That is always how I feel when the plane lands on the small runway in front of Deer Lake airport, about a half hour outside of Corner Brook, Newfoundland. It is in Corner Brook that I competed in my first figure skating competition at age 7, went to my Grade 9 prom, graduated high school and then eventually returned to marry my high school sweetheart. It is therefore no wonder that a piece of my heart still resides there, no matter where else my life has taken me.
Corner Brook, located on the West Coast of the island, is the province's 3rd largest city after St. John's (the oldest city in Canada) and the cities making up St. John's metropolitan area. Although its population is just a little over 20 000, it serves as a hub for the many small surrounding areas and therefore, it has a lot more resources and infrastructure than your average small town. Within a short drive from Corner Brook, you will find picturesque fishing villages, stunning natural beauty and amazing hiking, including the summit to Gros Morne mountain in Gros Morne National Park. And, no matter what corner of the island you visit, you will be treated to the second-to-none Newfoundland hospitality for which this province is so well known.
Here is a little look at some of my favourite bites here on the West Coast of Newfoundland:
This cute little restaurant located right on the water in Pasedena (a little town located about a 15 min drive from Corner Brook) is a great spot for a few drinks and a casual bite. The highlight is the large deck right on the beach. Inside, there is a bar on one side and a large spacious area with large tables on the other. The atmosphere is laid back, with beach house decor and service is very friendly. The menu has quite a wide variety of options, from the typical bar snacks (wings, nachos, mozza sticks) to full sized meals (burgers, fish, chicken). We chose some of the more traditional Newfoundland fare, including pan-fried cod and the ever-popular fries with hamburger meat, dressing and gravy (only in Newfoundland)! For even more Oasis fun, visit on a Wednesday with four friends to participate in Trivia Night. Apparently, it is quite a good time (and as everyone knows, Newfies know how to have a good time!!!).
Marlaine's Tidewatcher Cafe and Crafts
This place is a real gem. It is located in Lark Harbour, a lovely little fishing village about 1 hour northwest of Corner Brook. The drive there is quite spectacular and therefore it is well worth driving the hour to Marlaine's for lunch. You will likely want to book off the whole afternoon so that you can stay in Lark Harbour to take in some of the amazing hiking trails nearby, or to simply sit on the deck outside Marlaine's and admire the beautiful views of the water and the mountains.
Marlaine serves an assortment of sandwiches, including a delicious crab salad sandwich made with chunks of real crabmeat. She also sells soups (Newfoundlanders make the very best soups by the way!) and salads. If you are visiting Newfoundland for the first time (and not on a diet!), I recommended trying her Fish and Brewis (pronounced fish and brews), a traditional Newfoundland dish made with salt cod and hardtack (a simple cracker made from flour, water and salt). Marlaine also goes the extra mile and tops her Fish and Brewis with "pork scrunchions" (aka fried salted pork fat). After one bite, you will feel like a true Newfoundlander!
And be sure to save room for dessert! Marlaine makes a lovely assortment of cookies, pies, cakes and other pastries that are definitely worth a try. My favourite is her date square- chock full of dates with plenty of buttery oatmeal topping goodness, just the way I like it! I left the store with 3 in a to-go box for later! Other favourites are the cinnamon bun (my dad's pick) and the chocolate chips cookies.
After you tummy is full, stick around for a browse through the Newfoundland crafts. There is a great assortment of sweaters, quilts, dolls and other Newfoundland nic-nacs that make great souvenirs.
So be sure to include a trip to Marlaine's in your West Coast travel plans. Between the beauty of Lark Harbour, the traditional food and the Newfoundland hospitality, Marlaine's is the perfect example of what this beautiful province is all about!
Brewed on Bernard
Corner Brook certainly has its fair share of Tim Hortons (4 in total, plus more just outside city limits), but for those who are not so keen on Tim's coffee (including me!), there is finally another (much better) choice. Brewed On Bernard, and her sister restaurant Brewed Awakening located on Main St., are independent coffee shops that know how their java. They are the West Coast's only coffee roaster, specializing in organic, fair trade coffee. They offer the full gamut of caffeinated beverages including coffee and espresso-based drinks, with soy milk as a non-dairy option (and maybe almond milk soon). I had a very nice latte, complete with latte art.
In terms of food, Brewed in Bernard offers a breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a great selection of cookies, squares and other goodies, all baked in-house. For breakfast, they make waffles, breakfast sandwiches and smoothie. For lunch, one can get a tasty sandwich, made on bread baked daily at the store (loaves are available for purchase) and they sometimes have a lunch special. On my last visit home, I had the vegetarian chili which was delicious! And whatever you do, do not leave the store without sampling some baked goods. I HIGHLY recommend the homemade granola bars (chewy goodness, chock full of raisins, chocolate chips and nuts) and the oatcakes (the ones with chocolate on the top are out of this world!). There was no way I was leaving these behind- I have 3 each of the granola bars and the oatcakes in my suitcase to bring back to Vancouver!
Brewed on Bernard is the perfect place to relax for a few hours with a cup of coffee and your laptop (free wifi). Service is what just what you would expect here in Corner Brook (super friendly) and the space is very bright and pleasant. If I still lived here, this is a place you would find me at often!
My trip home to "the Rock" is quickly drawing to a close and, although it will be nice to back to the life I enjoy so much in Vancouver, there will will be lots of sad goodbyes to say to loved ones and to this wonderful island that will forever be "my home".