Kitchens at The Ship and Adelaide Change The Guard, Keep The Deliciousness

In the early weeks of 2018, while most of us were still sleeping off our holiday hangovers, big changes were afoot at two downtown food staples. Uber Chef Amy Anthony decided to move on from The Ship kitchen, and finding a replacement for herself was not easy. Not after all the buzz and excitement, her witty weekly menus had created. Once a great pub with a pretty decent burger, Anthony put The Ship on the map as a go-to food destination.

The folks at Adelaide Oyster House were in the same boat. Leaving nothing to chance, they enticed a  former chef, Christopher Mercer, back from Dartmouth’s seasonally inspired hotspot, The Canteen.

Mercer already knew he loved Adelaide’s style, and returned with a clear vision of how to keep it vital while adding his own touch. He’s a fan of powerful flavours, but also of simplicity, and hopes to bring Adelaide further into the community with more charity involvement, and participation in culinary events around the province.

Anthony’s search required a wider net but was no less successful, with former Merchant Tavern sous chef Karen Willoughby accepting the challenge. A relative newcomer to town, her background is in contemporary Mexican, and locally inspired upscale cuisine done Ontario-style. While working at Merchant Taverm she picked up some new skills with Newfoundland game and forageables.

Willoughby loves celebrating traditional ingredients in innovative ways, as her recent Purity syrup curd donut attests. Elevated interpretations of fast food favourites, imaginative vegan options, and a knack for spicing are early trademarks of her reign. While her menu offerings have a different flow than Anthony’s, the aesthetic of counterintuitive flavour pairings made delicious, and a funky, fun approach to the kitchen make her the perfect successor at The Ship.

Mercer likes donuts too, and is proud of the Nutella donut on Adelaide’s new brunch menu. He aims to create serious buzz with the brunches, by offering a Mexican and Southern inspired selection that’s different from anything else in town. Breakfast tacos, baked oysters, and fried chicken vie for your appetite with kale salads, chili, and even a chow mein dish; strawberry basil mimosas keep it extra fresh.

The dinner menu faltered briefly with Vardy’s departure, but is back to usual: a mix of popular standards like the kobe beef lettuce wrap and tuna taco, with the unexpected fusion dishes that put Adelaide in a league of its own. In a city with few choices for adventurous eaters, who want dishes that dish out both different and delectable tastes, we need Adelaide to keep doing what it does. Mercer gets that.

For two establishments as synonymous with good times as they are with inventive, exquisite food, keeping it fun while getting the job done is key. These talented chefs are excited about their new roles and plan to keep the vibes high while rocking out the deliciousness.