The St. John’s Fish Exchange Kitchen & Wet Bar needs few introductions, but it might be time to get reintroduced to one of the city’s busiest restaurants.
It’s a big urban-style restaurant with the heart of a local, according to co-owner Justin Garland.
“We’ve tried to create a restaurant that draws on the best dining experiences found around the globe, but never losing our St. John’s soul.”
The “Newfoundland-ness” of the restaurant is immediately present as guests can take comfort on a seal-skin couch as they wait to be seated, breathing in the scents of local produce being cooked in the kitchen, all the while lively sounds of music drift through the dining room.
Indeed, the restaurant was designed as a modern restaurant that tips its cap to the men and women of the province — especially its fisherpeople that built the province. Even many of its cocktails are named after the people, places and history that have made Newfoundland and Labrador what it is today.
URBAN, INDUSTRIAL, RUSTIC
The atmosphere at the St. John’s Fish Exchange is dynamic on any given day in the restaurant. Garland describes the feel as “urban, industrial and rustic rolled into one.” It’s alive with activity, even in the off-season, which speaks to the broad popularity of the restaurant.
While the din of dinners is ever-present in the main dining areas, the pillars, walls and mezzanine level create natural breaks between sections — allowing the restaurant to craft intimate dining experiences ranging from a single table to 50 in private settings (or up to 100 for large groups).
“We really take pride in crafting an experience everyone can enjoy, which — during these challenging times — has transitioned a bit from the outside business crowd to one of locals enjoying both casual and celebratory dinners,” says Garland.
He credits the restaurant’s personal touch as one of the reasons guests keep coming back.
“On any given night, you might see me at the front door greeting guests, and our managers and staff are constantly checking on guests to make sure they’re having a great time.”
The personal touch flows both ways, as Garland says their entire team felt the love and support of locals during the height of the pandemic.
PREMIUM CASUAL RESTAURANT APPRECIATES LOCAL LOVE
“We were touched by the thoughtfulness of many of our local clientele who purchased gift cards during the pandemic, and we try to return the favour by buying local products — especially our seafood, but also craft beer and spirits from Iceberg and The Newfoundland Distillery Company.”
In the spirit of giving back, the St. John’s Fish Exchange is selling two $50 gift cards for $79.99 (when purchased Monday to Sunday between noon and 3 p.m. at the restaurant). The restaurant expects an uptake in gift cards this season (purchased both at the restaurant and online), as they are confident local diners will see the value of supporting local.
“The nice thing about us is that we are a premium casual restaurant. You can have any experience you want, whether it’s a $5 local beer and some appetizers at the bar during Happy Hour, a simple plate of fish and chips or tacos, or a big steak and lobster dinner with a nice bottle of wine,” says Garland. “We really do offer something for everyone — and this winter, expect all sorts of new things to enjoy, including some Monday night wine-and-food pairings on the mezzanine.”
While the blustery winds of St. John’s blow strong, Garland says you’re invited to join the restaurant’s warm, welcoming hospitality.
“It might be cold outside, but I can guarantee you’ll be greeted with a smile — and we have something for everyone to enjoy on the menu. We look forward to celebrating the holiday season with our great clientele.”
The St. John's Fish Exchange is located at 351 Water St. in St. John’s. Call (709) 739-7539 or visit sjfx.ca to learn more.