As the sole Nova Scotia chef on this season of the culinary series, Renee Lavallee is here to represent what she calls the tight-knit East Coast culinary scene.

The chef and owner of The Canteen & Little C in downtown Dartmouth says that what she loves most about that scene is the fact that everyone supports one another, whether it’s eating out at each other’s restaurants or collaborating on a diner.

So where does the chef like to frequent when she isn’t busy in her own establishment? Here she shares her Top 5 picks.

See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

The Beach Pea

As the name suggests, this Lunenburg restaurant is quite seasonal and closes down for the winter. However once spring is in bloom guests can cozy in for a Mediterranean-inspired meal or some summer cocktails while drinking in the view from a spot above the harbour.

The menu itself is a fresh mix of sea- and land-offerings, with pasta and an array of shared plates rounding it out. Come for lunch, dinner, or the hand-crafted cocktails, but stay for the airy ambiance and friendly service.

Edna

“Eat, drink, nourish always” is the motto of this Halifax resto, which doesn’t take reservations and features a fresh menu full of seafood like the Cold Water Shrimp Chowder or the Seared Scallops with Duck Fat Fried Beluga Lentils.

Other land items, like Grilled Lamb Chops with Israeil Couscous or the vegetarian Parisienne Gnocchi—with sweet potato cream, blue cheese, and toasted nuts, round out the insightful menu.

 

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Fried Cornish hen w/ crunchy veg slaw & Gochujang mayo

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Qiu Brothers Dumplings

As the name suggests, this dumpling house is owned by two brothers from China who wanted to bring traditional and authentic dumpling-making to Halifax diners. The result is a selection of steamed and fried dumplings stuffed to please a variety of palates.

We’ll take one of each, please.

I Love Pho

Traditional Vietnamese and Chinese flavours intersect at this pho house, which offers a variety of soups, hot dishes, and appetizers in a fully licensed eat-in, or take-out setting.

So what does Renee go for whenever her need for pho hits?

“My favorite dish has to be the Bun Bo Hue. It’s a bowl of hot, spicy goodness that always fills me up and leaves me wanting more,” she says.

 

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The perfect rainy day dish. #bunbohue #mondayluncheswithrenee

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Bite House

If it’s an experience you seek, the 12-seat Bite House in Baddeck is certainly one to boast about. The restaurant is only open from May to December, during which time it showcases a nine-course tasting menu inspired by ingredients that are from independent farmers, foraging, or grown in the restaurant’s gardens.

Reservations for the entire year are already sold out, but there is a waitlist you can sign up for. No wonder Renee counts this place as one of her favourites.

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada.