The Scopeâ€™s 2008 Breakfast Face Off Results:
$16.95 for traditional breakfast with local eggs, sausage and bacon. Includes toutons and organic, fair trade and locally roasted coffee (free refills). Served weekends 11am-2:30pm. Recommended breakfast: Green Eggs and Lamb. Local sausage patties and mint pesto eggs with homemade bread & fruit salad. Price includes tax.
Beautiful ambiance, service and food. We love the jigg’s dinner roll, the roasted chicken and the caribou, and for dessert, flourless chocolate orange torte.
Also, nice not to have to worry about parking downtown.
My wife and I have been several times, and it’s great each time.
I love this restaurant. I have been there about 5-6 times now and have enjoyed every meal. The atmosphere is very nice although they could use some good music in the background. I had the seafood risotto last time and it was divine. My partner had the lamb stew and he loved. I also have tried the halibut and that was great, and their wild mushroom soup was superb. In addition to the great food I also like the fact that they buy and promote local foods, and use local products in the washrooms, use recyclable materials for take out and overall put some thought into everything. They feature local art inside as well. The service is also pretty good. It’s a great restaurant to go with a large group and book a room for yourselves.
Our meals at Bacalao were excellent. They were featuring wild chanterelle mushrooms when we visited, so I had the soup (an almost too-big portion!) and lambchops with a mushroom au jus and both were great. The lamb was some of the best I’ve ever eaten. My partner was equally impressed with his crab springrolls and halibut. We were too full to have dessert, but hearing the next table discuss all the options made me wish I had saved some room! Our server was so knowledgeable and the wine list was so complete, it was almost too much to take in. Pricey, yes, but absolutely worth it. (And I hadn’t had a peppermint nob since I was a kid, when I used to sneak them from my grandmother’s candy dish…)
We love Bacalao and visit when we can, as a nice treat! We have tried many of the dishes and specials and are always pleased with the presentation, portions, service and delicious dishes. They make all of their desserts…We love the fact that they emphasize local foods and products – Newfoundland gourmet style! The co-owner always greets us with a smile…We highly recommend Bacalao to others, you won’t be disappointed…
an accidental foodie
I love, love, love this restaurant! The ambiance is wonderful, the service is very attentive and the food is fantastic. I’ve eaten there 3 times in the past year and each time enjoyed a fabulous meal and had a wonderful time.
It’s great to have a good meal the in St John’s and not have to worry about convenient, free (I’m looking at you, Murray Premises) parking. The only time we had a bit of trouble getting a spot was on a very busy Valentine’s Day. We just waited for a vehicle to leave to get a spot in plenty of time for our reservation.
The atmosphere is nice, like an old house. The tables are nicely spaced apart and situated in 4 medium sized rooms. One night, there was a loud party in one of the rooms, so it was nice for my husband and I to have a room to ourselves for a romantic meal.
The wine selection is fantastic, even by the glass. The servers are very knowledgable of the wines and food pairings, as well as of all of the menu selections.
For appetizers, I recommend trying the Jiggs Dinner cabbage rolls, but I’ve also had the mussels and daily specials. They really know how to enhance the natural flavours and textures of the local ingredients.
For the mains, I’ve had the seafood risotto, which is absolutely fantastic, rich and creamy with a very generous serving of seafood. I’ve also had the lobster and caviar pasta on Valentine’s Day, which was probably the best meal I’ve had this year. My husband usually sticks to the game meat they serve. He is never disappointed.
The desserts are also fantastic. I always enjoy the chocolate desserts myself, but have also had creme brulee. The crust was a little thick on top (used a little too much sugar before it was torched, which resulted in a glass-like texture to the caramelized sugar), but it was still very tasty. They also serve some dessert wine by the glass, as well, which complemented the chocolate and raspberry dessert I had on Valentine’s Day very well.
While dining at Bacalao, it is impossible to miss the focus on local, fresh ingredients. They even have tval soaps in the bathroom and local art on the walls. One can’t help but feel the care and thought put into the ingredients, which have so far always resulted in a delicious meal.
I would definitely recommend Bacalao. It is one of my favourite new restaurants in St John’s.
I just have to comment on this restaurant. I gave it a go three times and was disapointed each time. A very dry salt fish omelette for brunch; a bland cesar salad for lunch.. but the worst was the rare, yet tough caribou for supper.. had to send it back. This restaurant is way over-rated.
Bacalao has an authentic local cuisine and atmosphere, impeccably prepared and presented, with service to match. This is a top-end place so don’t expect budget prices.
Way, WAY overrated. When you are in this price range, you should expect a lot more. Overcooked dried meats drowned in over-sweetened sauces. I’ve been there twice – one time watched a customer berate the manager over the hideous quality of the food… And the decor – they should be ashamed for what they did to this historic property.
Though my food tasted just fine, and the ambience is nice, I’m not sold on the whole “Newfoundland nouvelle” thing enough to suggest going there more than once for novelty’s sake. It’s too expensive for what you get and it seems more of a place for tourists and people with oil money. My wife said it best when she said “anything with scruncheons shouldn’t cost $25.”
Another irritation was that the prices weren’t on the online menu, which took us for a surprise when we got the actual one at Bacalao. It seems kind of deceiving, really.
“anything with scruncheons shouldn’t cost $25.”
That hits the nail on the head. I cant really complain about the service or quality of food, but this place is really just a tourist trap and I will never eat there again. Newfoundland cuisine is excellent, but it really isn’t meant to be treated as “fine dining”. Quite the opposite actually, considering that Newfoundland food was always meant to be as economical as possible. If you want to spend this kind of money there are much better restaurants in the city. You want a traditional Newfoundland meal? Cook up a feed of jiggs dinner at home for a tiny fraction of the price.
We went back on Friday night to give it a try as its in my neighbourhood and we really wanted to like it.
Happily, we were not disappointed. We started with Bacaloo fritters between us as an app. They are tasty, slightly salty breaded cod fish fingers (3 pieces). There is comp multigrain french bread & butter.
I had the Seafood Pot Pie. It was rich, fresh and delicious and served with a modest serving of mixed veg on the side. It was delicious and I scooped out every tasty morsel. For $25.00, a slightly more generous serving would have been even better.
My date had Savoury Chicken Breast which was very good.
The best part were the homemade desserts. The creamsicle cheesecake and flourless chocolate cake with Port and cardomam were phenomenal.
The service was excellent. He was prompt, knowledgeable, attentive and polite; interested but not pushy.
All of this plus a bottle of white for $115.00. Excellent.
My only advice to the owners, is that the decor is a touch off. The menu gives the idea of fine NL dining but the selection of dusty dollar store mantle decor and coloured lights hanging loosely in the window feels too casual and tacky. I suggest spending a moment to re-think the mood/ decor.
P.S. I also loved the TVAL products in the washrooms; nice touch.
Amazing food, servie and atmosphere.
Having checked out the other caribou dish downtown, I can safely say the Caribou Medallions at Bacalao are the best!
This is a copy of an e-mail send and read by the owner/s of Bacalao.
“Hi, i hope this e-mail finds its was to the owner. My wife and I dined at your restaurant Friday night. I just have a few comments. We didn’t have a reservation but wanted to try your restaurant. My wife is a vegetarian and it is difficult to find good vegetarian options in St John’s. She was sold on the savoury gnocchi, we looked at the menu online. When I arrived at the door around 6:45pm I was greeted with bewildered looks at the hostess station from a woman and a man. I asked if there were any tables available to which i was answered “no sorry, not right now” I asked if there might be a table available later, to which i was answered, “the earliest would be 8:15. I said ok and told them that i would check with my wife to see if she was interested in eating later in the evening. When i came back from the car after getting approval from her i went back to the hostess station. The 2 same staff were there and said to me that they could actually take us now. So this was a good thing. I was excited to be fit in to such a busy restaurant. I didnt really understand that in the span of 2 minutes a deuce table had become available but continued on hopeful for a nice dinning experience. The reason I am mentioning this is as the evening progressed we sat at our table surrounded by empty seats, Two 4’s and a deuce never got filled. So my question is, why if there were at least 12 seats available in one little section across from the kitchen, was i told there was nothing available? Was I not welcome? Maybe it was just a hostess error but it seemed weird and unprofessional. I didn’t inquire further as I wanted to keep the mood pleasant for my wife. Dining was relatively nice. I started with a Caesar, my wife with the brie cigars. The croutons on the Caesar were over seasoned with garlic salt and were pretty much inedible. I was interested in the duck dish that was on the pri fix menu card. I inquired to the waitress on the price and she said around 30 dollars since i didnt want the app or desert (this turned out to be a mistake). I didn’t insist on her telling me the actual cost of the dish, as not to seem too insisting. Later when we got the bill i was charged 36$ for it. I was not happy. I was under the impression that the dish would have bake-apples somewhere in it but there was none. Perhaps i misread the description and the bakeapples were puréed into the dish’s sauce? The duck breast was very tough, unseasoned and overcooked. I wasn’t given a steak knife so i had to wrestle (pretty much in the dark) with the meat trying to separate the fatty side from the edible meat. The biggest fail of the evening was the duck confit. I have had salt beef with less salt!! This was pretty much inedible but I tried to mix it with the unseasoned potatoes, carrots, and parsnip and did my best. The mushrooms were very good though. Our server was pleasant and nice but when my wife asked about the broth that was served in the gnocchi dish she answered “and olive oil butter sauce. I was confused since i am a professional cook myself the idea of a sauce made of olive oil and butter just doesnt fit. Maybe I’m wrong? I would suggest that if the service staff isn’t familiar with something as basic as a sauce was that he/she go to the kitchen and ask the chef instead of improvising. I am not trying to say she wasn’t a good server because for the most part she was. The tiramisu cheesecake was a huge let down as well. Dry and tasteless, the plate had only whipped cream as a garnish. Very bad presentation. I felt like we had suddenly been transported to Smitty’s for desert.
Considering the price we paid, ($150 including 20% gratuity), for this dining experience we felt very disappointed even though the vegetarian option was one of the best my wife has had. Since the dinner was intended to please her it was a relative success.”
Immediately after this e-mail was received we were asked for our address so that the owner could send out a gift card. They never did anything, no gift card, oh well, I would never go back there again. These people are obviously delusional and mediocre. It seems from my experience, many restaurants in St John’s do very well at underachieving.
The food was fantastic, as was the wine. Service was SUPER friendly and knowledgeable. I would certainly go back again.
Simply amazing. The food was superb (try the Jigg’s dinner cabbage rolls!) Not over salted, over spiced or overpowered. They let great, simple cooking speak for itself. I enjoy the decor, also. You won’t be dissapointed.
Anonymous – “You want a traditional Newfoundland meal? Cook up a feed of jiggs dinner at home for a tiny fraction of the price.”
Anyone, anywhere can cook most meals that you find in a restaurant at home for a fraction of the price. The point of dining out is so that you don’t have to cook; someone can cook for you, bring you your food and accommodate your needs. How could a tourist or out-of-towner stay home and cook a traditional Newfoundland dish? If you believe that Newfoundland food is only meant to be “economical” traditionally, then your knowledge of the world is quite slim and of food costs is even slimmer. Bacalao is the first of it’s kind in Newfoundland – a exceptionally successful locally owned and operated restaurant with exquisite chefs and a very impressive dedication to supporting everything local. There aren’t enough thumbs in Newfoundland to give them the amount of thumbs up they deserve! Hats off to one of the best fine dining experiences our great province has to offer!
David and Elspeth
We went to Bacalao to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary, and were very glad we did. Although we hadn’t been there for a long time, we were greeted warmly by Mike, the chef/owner, and immediately made to feel welcome. The food, as usual, was excellent; we shared a charcuterie platter to start – the v. good rabbit terrine and excellent chutney merited special mention. Chicken and lamb main courses were delicious, and the rhubarb crumble that D. had for pudding hit a nice balance between sweet and tart. The cheeseboard (this is almost the only restaurant in St. John’s that seems to offer one) was very good; although I’m not a huge blue-cheese fan there was a beautiful, creamy blue that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially with the balsamic reduction, walnuts and port.
Not cheap, but it was a special occasion, and worth it.
My-oh-my. Where to start..?
First off, it seems obvious to me that reviewers like “Anonymous” just don’t get it and wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference between hay and horse s**t if you payed them.
So, yes. If you want to pay near to nothing for your “traditional Newfoundland dinner” then by all means, stay home. Or, better yet, run to your local hole-in-the-wall or Marie’s Quick-ie Mart and eat that monstrosity of a meal that they are going to offer you. BUT, to the rest of you who are fed up with sub par food choices in this town (and downright horrible service to boot) who want to support a local business that also supports local growers and purveyors, AND who wants to dine in a relaxed, professional environment, that also utilizes traditional NL dishes and ingredients to inspire delicious and tasty meals…then you should dine here.
Secondly: is this place cheap? Well, frankly, no. But you clearly have a computer. Clearly you can look into the menu/dishes offered and the prices before you arrive. If you decide to eat here then don’t b**ch about the prices after the fact. I feel the prices are fair for the quality that you receive and are definitely in line with what is common within St. Johns. Personally Id prefer paying a few extra dollars for a tasty, well prepared and executed meal than pay a few dollars less and end up with, literally, a plate of greasy, fried scruncheons.
Naturally, not all restaurants can be prefect all the time. But, in this town, I assure you that this is one of your top 5 choices for dining and I tip my hat off to this establishment for the job that they do and the experience that they provide.
The Scope is no more! Thanks for seven amazing years.
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