Best Places to Eat in St. John’s: Top Chef Canada’s Ross Larkin

Ross Larkin didn’t go to culinary school like some of his competitors, but he did begin his career as a potato peeler at his family’s fish and chips shop. Then he spent some time in professional kitchens where he developed a taste for the quick pace of the culinary world. Now he wants to prove he’s got the chops to be Canada’s Top Chef.

As the chef de cuisine at St. John’s Raymonds, Ross knows how to take locally sourced ingredients and create an unforgettable dish. So naturally, he’s also impressed when other chefs demonstrate that same talent. When this hard-working chef has a night off, here’s where he loves to eat.

Related: Read Ross Larkin’s full bio here.

Seto Kitchen + Bar

Ross is particularly fond of this eatery that features contemporary Canadian dishes inspired by traditional Asian culinary techniques. In addition to featuring delicious cocktails and bites, the spot is also open late–a bonus for all those out there in the food industry.

“I used to work with Kenny Pittman, the chef and owner of Seto; I love going there for some of the best cocktails in the city and food that you just want to eat more and more of,” Ross says. “Seto does a late night menu offering that is great for those of us in the industry. It gives us somewhere to go after a service, have a drink and [eat] some killer food. I highly recommend the French fries if they’re on the menu that day. Kenny does an Instagram post of that night’s late-night menu and if those fries are on it I’m there!”

Mallard Cottage

This 18th Century Irish-Newfoundland style cottage isn’t just a beautifully restored property that’s recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada, but it’s also one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America. Top Chef Canada All-Stars competitor Todd Perrin is a co-owner alongside his wife Kim Doyle and sommelier Stephen Lee, making this place a must for any and all food lovers.

“When you walk in there’s usually a local group sitting around a table playing music. It makes you feel like you’re walking into your friend’s house every time,” Ross says. “Just sitting at the bar talking to Steve Lee, seeing Todd Perrin in the kitchen and all the crew down there… They are always in good spirits it seems. It’s nice living in a place where almost everyone knows each other and you’re welcomed when you walk through the doors. You can just sit down, relax and enjoy.”

Moose chorizo, spicy molasses glaze on an @mallard_schteeeek

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Fixed Coffee and Baking

This is a coffee spot that takes its java seriously. The team here only brews up to six cups at a time made in a Feto coffee brewer, and they never brew blended coffee. The result? Pure, single-origin coffee that represents the region it’s from.

“Fixed is one of our local coffee shops and is a stop on my way to work every morning,” Ross says. “It’s a great neighbourhood coffee spot with some amazing baked goods. The crew is great, they’re always doing pop-ups in the evening as well, to offer a little something more for people.”

A cap a day keeps the doctor away

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The Grounds Cafe

If it isn’t from a local farm, it doesn’t make it onto the menu at this “farm-to-fork” establishment. While the café doesn’t do a dinner service, brunch and lunch are available every day until 3 p.m. After that, they offer fresh coffee and baked goods until close.

“The Grounds Cafe is located at one of the farms we deal with at the restaurant,” Ross says. “It’s great to see a small cafe that has all of the amazing products from the farm right at their fingertips.”

Partridgeberry Flakie #thegroundscafe #passionflakie

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Merchant Tavern

This upscale restaurant boasts lots of fresh, local and sustainable ingredients, which in St John’s means plenty of fish and seafood. In fact, everything on the menu comes from and is inspired by local purveyors.

“Merchant Tavern has some great wines and a vast selection of different beers to match some exceptionally fresh seafood,” Ross raves.

Read more about Mallard Cottage

See Chef JP Miron’s Top 5 Eats in Montreal

See Chef Matt Sullivan’s Top 5 Eats in Toronto

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