Where to eat in Newfoundland: Lori McCarthy, cookbook author and ‘cultural cuisine ambassador,’ shares her picks for a culinary trail

To call chef/outdoor enthusiast Lori McCarthy’s latest book, Food, Culture, Place: Newfoundland Stories, Traditions and Recipes, a cookbook would be like calling a clambake a simple soup. It’s equal parts memoir, history, photography, a food-seeking guide and a love letter to East Coast chefs – and the winner of the Food Heritage category at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. 2022.

Written by McCarthy and co-author Marsha Tulk, the book’s recipes range from seal flipper supper and barley-stuffed squid to spruce tip syrup and moose heart tartare, all divided into seasons of hunting and harvesting.

But if you’re more of a lounge hunter-gatherer yourself, you can experience the Newfoundland culinary experience the easiest way: by cruising the island’s signature food destinations. Here, McCarthy shares the stops she would recommend if she could design her own food trail across the island.

For the freshest vegetables: The Grounds Cafe at Murray’s Garden Center (1525 Portugal Cove Rd., Portugal Cove–St. Philip’s)

In this small town just outside of St. John’s, you’ll find a “farm-to-fork cafe” in an unlikely location. “A few years ago, someone said, ‘What if there was a restaurant in a garden centre?’ says McCarthy. The Grounds Cafe is just that, with “super artisan food, picnic tables, rotating local art, plants everywhere, and vines hanging from the walls.” What is on the menu? Anything that grows, of course, turns into veggie-filled wraps and salads packed with carrots, beets, cucumbers, radishes, kale, and arugula.

For a wealth of delicious finds: The Newfoundland Tea Co. (110 Roe Ave, Gander)

The Newfoundland Tea Co., a "little treasure" of a restaurant in Gander.

This “little treasure” of restaurant, as McCarthy calls it, serves a wide range of local organic teas as well as an ever-changing lunch menu (soup, salad, handmade pasta) and doubles as a boutique artisanal selling soaps made in Newfoundland, pottery and clothing. Owner Nicole Keats has something in common with everyone else on McCarthy’s list: “They’re all bubbly young entrepreneurs who embody the idea that if you build it, they will come.”

For the best “picnic” of your life: Discover Twillingate (Twillingate)

With Experience Twillingate, you can enjoy a seafood feast on the beach.

“It’s not a restaurant – it’s a dining experience,” says McCarthy. She means that literally, as host and guide Crystal Anstey will take you to collect food for your feast. Expect an outing that is as unique as it is personal. “Maybe she’ll guide you around her uncle’s garden, pick up the fish he caught, pick up berries along the way.” Just when you’d expect a laid-back picnic, comes a five-course seafood feast you won’t believe was cooked on a beach over an open fire.

For a view like no other: The Black Spruce Restaurant (7 Beach Rd., Norris Point)

With a bit of luck, you might spot whales while dining at the Black Spruce restaurant.

Hop in a car and head to the western end of the island, where you’ll find the award-winning Neddies Harbor Inn, right in Gros Morne National Park. At his equally impressive on-site restaurant, Black Spruce, specialties include seafood chowder and snow crab and scallop risotto, but chef Jason Lynch isn’t afraid to experiment with other cuisines. . McCarthy recalls a particularly memorable chicken curry on a recent visit in June, when the view was a similar spectacular fusion: “I sat and watched the snow-capped mountains while eagles flew above me and a whale was playing in the bay!”

For surprising flavors: New Sushi (117 Broadway, Corner Brook)

Rolls at Newfound Sushi, where you'll find classic Japanese and local seafood.

Sushi in the middle of rural Newfoundland is probably not what you expect. “It’s a bit new here, but we have a large immigrant population that brings their tastes to our kitchen,” says McCarthy. Young people on the island want sushi and will head to the aptly named Newfound Sushi, which serves classic Japanese dishes (tempura, miso ramen) as well as signature rolls featuring local seafood (like Loco Lobster or Blow Me Down). “I love it,” enthused McCarthy. “You might think that juxtaposition doesn’t work, but it definitely does.”


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