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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Get Stuffed: Dinner Menu

Get Stuffed has been a family favourite for a long time now and with each visit, it only gets better. Located in a 19th century Victorian home at 190 Duckworth Street, Get Stuffed is centred in the heart of downtown with a perfect view of the War Memorial and St.John’s Harbour.

get stuffed duckworth street newfoundland st.john's

The interior provides a warm, relaxing atmosphere for a fantastic dining experience. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to take a seat on the bench lined with luxurious pillows and sip your drinks feeling as if you’re in your own home – or better!

Get Stuffed interior st.john's

The service at Get Stuffed is consistently prompt, helpful and genuinely friendly. The amicable nature of the staff lends itself to the relaxed and unpretentious nature of the restaurant itself. This, to me, is one of the most notable features. The Chef at Get Stuffed provides amazing, upscale food while the staff maintain a relaxed, bistro-esque atmosphere.

While we mulled over our menus and chatted with our fantastic server, we noshed on freshly made wontons and dip. These are a great alternative to the classic bread and butter.

fresh wonton dip get stuffed

While talking to our server on this particular visit, she let us in on a little secret – which I will share! The name of the restaurant ‘Get Stuffed’ does not actually refer to the absolutely satiated and satisfied feeling you’ll have upon leaving the restaurant. It refers instead to more of a “Get Lost” vibe (if you catch my drift). This circles back around to the relaxed feeling and general attitude of the restaurant: great food doesn’t have to be pretentious, it can be fun, relaxed and completely unassuming – and if you disagree, you can Get Stuffed!

Which is also why you’ll find on the menu of Get Stuffed, that you can add a hot dog to any meal for a mere $1. Yes, a hot dog add-on for $1 – like I said, relaxed, fun and down to earth. Sometimes we all just want to sit amongst fancy cushions and eat hot dogs! Thankfully, Get Stuffed understands us.

get stuffed menu st. john's newfoundland

The menu works a little differently here, in that there are no sides included and there are two size options. First, there is the Regular size, which is your typical serving and then, there is the Get Stuffed size, which is essentially the XL version. Once you choose your Main, you then choose which Sides you would like to add to the dish.

Before we jump to Mains, I have to take a moment to acknowledge what I consider to be the best item on the Get Stuffed menu. I insist on having this each time I eat here and have been raving about it for years. If you’ve tried it, you know. If you haven’t tried it, you should make reservations for dinner right now!

I highly recommend trying the Spicy Maple Bourbon Cream Mussels.

spicy maple bourbon cream mussels get stuffed newfoundland

As the name suggests, the mussels are immersed in a sweet and spicy cream sauce with hints of maple and toasted almonds ($12).

On this trip to Get Stuffed, we were all there to celebrate my Father’s birthday. Thankfully, these mussels are also his favourite so we got 2 orders to share – they were devoured within minutes! When you order this dish, the server will ask if you would like Grilled Bread on the side and your answer is ‘yes’! You are going to love the sauce so much that after the mussels are gone, you’ll want to dip bread in it. Even after the bread is gone, you might drink it with a spoon – seriously, it’s that good.

maple bourbon mussels get stuffed st.john's grilled bread get stuffed newfoundland

At our table of 6 there were two orders of the Salmon and they both were incredibly fresh and delicious. One features the option of Fruit Salsa and the other features the option of Lemon Dill Butter ($17).

salmon fruit salsa get stuffed newfoundland salmon lemon dill butter newfoundland get stuffed

Those who ordered the salmon, also went with a side dish each. Although not necessarily complimentary to the dish, but totally delicious, one went with the Sweet Potato Fries and the other chose a side of Sour Cream and Onion Mashed Potato ($4.75). Each of these were extremely fresh and tasty and were both massive servings!

sweet potato fries get stuffed newfoundland sour cream and onion mashed potato get stuffed

There were also 2 orders of the Pasta of the Day – one of which was mine! The pasta was cooked to perfection, filled with fresh vegetables and chicken in a delectable Pesto Cream Sauce. I absolutely loved this dish. Also, I did not go with a side dish (thankfully) as this serving was quite large on its own.

Pasta of the day pesto cream sauce get stuffed

Another dish tried at our table was a Special for that day: Glazed Duck, served on a bed of Rice and Chorizo. This dish was succulent, full of complex flavour and absolutely mouth-watering.

duck bed of rice chorizo

To go along with this delectable duck, was a side dish of the Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots ($4.75). Although a seemingly simple dish, these carrots were a show stopper! I’ll definitely be getting these as my side next time I visit Get Stuffed.

brown sugar glazed carrots side dish get stuffed st.john's

The final dish at our table was a Get Stuffed size serving of the Newfoundland Cod ($21). Featuring a Pan-seared Filet of Cod over Savory Dressing, topped with Scrunchions and finished with Lemon Drawn Butter. This dish had a fresh and light flavour from the lemon butter with a hearty, rich texture from the dressing and scrunchions. The lemon is an especially nice twist to the traditional Newfoundland meal, it creates a lighter feel to the dish with truly interesting flavour infusion with the savoury dressing. I will definitely be trying this again!

newfoundland cod get stuffed newfoundland

We all had an incredible experience at Get Stuffed. The food was perfect, the service was excellent and the atmosphere lent itself to an enjoyable and relaxing dinner.

You can see the full Get Stuffed Dinner and Lunch Menu here. Also, keep and eye on their Facebook and Twitter pages for evening specials and events.

get stuffed dinner interior st. john's newfoundland get stuffed dinner interior st. john's newfoundland