Best New Bay Restaurant: Brigus’s Sea Salt and Thyme

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Dubbed “gourmet pub food without the gourmet price tag,” this new gastropub is just that. Sea Salt and Thyme is home to the province’s best onion rings — pickled onions in a buttermilk dredge! — and a beef burger whose buns are toutons.

Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds. Best onion rings is no exaggeration, and that touton beef burger has bacon and maple syrup on it, so they can offer it for breakfast, lunch, or supper.

Rod Delaney says his approach to their menu was simple. “Chef first – then a menu built from his or her strengths.” That chef is Leanne Vail, previously from Adelaide Oyster House — St. John’s most beloved restaurant.

“Virtually everything is from Chef and her Sous – weeks of ideas on paper and cooked product were put in, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. Pub food was an obvious choice for myself, as this area already had very strong and popular dining options, so I figured another genre was there to provide for.”

The space they’re in used to be a restaurant, years ago. “It was literally waiting for its resurrection,” Delaney says. As a Gastropub, Delaney felt Front of House staff was as important as chef and space. Their Manager is Debbie Adams, formerly from Portobellos.

With her coming on board, Delaney says everything was complete. “We now had collectively 70–75 years of experience to offer our co-workers.”

For what you’d pay at a Wendy’s or McDonald’s drive thru, you’re getting a delectable meal at Sea Salt and Thyme. Everything is between $9-14, and includes items like pork belly and greens with rhubarb glaze and split pea puree (for brunch), a chicken-savoury burger with cranberry aioli or a BBQ Pork Biscuit Sandwich with horseradish mayo (for lunch), or seared tuna with egg noodle, mushroom, and orange ginger sauce (for supper).

For vegetarians, who always struggle with Bay Dining, there’s plenty of options, like a veggie lentil burger with chili mayo and pickled onion. Much of the menu is locally sourced, including a nice beet salad using beets from Brigus, and local Five Brothers cheese.

Their menu conjures both Newfoundland terroir and comfort food favourites. Its offerings feel like fresh and local twists on common favourites, and collectively offers a range of options from hearty and meaty, to lighter, brighter veggie options. It also offers some pretty great deserts, like Oreo fried donuts, or their take on a whoopie pie (chocolate brownie with blueberry coulis & chocolate avocado mousse).

As you’d expect, being based in Brigus, the menu is big on blueberries. You’ll find them not just in the fish cake chutney or the whoopie pie, but in specials of the day, the blueberry & chantilly sauce for their pancakes, and their Blueberry BBQ Wings.

If you’ve been to Mallard Cottage and The Grounds Cafe — two food hotspots on the fringes of St. John’s — Sea Salt and Thyme feels like a marriage of the two in many ways. Quaint settings, quality unpretentious food, simple ingredients that speak for themselves.

As for the name of the restaurant, it came down to Sea Salt and Thyme, which conceptually fused Brigus’s heritage with fine dining, or “The Crooked Moose,” which he jokes would have been too problematic to explain.

The restaurant offers either bar seating or a separate dining room: you take your pick, or eat wherever there’s a free seat. They’re open for brunch and lunch, 11:30-3, then supper, from 4-10.

About Author

Chad Pelley

Chad Pelley is an author, songwriter, and journalist who wrote for publications like the Globe & Mail and The Telegraph-Journal before founding The Overcast. Now he spends 25 hours a day keeping up with his email, and has no time to be his former self.

11 Comments

    • Thank you – we are extremely grateful for the well wishes and the public’s reception. Our staff are fantastic indeed – you are only as good as the people you work with. We are fortunate to have such a team.

  1. Words could not have been more true on what Rod and his staff have offered up out in our little town of Brigus, Conception Bay.

  2. Bobbi Snelgrove on

    This place sounds awesome!I love supporting local businesses.I would love to visit..I can’t wait 😉

  3. Andie Bulman on

    Rod! This is (Andie) your former employee! Paul and I are coming out tomorrow to eat and we’re booking a room for whatever time you have available in the fall! Beyond thrilled for you! Cannot wait to check it out! I am so incredibly psyched to see this article! Love the chef first philosophy! Can’t wait to see you!

  4. Hi Rod,
    Are reservations needed?If not,we will be by tomorrow afternoon.What is your phone mumber there?
    Thanks,
    John

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