The Dunes Studio Gallery & Café: a soothing escape in Brackley Beach, PEI

Gardens at the Dunes Studio Gallery & CafeAt the intersection of beauty and deliciousness, wonderful things happen. The Dunes Studio Gallery & Café, with its stunning gardens, locally crafted art, pottery, and jewelry, and intriguing café offerings made it onto my must-do list over two years ago. Unfortunately our 2013 trip to Prince Edward Island wasn’t quite long enough to squeeze it in, and it took two years for us to get back to the island. The Dunes was worth the wait.

Everything in PEI is a lot closer than it sounds – the island simply isn’t that big. Located in Brackley Beach, PEI, the Dunes Studio Gallery & Café was only about 15 minutes from Cavendish…although it felt a world away.

With preschooler in tow, we arrived around 6 and headed straight for the restaurant. I confess to being a bit worried when we saw the beautiful surroundings and place-settings… this art-filled restaurant doesn’t look like a kid-friendly establishment (fellow parents will know what I mean). I was determined to carry on, though, and when Amelia’s meal arrived before ours, I knew these guys understood their audience. In my experience, the best way to ensure a small child remains stationary and quiet(ish) is to fill them with food, and kids take much longer to eat than adults.

We ordered the soup of the day (carrot ginger) and the crab cakes for appetizers. The crab cakes were good, if small, but the soup! That was possibly the best soup I’ve ever eaten. I’d go back just for that.

Banana-bread-encrusted halibut at the Dunes Cafe in Brackley BeachOddly, the day we were there, there was some kind of citrusy quinoa in place of rice. It was a perplexing choice, as this very strong flavor wasn’t destined to work well with any of the dishes we were interested in, but the waiter accommodated Gary’s request for plain rice with his Massaman Curry lamb dish, and my request for mashed potatoes with the banana bread halibut (although they did forget and had to bring the potatoes on the side). Gary was pleased with his lamb, and I found the combination of banana bread and halibut intriguing and surprisingly delicious. The vegetables on both were divine – I suspect they may have come right from the Dunes Café’s garden, although I neglected to ask.

Amelia’s meal was the cheese pizza, which was fairly utilitarian but seemed to please the preschooler palate.

Dessert was a chocolate cake for me and a (tiny) piece of cheesecake for Gary. Both were enjoyable, and attractive.

Dessert at the Dunes Cafe

Aside from the soup – and honestly, every time I think about that soup I salivate – the star of the meal was the Rhubarb-a-rita drink I ordered. It was yummy, strong, and so pretty.

Gorgeous artwork lines the walls of the café, and the Gallery shares the lower level. From the windows of the Dunes Café, you’ll see the extensive, zen-like gardens; wander upstairs to find jewelry, pottery, furniture, and more artwork – you can even buy the cutlery that’s used in the café. However, by the time we finished dinner, bedtime had come and gone for our wee one, so our visit to the Dunes Gallery and Studio portions was sadly perfunctory. Handmade art and funrniture at the Dunes Gallery

We’ll be back. Even the just-shy-of-$200 pricetag for our meal didn’t throw me off (we did have three courses, after all). Next time, I hope to learn a bit more about the gardens and the origins of the Dunes Studio Gallery and Café!

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