Welcoming Hungry Travellers Since the 1800’s!
The journey to Woodstock Colonial Restaurant is an experience in itself. Located in Paradise, a picturesque town just ten minutes outside of St. John’s, the drive offers dazzling panoramas of Conception Bay that beg you to pull over and take it all in. The Woodstock Colonial has long been heralded as one of the premier fine dining experiences in the greater St. John’s area. While the establishment itself dates back to 1927, the general area has welcomed hungry travellers since the 1800’s!Entering The Woodstock is like taking a step back in time: antiques adorn every wall and every shelf, there are secret rooms, attics and a friendly resident ghost. The restaurant seats 220 and they happily host a number of weddings, receptions and corporate meetings. I spotted a record player, butter churns, china, rocking chairs and a plethora of art and am informed that almost everything in the building is original. Dark wood accents and original fireplaces top off its old world charm. I’m there to chat with Jill Young, daughter and niece of the current owners and Michael Traverse, the executive chef. As soon as I walk in it’s straight to business – the food. Chef Michael had prepared a seafood platter overflowing with pan seared shrimp and scallops, mussels in a Corona cream, grilled salmon with a Sriracha honey, cod stuffed with Alaskan King Crab au gratin and steamed lobster. Jill pours us a glass of wine and we get to chatting. It’s been four years since Rick and Dave Young have taken ownership of The Woodstock, a restaurant that strives to strike perfect harmony between tradition and innovation, a challenge they welcome with open arms. As we chat I need to take a moment to appreciate the bounty laid before us. The mussels have just the right amount of bite and the stuffed cod is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. The lobster claw is cracked open and I’m in heaven. The food here is good. Really good.
Chef Michael has been with the Woodstock for fourteen years and is one of three Red Seal chefs on site. His menu is always evolving depending on what is in season and what can be sourced locally. They have their staples – the prime rib, seafood platter and caesar salad are all local favourites, but Chef Michael puts emphasis on the customer first. Often, new menu items are created from customer requests. Above all, he wants the customer to have exactly what they want – down to the last bite. Woodstock prides themselves on their accommodating menu – gluten and lactose free, vegan and vegetarian – there’s something for everyone.Serving local rabbit, flipper and even partridge, Woodstock pays homage to their Newfoundland heritage through the food. In season, pickers knock at the restaurant’s back door to sell salt beef buckets overflowing with blueberries. And there’s nothing dainty about Chef Michael’s plates – his servings are big and hearty and you’re going to walk out with a full, happy belly – that’s the Newfoundland way. Their famous Sunday brunch sees their spacious dinning room lined with waffle, omelette and carving stations as well as Newfoundland staples like fishcakes, baked beans and toutons. All their homemade breads and buns are baked by a woman lovingly referred to as “Nanny”. I tried one of her crispy rolls while I was there – if you head to Woodstock for nothing else than Nan’s baked bread, you’re set. Period food, harvest menus and special events are all part of The Woodstock’s wheelhouse.
We polish off our seafood platter and Chef Michael presents us with dessert: an Irish whiskey and toffee bread pudding. Topped with crumbled hazelnuts and a side of vanilla ice cream – I feel like I’ve come home. I go to dig in and have to be reminded that I might want to grab a photo before I’ve licked the plate clean. Moist and rich, the dish is perfection.A beautiful building, home grown, old school hospitality and an intriguing history – The Woodstock Colonial Restaurant has a lot of great aspects but, when you get down to the nitty gritty, it’s all about the food. Chef Michael and his team are serving up some of the best this province has to offer. Don’t take it from me, make the trip and discover The Woodstock for yourself! Click here for reservations.