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Brunch at Mallard Cottage
Sunday Brunch at Mallard Cottage
Tucked away in the tiny yet historic fishing village of Quidi Vidi, in the east end of the city of St. John's, Newfoundland, you'll find Mallard Cottage, an old and unassuming white cottage built right on the side of the road. Mallard Cottage is an 18th century Irish-Newfoundland cottage believed to have been built somewhere between 1820 and 1840. It was formally recognized as a National Historic Site in 1986 for being one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America.
The Mallards, a family of Irish origin who were fisherfolk and farmers, lived in the cottage for over 100 years. In 1985, the cottage was bought by Peg Magnone who restored the property and set up a business selling antiques and second hand books. In 2011, Mallard Cottage was purchased by Chef Todd Perrin, his wife Kim Doyle and Sommelier, Stephen Lee.
Chef Perrin was one of the 16 chef contestants on the first season of Top Chef Canada who shocked the entire culinary nation by preparing a pulled seal on chive biscuit slider for the judges. Perrin made it to the 8th episode before being asked to pack up his knives and leave, but that was not to be the last that the world was to hear of Todd Perrin, not by a long shot.
After purchasing Mallard Cottage, Perrin and his partners went straight to work transforming it from an antique store into a charming, unpretentious food establishment that takes locally sourced foods and transforms them into pure culinary delight!
Historic Mallard Cottage
Sunday Brunch at Mallard Cottage
On this particular Sunday, my husband, 12 year old daughter, 83 year old mom and I went to Mallard Cottage for brunch. My sister had given me a gift card for Mallard Cottage for Christmas, insisting that I just had to go there and that I would love it. Well...she was right!
As soon as you walk in through the doors, the casual rustic charm of Mallard Cottage embraces you and welcomes you in. You can't help but feel like you're about to have lunch at a friend's house. Mallard Cottage offers brunch on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m., but on Sundays, it's an all-day affair until 5 p.m. During Sunday Brunch, the restaurant transforms into a Public House that features renowned Newfoundland musicians Duane Andrews and Aaron Collis from 2:30 p.m. onward.
You won't find the menu for Mallard Cottage on it's website because it changes daily, but it always promises to 'feature the best of Newfoundland proteins and produce' and the brunch service always features house made breakfast meats, (the bacon is to DIE for!), and in house baked pastries, cakes and pies.
My husband arranged a reservation for us some weeks ago so we were seated fairly quickly and the wait staff was super friendly. Our server, who's name escapes me right now, was friendly, knowledgeable of their products, beyond efficient and seemed to anticipate our needs before we even knew we had them! We were seated at a table close to the entrance of the kitchen and while that may not be ideal for some, for me as a foodie, I was thrilled! (I was even more thrilled when I caught a glimpse of the master himself, Todd Perrin. I swear to God, I felt all giddy and silly like a teenage girl seeing One Direction or something!).
But what was perhaps even more impressive than seeing the master at work was witnessing how all the wait staff quickly but efficiently, and even happily, lined up to go into the kitchen whenever the cow bell rang, coming out, one by one, with freshly prepared and hot plates of food to bring to the tables. Trust me, when your food is ready, the wait staff know and it's brought to you as promptly as humanly possible. It was actually my 12 year old daughter who commented, while I was noting the efficiency with which the food was being served to my husband, that what she liked most was that the staff all seemed really happy and you could tell that they actually really liked working with one another. Yup...that 'emotional tone' is definitely a part of the charm of Mallard Cottage.
I can't possibly list all of the options on the menu for brunch but suffice to say, there was something for everyone! I had a hard time deciding, wanting to try everything, but I ultimately chose the Breakfast Sandwich, which is a fried egg, aoili, cheese and house-made bacon (or peameal or sausage), on a house-made biscuit, and I chose wedges for my side. My daughter chose to have the same as me.
First, the house-made biscuit was tender, fluffy, buttery and a pure delight to have in my mouth. I can honestly say that the bacon was the best bacon I have ever tasted and the combination of the fried egg, aioli and cheese with the bacon on that delightful house-made biscuit made it skyrocket to my number one favorite breakfast sandwich ever!
The wedge fries were perfectly seasoned and I was pleasantly surprised that the 'ketchup' was also made in-house, a little touch of finesse you don't often see these days.
Mallard Cottage's Breakfast Sandwich
My 83 year old mom opted to try the Hash Skillet which was a bed of roasted root vegetables, (today that was turnip), topped with pastrami, honey mustard and a sunny-side up fried egg. Usually, my mom is the slowest eater of us all, but today she whipped through her brunch like it was The Last Supper!
Mallard Cottage's Hash Skillet
My husband decided to have Mallard's Ploughman's Platter, which was a platter consisting of deviled eggs, potato salad, Jagerwurst sausage, cheese, pickled beets, a house-made biscut and a grainy honey mustard. He thoroughly enjoyed it and felt that the meal left him feeling completely satisfied without being put into a food coma!
Mallard Cottage's Ploughman's Platter
Family Table and The Cake Table
If you have a hard time trying to decide what to order for brunch, the Mallard Cottage offers a 'Family Table' option, which is a chef's choice compilation of menu items, all served family style in the center of the table for you to pick and chose from, at a cost of $20 per person. We're thinking we're going to give this option a try at our next visit to Mallard Cottage.
I have to note that everything in Mallard Cottage has a touch of history and charm unlike any other place I've eaten. Our tea and coffee was served with tiny antique souvenier spoons, (mine was from Japan, my husband's from Florida, and mom's from Jamaica) and our little tea pots were actually old CN Rail teapots...very cute touches I think.
Another menu option that was quite popular with my mom and daughter was the Cake Table. The Cake Table is a table of sorts in the middle of the restaurant that has a large assortment of house-made cakes, cookies, squares, pastries and pies. The cost is $10 per person, and you take your plate up and pile on as much as you want. There's only one rule: you only get one shot, no going back for seconds. A variation to this is, for $15, you get a take-away box that you can fill with these delicious sweet treats. This time, the only rule is that you have to be able to close the box!
We were all sufficiently full from eating our brunch but for my mom, a meal just isn't a meal unless you finish it off with something sweet, so she decided to get the take-away box. In that box she managed to fit in 3 pieces of house-made chocolate nut fudge, two squares of some kind, 2 peanut butter cookies, 2 chocolate nibbit cookies, 2 slices of partridgeberry cake, 2 pieces of partridgeberry braid, a piece of chocolate cake and a piece of carrot cake. While $15 might seem a little expensive, for house-made, fresh cakes, pastries and cookies, I say it's a bargain!
The Cake Table and Take-Away Box
My mom is a fiercely independent woman and as such, she insisted on paying for her own meal, probably so that we didn't feel entitled to a nibble of her sweet treats. Her Hash Skillet and Take-Away Box from the Cake Table totaled $36.16, taxes included, excluding tip.
For the three of us, my husband, daughter and I, including our tea, coffee and juice, our total was $58, taxes included, excluding tip, which we felt was completely reasonable. Trust me, we've paid A LOT more, for a lot less and for food that couldn't possibly come close to comparing to the wonderful brunch we had the pleasure of devouring at Mallard Cottage.
Beyond the ambiance within the restaurant, the historic nature of the cottage itself, the food or being in the presence of the Chef Perrin, one can't help but somehow feel just a little closer to heaven taking in the scenery as you walk to Mallard Cottage's parking lot.
Historic Quidi Vidi Village in St. John's, Newfoundland
All things considered...
You can feel the history within the charmingly rustic walls of Mallard Cottage. The ambiance is casual, warm and friendly, the food, unique and deeply flavored, the cost, totally acceptable with brunch entrees costing in the $15 range, and the surrounding scenery, completely captivating.
It's no wonder that Mallard Cottage is featured on Best Restaurant Lists in Canada, year after year. Congratulations, Chef Perrin and staff on finding the formula for culinary success! We most certainly will be back!