Live at the
Red Shoe Pub,
Mabou, Cape Breton
(12 October 2005)

We were on the road to Mabou. A dinner destination was still up in the air. Then, I caught a glimpse of the Red Shoe Pub, and the decision was made; not only was the live music blasting through the door a merry incentive, but the menu taped to the window was a powerful draw.

After years of hearing the rumors, I finally experienced the Shoe for myself. What a place! OK, it was packed to the gills with people, many of them headed (like us) just up the road to the Celtic Connections concert at Strathspey Place. But in the meantime, Bonnie Jean MacDonald held court in the corner, blasting along on fiddle with mighty accompaniment by local favorite Mac Morin on piano. Combined with the ruckus of a packed dining room, they made the room sound like a carnival.

It was standing room only, and the line for a seat was long -- but fortunately a friendly pair of Colours attendees waved us over to share their table. The beer was cold, the food was delicious (if slow in arriving), the conversation was interesting (if hard to hear) and the music was grand.

The Red Shoe, as of 2005 under the proprietorship of the famous Rankin sisters after being shut down by its previous owner, boasts a fine menu that had me salivating and wishing for an extra few stomachs to sample it all. (My own, large as it's grown, was not up to the task.) But the savory steak and mushroom pie certainly gave me a taste that will bring me back -- as did the Irish creme brulee that followed after.

Granted, conversation wasn't easy over the din of the music, chatter and clinking glassware, but with Bonnie Jean and Mac at work and the wonderful smells from the kitchen, there was plenty to keep my senses occupied until it was time to drive across town for the show.

by Tom Knapp
19 November 2005

[ visit the pub online ]