When you look at a chain grocery store deli case, you don’t think of the tradition of dry curing meats to preserve them; a ritual akin to the beer brewing and cheese making traditions of medieval European monks and artisans. Yet, for so long, those deli offerings were what we were limited to in St. John’s.
“You don’t need to buy deli meats at the grocery store anymore,” says Michelle Leblanc of Chinched Bistro. The bar has now been raised.
Since last August, she and partner Shaun Hussey have been offering housemade dry cured deli meats, and cooked items like terrine (a French forcemeat loaf similar to pate often made with wild game and pork), plus all sorts of sausages, bacon, olives, and beyond from the Chinched deli case at their restaurant on 5 Bates Hill. This summer, they’re even making all pork hot dogs for your grill! The lunch menu highlights these specialty meats.
This summer, they’re even making all pork hot dogs for your grill!
The Hero sandwich is a lunch regular, boasting a trio of meats which weigh in at a combined 3 quarters of a pound. The fried Mortadella is a hometeam hero itself: the rich luncheon meat is baloney’s more glamorous cousin, and the traditional white bread is made fresh daily from Rocket Bakery. There are daily specials, like Chiched’s beloved pig’s ear fries, and best of all you can “make it a combo” by adding a Mill Street pint or glass of house wine. Taco Thursday is a customer favourite. Expanded summer hours are coming soon, just in time for the opening of the back patio!
Five Brothers Cheese is available behind the case too, and graces the sandwiches. A curated selection of local products by reputable brands like Wild Mother Provisions, Third Place Cocktail Co., and East Coast Glow can be purchased as well. Partnerships with other top food and drink destinations in NL include Chinched’s pepperoni on Piattos’ pizza, Chinched’s sausage featured at Grates Cove Studio, Chinched’s meats served at The Newfoundland Distillery’s tasting room, and more.
From the beginning, LeBlanc and Hussey have prioritized local produce and wild foragables. While this same goodness is still available on every plate they serve, and veggie they pickle, the deli case offers new ways to bring the goodness home. From the wild nettle sausage to seasonal offerings from foragers, like chanterelle mushrooms (sold at no extra cost above that paid to the provider), those who love “deep local food” but are less connected than the Chinched crowd now have a way to buy it retail.
Curing Meat is close to Godliness. Firstly, like cleanliness, if you were sloppy about it you could easily get yourself killed in the days before refrigeration and industrialized food and medicine. Curing meat started out of necessity, like all food preservation. But it became an art, science, and tradition over the years, helping to define the flavour culture of different regions of the world. Hussey is devoted to this art, perhaps even “a bit obsessed,” he admits. Chinched is spreading the gospel of flavour culture and house cured meat to St. John’s foodies, one sandwich at a time.