I never would have guessed that on our trip to Newfoundland this Christmas, we would have had one of the best meals I have eaten all year. That is what happened when we went to Enroute Magazine's best new restaurant of 2011, Raymonds in St. John's NL. A very well deserved win.
Big M and his father share Christmas time birthdays, so when Big M read about Raymonds he thought it would be the perfect place to book the birthday party. Turns out that Big M's mom had just watched a Canada AM segment on Raymonds and also made a reservation. It was fate.
Raymonds is located in a heritage building on the waterfront in St. John's. It looks like it could have been a bank or someone mentioned a school. The inside is divided into several very beautiful rooms. A bar in the front, a private dining area in the side and the main dining room in the back. Everything was so beautiful withe the high ceilings and chandeliers. (It was also romantically lit so I my pictures are all a little dark. I didn't want to be the jerk with the flash camera)
The menu focuses on "rustic Atlantic Canadian cuisine" and features fresh, seasonal ingredients so some of the dishes we went with were on the specials sheet and may not be available still. They also have an impressive wine list and offer a somalier for suggestions if you wish.
We ordered our meal and while waiting they brought out some fresh breads. I love bread and it was delicious, but my favorite part was when they were taking it away and the waiter came over and used a little brush/squeegee tool to sweep away the bread crumbs! I guess I don't eat in fancy enough places because I have never seen that before.
Then they brought us an amuse bouche! This was the most delicious smelling little soup. It was a potato soup with a truffle foam served in a demitasse cup. It was perfect, I could have happily eaten a full bowl.
Big M and I shared one of my favorite appetizers the "Charcuterie Plate- Assortment of in-house and Canadian cured meats $23"
So pretty! The quail eggs on the side were a nice bonus. Our waiter did describe the meats to us but I should have written it down. The mustard was tangy and grainy and went really well with the salty meats. The bread was served thinly sliced and crisp. It was a nice start to the meal.
Charles and Daphne went with a special from the fresh menu that night, a scallop dish.
As they mentioned to the waiter that they were going to share, the appetizer came out on separate plates for them. That was a nice touch. The scallops had a perfect crust and were cooked very well. They enjoyed this dish.
On to the main course! The mains menu has one selection for each of the proteins with a choice of lamb, cod, duck, salmon, pork, filet mignon, and cornish hen.
It was a really hard choice as the description of all the mains made them all sound amazing. I went with the cornish hen.
"Cornish Hen- Roasted Cornish hen, foie gras & cranberry brioche, Lester’s cauliflower purée, roasted corn & fingerling potatoes, O-Farm zucchini, braised shallot, local cranberry compote $39"
I loved the way they served the hen. It was easy to eat in the smaller pieces, and it was delicious. The skin was crispy and flavorful and still very juicy. The vegetables were all very tasty as well, even the zucchini which I normally dislike. I am not sure who Lester is, but I would like to commend him on the cauliflower puree as it was one of the best things on the plate. I was so very happy with this choice.
I didn't try everyone's meals, but we all came away happy with our choices.
Daphne went with the steak. "Filet Mignon- Filet Mignon, Yorkshire pudding, caramelized onions, asparagus, mushrooms, red wine jus $45"
I know the picture is very dark, but the plate looked amazing. That piece of filet must have been over 2 inches thick!
Michael went with the duck breast. I was happy that someone chose this as it was the one that I almost ordered.
Duck Breast- Pan roasted duck breast, foie gras bread pudding, Lester’s carrot purée, duck confit, orange braising jus $43
Another beautiful looking plate! This was the most colourful of the mains we ordered. The duck breast was a vibrant red colour and then the the orange and greens made it look so good.
Charlie went with the special of the night and I am sorry that I don't remember the description, but it was a pork chop dish.
I should have put something in the picture that would have indicated the size of this pork chop. It was huge! That is a two bone chop. It was almost like having your own pork roast. Charlie worked hard and finished the dish!
Dessert for everyone! This was a special occasion after all...however, the special occasion also meant some drinks. I was not at the top of my game and I forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu for the descriptions. Here are the pictures, sans description.
I liked that we all went with a different dessert. They certainly know how to plate a dish at Raymonds. They all looked so amazing.
I would venture to say that this was the best meal that I had in 2011. The ambiance is beautiful, the service was amazing and the food was even better. Congratulations on your win, Raymonds. It was well deserved.
If you live in St. John's, I am jealous. You have the opportunity to eat here all the time. If you live in the rest of Canada, plan a trip to St. John's. Not only is it a funky city with great people, you are will have the chance to eat an amazing meal.