Featured Image: Beer flight @ Quidi Vidi Brewing Company.
You know I wouldn’t visit a place without reviewing its food, so here is the post you were looking for. St. John’s has a surprising number of fine dining restaurants, as well as more laid back pubs and microbreweries.
Last year I had the chance to visit Raymond’s, which was at some point rated the number one restaurant in Canada. We ordered the 5 course tasting menu along with the wine pairings and it definitely did not disappoint. Regretfully, I did not take any notes during my visit, so I really don’t have too many details for you. I just remember that there was a lot of thought put into each dish and the wine pairings were perfect.
Basho Restaurant and Lounge
Those who know me will know that I will not choose to eat Asian food randomly at a new place, unless I’ve heard really good things about it. Growing up in Vancouver and having just spent 2 months in Asia, I am quite spoiled in terms of good sushi. I’ve heard great things about Basho and I reasoned that the seafood in the maritimes should be amazing so I really should give it a try. The ambience was really nice and upscale for a Japanese restaurant. Looking at it’s menu, there was a variety of Japanese and non-Japanese dishes. Some dishes did have a fusion flare, such as using Yuzu as an ingredient. I decided to try their Nigiri and Sushi special but was advised that this was mainly tempura and cooked sushi rolls. As if the server could read my mind, he encouraged me to get the “exotic” special instead if I was looking for raw fish. I paired my sushi with a glass of pinot noir, in keeping with the loungey ambience. The sushi were nicely presented on a large plate, with the nigiri, wasabi and ginger on a banana leaf and the soy sauce on the side in a nice asymmetric bowl. The rolls were definitely on the smaller side. I didn’t catch the names of the rolls but I believe one was an avocado tuna roll and the other was a negi-hamachi roll. They both very tasty and did not require dipping of soy sauce as they had enough flavours as is. The nigiri were also very good, with pretty good quality fish, especially the butterfish. Overall, I would say it was above average sushi but with an incredibly over-inflated price tag.
This was a cute cafe and bakery great for getting some work done. I didn’t have too much time to blog during my trip but I did end up coming here to try their latte while listening to some locals perform at their open-mic. Apparently their bread is very good here but I did not get the chance to try. Their latte was definitely tasty, comparable to the ones I get at Bridgehead (who makes the best lattes in my opinion). I only caught the end of the open-mic but I was very impressed with the talent. Definitely come by to check this cafe/bakery out if you have the chance to visit St. John’s.
On my second trip I was actually more impressed by the beer scene than the actual food:
Quidi Vidi Brewing Company
We decided to stop by this brewery on our way back from our iceberg hunting adventures. One of us was very well-prepared and called ahead to find out they had tastings on Saturdays during the day only (when we had to work) but they invited us to come on a Friday night anyway to enjoy some of their beer. They opened at 6pm and ran out of food by the time we got there around 7pm but it was not a big deal because we were able to enjoy some flights of good local beer (see featured image). Usually with beer flights, I find I only enjoy 1 or 2 of them. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually quite liked all 4 of the beers I was presented with. And the price was very reasonable! They were all pretty light and easy to drink. I, of course, preferred the British IPA and ended up getting an extra pint of that. My advice would be to come here on a Saturday during the day to enjoy a beer tour with beer tasting!
Yellowbelly Brewery & Public House
We decided to visit another highly-rated brewery on our last night in St. John’s. For food, I decided to get the seafood chowder, again with my assumption that it’s a requirement to eat seafood when you’re in the Maritimes. To be honest, I was disappointed with this, as it was just too salty. My favourite seafood/clam chowder would still be either the one I’ve had in Boston or at Art-Is-In Bakery in Ottawa. More importantly, though I wanted to try their seasonal beer. They were very generous to give us both a sample of of their seasonal, which was apparently made from bread from Rocket Bakery. I quite liked the taste. It was flavourful but very easy to drink. My suggestion is to come here to try out their beer. As for food, they did have good reviews for that too, so perhaps don’t order the seafood chowder and go ahead and try something else on their menu.
And that ends my review of the food/beer scene in St. John’s! I heard other good food picks are Mallard Cottage, St. John’s Fish Exchange and Oliver’s. These will remain on my “go to” list to visit in the future.