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St. John's
8 Barrows Rd. | 709-237-7314

Lobster is the champagne of dinner menus: come-from-aways fret that it requires a special occasion to order, unless it’s followed by the word “roll” or “ravioli.” But pointing at the chalkboard menu on a weekday night and saying to the girl in the T-shirt and unbuttoned flannel, “Yes, bring me the broiled lobster,” feels dangerously easy at Mallard Cottage, Todd Perrin’s brilliant mashup of fine dining and comfort cuisine on the outskirts of St. John’s.

Native son Perrin, his wife Kim Doyle and sommelier Stephen Lee spent two difficult years restoring a heritage property built on Quidi Vidi Harbour some 250 years ago by the Mallard clan of fisherfolk. The original front room, with its low ceilings and tight turns, evokes the officers’ quarters of an old timber-clad ship sailing into port. The bright new back room features a soaring ceiling spanned by beams upon which jars of pickled vegetables perch precariously.

Those preserves are called to action in a luxurious halibut salad with big, succulent strips of translucent meat marinated in the tart-sweet vegetable brine, topped with diced garlic scapes and pickled carrots and pea shoots. Like the ginger-beer-braised pulled pork mounded atop little rosemary crackers, or the cocktail of Iceberg vodka and pulpy beet juice from Lester’s Farm across town, the halibut feels like something your homemaker aunt might whip up for you, if your aunt happened to be one of the best chefs in St. John’s.

When the lobster arrives, halved lengthwise, broiled just to firmness and nestled in a lobster-red Le Creuset dish, you’ll find it topped with grilled slices of softball-size dinner rolls and a tangy Tuscan white-bean salad. Mallard Cottage’s fancy dish is the perfect lobster roll, after all.

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