A foodie in Newfoundland: from gastro pubs to fine dining

10 Sep 2012

By Stefanie Michaels
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View from Atlantica Restaurant Newfoundland

Newfoundland: North America's most easterly point with a budding foodie scene. Fine dining choices, a gastro-pub, and a seaside escape make for an epicurean adventure in Canada.

Bacalao Restaurant, St. John's

Set on a neighborhood street just off St. John's main street is a popular Mediterranean-influenced restaurant called Bacalao. A nondescript exterior makes stepping inside its doors a contradiction -- beautifully detailed interiors for each of the several separate dining areas, some with fireplaces, makes this the place to romance in St. John's.

A warm and welcoming environment and stellar service from staff help create a place that's great for special dining experiences.

Daily specials featuring locally caught seafood options, pastas, and meat dishes are on the menu, with two standouts: The Bacalao du Jour -- salt cod special of the day -- and seafood risotto featuring Newfoundland seafood -- scallops, snow crab, cold-water shrimp completed with lobster oil drizzle.

On-site wine expert Andrea Maunder is available for guests interested in wine pairing with a special menu.

Save room for desert. Handmade specials featuring local seasonal fruits are impeccable.

65 Lemarchant Road, St. John's, Newfoundland. 709-579-6565.

Nautical Nellies, St. John's

I love surprises. A local's bar (but really an undercover gastro pub) called Nautical Nellies on St. John's main drag, Water Street, is one of those "finds."

A fun and friendly nautical theme with just the right amount of kitsch welcomes guests into a galleyesque eatery with wood plank tables and chairs. What's lacking in decor is more than made up in the gourmet menu items, from their signature spicy chowder, to die for with heaps of locally caught crab meat atop a creamy base soup, to Parmesan fries with aioli, to hamburgers on artisan handcrafted buns fresh from the oven, to tasty pulled pork sandwiches.

Wednesdays and Thursdays are Wing & Mussel nights, and Saturdays are open mic nights with Alex Din starting at 10 p.m.

201 Water St., St. John's, NL A1C 1B4. 709-738-1120.

Atlantica Restaurant at The Beach House, Portugal Cove

The Atlantica Restaurant is a seaside epicurean escape situated in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. Not only a sublime place to dine, the setting atop a cliff overlooking the Portugal Cove and Bell Island, it is also a great weekender destination with a stay at The Beach House next door. Due to its proximity to the capital of St. John's, it's a "20-minutes-away getaway."

Exclusive and fine dining is at its best here. Chef Stephen Vardy heads up an impeccable team where belief in "food as art" takes center stage. Menu items change monthly, as locally caught seafood, prime cuts, and ingredients from local purveyors are key. Utilizing the freshest and finest ingredients align with seasonal menus.

An extensive wine list makes for great pairings. Their Oysterfest, highlights various selections during oyster season.

38 Beachy Cove Road, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. 709-895-1251.

Raymond's Restaurant, St. John's

Voted Canada's best restaurant by EnRoute Magazine and honored with Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence for 2012, Raymond's is the place for those serious about gourmandizing.

Contemporary design is on point, harbor views from floor to ceiling windows set a dramatic backdrop for luxurious dining, and this is the place "to be seen" in St. John's.

Specializing in seafood selections, fresh catches are transformed into sumptuous plates, such as Lobster Veloute -- lobster roasted salsify with salsify puree and bacon foam -- and the Gilthead Sea Bream -- seared to perfection with butter poached lobster, Du Puy lentils, roasted artichoke, salsify and lobster crustace.

Don't miss the crowd-pleaser, the seafood tower, delivered to your table by duly appointed members of the staff.

95 Water St., St. John's. 709-579-5800.