An Uninformed Insider’s Guide to St. John’s

Part of really knowing someone is in fact, knowing where they come from, what their history is (or at least I think so). In Homer’s case the majority of his history was spent in Newfoundland, primarily in Salmon Cove, but some of the more formative year (i.e. University) in St. John’s. Having never been further east than Montreal, it was time to make the trek to land of the puffin (among other things).

While the majority of our time was spent in Salmon Cove visiting Homer’s family it was St. John’s where we did the most exploring. Since I seem to have a number of friends headed there over the next few months I thought I would mention some of my favourite places, though this is by no means a complete guide (so don’t throw out those Lonely Planet guides just yet). But by the by, if you want a really great guide on where to eat in St. John’s I highly recommend my friends Sarah’s blog, she went in April 2008.
But while we are on the subject let’s start with food. Our first dinner out in St. John’s was at Ches’s, Tristan’s favourite fish and chips place (very popular with most locals actually). It was there that I tried a Newfoundland tradition, Cod Tongues (pictured above). Basically it tasted like any regular battered and fried fish, but when in Rome….
Another nice place was the Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House, what Mill Street Brew Pub should be, but really isn’t anymore. Good food, decent brew and a really nice atmosphere. We ended up going twice because we saw the brunch menu when we were there for dinner and couldn’t resist. Homer proclaims it has the best crab cake he has ever eaten.
If you want a fancy night out please go to Bianca’s. It was one of the places that Sarah recommended and it really is fantastic, but I have no idea how they stay in business since we hardly saw anyone eating there. It is sort of like Canoe without the view (which is kind of ironic since St. John’s has some pretty amazing vistas). The duck terrine pictured below is from there (and hilariously, without realizing it until I just re-read her blog, I ordered the same main as Sarah when I went!).
Oh, and if you are travelling with a vegetarian or just want to try something different from the other offerings in the city, try The Sprout (sorry couldn’t find a website, damn hippies). Good food, but slooow service (however since they are licensed I am sure you can find a way to pass the time) Be prepared when we went they played the entire Bob Marley Legend Album (again, damn hippies).
Since my two favourite pastimes are eating and shopping, I found my way to few funky places. If you like independent designers (and perhaps need a new cool dress to wear to Bianca’s) try Twisted Sisters Boutik. They have plenty of great labels, and Think! shoes which I love but cannot afford. Nice place for a special treat.
Perhaps you need to get a souvenir for your friends back home? Forget about those places with tacky tourist crap, and head to Living Planet. With local artists providing the designs you are guaranteed a unique find. I bought the Godzilla Vs. Puffin print for my home for $15. T-shirts run $20-$30.
On our second weekend in St. John’s I stumbled upon Model Citizens, and dang I wish I had found it the first weekend. Wonderfully selected vintage/secondhand items at a great price. I tried on a cute casual Vera Wang Dress and a cool breezy Ben Sherman dress, both under $50. Seriously a great find and since stock is rotating constantly you best go often.
Not bad eh? Now if I could just get the hang of updating this thing more often…..

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