Staying in the City: St. John’s and Quidi Vidi

image

There’s something to be said for inviting yourself to someone’s house to get that extra night in town when the hotel has no room.
It’s especially fun when they are good cooks and not TOO competitive over who wins the cribbage games. Ribs and mashed potatoes followed by a best of five card tournament made for a fun and relaxing Friday night. Thanks Lisa and John.
A lazy morning with a homemade brunch had us all relaxed and in good spirits when we “checked out” and went for a drive looking for Mallard Cottage, our restaurant reservation for later in the day.
Recently opened, Mallard Cottage is an historic building located in Quidi Vidi Village, on the edge between St. John’s and the ocean.
Quidi Vidi also houses the brewery of the same name, creators if Iceberg Beer, among others.
image
Too early for winter business hours, we parked in the brewery lot and marvelled at the view. Traditionally a fishing village, the community was established around an amazingly sheltered harbour. Fishing stages face million dollar houses. Punts are tied on to the wharf meters from a huge trailered pleasure boat.
image
image

From our parking spot we walked down the road toward the opening of Quidi Vidi Gut past huge houses and tiny homes. A paved double drive  and huge house is is followed by bridges and stairs that lead to the neighbours house built at water’s edge well below the road.
image

image

Once we’d located the restaurant we headed downtown to run some errands. Our main destination was O’Brien’s Music Store on Water Street to pick up Leo’s accordion. O’Brien’s is a Water Street institution. New and used instruments can be purchased but the maintenance and repair of instruments seems to be the specialty. A new thumb strap for Leo’s accordion and a bit of maintenance on the reeds was done when they had time over the summer. It’s a very busy spot with professional musicians and regular customers getting priority but a good job done when ours finally got completed.

This is a great stop for sheet music and CD’s but the real music store for the listener is Fred’s on Duckworth Street. Something to feature when I have pictures another time.

O'Brien's Music Store, St. John's, NL
O’Brien’s Music Store, St. John’s, NL
Obrien's caters to professional musicians and tourists looking for Newfoundland music.
O’Brien’s caters to professional musicians and tourists looking for Newfoundland music.

Downtown St. John’s has a lot of character. Colourful stores and shops reflect the age of the city and new constructions contrast the history and the future. There are craft shops and gift stores but also the Nonia Store featuring hand knit goods and great baked goods at Rocket Bakery. There’s a furrier but also the beautiful Naturel Boutique specializing in seal skin products for men, women and children.

Great sunset on Water Street, St. John's, NL
Great sunset on Water Street, St. John’s, NL

The interiors of many of these old building, like the display cases at O’Brien’s also reflect the tradition and vintage of the Water Street shopping district.

The Rocket Bakery has a great eat in area with original hardwood floors.  St. John's, NL
The Rocket Bakery has a great eat in area with original hardwood floors. St. John’s, NL
Rocket Bakery is a great place to pick up breads or meals or eat in. Water Street, St. John's, Nl
Rocket Bakery is a great place to pick up breads or meals or eat in. Water Street, St. John’s, Nl

We checked into Monastery Spa and Suites our usual spot for a weekend in St. John’s. We’re regulars here and enjoy the quiet, beautiful rooms and the location not far from the restaurants and entertainment spots on Water and George Streets. A former monastery and school, this place apparently educated every second cab driver in St. John’s. They all have a story about it as they pull up to the door. With an Aveda Spa service, this is a great place from which to explore the city or to cocoon for a day or two.

Suites building of the Monastery Spa and Suites is a former school. They educated a large number of taxi drivers, based on our experience.
Suites building of the Monastery Spa and Suites is a former school. They educated a large number of taxi drivers, based on our experience.
Double whirlpools are available in many rooms at the Monastery Spa and Suites, St. John's, NL
Double whirlpools are available in many rooms at the Monastery Spa and Suites, St. John’s, NL

One of the oldest houses in Canada, the Mallard Cottage has has extensive restoration and renovations to allow a quaint, unassuming exterior to house a rustic dining room with a beautiful open kitchen.

Chef Todd Perrin has chosen to match the authenticity of the place with menu items drawn from generations of Newfoundland traditions in preservation and preparation of locally sourced ingredients. Tonight’s small plate only menu is presented on a chaulk board. With three variations on duck (not sure if they are Mallard….) moose, fish and root vegetables are also featured.

Small plates selections
Small plates selections

Our dinner went later than anticipated so we had an early night at the Spa.

Although there was a breakfast available at the Spa, we had a lazy morning (yes, yes, it involved Coronation Street) and when we ended up downtown realized we were hungry again. We’ve always had good experiences at Oliver’s on Water St. and this was no different. A great brunch menu had it almost full but the waitress was lively and friendly and found us a spot. The Toutons and Blue berry molasses was a great plate with eggs of your choice. Great coffee, great attention and we were recharged for walking Water St. again.

Breakfasts at Oliver's, Water Street, St. John's.
Breakfasts at Oliver’s, Water Street, St. John’s.

With a holiday on Monday we spent the afternoon browsing shops and then worked our way back to Shamrock City who were advertising live music. This was actually an open mic event for youth. The club was packed with families and friends and just about everyone was from the (Southern) Shore.

Young musicians accompanied themselves on guitars or sang in groups. The contest involved a prize at the end of the 6 week event and I think the structure was ballots for participation over 4 of the 6 weeks rather than a vote or sing off.  I think there was a $500 prize at the end and this certainly gives the Pub a leg up on finding the next great entertainers for their venue.

After his performance, MC Bob Taylor apologized on behalf of singer Keegan Ridgley because he wasn’t able to stay to hear the other performers as he was on his way to a hockey tournament. Courtesy to the other musicians and an encouraging tone is big here. Another solo teen performer was Kelsey Arsenault. This is my video from the afternoon but there’s lots more of her on YouTube.

Leo chatted with a group of kids sitting next to us and learned they were mostly performing together. Their drummer was about 11 years old. If you are the youngest and smallest and your instrument is at the back, you had better be good, and this guy certainly was.

The band was called “Shore Thing” and was very impressive. A shout out to Nick Walsh, Devin Dunn, Kaitlyn O’Driscoll, Colin Dunphy, Christian Walsh and Corey Goulding. My tablet doesn’t do the sound justice but these guys were good. Especially liked Kaitlyn’s voice!

The last performer was about 4 years old and sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as a duet with her dad who held her in his arms. what a lovely way to spend a Sunday in the city.

We enjoy going to Shamrock to hear live music. On weekends, musicians start during the supper hour with a second band around 8 and the third starting around 10 or 11 until the wee hours. We don’t last anymore until the wee hours but occasionally last for the first set of band number three on a good night. Some Ziggy fries off the food truck near the taxi stand rounds out a full night.

Since it was a Sunday night, the wee hours weren’t an option for some but we had to drive in the morning so after Hugh MacDonald’s supper set we headed back to the Spa for a lazy night and to rest up for our drive home.

Advertisements

One thought on “Staying in the City: St. John’s and Quidi Vidi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s