Bourbon Quarter, Saint John, New Brunswick

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | July 12th, 2011 | Restaurant Reviews

While our breakfast at the Homeport Bed and Breakfast was the culinary highlight of our time in Saint John, our dinner at Bourbon Quarter came in at a length behind second.  Most of the food was enjoyable; however, the service was, well, interesting.

We arrived at Bourbon Quarter at 7:30 at which point the restaurant was half-full.  We opted to eat on the lounge side of the restaurant in a booth designed for two.  We were greeted by the bartender who was friendly and attentive.  She delivered water to us and let us know that our waitress would be over shortly.  With a little time to peruse the menu, we had our drink orders ready when our waitress appeared.

The perfectly crafted drinks arrived, and our waitress took our order.  From the beginning, she seemed either to be ill-fit for the job of serving or brand new.  Carrying two cocktails seemed difficult, even though it was a short, straight path less than 15 feet from bar to table.  Although waitressing was not her strength, she did manage to take our orders correctly.

For our first course, I opted to have the Grilled Watermelon Salad, which consisted of buttermilk vinaigrette, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, and watermelon coulis atop a bed of arugula.  I found this to be my favorite dish of the evening.  The watermelon had a wonderful smoky flavor from grilling, and the vinaigrette was light.  My husband ordered a special, Lobster Poutine.  This dish was a combination of homemade french fries topped with cheese curds and pieces of lobster.  The serving of lobster was generous for a topping on an appetizer, and the fries were tasty.  Both dishes made for a good start to our dinner.  However, this course further showed our waitress’ lack of server knowledge.  She stopped by our table at least 10 minutes after our dishes were delivered to offer freshly ground black pepper for my salad.  I may not be a fast eater, but I was halfway through it at that point.  If it were a busy night, I could understand the delay, but we were her only party at that time.

For our entreés, I chose the Shrimp Creole.  Eight large shrimp rested atop avocado mousse and cilantro black bean salad with a side of mango strawberry salsa.  The combination of textures and flavors made a pleasing main dish, though the shrimp seemed to be slightly overcooked and chewy.  My husband opted for another special for this course, Fried Chicken.  Although well cooked and crispy, it was a disappointing serving in that he received a wing and a thigh; it seemed a little unusual that there wasn’t a chicken breast in the mix.  The sides were less than memorable.  The serving highlight of this meal was having to ask our waitress for new forks after she delivered our food, looked at our table, and asked if we needed anything.  When we asked for forks, she looked surprised but did manage to bring them promptly.

When we were offered dessert, it seemed like it might be the highlight of the night.  We were told that the best way to choose was to walk to the connected bakery, Magnolia Café, to view their dessert selection.  Looking in the case, it did seem like it could be a hard choice.  I decided on the Blueberry Cheesecake.  While it was tasty, it seemed to be a cheesecake that didn’t know where it belonged.  It had the density of a cream cheese cheesecake but without the tangy bite.  It had the lack of bite of a ricotta cheesecake but was much heavier.  My husband opted for a dessert not in the case but on the menu, Bananas Foster.  He was delivered a dish of vanilla ice cream with a side of banana topping.  We both were expecting a flaming dish, which it wasn’t.  Additionally, the topping was mediocre.  It didn’t have any depth of flavor.  Amazingly, the serving of this course went well.

Dinner at Bourbon Quarter was a decent attempt at fine dining.  I think if we had eaten at the bar, our evening would have been more enjoyable, as the bartender provided attentive service and made excellent drinks.  The food wouldn’t have improved but better atmosphere would have made the overall experience more positive.  If you find yourself in Saint John, ask for a seat at the bar and order the Grilled Watermelon Salad.

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