Asparagus with hollandaise at Terre

Delicious Newfoundland Flavours at Terre

Last Updated on June 13, 2024 by Pamela MacNaughtan

I asked for an extra order of potato bread with shallot butter to take to my hotel room because the thought of only enjoying it once felt criminal. I’m still thinking about it, and the lemon balm spritz, a week later.

There is plenty to swoon over at Terre in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The long elegant dining space bathed in natural light. The staff, who are so friendly you wish you could be besties. The incredibly charming and talented chef, Matthew Swift, and of course, the food – which is the true shining star.

Terre opened its doors at Alt Hotel St. John’s in 2019, and not only survived the stops and starts of the pandemic, it thrived. The pandemic provided space to experiment and grow, and in 2021 Terre was voted one of the best new restaurants in Canada by enRoute magazine.

Savouring an evening at Terre

Dine at Terre in St John's

Seated towards the center of the dining room, I quietly laughed as the couples on either side leaned close to recommend the asparagus with hollandaise. When a woman passed my table later and raved about the potato bread with shallot butter I knew it would be a good night.

Originally from Ontario, chef Matthew Swift lived in Montreal for five years, working in kitchens like Joe Beef, before coming to Newfoundland in 2017.

Michael, my server, explained the menu while I sipped a lemon balm spritz, a cocktail made with Aguita de Querer vermouth and sparkling wine (my new favourite cocktail). It’s filled with local seafood and meat dishes. Michael is amiable, with a charming moustached hipster vibe, and within minutes I agree to forgo seafood and order the veal chop.

Most dishes on the menu are made with locally sourced ingredients (a couple are from PEI or Nova Scotia) obtained from small local producers. Veal chops, for instance, are available for short periods a couple of times a year. It comes from a small local farm, where the lambs are raised sustainably and with great care.

Asparagus with hollandaise and veal chop from Terre

The NL Veal Chop was served with red wine jus and spinach, cooked medium-rare, with a bed of fine matchstick potatoes on top. The veal was perfectly cooked, and I had zero regrets about not ordering seafood.

Ordering the asparagus with hollandaise sauce was a must after two couples raved about it, and rightly so! Growing asparagus here is quite challenging and the yield is a little bigger this year. The stalk circumference varies in size, from tiny to modest and rests in a pool of hollandaise sauce with lemony notes. It is glorious – and I may have swished a piece of potato bread through it.

I swear, the asparagus had a slight salty brine to it, which was lovely, I may be projecting my fondness of all things Newfoundland and sea-related (ha!).

Pavlova with blueberry sorbet at Terre

Pavlova with blueberry sorbet was a no-brainer when it came time to order dessert. The pavlova is light with a slightly chewy center and the flavour of the sorbet is well-balanced and refreshing.

There is more on the menu to enjoy. A part of me wants to try popping by for another lemon balm cocktail and a lobster roll – one of my favourite summertime foods. Then there’s the oysters and snow crab. Oh, and the beer can chicken looks fabulous, but bring friends for that one.

Ten years ago, when I was last in St John’s, the food scene was very different. Plenty of fish and shellfish, usually fried. I’m not complaining, I love an order of fish and chips occasionally. Back then, my best meal was at the Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove. Now, it’s Terre.

Dine at Terre

Terre is a popular spot with foodies from Newfoundland and beyond. It’s a good idea to make a reservation, and always arrive hungry. Another thing I love about Terre is that it’s a family-friendly restaurant. It’s officially one of my go-to places in St. John’s.

Where: 125 Water St • • 709-383-2136 • Dinner: 5pm to 10pm Tues-Sat, 9am to 2pm Sun • Reservations recommended

Spend a night (or more!) in St John’s!