When you hear the words dine and dash it’s not normally a good thing. But when it includes dining on scrumptious picnics from St. John’s eateries and dashing along the East Coast trail, those are two things I can firmly stand behind. Bring your hiking boots and your favourite picnic blanket and get ready for an epic two-day foodie experience in the Capital.
Day 1 - Afternoon Delight with Rocket Bakery
No one wants to start a day full of adventure on an empty stomach, so I suggest you visit a popular brunch spot that offers decadent breakfast options. Bernard Stanley Gastropub is THE brunchers haven. If you are looking for something savory the cali-eggs benedict with fresh smashed avocado, pico and smokey hollandaise sauce is a great choice. Or if you love sweets then their brie stuffed French toast is to die for! Either way pair it with one of their doubled-up Caesars or a specialty coffee.
After your brunch take a stroll down Duckworth and Water Street and pop into the quaint shops that offer Canadian designers, locally crafted items and a few sweet treats. Once you're back to where you’re staying and get into your walking gear it’s time to head back out and pick up your first food hike that you can pre-order online.
This sweet spot located in the middle of downtown St. John’s is your first food hike for the weekend. Its also a wonderful place to cozy up to for an afternoon tea with macaroons. For now you can pickup your carefully packaged lunch that you’ve pre-selected all of your delicious options for ahead of time.
A hike fit for a queen
Within a 10-minute walking distance of the bakery is the beautiful Signal Hill trail network. If you are wanting a challenging hike, then the North Head trail is a must! It is a climbers paradise as it is mostly stairs, but it also offers views from the Narrows all the way to Cape Spear if you pack a pair of binoculars.
If you are looking for more of a casual stroll through the historic landmarks of the hill then I suggest taking the route we did and following along the Queen’s Battery trail network. These gravel paths wind in and out around the coastline, giving you a complete view of the harbor and beyond.
Along the end of the trail as you meander closer to the visitor centre, walk around the back of it for the perfect place to enjoy your picnic.
The insulated bag is packed full of homemade delights. For sandwiches you have two options, the roasted chicken club, which was so delicious, or the hummus veggie on a bun. This makes Rocket a great option if you are vegetarian or trying to reduce your meat consumption. We got one of each and both salad options too (kale and sliced almonds with vinaigrette or a classic rotini pasta salad). The best surprise of the bag was the freshly made lemonade in reusable cups and the ginger molasses cookies. I dies for a chewy cookie and this one looked bigger than my face.
After enjoying both the views and the food hike don’t forget to snap a few photos to enter the Roots, rants and Roars contest online.
Note: Rocket Bakery offers the lunch as a single serving or for two, if you are purchasing for a group just call ahead of time.
If that wasn’t enough food for the day, then get ready for round three with a Newfoundland inspired dinner. If you are looking to have your taste buds blown why not visit another Food Hike participating restaurant, Basho, but instead dine in for their creative Japanese fusion dishes.
Day 2 - Big Chews and Coastal Views with Chinched
Day one was jam packed with exploring our downtown but today is all about exploring the quaintest part of town, Quidi Vidi Village.
Before heading to the gut, stop by your second Food Hike spot to pickup your charcuterie stuffed backpack. Chinched’s bag has everything a real meat lover would want. We don’t want to spoil everything before you get hiking so for now grab your bag and get ready for a full day in every sense of the word.
Since you are heading to Quidi Vidi why not make a breakfast stop at the award-winning Mallard Cottage? This historic building offers one of the coziest settings around. The stone fireplace sitting at the centre of the open dining room is prefect to snuggle up next to on a chilly fall morning. I would strongly suggest doing the family style brunch if you are wanting a real treat. An array of dishes will be whisked out of the kitchen as you eat your way through a carefully crafted menu that features the best of Newfoundland’s wild ingredients.
After a filling breakfast it’s time to explore more of the village. Be sure to pop by Quidi Vidi Brewery to pickup a few cans for later and to enjoy the views from the wharf. Next you’ll head back down the road to the large yellow building, Quidi Vidi Plantation. Here you can browse through fine crafts and handmade boutique goods before heading out to the trail.
Give me some sugar – hiking Sugar Loaf Path
As you cross over the bridge to reach the path you climb a steep embankment before noticing the trail head signs. There are two options to proceed, one that requires more climbing and another than is a regular maintained bike path. Since the day has been fairly laissez faire so far, I’d suggest taking in the views from the right side of the path for a real hike.
In total this hike can be almost 9 kms long, one way but you can hike to a certain point, like the lookout and return back to Quidi Vidi. Otherwise the trail can take you out to Logy Bay Road near the Ocean sciences Centre. For your picnic I’d suggest hiking out closer to the water and finding a somewhat sheltered space between rocks to set up.
Along your hike you’ll find bushes abundant with bursting blueberries that you can easily pluck and take as a snack along the way.
Climbing ahead you’ll have a sweeping view of the ocean, Quidi Vidi Village and the southwest side of St. John’s, including the famous lake where St. John’s regatta is usually held each year. This marks the perfect place to setup your Chinched picnic and enjoy the coastal views.
Unpacking the picnic is one of the best parts as you start to see the small feast that Chinched has prepared for you and your partner. This picnic is really meant to shared but of course you can always save any leftovers for later.
The fresh baguette offers the perfect utensil for enjoying the variety of cured meats, preserves and spreads that accompany it. Our favourite was the house-made mortadella, it was fresh and paired perfectly with the grainy mustard and the chutney. While you enjoy your picnic don’t forget to switch on your Roots, Rants and Roars playlist to enjoy the classic sounds of Newfoundland as the waves crash below you.
After a full belly of savory items, it’s time to dig into a large sweet delight. The mixed nut cookies are just as big as the cookies you enjoyed from Rocket yesterday and balance this wonderful charcuterie meal.
Before tidying up and heading out, be sure to open your luggage tag and enter yourself to win the grand prize of a weekend pass for two to next year’s Roots, Rants & Roars food festival!
Looking for recommendations for where to stay in the capital, click here for a list of wonderful options.
Heather Kennery, known as the NewFound Explorer, is a blogger and digital marketing expert based in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Originally from Ontario, Heather was so inspired by a five day holiday to Newfoundland in 2018 that she went home, packed up her life with her husband, their dog and cats and moved here two months later! Her blog newfoundexplorer.com showcases her passion for the province including hiking, renovations to their 100 year old Jellybean Row home and more personal conversations about living with a disability (FSH Muscular Dystrophy).
She hopes that her home DIY's, hiking and adventures in between can offer you an escape and inspiration so that you can become a New Found Explorer as well!