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King of Fish

10 Apr 2012 by Janice Goudie in Food & Dining and Trip Planning
Region: Central

There’s a very important tip you need to know if you’re planning a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s so important, that not knowing this tidbit of information can add an element of surprise to your dining experience while on the island. This important piece of info is simply this: fish is cod.

Photo courtesy of Inn at Happy Adventure

Now on first glance, that probably doesn’t seem like a notable piece of advice. But trust me. With all the ways we serve fish (a.k.a. cod) here in Newfoundland and Labrador, not knowing this detail could lead to some awkward waitress/patron conversation.

So now that we have the menu lingo out of the way, the next thing you need to know is where to dine. There are a number of great restaurants in my neck-of-the-woods that serve up some pretty mean cod dishes. Here’s a few of my favourite places to feast on the king of fish:

Pan Fried Cod

No one does pan fried cod better than Beulah Oake of Seven Oakes Island Inn, Change Islands. Fried to a perfect melt-in-your-mouth consistency, and served with root vegetables and fresh salad, Beulah’s fish dish is by far the best I’ve ever eaten, hands down.

Cod Pot Cod

Cod Pot Cod, Nicole's Cafe

I’m not sure if it’s the friendly atmosphere at Nicole’s Cafe, Fogo Island, or the amazing food that puts this place high on my list of awesome eating establishments. While there’s no way to order the wrong thing off the menu, Nicole’s cod pot cod is a preferred choice of many. You may also want to try the pan fried cod tongues served with lemon aioli and scrunchions.

Fish and Brews

Fisherman's Brewis, Anchor Inn Hotel

And there’s no better fish dish to accompany scrunchions (a.k.a little cubes of fried pork fat) then Fish and Brews. And the best place to order this very traditional Newfoundland and Labrador meal is at Georgie's in the Anchor Inn Hotel, Twillingate. Served as either an appetizer or entree, this dish consists of fresh cod loin tossed with brewis (softened hard bread) and topped with crispy, golden brown scrunchions. It’s no wonder this place is famous for its’ fresh seafood dishes.

Cod au Gratin

Cod au gratin, 48 High

Cod au gratin is one of my all-time favourite ways to eat fish, and there are a few restaurants that have it down to a science.

  • The Olde Shoppe Restaurant at the Barbour Living Heritage Village in Newtown serves up a good portion of cod au gratin that rivals my mother’s version and sends me in a whirlwind of childhood memories at first bite.
  • Cod au gratin at 48 High, Grand Falls-Windsor is topped with a hazelnut bread crumb which puts a unique spin on this otherwise traditional meal. I always accompany it with a side of their fresh spinach salad drizzled with poppy seed dressing.
  • The three cheese baked cod at the Dockside Inn, Botwood is like cod au gratin on steroids! It’s a very generous portion of cod topped with a veloute sauce and covered in cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, making it the cheesiest cod au gratin I’ve ever had.

Fish Cakes

Fish cakes, Outport Tea Room

If cheese and fish isn’t your thing, then perhaps fish cakes are. This simple dish is usually made with salt cod, potato, herbs and spices. It’s then all pated together and pan fried to create a perfect crispy coating that houses a warm and soft inner delicacy.

  • By the Sea Cafe, King’s Point is a hot spot for fish cakes. Two good size cakes are served up in their ocean side dining room or out on their large deck where you may be lucky enough to watch whales play as you savour every bite.
  • While the fish cakes at the Anchor Inn Hotel in Twillingate are very tasty, it’s what comes with the cakes that make this meal absolutely scrumptious. The homemade raisin bread and rhubarb relish compliment this dish so well you’ll want to literally lick your plate clean.
  • Now while I haven’t personally eaten at the Outport Tea Room in La Scie yet, I’m told that the fish cakes are the thing to order. The cakes are served by staff in French period costumes in a quaint little tea room that’s been named one of the best places to eat in Canada, five years in a row.

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips, R & J's Restaurant (photo: Katja Moehl)

Fish and chips is the fast and easy way to serve up cod here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fillets of fresh fish are dipped in batter (which varies by restaurant), and then dropped in hot oil where it crisps to a golden brown. Almost every restaurant in the province serves some version of fish and chips, and while it’s too hard to name all my favourites, I give top kudos to R & J’s Restaurant in Twillingate. With enormous portions of fish and an even bigger serving of fries, here you get both a good feed and value for your buck.