Harbourview Dining

From 1840 to 1889, St. John’s Fish Exchange referred to a fish market and wharves from which a fleet of 100 ships fished the Atlantic, and carried salt fish to the West Indies, Brazil, Great Britain and Continental Europe. Beginning on a stormy January night in 2016, the name has been used to describe a two-story dining establishment. The proprietors, Robert Moore and Justin Garland, wanted to honour the legacy of the fisher people that made the province what it is.

The historical references extend beyond the name and are evident throughout the decor and on the menu. They wanted to establish a destination restaurant that would offer fresh seafood year-round, for residents as well as tourists. Described as an “upscale eatery”, “vintage-chic”, and “urban and hip”, SJFX checks all the boxes: cozy, romantic, casual, and imbued with St. John’s soul. Incredible views of the harbour enhance the industrial and rustic atmosphere.

A busy and bustling establishment, reservations are recommended, but not essential. You may even enjoy the wait! A sealskin bench and the fascinating photos on the walls intensify the traditional vibe while open views of the kitchen allow you to watch the chefs at work from the bar. The staff will, of course, accommodate your party as quickly as possible. Despite its size, the architecture and design naturally demarcate areas that feel more intimate for guests during regular service, but SJFX often hosts special events. You can book a private dining room for up to 14 guests, a mezzanine area that seats 40, or the entire restaurant which seats 147.

Regardless of the group, SJFX feels strongly about a hardy welcome and excellent service, with loyal, long-term staff who are professional, attentive and mindful of your needs and enjoyment. The restaurant is wheelchair-accessible including an elevator and parking lot. They also offer vegetarian options, and have a dedicated gluten-free fryer.

The menu offers a variety of fresh seafood: salmon, halibut, lobster, tuna, crab, shrimp, cod, calamari and more. Locally sourced whenever possible, from all over the province, the catch is supplemented through connections in Atlantic Canada and Boston markets. They feature legacy dishes like cod tongues, fish and brewis and scrunchions; familiar Newfoundland and Labrador flavours with an elevated presentation. From the land, there are many other delicious options including chicken, ribs, steak, and pastas, which all get rave reviews. SJFX sets themselves apart with a conceptual menu. There are consistent favourites and signature dishes, but an eclectic crew of chefs are constantly reinventing standard ingredients. They continue to push the boundaries, creatively incorporating Newfoundland and Labrador’s heritage into their culinary fusions. The bar menu features unique craft cocktails designed as tributes to the remarkable history of St John’s. Several of their specialty recipes include Purity syrup.

The Purity Factory was founded in 1924 and included restaurants, soda fountains and candy factories, creating sweet staples that became part of the heritage and were beloved by generations. The Jam Jam Martini includes sweet Purity syrup and is garnished with a jam jam cookie. You might want to try a Caesar with salt beef jerky, or a Blueberry Shrub with fresh local blueberries. If you’re feeling a little more daring, the Eighteen 9-2 features spiced screech and arrives at your table in flames. The desire to source locally includes craft beer, spirits and wine from notable Newfoundland distilleries and brew houses.

Stop in with friends for hand-battered fish and chips with a traditional side of dressing and green peas, SJFX tacos or wings, with a few Quidi Vidi Brewery pints. Plan to celebrate an important occasion with a sophisticated evening of tuna tartare or the chef’s signature spinach and crab dip, followed by a fillet with Oscar topper or the Fishing Admiral’s Feast, paired with a bottle of fine wine from their extensive list. Finish with a decadent dessert made on-site or a specialty coffee. Gazing out at the lights reflecting on the water, the ghostly silhouettes of ships in the mist, or the sunlit sea kissing the sky, you’ll be immersed in the heritage and legacy of the island while making meaningful memories of your own. St. John’s Fish Exchange Kitchen & Wet Bar is a destination dining experience in the heart of St. John’s that revels in its roots.

St. John’s Fish Exchange Kitchen & Wet Bar