Hidden Treasure

Karl Wells
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Sight-seeing trip with new friends ends with a culinary crescendo

Fishers' Loft Inn

Port Rexton

Ph. 1-877-464-3240

I've just spent the past few weeks as tour guide for friends from England. I've always been proud of Newfoundland. I know we live in a great place and are good people. However, it was only when I saw this place through their eyes that I realized Newfoundland is a unique treasure.

Photo by Karl Wells/Special to The Telegram

Fishers' Loft Inn

Port Rexton

Ph. 1-877-464-3240

I've just spent the past few weeks as tour guide for friends from England. I've always been proud of Newfoundland. I know we live in a great place and are good people. However, it was only when I saw this place through their eyes that I realized Newfoundland is a unique treasure.

Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador were not on the radar for my friends before I met them. They knew very little about our country. They thought it to be a cold, boring place. Had it not been for our friendship, they might never have visited. I'm pleased they did because now it's hard for them not to use superlatives when describing Newfoundland and her friendly people.

Historical tour

A highlight of their visit was our trip to Trinity and Port Rexton. Two of my visitors were from Poole, Dorset and the others from Chatham, Kent. There are substantial links between Poole and Trinity. A few hundred years ago, two brothers from Poole established a Newfoundland fishing business based in Trinity. It operated successfully until the latter part of the last century. Trinity is slowly re-establishing the historic properties developed by the Lester brothers and descendants, so there's plenty to see.

James Miller, archivist for the Trinity Historical Society, gave us a tour of the historically significant parts of the town, and my friends were fascinated by the stories and what they saw. Even though I'd heard the history and seen the sites before, I became infected with the enthusiasm of my guests.

I looked out Benjamin Lester's bedroom window across Trinity's expansive harbour. I could picture Lester's masted fishing vessels - in the glow of a setting sun - sailing toward the company's wharf. I could hear the bustle of men and women hurrying along the wooden wharf to greet the crews.

When the sun finally did melt below the hills around Trinity, we headed for nearby Port Rexton. A dinner reservation had been made at the Fishers' Loft Inn. In addition to offering some of the best accommodations in the area, Fishers' Loft also provides meals to overnight guests and hungry visitors. A day of sightseeing had given us a real appetite for some home-cooked Newfoundland food.

The main building at Fishers' Loft is a large, traditional, two-story dwelling. The restaurant or dining area is located inside an enclosed veranda that wraps around one corner. At least a dozen windows in the veranda provide a great deal of light during the daytime. All of the furniture is handcrafted, which gave the candlelit room even more charm.

Cheesy start

Our prix fixe meal at Fishers' Loft began with an amuse bouche - liver pate on toasted rounds. The olive-decorated pate was mild but tasty. This was followed by a cauliflower and blue cheese soup. I loved this soup because it was a combination of two favourites. Blue cheese is superb and a good choice for soup because the cheese's strong flavour can survive immersion. In this case, the cauliflower flavour was mild enough to let the cheese really come to the fore.

An extraordinarily fresh and flavourful green salad filled the interlude between our soup and entrée.

On the way in we had noticed a beautiful vegetable garden filled with lettuce, beetroot, onions and so forth. Everything on our salad plate had come from that garden. The cherry tomatoes were bursting with flavour, enhanced by a dark, sweet vinaigrette. I even enjoyed the peppery nasturtium bloom that adorned the top of the salad. I could only coax my friend Gerry, a New Zealander now living in England, to eat his flower. Sadly, he did not appreciate the bloom's culinary qualities, saying only five words.

"It tastes like a flower."

A beautiful piece of salmon fillet was the centrepiece of the meal at Fishers' Loft. It had been perfectly browned and cooked. The golden crust glistened under a daub of refreshingly flavoured cream. Alongside were perfectly sautéed vegetables, a medley of carrot, zucchini (or courgette, as my English friends would say) corn, celery and sweet pepper. The rice portion was lily white and seasoned with fresh parsley and scallions.

Dessert (or pudding, as they say in England) was an extremely delicious chocolate-nut brownie in orange sauce, topped with a dusting of confectioner's sugar and whipped cream. Orange and chocolate make a wonderful pairing. In this case, because the ingredients were so fresh, the combination of flavours was nothing less than extraordinary.

Minor point

I did have one problem with Fishers' Loft Inn. When we arrived, there was no signage to indicate exactly where the entrance to the restaurant was located. Consequently, some went in through a back door, some attempted to enter through the kitchen door and still others entered through a front door. Once inside, all of us had to wander though the building trying to find something resembling a reception area. It didn't exist. A server finally clued in to the fact that we were there for dinner and showed us to our table. It was an unnecessarily awkward and uncomfortable start to the evening.

Nonetheless, Fishers' Loft Inn made a very good impression on me, as well as my guests. It only operates during the tourist season, so make your plans to visit soon or you'll have to wait until next year.

Dinner for two at Fishers' Loft Inn - including cocktails, wine and gratuity - costs approximately $140.

The noise level at Fishers' Loft Inn was low. While I did see a wheelchair ramp outside, it does not have full wheelchair accessibility. Please call for details.

Best Points:

Food and atmosphere.

Areas for Improvement:

Remedy your restaurant's reception problem.

Ratings Category:

Fishers' Loft Inn gets 9 out of 10 points.

7 points = satisfactory, 7.5 points = good, 8 points = very good, 9 points = excellent, 10 points = perfection

Karl Wells is a restaurant panellist with enRoute magazine. To reach him, log on to his website: www.karlwells.com.

Organizations: Loft Inn, Trinity Historical Society

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Trinity, Port Rexton England Canada

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