No. 27: Raymonds
RAYMONDS OCCUPIES A HANDSOME FORMER BANK BUILDING ON WATER STREET, CLOSE TO ST. JOHN’S HARBOUR AND A STONE’S THROW OR TWO FROM THE LANDMARK CABOT TOWER ON SIGNAL HILL, WHICH HAS WATCHED OVER THE CITY SINCE 1900.
Once you’re settled in the formal, ornate and dimly lit dining room, starting in on a first course of freshly shucked oysters or scallops with Jerusalem artichoke and sea urchin, it can be hard to remember that a few short years ago the only thing culinary tourists ever reported back from St. John’s was that lemon wedges were scarce at the local fish and chips shops. But this context is worth noting to properly appreciate how dramatically Raymonds has reshaped the very idea of local cuisine in Canada’s most easterly capital. Chef Jeremy Charles cooks local fish (that’s cod to you, though halibut would do in a pinch) and seafood with a contemporary touch.
But above all else, his culinary reputation rides on wild game. Yes, wild—the province of Newfoundland and Labrador stands virtually alone in Canada in permitting the sale of genuine game in its restaurants. (That really is moose heart tartare on the appetizer menu.) So when wild game is available, you are well-advised to take full advantage, say with some seared ptarmigan au jus naturel, or game-filled raviolis (sometimes moose, sometimes caribou), or wild local hare with chanterelles and partridge berries. Such dishes connect this restaurant to the land around it in a singularly satisfying way. Ask Charles’s business partner, Raymonds sommelier Jeremy Bonia, for advice on connecting them to something even better: the right, great bottle of wine from the modest (though not modestly priced) cellar. Desserts by pastry chef Celeste Mah make good use of fruits, berries, roots and the like: say, profiteroles with apple and Jerusalem artichoke ice cream or toasted panna cotta with Labrador tea sorbet. Cocktails are classic and boozy. Service is as it should be.
Lounge open at 5:00 PM
Dinner at 5:30 PM
MAIN IMAGE BY JOHN CULLEN, ALL OTHER PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN RICKS