190 Duckworth St.
Ph. (709) 757-2480
The restaurant with the love it or hate it name, Get Stuffed, has proven that it is not a name (quirky or otherwise) that builds a strong reputation. Serving memorable meals and showing guests that you want them to enjoy the time spent in the restaurant is what it takes. This combination has kept Get Stuffed in business for almost a decade. (As I write the word decade I’m shaking my head. According to my records Get Stuffed opened in late 2006.)
Chef Rob Somers has been making things happen at Get Stuffed since it opened. Many of the restaurant’s comfort food selections have been on the menu since the beginning but, amazingly, they taste as delicious now, or better than they did back then. How hard can that be you may ask? Hard enough.
Cooks who prepare the same recipes over and over for years often lose focus. Preparation becomes perfunctory. Corners are cut, maybe small things are missed, a dash of this or that. Consequently, the meatloaf or mac and cheese doesn’t taste as good as it did when you first had it.
Family run, locally owned restaurants have a hard go of it at the best of times but unless the owners remain regularly involved, success will be elusive. Somers and his team have stayed in the game by not losing focus, by making sure standards remain high. These days he also has the crackerjack restaurant manager, Mark Pardy, to help.
It had been years since we’d sat upstairs at Get Stuffed, a space with a residential look, anchored by a large, old, elaborate fireplace. It looked much like the kind of flat where you could imagine Sherlock Holmes living. I easily pictured him there, pacing back and forth, hand under chin, expounding on his latest theory before a seated, bewildered Doctor Watson.
Each table at Get Stuffed received a bowl of deep fried wontons. Feathery light, salty, the definition of crisp and full of fat. You’ve heard of sweet tooth? Well, I have a fat tooth. Wontons impersonating potato chips they were and, yes, I could not eat just one. A sour cream dip seasoned with red pepper, cumin and sun dried tomato was provided but seemed surplus to requirements next to the addictive wontons.
Along with its static main menu, Get Stuffed has daily extras. We were told about two soups and three additional entrées of beef, pork and lamb. Spouse liked the sound of the 8 oz. pork loin (more about that later) but I decided to stick with the regular menu and began with the fresh fish stew, a delectable starter.
Ringing the bowl with shells opened wide was a chorus of plump mussels. In the middle of a deep red liquid, dominated by good quality preserved tomatoes, was an island consisting of cod, salmon, scallops and shrimp flavoured with a tincture of Pernod. Shoring things up were julienned peppers. Along with the grilled bread this stew would also make a superior lunch.
Get Stuffed garlic marinated shrimp were ranged like infantry on the plate. Each crustacean stood on its end appeared to be in a back flip or elaborate yoga pose. Orange and balsamic reductions had been artfully squeezed onto the plate for extra taste and colour. Simple, unadorned preparation of the shrimp allowed for truer flavours to surface when dipped in the contrasting sauces.
Skilfully cooked pork loin (the aforementioned) had been wrapped in bacon, grilled and finished in the oven. Smart technique for a thick 8 oz. cut. Served on sweet potato, with zesty fresh fruit salsa the pork had a pleasing tropical style about it. Asparagus spears may have provided nutritional balance but slightly unbalanced the overall dish.
A very thick slice of Get Stuffed meatloaf on a hillock of mashed potato, surrounded by mushroom demi-cream sauce arrived like a ship riding a great white wave. The impressive meatloaf delivered a hint of fennel. Our server wagered this must have been from the Italian sausage included in the loaf’s mixture of pork sausage and lean ground beef. The late New York Times restaurant critic, Craig Claiborne, once confided that his favourite comfort food was ground beef. He would have loved this meatloaf.
I’d never tried maple croissants but thanks to Get Stuffed I now know that when you mix several of them with eggs, cream and Jim Beam Bourbon you can make an amazing bread pudding. Caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream helped as well, of course. Who knew a morning pastry would form the basis of what would be the final punctuation mark of a most enjoyable evening repast. As the apt cliché goes, life is full of surprises.
Price A dinner for two with tax and tip costs approximately $120.
Service Professional in every way.
Ambiance Lively, lots of chatter, positive energy.
Sound level Moderate.
Open Tuesday to Saturday: Lunch, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday: Lunch, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Reservations Accepted and walk-ins are welcome.
Credit cards All major.
Parking Street parking.
Wine With the exception of sparkling Henkell Troken Piccolo at $11 per glass, Get Stuffed sells wines by the glass for $9. Enough white choices are offered to complete the spectrum of floral and silky (Spy Valley Riesling) to fruity medium bodied (Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva). Red choices range from light (Trapiche Pinot Noir) to moderately heavy (Charles and Charles Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah). A handful of sparkling wines by the bottle include the elegant, celebration Rosé by Benjamin Bridge of Nova Scotia to classic Champagne from Maison Veuve Clicquot. Reds outnumber whites in bottle choices, with the list favouring New World reds. White bottle choices strike a more diplomatic 50/50 balance between New World and Old World.
Wheelchair access Get Stuffed is not wheelchair accessible.
* Fair * * Good * * * Excellent * * * * Exceptional