New Brunswick Week: The Debut of the Uncorked Tasting Room at Saint John City Market
For 9 years, sisters Gilliane and Nathalie Nadeau ran the popular Uncorked Tours, small group walking tours lasting 3 hours that gave visitors the inside scoop on those historic alleys and brick buildings that line the hillside neighborhood called Uptown. New Brunswick’s largest port was expected to receive a record-breaking 200,000-plus cruise ship passengers in 2020 and the Nadeau sisters employed a staff of 6, often doing 3 tours a day up to that point. But we all know what happened after that—the pandemic reared its ugly head and like many others, Gilliane and Nathalie were forced to pivot. They turned their attention to the oldest market in Canada, Saint John City Market, which dates back to the 1870s. Step foot inside and you can still walk up or down the original Market Street surrounded by purveyors like Lord’s Lobster, which have been serving lobster rolls, battered haddock, fish cakes and smoked salmon for over 60 years; Slocum & Ferris, which opened in 1895 and bakes fresh bread daily, ideally suited for a breakfast or lunch sandwich; and some of the newer vendors like Kim’s Korean Food, known throughout the city for his tasty bibimbap and ramen.
In the heart of the pandemic, Gilliane and Nathalie took a corner of this storied market and created a contemporary tasting room featuring New Brunswick’s best beers, wine, and microdistilleries. Grab a Foghorn Esty Extra Special Bitter on draught or a or a cocktail like Slocum’s Maple Smash made from Moonshine Creek White Pup. Locally curated art is found on the walls, currently photographs of the city. The sisters hired a curator who changes the art monthly. Outside is a patio lined with tables to enjoy a drink from 5 to 8 pm.
Afterwards, do yourself a favor and make a reservation at East Coast Bistro, my favorite restaurant in the province. I’ve been here at least a half dozen times, ordering fresh fish like Black Pepper Seared Tuna or Horseradish Glazed Salmon and always walked away with a smile on my face. Start with the dreamy mixed mushroom toast sweetened with walnut cream, or the gnocchi, soft as pillows and topped with homemade tomato confit—guaranteed to have you returning to Saint John as often as me.