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“Anniversary Disaster...”
Review of The Reluctant Chef

The Reluctant Chef
Ranked #10 of 381 Restaurants in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Description: Fine dining with a twist: No set menu. We serve a delightful multi-course meal throughout the evening. We will happily cater to food aversions and dietary restrictions.
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Anniversary Disaster...”
Reviewed August 26, 2014

I don't even know where to start but by the sounds of the others reviews are horrible experience is not the norm and I'm sure many people would enjoy this place, we however did not and will not be returning.

For starters, I booked a window seat approx. 1.5 weeks before the night of our reservation, just for the fact that it was our 1 year wedding anniversary and I always find that the window makes it a little more romantic. We arrived and Sherry told us that we had a couple tables in the middle of the room and the back that we could choose from. I corrected her and said that I requested a window seat. She had the reservation book in front of her and it was clearly labelled "window seat". She apologized and said that they could not accommodate us and that we would have to choose from the available seats. She made a comment about it being written "so small". Regardless, it was requested and written down so right off the bat I was not impressed.

Sherry then said that she would give us 2 glasses of champagne on the house to make up for the seating mix-up. They poured the champagne and then the waiter immediately bumped the glass and spilled the entire glass over the table and on my husband's sleeve. They suggested we move in the back but when I went back there it was much more tightly seated than the front so we sat at the table next to ours while they changed the table cloth.We sat back down and Sherry was apologizing and commented that they were going to "jump through hoops" to make up for our not so spectacular start.

Onto the food: The portions are small, and I mean tiny. It's 5 courses but you could easily put everything on one plate and it would not be full. They started us with white bread and honey- butter which was actually really tasty and the bread was fresh. The first course was cold-water shrimp with oven roasted olives and it was good. The shrimp tasted fresh and the salt level was nice. I received my wine pairing and my husband was drinking champagne as he order a full bottle. By the 4th course we were 3 hours into the "experience". There was such a lapse between these tiny courses that I was nowhere near full. Just for the record, my husband and I are not huge eaters and will almost always leave with a doggie bag full of food for the next day.Then at some point in the dinner I feel like they forgot about us, there were two glasses of wine in front of me (neither were explained) and we actually finished the entire plate of cod (well it was only 4 bites) without anyone coming over and telling us what it was or why the wine was paired with it. When the waiter came over I asked him what glass of wine was suppose to go with the course we just ate and he told me that I had two glasses because I didn't finish the wine with my previous course. He was incorrect about this because I remember drinking it and then not having anything to drink so I poured some of my husbands champagne into my glass. He apologized for not coming back to explain the dish. He asked me if I wanted to know what I just ate and I told him no, we never saw him anymore during our time there as Sherry came over and apologized again. We finally finished our meal after almost 4 hours of being there. Not to mention that there were at least 3 tables that were seated after us and they were long gone before we were so I'm not sure why it took them so long to serve us.

I was in the bathroom when my husband paid and he told me that Sherry said to him that she didn't even want to give us the bill because of everything that happened. Unfortunately we paid over $250. I slipped her a tip because she really did try. Afterwards we actually went to Subway and got foot longs because we were quite hungry. My suggestion is that if you are in the market for a tasting menu spend the extra money and go to Raymonds.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
8 Thank Sabrina B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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304 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Halifax, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Expensive, blind menu”
Reviewed August 24, 2014

This was our big night out in St.John's and decided to go all out on the food and wine pairing non-menu. I admit that by the end of the meal and the six type of wine, I was enjoying myself immensely. In retrospect, some of the food was delicious (oyster, cod and smoked chicken), some not so memorable (ice cream) and other overly salty (soup). It was an interesting experience starting with a too small portion of two oysters and a NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Staff was friendly and knowledgeable but I am still puzzled about some of the wine/food pairing such as the sparkling wine with the salted beef dumplings.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Jdesy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Speechless”
Reviewed August 24, 2014

I cannot rave enough about this meal and the chef. The 5-course meal was selected by the chef and was a "surprise" for diners that evening. The entire meal was like a well-curated art show with an excellent wine selection both by the glass and by the bottle. Our culinary experience in Newfoundland, to date, was quite good, having done our homework and planning where we would eat. This meal was mind blowing.

The crusty loaf made in house was served with a white bean/polenta/smoky maple hummus, which tasted as good as it sounds. A crudité sampling of locally grown vegetables was served in little terracotta pots with "edible earth" made of charred onions, olives and breadcrumbs with tzatziki under the "soil." Absolutely lovely and yummy. Perfectly prepared risotto came next with sausage and fresh seafood. The main was a pork shoulder served in a tamarind broth so yummy that both of us scooped until our bowls were dry. And so on.

We met the chef, Mike Boyd, who told us a little bit about his cooking influences and training experiences. He was so very kind in taking a few moments from the busy night.

You likely need to have reservations. The atmosphere is quaint, somewhat simple. It is not pretentious. The servers were polite and attentive. The food and wine made this experience fabulous.

This place is well worth the effort to plan ahead. Highly recommended.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Sheila H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. John's, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
26 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Unique and enjoyable dining experience”
Reviewed August 23, 2014 via mobile

I dined here on a Thursday night with a work colleague. It was a fantastic experience. We were both driving so we didn't get the opportunity to enjoy the wine pairing but I will certainly do that next time. The food was delicious; the service was impeccable. The courses that were presented were unique and tasty. I will be coming back.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank ShaunzieClark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
st john's
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great night out”
Reviewed August 20, 2014 via mobile

Last night in St. John's - this was recommended as great meal and relaxed atmosphere. 100% true. Had the wine pairing. Great pace, great meal, great service.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank bethcpon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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