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Beyond the overpass in Newfoundland -- food in central NF

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Beyond the overpass in Newfoundland -- food in central NF

mwright | Sep 1, 2005 02:38 PM

From time to time I see questions about where to eat in Newfoundland. Most of the responses refer to restaurants in and around St. John's, which is great, but this is a large province (especially when you are driving across it!) So I thought I'd add my 2 cents worth about some places in other parts of the province. From time to time my job requires that I travel to more remote parts of NF. I recently completed a tour of several parts of the central part of the island. Here are my findings:

Gander: I don't know what the locals say but it was pretty much of a wasteland in terms of interesting food. There is a good coffee shop – Giovanni's, in a strip mall on Elizabeth Drive (Travelers should note that it isn't easy to get decent coffee outside St. John's).

Twillingate: I had a tasty bowl of fish chowder at the Anchor Inn – by no means world-class, but pleasant and filling – a large bowl was about $7. (I have noticed over the years that Newfoundlanders don't generally "get" chowders – perhaps because fresh milk was not always plentiful in the past). My colleague and I have made a bit of a thing of eating at any and all Chinese restaurants we find in the province – for one thing it will often be the easiest way to find vegetables other than potatoes and frozen peas. The one in Twillingate ( I think there is only one...) did a nice black bean chicken dish with lovely fresh broccoli at about $10 for a reasonable serving for 2. My favorite thing in the food line in Twillingate was a coffee bar in a garage – I mean a little booth recessed behind a sliding garage door. The latte was excellent and the cinnamon bun I had was to die for – a nice teabiscuit-style, not too sweet or syrupy. I think the latte and bun were about $5 altogether. I also want to tell you about the elusive lobster burger. We saw them advertised -- tried to find one, or to imagine what it was -- finally discovered that it was our old Maritime friend , the lobster roll, in a hamburger bun instead of a hot dog bun! ( we didn't have one after).

Grand Falls-Windsor: Once again we went for the Chinese restaurant – this one called the Tai Wan, on High Street. The real winner there was the deluxe wonton soup – enormous bowl, a rich broth, lots of very fresh veggies, bbq pork, shrimp, 6-7 wontons – all for $7. We went back 3 days in a row!. My colleague says the Chinese hot sauce (ask for it) is home made. We also ate at a little diner called Baird's, in a renovated A&W drive-in – good, plain home cooking, suitable for small children and other people longing for meat and potatoes. My colleague's turkey stew with a biscuit-like topping was the pick of our meals there – c$8 for a large serving. We picked up some delicious, moist cheese buns at Wanda's Little Bakery (couldn't tell you the locations of these last 2 – Grand Falls is very difficult to find your way around in – we found most places by mistake or luck) – $2 for a pack of 4, and they were even tasty 2 days later!

St. Alban's: Here you are really getting off the beaten track – 160 km of absolutely empty, although very pleasant, access road. We had a nice home-cooked meal of farmed rainbow trout (fish farming is a newish industry on that coast) at the St. Alban's Inn for $13. Hit the local Chinese restaurant once again – they must have worked with the crowd in Grand Falls because the wonton soup was a similar style and almost as good (with more tasty wonton filling) for $6. We also had Ma La chicken (spicy, sesame flavouring) and, on another day, Singapore-style noodles, each about $9 for large servings.

As is obligatory in rural NF, we ate hamburgers and fries in various smaller places – uneven quality, but the hamburgers were usually hand-made ( rather than beefburger-type prefrozen) and you could get fried onions. The other thing to remember about most NF restaurants is that the soup is almost always home-made – beef (they will say "fresh beef" to distinguish it from salt beef ), turkey or split pea ( that one is usually made with salt beef rather than, say, ham). It is often a bit salty but usually very tasty.
Fish is almost always fried, even when they say it's "grilled", but it can be tasty -- or not....
And, for you vegans – I have a vegan friend who often travels in rural NF and he says that the only thing he can rely on is french fries!

Of course, no matter how good, bad or indifferent the food may be the scenery is magnificent and the people really are very friendly,

I'll write again the next time I venture "beyond the overpass" (a St. John's designation for any place beyond the city limits).

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