Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold, pease pudding on a seafood platter is the bomb.
I’ve seen so many group dinners go wrong that it’s a pleasant surprise when a restaurant pulls it off as well as they did recently at The Fish Exchange in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Twelve of us sat in a private room and the staff did an excellent job. Food and drinks all arrived promptly and were served with good cheer.
We shared some cod tongues to mixed reviews. I loved them but they were maybe a little out of peoples comfort zone. Salt cod fritters were better received.
I had the Captain’s Seafood Feast, a beautiful platter of shrimp, scallops, salmon, halibut, lobster and sale cod fishcake. I was delighted to find some delicious pease pudding on my plate. They only serve it with the seafood feast so I was the only one that had it. Since everyone else wasn’t from Newfoundland and had never had pease pudding I asked if we could have a side order to share. No problem, and they delivered a small dish for everyone to try. The response, as expected was mixed. I could have eaten every bit but I didn’t know everyone well enough.
I would recommend The Fish Exchange for groups for sure.
As much as I loved Raymonds I preferred the more casual fun atmosphere at little sister restaurant The Merchant Tavern. We sat at the large bar that fills the middle of the room and was full of happy people sharing food having fun.
All of the staff were wearing Tshirts with a diagram of a cod fish cuts. Cod is God in Newfoundland and we like to eat all parts. They Cod Napes as a feature appetizer. Napes is attached to the fin and is a delicious sweet and tasty treat.
We shared grilled scallops with a parsnip puree and they were without doubt the best scallops I have ever had.
We both ordered pasta dishes. I had Fennel Tagliatelle and I wouldn’t recommend it. The pasta was too soft and the whole dish a bit too soupy. Perhaps I wasn’t hungry enough.
David had the Monterosso Linquini with bay scallops, mussels, capelin, brocolli and chili flakes and I wasn’t too hungry to give him a little help with that. The pasta was cooked and seasoned perfectly.
They have a great wine and beer list and we had a very good time.
I highly recommend The Merchant Tavern. 4 Yums Up!
We planned our restaurants in St. John’s as soon as we booked our tickets to Newfoundland and were lucky that Raymonds had moved to summer hours and was open on a Monday night.
Go hungry and don’t hold back, do all 7 courses if you can. We jumped right in including wine pairings when they easily adjusted to our pescatarian preference. The famous lamb was tempting though, they have them raised on a small island off the coast and we’d seen them the day before and the setting was idyllic.
Each course was as delicious as you’d expect but there were a few stand outs.
David thought the scallops with fennel, including a fennel powder was the #1 dish and it was as impressive as it looks. The fennel powder was a delightful surprise.
My favourite dish was the pasta with snow crab. The little blackish pasta rolls were made with onion ash and had the perfect bite you want in handmade pasta. The snow crab was so sweet and the texture so perfect, it is etched in my memory forever and i can just about taste it as I write this.
One of the meat courses was replaced with squid and herbs.
The squid was I’ve ever had.
Crispy Skinned Cod
The crispy skin cod with onion puree, a mussel in an onion petal and crispy cod tongue was another winner.
I’m not sure what was the most exciting, each plate delivery or the wine pour and description that competed for our attention. The sommelier realized how keen I was and for a couple of courses poured 2 wines to see which pairing we preferred. And that leads me to the service. It simply could not be better. Everyone working there was fully engaged and keen so share everything they knew.
Good to know, they have 3 seats at their beautiful bar that they don’t reserve and they serve a full menu there. Also I would book in a table in the bar in future, it’s a smaller more intimate room.
I love landing in St. John’s, trying to spot my house or school from the air or checking to see the icebergs outside the harbour. This time I had my eye on Quidi Vidi, the lovely fishing village just over the hill from St. John’s harbour. We were staying at The Inn at Mallard Cottage and had reservations for dinner in the award-winning restaurant. We settled into our wonderful room and headed to the bar for a drink before dinner.
Two musicians with a guitar and an accordion were playing and it was clear we were in for a lovely evening.
We chose the Family menu to try as much as possible. Starting with Blue Mussels with Onion and Tomato, that David declared the best he’d ever had and I couldn’t disagree. The focaccia with carmelized onion butter was so delicious we somehow managed to eat a second order. There must be a separate stomach for bread and butter. The bartender had recommended the Salt Cod Tartare and it was a unique dish. Cod is god in Newfoundland and it must have been one beautiful fish because these little morsels were absolutely perfect with shallot, buttermilk and house made potato chips. Culinary genius.
Lobster Thermidor with mustard cream was delightful and Skin on Cod with confit potatoes equally so.
A gorgeous piece of Halibut was creatively matched up with Garam Masala Chick Peas. Absolutely fabulous.
The family meal didn’t come with the Corn Crusted Cod Cheeks and we couldn’t possibly have eaten them anyway but made it back another night to try them. We’re glad we did because so many people we talked to said they were a personal favourite.
Mallard Cottage and The Inn both exceeded my expectations. I don’t want to stay anywhere else in St. John’s.