The Merchant Tavern

At this point, I am sure everyone is familiar with the ever-impressive team behind Raymonds restaurant. Again this year, Raymonds was ranked the #1 restaurant in Canada. But, the unstoppable duo, Jeremy Charles and Jeremy Bonia, are not stopping there. Just this week, they opened a brand new restaurant located at 291 Water Street, The Merchant Tavern.

291 water street The Merchant Tavern downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremey charles bonia where to eat food blog review beer pasta seafood

291 water street The Merchant Tavern downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremey charles bonia where to eat food blog review beer pasta seafood 291 water street The Merchant Tavern downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremey charles bonia where to eat food blog review beer pasta seafood

I had been eagerly awaiting the opening of The Merchant Tavern ever since I first spotted the beautifully etched glass on their front windows. When I seen it finally posted on Facebook this past Tuesday that they were finally open to the public, I sprung from my desk and headed out to make their 5:30 opening.

When I reached the porch, it set in that I was finally going to get to try food from Jeremy Charles. In the past while, globally, we have developed a new type of celebrity: the celebrity chef. These aren’t Kardashian-type celebrities, but people who are truly talented, genuinely inventive and are creating authentic and important change in the world, through food. Jeremy Charles is one of these people and we are so incredibly lucky to have him as our own.

291 water street The Merchant Tavern downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremey charles bonia where to eat food blog review beer pasta seafood

When I walked up the stairs of The Merchant Tavern and spotted him buzzing around the open concept kitchen eyeing dishes and chatting with staff, I had my first celebrity-encounter moment. Thankfully, I kept it together and silently observed. It felt amazing, as a foodie and a customer, to know that even though The Merchant Tavern is admittedly a more laid-back and lower-priced restaurant, that he and Jeremy Bonia have the same dedication they have to Raymonds.

The interior of this new spot is jaw-dropping on its own. The ceilings are tall with long, modern light fixtures and oversized, bright windows. The room is centred around a large fully-stocked bar which seats around 40 people. Lining the walls are simple, modern tables with bar-height tables featured along the tall windows.

The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review

The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review

The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review

This location was previously home to a bank, which leaves an interesting element for future use: the vault! Hidden away in the back of The Merchant Tavern is a private room fit for a king. With its large steel door your eye is drawn in, and is then met with a large leather booth and warm, cozy lighting.

The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review the vault private room The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review the vault private room

But, the star of the show is what lies in the back of the restaurant, the open concept kitchen. While you dine at The Merchant Tavern the entire kitchen is open for your viewing. Whether it’s the staff prepping cutlery for the next guests or Jeremy Charles himself cooking you up a dish, you can watch!

This, to me, is always a true-sign of a quality restaurant. There’s nothing to hide in a kitchen like this.

The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review

The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review kitchen

The Merchant Tavern 291 water street downtown st. john's newfoundland jeremy charles bonia local food where to eat seafood beer review kitchen

For our first visit, we took a seat at the bar – this also provided a great viewing platform for observing the kitchen. As per usual, we started with drinks.

The Merchant Tavern menu cocktails where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia

The drink menu at The Merchant Tavern is a little different than what we’re used to seeing in downtown, St.John’s. Jeremy Bonia, the Sommelier at Raymonds, decided for this restaurant to opt for a larger focus on craft beers, simplify the wine menu and take a more traditional turn on cocktails instead of the popular sugary-mixed drinks.

I opted for the Eastsider cocktail ($14) and Andrew opted for the Liberty Ale ($8). My cocktail was perfectly flavoured, fresh and had just the right amount of sweetness to it.

The Merchant Tavern menu cocktails where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia eastsider The Merchant Tavern menu cocktails where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland liberty ale craft beer food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia

Also, to be noted. They have opted for a European approach in offering Sparkling Water as the staple drink, instead of the North American tradition of Flat Water – but obviously, you can get flat water if you request.

The Merchant Tavern menu cocktails where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia

While we sipped away and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, we perused the menu. It was so hard to choose what would be our first dish here – I wanted to try everything!

With a dedication to keeping it clean, fresh and local both Raymonds and The Merchant Tavern source as much as they can from local farmers, fishermen and suppliers. You can read about a few of them here.

The Merchant Tavern menu dinner where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia The Merchant Tavern menu dinner where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia

The Merchant Tavern menu dinner where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia The Merchant Tavern menu dinner where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia

The Merchant Tavern menu dinner where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia The Merchant Tavern menu dinner where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland food blog jeremy charles jeremy bonia

Once our order was in, we were presented with a rustic plate of bread and butter. The slices of bread were carefully placed in a bag and were lovingly kept warm with hot rocks in the base. Seriously, it was amazing. I want hot rocks for all of my bread now..

The Merchant Tavern bread butter where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland

We started with a dish that is gaining popularity, the beet salad. Of course, The Merchant Tavern has their own version that certainly stepped it up a notch. The Organic Beet & Green Salad ($12) featured sprouted grains, toasted pumpkin seeds, rapeseed oil and beets.

The Merchant Tavern organic beet and green salad sprouted grains downtown st. john's where to eat

The flavours were simple and natural giving the dish an earthy and fresh flavour. At my first bite, I knew I was in for a treat for the rest of the food. I will certainly be ordering this again!

The Merchant Tavern organic beet and green salad sprouted grains downtown st. john's where to eat

Being a lover of cured meats, I couldn’t resist trying their take on a Charcuterie Plate ($8pp). This featured a selection of house cured and Canadian meats along with house-made pickled vegetables and grilled sourdough.

The Merchant Tavern charcuterie plate prosciutto chorizo pickles sourdough where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland

This was truthfully the best Charcuterie Plate I have been served at a restaurant. It had a beautiful selection, the pickles were absolutely delicious and it was quite a large serving for being a starter for 1 person – this is worth more than $8 for sure. Definitely ordering again!

The Merchant Tavern charcuterie plate prosciutto chorizo pickles sourdough where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland

After devouring these two large-serving starters, we were presented with our mains. I chose a small serving of the Spaghettini ($14). This dish featured fresh pasta, beautifully cooked broccoli, lemon, chili, a mound of parmesan and crisp bread crumbs.

The Merchant Tavern spaghettini pasta broccoli where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland The Merchant Tavern spaghettini pasta broccoli where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland

This pasta was light and perfectly flavoured with hints of lemon that complimented the rich parmesan cheese. I’m glad I opted for the small size, as after eating the starters I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish the large portion! I highly recommend this dish – it’s simple and absolutely delicious.

Andrew chose the Roast Cod Fish ($24). This take on a traditional meal featured perfectly cooked Cod Fish, turnip, blueshell mussels and cider. Again, the flavours felt natural and light. I find often at restaurants that fish dishes leave me feeling unsatisfied, this would not be the case here! The serving was hearty and satisfying.

The Merchant Tavern roast cod fish mussels seafood where to eat downtown st. john's newfoundland

We were pretty full after all of this – but we had to try dessert! A friend of ours, who is now working at The Merchant Tavern, recommended to us to try the Vinegar Pie. Even with the clause of “I know, it doesn’t sound good”, he swore it was delicious. We went for it and he was so right – it was phenomenal!

The Vinegar Pie ($10) had a perfectly crisped crust with a moist interior. This was topped with Dandelion Ice Cream – amazing! If you’re sticking around for dessert, you should really give this dish a go – trust me.

The Merchant Tavern vinegar pie dandelion ice cream dessert where to eat food review The Merchant Tavern vinegar pie dandelion ice cream dessert where to eat food review

My visit to The Merchant Tavern was an absolute 10/10. I can’t wait to return and try whatever they come up with next. From the professional and kind staff to the beautiful decor, this restaurant is sure to be a hit just like its cousin, Raymonds.

The Merchant Tavern restaurant and bar fine fare ailes and spirits downtown st. john's newfoundland 291 Water Street where to eat food blog review

I suggest you get out there and check out The Merchant Tavern as soon as you can – no doubt, it’s booking up quickly!

You can visit their website at themerchanttavern.ca or visit their Facebook page here.


Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca

Nestled in the heart of downtown, St.John’s, Piatto is serving up authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza. Their pizzaiolos use ingredients and procedures regulated by the Italian governing association (VPN). That means, you’re getting the taste experience of being in Naples, Italy, without having to make the trek.

VPN Pizza Piatto Newfoundland St.John's Menu

Featuring massive front windows, classic french doors, character-rich wooden details and tall ceilings. These combine to create a feeling of openness and a light, bright, care-free atmosphere.

Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza

Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza

Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza

Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza Piatto St.John's Newfoundland Pizza

An “Enoteca” is an Italian word that literally means a “wine repository”. Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca, naturally, is the perfect place to sip on a glass or bottle of wine – whether it’s a familiar favourite or a new gem from across the globe. Every few weeks Piatto’s wine bar brings out a few of these found gems and hosts a Wine Tasting, pairing 3 new wines with 3 favourite pizzas. You can register for the wine tasting e-mail list here.

When I first started coming to Piatto, I had reservations about the serving of the wine. When you purchase a glass, it is served not in a wine glass, but almost a juice glass or tumbler.

However, now that I have come to appreciate the relaxed, hair-down atmosphere of Piatto, I have also come to enjoy that I can drink my wine embarrassment-free from a cup. In fact, the drinking of wine from un-stemmed tumblers is actually tradition in Spain and Italy – which just shows how dedicated Piatto is to keeping the experience authentic.

authentic wine pinot grigio Piatto Pizzeria St.John's Newfoundland

Although the atmosphere is airy and relaxed, the food is authentic, calculated and perfectly put together. The menu at Piatto features variations of pizza: VPN Certified, Pizza Rosse (tomato-based sauce) and Tomato Bianche (not tomato based). Their menu also features pizza turnovers, “Calzoni” and a selection of salads, “Insalate” and appetizers ,”Antipasti”.

You can find the full Piatto menu online here.

Piatto Pizzeria Menu St.John's Newfoundland Piatto Pizzeria Menu St.John's Newfoundland

Personally, I love the classic Pizza Rosse, but there really is no wrong choice when you’re choosing from this menu! The pizzas are made to be an individual serving – although they look quite large, the crust is thin and toppings are fresh and light – trust me, you can eat a full one! Our usual Piatto routine for 2 people is to order two pizzas (halfsies on both) and share a salad or appetizer – yes, we leave absolutely satiated!

For appertizer, I highly recommend the “Pacchi di Prosciutto” – fresh mozzarella balls wrapped in prosciutto and Grana Padano (cheese) and based in a tomato sauce or the “Tagliere di Salumi” – a selection of cured meats, assorted cheese, olives and garlic flatbread.

On this particular trip, we went with our favourite salad, the “Barbabietola Arrostita” or beet salad, this includes herbed goat cheese, roasted beets and candied walnuts with arugula and a maple balsamic vinaigrette.