Eating well in Gros Morne National Park
Story by Parmjit Parmar
NORRIS POINT, NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR — Not only is Gros Morne National Park one of the most breathtaking places to visit in Canada’s easternmost province, it offers foodies the added indulgence of a bounty of delicacies from the sea and land. If you enjoy eating seafood then you’re in for a real treat with some of the freshest fish you have ever tasted served in restaurants near the park. But be warned: There’s a time window and few options of fine dining in this area. After 9 pm, dining out is pretty much non-existent. Still, with some planning, you won’t be disappointed.
Here are a few recommendations in this glorious part of Western Newfoundland:
BLACK SPRUCE RESTAURANT, NEDDIES HARBOUR INN, NORRIS POINT
There are many places to dine in the park but few reach the level of haute cuisine as the Black Spruce. Swiss immigrants Bettina Lori and partner Herbert Schumacher moved to Gros Morne in 1997 after they fell in love with the area during earlier visits. Their Neddies Harbour Inn, managed by Annette Parsons, has a European feel with natural wood, soothing yellow walls, and original local art adorning the walls. I was mesmerized by the paintings by local artist Shawn McNevin.
Executive chef Jason Lynch and co-chef Joy Newman run the Black Spruce. Lori and Schumacher work closely with the kitchen team in planning the menu, which offers a true taste of Newfoundland. All key players participate in planting vegetables and maintaining the gardens. Leeks, summer turnip, celery root, spinach, onions, salad greens, mache (corn salad), black currants, and a variety of herbs — including chives, flat leaf and curly leaf parsley, cilantro, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, and chervil — are grown by the Neddies Harbour Inn staff. While some of the vegetables have been planted behind the property others have are rooted “downtown” at the Julia Ann Walsh Heritage Centre‘s community garden. Fish comes from neighbouring Rocky Harbour’s fish plant, so it’s local and in season.
Lynch divides his time between Black Spruce and his other restaurant, Le Caveau Restaurant (Domaine de Grand Pré Winery), in the heart of Nova Scotia‘s Annapolis Valley. Lynch recently released a cookbook, Straight from the Line by Able Sense Publishing, featuring some of his award-winning recipes.
See Stunning Photos of Gros Morne National Park[/box_light]
What To Eat: The menu offers a variety of dishes, from seafood chowder to salads, meat and fish mains. Beginning my eating local adventure I tried Apple and Parsnip Salad with dried cranberries ($10), Sea Buckthorn gastrique and toasted hazelnuts. I asked about the Sea Buckthorn. The tart little yellow berry was introduced to Newfoundland under a decade ago and is known to have many healing properties.
For my entree I tried the fish special, cumin-encrusted cod, pan-seared and served with curry-flavoured quinoa, bok choy, tomato sauce puree, and a buttery squash ($34). I tasted the seafood chowder as well and it is chock full of flavour.
When it comes to desserts in Newfoundland, it’s impossible to avoid eating some of the local berries. There are baked apple berries (cloudberry), partridge berries, and blueberries along with the aforementioned sea buckthorn. Cloudberries and partridgeberries are used in fruit tarts, pies, jams, jellies, and breakfast items. Picking the traditional Figgy Duff ($10), served with molasses sauce and Sea Buckthorn ice cream, was an excellent finish to the meal. On a side note, I have to say every dish served here is too pretty to eat, such is the exceptional level of the presentation. The wine list is impressive with selections of domestic and international varieties.
Location: 7 Beach Road Neddies Harbour, Norris Point
Telephone: 1-877-458-2929 (toll free) or 1-709-458-3089
SEASIDE RESTAURANT FOR SOME DOWN HOME COOKING, TROUT RIVER
If you want to see one of the most gorgeous sunsets in Gros Morne National Park then Trout River is the place to be at dusk. A small fishing village with a population of barely 500, Trout River was settled in 1815.
To get to Seaside Restaurant you take a scenic 15-minute drive from Woody Point experiencing breathtaking views of the Tablelands, where the earth’s mantle is exposed for all to see. The restaurant is family run by the second generation, Jenny and Stan Parsons. Jenny Parsons’ parents started this delightful restaurant. Now she and her husband carry on the legacy, serving up great seafood. The entrees are a bit on the expensive side but there is plenty to choose from if you are budget conscious. Nautical and fishing paraphernalia and local art decorate the restaurant along with generational photos of the family. The restaurant has two levels — aim to sit upstairs for a great view of the beach and ocean.
The Parsons also own several B&B/cabin properties in Woody Point under the umbrella of Victorian Manor Properties.
What to Eat: The menu at Seaside offers scallops, lobster, cod, mussels, along with varieties of other items for those who prefer something other than seafood. Being my first night in Gros Morne I decided to have the cod dinner ($19.95), which came with baked potato and vegetables. The pan-fried cod was not greasy. The food is good, hearty, down-home cooking with everything made in-house. For dessert, I chose the cheesecake ($4.99) with two different berry toppings — partridgeberry and cloudberry.
(My berry obsession began at this place hence the two toppings on my dessert.)
Location: Seaside Restaurant, Trout River
TREASURE BOX FOR BEST FISH CAKES AND HEARTY BREAKFASTS, ROCKY HARBOUR
I discovered the Treasure Box upon the recommendations of Bonne Lou at the Lobster Cove Lighthouse. While I visited, Bonne Lou regaled me with stories and suggested a number of places in town where I could eat.
What to Eat: The Treasure Box is famous for its fish cakes ($7.99) made fresh by owner/head cook Joyce Shears. Everything is made from scratch — from turkey, pea, and moose soup to cod au gratin, fish chowder, moose burgers, baked beans, chili, and other local specialties. The breakfast pancakes and muffins are made with local blueberries and partridgeberries.
The store is a combination of café and gift shop. From the local chatter I could tell many people returned here often for a meal or snacks.
Location: 72 Main Street North, Rocky Harbour
Additional Recommendations for Dining Out Near Gros Morne
Java Jacks Art Gallery (Rocky Harbour) serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a casual coffee shop downstairs and formal dining upstairs. The whole place is one big art gallery, you won’t get bored while you wait for your meal.
Location: 88 Main Street North, Rocky Harbour. Telephone: 1-709-458-3004.
Granite Coffee House (Woody Point) is a great place for a coffee, breakfast or lunch.
Location: Water Front, Woody Point. Telephone: 1-709-453-2047.
Lighthouse Takeout (Woody Point) is a great souvenir shop and deli stop for picking up coffee and sandwiches for your travels. Prices are reasonable.
Location: 39 Water Street, Woody Point. Telephone: 1-709-451-3236.
Note: Eating out in most restaurants surrounding Gros Morne National Park is on the pricey side. Be prepared to spend $10-$15 for breakfast, $10-$20-plus for lunch, and $25-$40-plus for dinner.