Uptown Saint John not only has unmatched historic charm, is situated on the beautiful Bay of Fundy, and has a prime arts and culture scene; we are also home to quaint indie shoppes and a mecca of dining and social spaces. Uptown Saint John Inc. recently asked seven local bloggers to spend some time and money ($100 each) uptown and share their experiences with us.
Beginning today, every day for one week, we will highlight each blogger and their ventures. We hope you find these recaps both informative and inspiring.
Uptown Saint John
sevenUP . Day One . February 25, 2013
by Hilary Paige Smith
THE BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER
Saint John City Market, 47 Charlotte St.
Some of my earliest memories are of the Saint John City Market.
My grandmother would take me there when I was very small and sit me on the counter of Raymond's at the top of the Market. The man working there would give me a slice of cheese and we'd be on our way.
The Market has played a starring role in my life. It's where I had my first job – working at a candy shop. It's also where I had my second job – making delicious lunches at the Wild Carrot Cafe. I spent entire summers there and countless school lunch hours in between.
It isn't just the tempting smells of fresh produce, baking bread and spices that draw me to the Market. It's the people. This is one of the friendliest places in town.
When Uptown Saint John presented me with this opportunity, I knew exactly where I wanted to go first. The Butcher's Daughter is relatively new to the Market, but owner Cindy Christie is a second-generation merchant. Her shop is bright and cheerful, not unlike the owner herself.
When I need to buy gifts or something to treat myself, this is where I like to visit. Cindy sells pottery from regional artists, gorgeous jewellery and thoughtful crafts.
She's also eager to answer questions about anything in the shop and where it comes from. As I shop, Cindy and I chat about the artists she's carrying and she helps me find what I'm looking for, even as I wander aimlessly between options.
After much deliberation and conversation, I settle on a small cream-coloured mug peppered with hearts ($25). It's a companion piece for the next stop on my adventure.
THE FEEL GOOD STORE
89 Germain St.
When I walk into The Feel Good Store, the first thing I hear is owner Anne McShane singing in the tearoom at the back of the shop.
I've met Anne a few times, mostly while I was working as a community reporter. She's always willing to talk, whether it is about the tea in the tearoom or issues in the community.
For me, this shop embodies relaxation and calm. I buy my tea and vanilla incense here. It's also the place I first discovered the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann. Anne has it framed in the tearoom and if you haven't read it yet, go there right now. To quote one of my favourite movies, Garden State, “It'll change your life, I swear.”
The Feel Good Store smells like lavender and green tea, but subtly. Nothing about this place is overpowering. Anne sells everything from organic snacks and loose tea, to yoga gear and candles.
To go with my heart mug, I pick up a loose tea ball ($3.95), “Cup of Perfect Tea” scoop ($6.95) and two packages of tea: Caramel Apple and Blueberry Green ($3.50 each). And, because I'm a sucker for anything that smells good, I pick out a sandalwood-scented candle ($19.95). I wanted to take a picture of it while it was still pristine, but I lost my head and lit it the second I got home.
It fills my living room with a gorgeous scent and the wooden wick crackles, like a teeny, tiny fireplace. Perfect.
SCHEHERAZADE BOOKS AND MUSIC
116 Prince William St.
On my Uptown adventures, I wanted to visit somewhere I'd never been before.
Now, I'm regretting all those afternoons I didn't spend poring over this used bookstore. I'm a serious bibliophile, so it's basically criminal that I haven't been to Scheherazade before.
I visited on a dreary Saturday afternoon, but even down the block I could see the bookstore's windows glowing. This place is heaven for booklovers.
It isn't huge, but every available space is taken up by shelves upon shelves of books. It's hard not to just stand in the door and breathe deeply. The beautiful, musty smell of an old book is unparalleled to me.
Unlike many used bookshops, this one is immaculate. Everything is well organized by subject and alphabetized. They even have a display of graphic novels. In addition to selling secondhand books, they also sell new books by local writers like Clyde Wray and Jordan Stewart.
Of all the places I visited, I spent the most time in Scheherazade. I just couldn't make up my mind. I picked books up and put them back. Only to go back and pick them up again. Eventually, after the better part of an hour, I settled on In This House are Many Women by Sheree Fitch ($6.99). Like most people in my generation, I was raised on Fitch's children's books, like Toes in My Nose and Mable Murple. I had the pleasure of meeting Sheree in my final year of university and interviewing her for a long-form feature story. The experience opened me up to her poetry and work for adults, which is truly incredible. I also picked up Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs ($7.99). This one is good for anyone who likes comedy and controversy.
I will be spending many more afternoons here. You can find me in the fiction section, breathing deeply.
RELISH GOURMET BURGERS
26 Germain St.
If you need to feel appreciated, go to Relish.
At this burger joint, they literally yell “We Relish ______” when your order is up. Relish is fun, loud and delicious. That's why it's one of my favourite places for lunch.
They do gourmet burgers and poutine, in just about every creative flavour combination you can dream of. My go-to burger is The Greek Tycoon on a turkey patty. It's got crumbled feta cheese, marinated bell peppers and onions, olives and tzatziki. Plus, all of their burgers come with their signature beet relish.
Relish is great because their combinations are gourmet, but they suit even the pickiest palates. You can get any of their burgers on beef, turkey or veggie patties. They also do sides like sweet potato fries, milkshakes and poutine, usually loaded with equally unique items like peppercorn gravy and blue cheese.
Relish is a Maritime success story, largely because of their creative customer service and killer flavours. Started by entrepreneur Rivers Corbett, Relish has expanded from a single location in Fredericton to ten existing and planned spots across the east coast.
My advice? Come hungry. If not, you'll go into a food coma.
Find Hilary on twitter @hilarypage. She's one cool lady to follow!