The menu at Port City Royal changes nightly. Printed on a small square of thin white paper with a stamped logo, the only consistent things you’ll find are the cocktails and commitment to sustainable food, east coast style.
The new Saint John restaurant cooks in small batches using ingredients often sourced in small batches in their small open kitchen on Grannan Lane. Menu items are known to sell out, and they make no apologies for that. As one staff explained, “When we’re out, we’re out”. They’re just looking for the right food to feed the right people while producing little to no food waste.
It was late afternoon on our visit, after the lunch rush and before the supper crowd. We ordered potted rainbow trout with cucumber gelée and perfectly paired it with a bottle of Le Petit Sault Bob LeBoeuf.
The beer, as with many menu items, is sourced on the east coast, though they don’t make a big deal about it. In some cases, where the drinks or food is sourced from isn’t even listed on the menu.
The restaurant is housed in a building that dates back to 1877. It’s been home to many things in its long life, from The Singer Manufacturing Company in the 1930s, to a radio and home appliances shop, to the Sunstar Bar.
Port City Royal chef and owner Jakob Lutes worked with local design company Acre to give this old space new life. Acre specializes in working with historic buildings, transforming them into something new and modern while maintaining a strong sense of place. And that’s just what they’ve done with Port City Royal.
The new space is divided into three distinct sections, with a common theme of worn pale wood and brick throughout. We sat in the largest of the three sections. During the day, lots of natural light floods into that space, casting light on all the delicious little details like the campy metal lanterns, visible nails and rafters, and funny little accents like this one…
The bar is back-lit, creating a multicoloured glow through the line-up of bottles. A few feet away there’s a big cozy leather couch, lit mostly from an accent light intended for the wall art.
As Acre describes it, the restaurant design offers “a little taste of rough luxe”.
We were impressed with what we tried and, had we not been in a rush to discover the rest of the Saint John food scene, we would have settled in for more. Next time, I’m visiting on Wednesday for “Crokinole” night and cocktails.
Port City Royal
45 Grannan St.
Saint John, NB
Our trip was made possible through financial support from New Brunswick Tourism. We chose our final itinerary, and are excited to share our favourite New Brunswick adventures from our recent trip with you here on The Local Traveler.