Jenner Cormier, Shane Beehan.
The 11th Mile comeback menu offers bar snacks such as fried olives, togarashi-spiced popcorn (get it to go for $5.00), and small plates such as roasted cauliflower with peanuts and ssamjang, or blistered snap peas served with ricotta, dried tomatoes and herbs. Next, there is a selection of large plates like gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce, Moroccan-spiced lamb, and the exquisite beef and Brussels sprouts. Everything is perfect for sharing.
11th Mile re-opens at 79 York Street on Tuesday, March 19th.