Mallard Cottage is one of St. John’s, Newfoundland’s most prominent restaurants. In a city with a growing food scene, recently highlighted by the late Anthony Bourdain, whose visit to Newfoundland coincided with my own, Mallard Cottage stands out for its highly creative reinterpretations of traditional Newfoundland fare—think cod belly bacon with maple butter glaze; tuna caught that day a couple hundred metres away; or bear sausage.
The restaurant is located in Quidi Vidi, the peninsular St. John’s neighbourhood nestled in between an urban forest, and rocky coast. The impossibly quaint neighbourhood feels like a Newfoundland outport. Located in an 18th-century house designed in the Newfoundland-Irish vernacular, Mallard Cottage is one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America, and a recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada. Today, its star chef Todd Perrin can be found in the kitchen butchering the moose he hunts. It’s that kind of place.
Last year owners Perrin, Stephen Lee, and Kim Doyle decided to extend that signature homey, refined experience to overnight stays. They built two cottages, made to look like 18th-century saltbox homes, across from the restaurant with eight guestrooms they call the Inn by Mallard Cottage.
The inn echoes Fogo Island Inn’s approach of melding traditional Newfoundland hominess with ultra-modern touches.
It may be small, but it’s fair to say the micro-hotel is the most exciting accommodation to open in Newfoundland since Fogo Island Inn. While less architecturally daring by far, the inn echoes Fogo’s approach of melding traditional Newfoundland hominess with ultra-modern touches. Opening manager Laura Higenell admits the team looked to Fogo Island Inn for inspiration—not for design, but inasmuch as capturing the “rural Newfoundland contemporary.” Higenell says, “We wanted the idea of a modern cabin around the bay.”
Each of the two buildings have four 435-square-foot guest rooms. The whitewashed walls are punctuated with splashes of colour, courtesy of the traditionally functional furniture: wooden chairs purchased from the Flake House (a former restaurant in Quidi Vidi) painted a cheery turquoise; quilted artwork by Jessica Waterman, and actual quilts by the Jackson’s Arm Heritage Society. Thick wool socks, also made by the ladies of Jackson’s Arm, hang like art on the wall in the airy rooms. (These can be worn by guests to putter around in and are also available for purchase).
Guests gather communally in “the Linney” a common space equipped with a full bar. In the morning, a coffee basket is brought to guests’ rooms: coffee, or tea, juice, and Mallard Inn granola. The light breakfast is a good thing, as there’s a big day of moose stew and cod tartare from the restaurant ahead, not to mention foraging in the forest for blueberries and mushrooms, a lobster boil on the beach, or cooking classes for those who signed up with Lori McCarthy, founder of the culinary adventure company Cod Sounds, which has partnered with the inn for cooking experiences. Add the staff’s penchant for fine Newfoundland storytelling, and you have yourself a gorgeous Atlantic vacation.
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