After a long day of making important decisions, it’s sometimes nice to kick back, relax, and be taken care of. The Reluctant Chef in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada offers a truly unique restaurant experience where its patrons trust the kitchen, take a break from the daily routine of decision-making, and allow themselves to be catered to.
Located at 281 Duckworth Street, the Reluctant Chef presents a multi-course meal with a menu that changes every couple of weeks. In the absence of a written menu some treat it as a blind tasting while others inquire in advance. With that said, to avoid any adversities, a friendly and knowledgeable staff will ask about allergies and aversions and the kitchen will plan accordingly.
“The concept stems from my own past experience”, says owner and original reluctant chef Anthony Butt. “When I dined out, I would ask if the kitchen would just feed me. Sometimes I would stay for hours while other times, when time was of the essence, I would ask for a chef’s plate. I always found chefs were more than pleased, even flattered, to accommodate.”
They do that at The Reluctant Chef, too. You can make an evening of it with a five-course experience or you can pop in for a quick bite and be on your way. “It’s best appreciated”, says Anthony, “if you have an adventurous palate, but we do accommodate”.
When I sat to speak with Anthony about the menu, they didn’t tell me, they showed me. They started my experience with a fresh baked French loaf. Then, I was served a beef tenderloin Carpaccio drizzled with a parsley-shallot citronette and topped with dehydrated goat cheese for a texture contrast. Third I was served tuna sashimi on sticky rice with a soy-based dressing. Afterwards, a cod bake with a homemade pastry. And, finally, oven-roasted chicken, marinated in a salt water brine that also held rosemary, lime and garlic. Prior to roasting, the chicken was rubbed with a Chinese red plum and gun-powder tea paste. To say it was exceptional would be an understatement! Dessert scored big-time with homemade macaroons and local berry jams – yum! Anthony collects what he can in the summer and fall and preserves for year-round use.
As for the drink menu, it is reflective of a boutique restaurant. Anthony says, “We keep our beer menu exotic and we maintain a selection of whiskeys, scotches and ports. Our wines are carefully selected by our red seal chef.”
The Reluctant Chef makes dining out a relaxing experience that promotes conversation by its very casual nature. They invite you to sit back and enjoy your company while being served extraordinary foods in a unique culinary affair.
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