Fort Amherst is a fairly new restaurant (2015) located in the Churchill Square area of St. John’s, NL. Upon entering, you do lose quite a bit of light as there is only a window in the front of the restaurant and the walls are painted black. Needless to say it isn’t the prettiest place to eat. It looks like there are only a few tables, but there is another area in the back.
It was very slow during this midday Saturday brunch, so our server was over to us with ice water right away. I’ve been here before and it was completely full, so it seems like the time of day and whether it is weekday or weekend makes a big difference. They do take reservations, which I think would be the best option if you’re heading there for lunch during the week.
Their menu covers pretty much everything you can imagine, and all of the items are created with a lot of thought and care. On the Fort Amherst website, there is information on the background of the family. I highly recommend giving it a read, it gives a great background into the history of the owners and why they put so much effort into their menu. I really enjoy these types of restaurants, because there is so much character and love in the food, it’s not like going to a chain restaurant and getting food from what I would call an assembly line.
For an appetizer, I had the Kung Pao fried cauliflower. When it was first delivered the pieces were huge, and when you cut them open the raw batter came out and the cauliflower was almost raw. I did send them back, and a fresh batch was out within a few minutes. This time they were much smaller pieces that were cooked perfectly! The batter was light and not salty or greasy (which is perfect!). The Kung Pao sauce was fantastic! They were good to the last bite.
I had a hard time deciding what to have for my main course, eventually I went with the chicken tacos with fries. I did want to substitute a Caesar salad but you can’t get anything other than fries as a “side dish”. If you want to substitute for another appetizer you can, and they will take $3 off the price of your meal (for what I assume is the cost of the fries), and then charge the full price of the appetizer. This would make my chicken tacos with Caesar salad cost $26, and I can’t wrap my head around that price and a whole salad would be way too much food for me.
The tacos were in one word, unreal! The fried chicken had the same Kung Pao sauce that the cauliflower had, and it was battered and deep fried. While it was super crispy, there seemed to be no heavy deep fried taste and it was cooked perfectly! My partner tried a piece and he said it was the best fried chicken he’s ever tried! The fresh salsa under the chicken added both a flavour and texture component. Finally the avocado & lime dressing on top brought the whole taco together by having that fresh zesty lime mixed with the rich avocado. The fries were pretty good, cooked well and had a little seasoning on them.
The level of service remained the same throughout our meal, she was around when we needed her to be and she didn’t crowd us at any point. She was exactly the style of server you would want for a quiet Saturday brunch.
All in all, I highly recommend coming to Fort Amherst if you’re looking for something different, keeping in mind the price cost for anything other than fries. I really think they should start offering the salads as a side dish option, for a few extra dollars. I crave these tacos all the time but I don’t want the fries and refuse to pay the increase charge for salad, and then at that point I’m only getting tacos. Maybe something for them to think about. For the flavours of the food I would totally give 5/5 stars, but because of the lack of side dish options I’m going to give an overall 4/5 stars.
Until next time,