Food and Booze in Saint John, NB

In Food and Drink on December 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Big Tide Brewery, courtesy of Saint John Shawn (

I’m headed home to New Brunswick on Sunday for an extended holiday trip, and I plan on being prepared when I arrive. Saint John is not typically renowned for its cuisine, or even its fine drinking establishments (it’s known more for dependable shit-kickers like O’Leary’s Pub, a place I’ve spent almost as much time in as high school). Still, in the past 10 years, the city has seen a real renaissance in the quality and diversity of its offerings.

I fully plan on investigating as much as I can during my stay. Thankfully, I have some help preparing for the task. Every year, my friend Craig Pinhey writes a supplement for the Telegraph Journal on the best drink and food to be had in all of New Brunswick. That may seem like quite a daunting task, but Craig is up to it. He courteously sent me a PDF of his 2010 Drink Picks, and I’ve uploaded it. Check it out here: Craig Pinhey’s Drink Picks 2010.

Craig’s doing great work for food and drink in NB, so pay close attention to his writing! He’s a real barometer for what’s going on in the restaurant and bar culture. (You can also check out a profile I wrote about him for East Coast Connected.)

Some of Craig’s recommendations have me salivating. I’m particularly looking forward to trying out Big Tide Brewing‘s Sandpiper Pilsner. I’ve always been a big fan of the pils, and I guess that’s convenient because the recent fad for hoppy beers has finally made its way to Saint John. (Last time I was there they also had a very good Pale Ale.) The other note that’s got me excited is the Moosehead Cask Ale, released late this year and only available at the Saint John Alehouse. I never thought I’d see “cask ale” and “Saint John” together in one sentence, but here we are!

On the food front, I’m excited to try Alley Gria, Saint John’s foray into the tapas world, as well as The Bourbon Quarter (we’ll see if their Cajun food holds up to original Acadien food). Of course, you’ll probably find me regularly at the always-fabulous Happinez, the wee little wine bar that has a lock on SJ’s grape-heads, and munching on delicious sandwiches at the dependably delicious Urban Deli.

Outside of Saint John, I haven’t got any specific plans, but for some time now I’ve been meaning to get up to Fredericton. Picaroons is probably my favorite brewery overall in New Brunswick, and I have yet to make the pilgrimage (mostly because if I go alone, I’m also driving, and that means no liquid fun). I adore their Yippee IPA and their Blonde Ale, and their Man’s Best Friend is worming its way into my favorites list. Also, I’ve avoided the Garrison District Ale House for far too long — it’s time to change that, methinks.

I’m looking for recommendations! I won’t be able to do everything in Saint John (and Fredericton) on Craig’s list, but I will do my best. And if there’s anything not on these lists that people think I should try, please let me know.

  1. Are you a sushi fan? Sense of Tokyo is very good. Perhaps we should take a visit while you are down. Get a table of people in to have good food and interesting talk.

  2. Picaroons are the best beers in the best bottles.

  3. Yes, Daman, their bottles are amazing. They feel so substantial, like every beer is a worthy investment.

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