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.


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Sun Sushi : Duckworth Street

A few years back I was introduced to the concept of sushi. At first I was completely uninterested however, with time I became slightly intrigued. Finally, after much persuading, I took my first bite of a Spicy Broccoli Roll from Sun Sushi, and completely fell in love. Since this day I have had a deep love and serious addiction to all types of sushi. Sun Sushi quickly became my go-to place for sushi in St.John’s.

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Since then, Sun Sushi has opened a second location and launched All You Can Eat lunch. The original is located at 186 Duckworth Street while the new addition can be found at 16 Stavanger Drive. While I have been frequenting Sun Sushi for a few years now, I have yet to eat at their Stavanger Drive location. Therefore, this post is solely focusing on their downtown location.

Also, thanks to the incredibly convenient Travelling Table, you can also order Sun Sushi online for delivery. Check it out here. Because, we all know there’s nothing better than enjoying some amazing food in the comfort of your own home.

sun sushi delivery st. john's newfoundland where to eat restaurantsun sushi delivery st. john's newfoundland where to eat restaurant

With a recent renovation, Sun Sushi’s decor is clean and modern with additions of fun and bright, traditional-inspired decor and art.

Sun Sushi Duckworth Street Downtown St.John's Newfoundland Interior

Along with their interior re-jig, they did a menu revamp as well. Their menus are printed on large books with thick pages. It seems a little unnecessary but, in the end, I kind of enjoyed it!

They also have added chalk boards throughout the restaurant highlighting specials and customer favourites. This, I really appreciated. On my most recent trip there, it inspired me to try something new!

Sun Sushi Menu St.John's Newfoundland Sun sushi chalk board menu downtown st. john's newfoundland

First when you arrive, your server will bring you  a small bowl of Miso Soup. The traditional etiquette for consuming this is to drink the broth from the bowl and to use your chopsticks at the end to eat the remaining seaweed, scallions and tofu.

Miso Soup is typically quite high in sodium, but its warmth and smooth flavour is always comforting to me.

mis soup sun sushi downtown st. john's newfoundland

Whenever I eat at Sun Sushi there are two appetizers that I just have to get, the House Salad with Avocado and the Gyoza.

The House Salad is a mix of lettuce, carrot, cabbage, avocado and a miso-dressing that is to die for. This starter is always fresh, crisp and delicious. Sometimes, I even save the salad bowl after the salad is gone to dip my sushi in – that is so wrong when it comes to etiquette, but it’s delicious. Sorry.

house salad orange miso dressing avocado sun sushi newfoundland

Gyoza are dumplings that are filled with ground meat and vegetables then wrapped in a thin dough. These are also known as pot stickers. Traditionally, these are steamed however, Sun Sushi does theirs as a deep fry. Although this makes the dish slightly more greasy and hearty, it is certainly tasty.

gyoza pot stickers sun sushi downtown newfoundland

I have a few rolls that I love to eat here, but my must-try ones would be the Spicy Broccoli Roll and the Spicy Tuna Roll. If you are just starting out with sushi, I recommend trying the Spicy Broccoli Roll. It’s fresh, light and is a great way to introduce yourself to the cuisine without jumping straight into fish.

If you’re a veteran, there are tons of amazing options at Sun Sushi to get your sushi fix. I have yet to try the Sashimi here, but their Nigiri is fresh and delicious.

spicy tuna roll nigiri sun sushi newfoundland restaurant japanese

I am continually getting confused between Sashimi and Nigiri – and believe I am not the only one. So, here are the three main terms broken down into simple definitions:

Sushi: Vinegared rice rolled with seaweed and other ingredients
Sashimi: A slice of raw fish, served on its own
Nigiri: A slice of raw fish laid on a bed of pressed vinegared rice

Below are a few of my favourites from Sun Sushi including Nigiri, Tokyo Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll and a Dragon Roll.

sun sushi spicy tuna roll tokyo roll downtown st.john's

tokyo roll sun sushi downtown restaurant

sun sushi salad downtown st. john's restaurant

Each serving of sushi will come accompanied by Pickled Ginger and Wasabi. Although, it is interesting to note that this is only common in Western cultures and is not typically seen in Japanese culture. Ginger is traditionally seen with only sushi and Wasabi is meant to be rolled into the rice of Nigiri or paired with Sashimi.

If you are new to the sushi game, you’ll want to try these. Both of these companions have qualities that are meant to enhance the flavour of your sushi. Wasabi can be quite hot, so use sparingly and the ginger, I find, serves as a great palate cleanser between different flavours.

Another honourable mention on the Sun Sushi menu is the Curry Rice Bowl with Chicken. If you like curry, this bowl is a must-try! It’s rich, flavourful and incredibly filling. Especially during the colder months, I tend to gravitate towards this dish.

curry rice bowl chicken sun sushi newfoundland

It is worth mentioning however, that in general, the service at Sun Sushi is typically lacking. Which, you tend not to mind. Once your table is stocked with delicious food, it’s really not too much of a bother that there are no servers around. But, do keep it in mind.

In any case, there is a much better way to enjoy Sun Sushi’s food – especially since the nice weather has finally hit us. My favourite way to enjoy a delicious sushi meal is to order take-out and devour my feast in the grass of the War Memorial or Harbourside Park.

sun sushi take out st. john's newfoundland salad gyoza

Also, I have a Pro-Tip for you! If you do take-out with Sun Sushi and spend more than (I think) $30, you get a free California Roll! So, if you’re going for bang-for-your-buck, do take-out!

Sun Sushi Duckworth Street Downtown St.john's salad where to eat

What is your favourite roll from Sun Sushi?