Dinner at Saltwater: St. John’s
Serving servers. In the food and beverage industry serving the people who serve can be one of the most pleasant and financially beneficial experiences, or it can be a shit show. People who serve food and drink know how it’s supposed to be done, and if it’s not done correctly, or with a valid attempt to do so, it can greatly affect the experience for everyone. Having been a server for years, I try not to be overly judgmental if something goes wrong, in fact, I am probably more understanding than most patrons would be; however, I do notice things. We all do. We notice if you are itching to give us the bill and have a drink or if the table next to us is not happy with their overdone steak. We can’t help it, it’s our job to be aware. In truth, when I eat out, I have to get Adam to sit in the seat that faces out at a restaurant so I purposely don’t notice these things in an attempt to enjoy a meal like a regular person.
That being said, servers can also be really fun to serve. They drink lots, they tip well, and are always ready to have a good time. When myself and some of the lovely ladies that I worked with at Get Stuffed went to Saltwater Restaurant in St. John’s on Monday evening, that’s exactly what we wanted: a great time! And personally (I might be biased here), we are awesome to serve, and we live up to the drinking and good tipping stereotypes.
It’s been marvellous being home in St. John’s for the past week or so. I have been eating my face off and having time to relax with friends and family has been long awaited. I am also very excited to try a few of the new restaurants that have been popping up all over downtown St. John’s in the ever-expanding and the ever-delicious food scene here in our small city. So, when Jenn suggested that a few of the Get Stuffed girls have a little reunion and head to Saltwater on Duckworth Street I immediately agreed. Saltwater Restaurant opened last year and because I have been living away I haven’t had the opportunity to try it. The restaurant opened up in the old location of Magnum & Steins (which is still open in its new location down the street and is one of my favourites in the city) and I was really excited to see the renovations that had been completed on the space.
We arrived around 7:30pm Monday evening, which also happened to be the hottest day of the summer. I was pleasantly surprised at the transformation of the space. Though I love the food at Magnum & Steins’, I found their old building to be oddly laid out, dark, and honestly, the spiral staircase leading to the second floor dining area was a death trap. Saltwater Restaurant is bright, white, and airy. The open spaces and white table cloths make the cozy restaurant seem spacious and the large glass garage doors that open onto the street give the place an airy and vibrant feel. I love the change.
It was hot. Like sweaty hot, in that restaurant. Our server greeted us warmly (pun intended) and immediately apologized for the heat. This is a classic moment when it is great to serve servers: We understand that he cannot control the weather or the fact that the newly renovated restaurant doesn’t have air-conditioning, servers won’t complain about things like that. The girls and I simply nodded and ordered some bubbly; we were ready to fight the heat with a cold beverage. Looking relieved at our reaction, the server headed to the bar to grab our prosecco, two bottles of the Mionetto Il Prosecco, the only sparkling on the menu within a reasonable price range.
Though it was very warm in the restaurant, it didn’t take us long to start catching up and forget the heat as we laughed the evening away. After ordering our food, we were served a delicious amuse-bouche of grilled peach with prosciutto and pecan. It was a small bite with a perfect amount of punch to get our taste buds watering.
To start, I chose to have one of the additions to the menu that evening: Malpeque Oysters with a red wine vinegar mignonette. The oysters were super fresh tasting and the tart acidity of the mignonette was the perfect accompaniment; it took me no time to slurp those babies down!
Rebekah and Amanda chose to share a couple of starters and enjoyed the Mussels, which were intriguingly done in a Caesar styled sauce with clamato juice, limes, and other Caesar accoutrement. They were delicious! The girls also had Calamari with a roasted red-pepper and garlic aioli and fresh lime. I was impressed with the breading of the calamari as I have been turned off by super soggy coatings in the past, but this was crisp and light and yummy!
Hedi chose the Fig and Brie Salad as her appetizer, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the small cylinder shaped salad that appeared at the table fell gracefully onto the plate into a large and delicious starter. The presentation was beautiful.
Last but not least, Jenn chose the Scallops, which were done with a red-pepper and eggplant relish. They looked, smelled, and tasted delicious!
In between the copious amounts of prosecco and the main course, we were served a little palate cleanser. The serving of a fruity sorbet was much appreciated in the hot restaurant that evening, although it didn’t distract us from the lengthy wait in between courses.
Another thing that servers notice more often that regular patrons is time: We know how long it takes to make drinks, we know how long it should be between courses, and though we are understanding, it’s definitely noticed if the food takes a long time, and it did. Being so excited to catch up with everyone, us girls didn’t mind the time it took, but it is something that could annoy people. It was about two hours into the evening before we got our mains.
Once the food did arrive, it was great!
For my main I chose the Grilled Filet Mignon. It looked massive when it first came out, but in the end was a deliciously manageable portion. The demi was savoury and distinctive and served with a mushroom and green pea ragout that was super flavourful and fresh. The roasted red-pepper and potato mash was a match made in heaven and made the perfect throne for the filet. The only complaint I had about the dish was that my filet was more medium than medium rare.
Everyone else at the table ordered the Halibut addition. The Blackened Halibut was served with pineapple chutney, rice and grilled vegetables. The fish was done to perfection and was a divine balance of spicy and flavourful. Yum!
To finish the meal, Jenn and I shared what is presented on the menu as a starter. We chose the Apple & Brie Phyllo that was served with an apple and pecan crisp and blueberry jam. It was scrumptious! I loved the poppyseed phyllo that they used, it was different and added another level of flavour that I loved.
Amanda had the Creme Brulee, one of my favourite desserts. It had a great flavour, and the top was sweet and crispy, always a good sign of a great creme brulee.
Overall, I have to say that I was a little surprised at the prices. Granted, the food was delicious and the portions were less than modest but the entrees were a little more expensive than I had expected them to be. However, the service was friendly and we all had a great time. It wasn’t the best meal that I have had in St. John’s, but it certainly wasn’t the worst either. The flavours were great and I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant and despite the heat, will be back again in the fall to see how the menu changes in the next season.
Serving servers can be very tricky, and despite the long wait time on the food, the meal was delicious, fresh, and we all left with very full bellies. I can’t wait to see what opens in St. John’s next, and I am so excited to Explore.Eat.Repeat all the great places that are opening in our awesome city! Cheers!
Things Worth Mentioning…
Cost: For just myself it was over 100$, which included a starter, an entree, and one of the numerous bottles of prosecco that we consumed. Definitely on the pricier side, but it was mostly the entrees that jacked up the bills.
Things I liked: The airiness of the decor and the amuse-bouche and palette cleansers were delightful!
Things I didn’t: The lack of prosecco; after the third bottle we were informed they were out and had to switch to wine…not tragic, but us Get Stuffed girls love the bubbles!
Best Place to Sit: Definitely sit the the huge open windows if you can, especially on hot summer evenings. The view of Duckworth Street is great, and you get a cool breeze!
What To Order Next Time: MORE OYSTERS!