St. John’s Nachos Review: Dishing on Nachos Across a Number of Platforms

The Racket recently came across an Instagram account, @sjnachos, a page dedicated to reviewing the popular pub fare and we were interested in profiling the person or persons behind it. Turns out, St. John’s Nachos Review is more than just an Instagram account. Lacy O’Connell and Zaren Healey White also operate a website, a YouTube channel and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Zaren Healey White & Lacy O’Connell

Zaren Healey White & Lacy O’Connell

St. John’s Nachos Review came about from one of O’Connell’s birthday parties. “I kept saying I thought it would be hilarious to do a food review, but only on nachos,” said O’Connell via email. “Does any kitchen actually like making nachos? They're a popular food but there's not really an art to them. So I'd have to say it was the irony of doing a food review about corn chips and melted cheese that appealed to me.” Her friends were supportive, and the very next day, O’Connell and nine others began the task of reviewing nachos.

As a writer, O’Connell felt the reviews would fit best in blog form and a number of her colleagues wanted to contribute. “We were all doing much more serious writing at the time – academic work, news, etc. So it was kind of a creative outlet to flex our writing skills and have some fun.”

“Zaren was always the photographer, and she is so skilled at social media. She took one memorable close up of a plate of nachos and framed it for me as a gift,” said O’Connell.  The photo still hangs in her kitchen and it was decided that Instagram might be the best place to keep St. John’s Nachos Review going after the enthusiasm of lengthy blog posts died down.

I was a hardcore St. John's Nacho Review supporter and hype woman since Lacy started it. Even with an unusual name and various involvements, a work colleague once introduced me to someone I had never met in an airport and this person immediately responded, "Zaren – St. John's Nachos?" From then on I knew St. John's Nachos was my destiny. When Lacy asked me to continue St. John's Nachos Review through the Instagram channel, I picked up the sword,” said Healey White.

In terms of what St. John’s Nachos Review posts, you can expect to see a bit of everything spread over all of their accounts including dishes from local restaurants, or even what O’Connell has dubbed the “Needs Special”, a homemade recipe that involves making nachos out of leftovers and whatever is at the corner store.

Aside from the fun of nachos, O’Connell has tried to point out how expensive food can be in Newfoundland via photos of groceries and receipts. “We live in St. John's and food costs in winter are tough. And depending on where you live in Newfoundland and Labrador, it gets a lot tougher. So sometimes I've used the platform to address things like that.”

The selfless act of reviewing nachos for consistent content over a number of platforms can be time-consuming and costly. “For me, the Instagram [account] has become more about appreciating nachos and spreading nacho love and enthusiasm, with scattered reviews. So I've been asking for fans to submit photos, show us their favourite nachos or their own unique, made-at-home nachos,” said Healey White, noting it's all about what she refers to as “#nachotography”.

Some #nachotography capturing nachos at The Gypsy Tearoom.

Some #nachotography capturing nachos at The Gypsy Tearoom.

For O’Connell, the perfect nacho recipe requires pulled pork, and a sauce made from combining Sriracha and maple syrup which she refers to as nothing short of magical.

Perhaps not surprisingly for #nachotographer Healey White, the perfect nachos have to have thought out composition, colour and aesthetic. “For me, it's a couple of cheeses - definitely mozzarella, maybe some cheddar or maybe marble. I insist on veggie nachos not being just the absence of meat but rather the presence of veggies. I want bright, colourful peppers, green onion, maybe some black beans, and definitely a sickening amount of black olives.”

When it comes to the best local restaurants, O’Connell gave the title to Bridie Molloy’s Sexy Chicken nachos. “One year our graphic designer and video editor Andrew Winter made a little logo for The Golden Chip Award,” she said. “I still order them whenever I go.”

Healey White also gave Bridie’s a shout-out but also mentioned YellowBelly and The Ship. “[If you’re looking for] a faster-food, customize-your-nachos setup, I hit up The Nacho Shoppe on Portugal Cove Road not that long after they opened last year with a small taste testing posse. She was impressed by the idea of having the entire nacho platter lined with a tortilla wrap. This means no more leftover or wasted toppings. “You can get that dried on cheese and fallen toppings and roll it into a wrap. Visionary.”

If you are looking for the best nachos at the best value, both O’Connell and Healey White suggest stopping by The Big’s on Wednesday nights when they offer $5 off any nacho order and some appetizers.

Taking advantage of Wednesday’s $5 off deal at The Big’s

Taking advantage of Wednesday’s $5 off deal at The Big’s

We were also curious as to which local restaurant offers the most unique nacho recipe and the decision was unanimous: the duck nachos from Magnum and Stein’s uses wontons instead of tortilla chips.

We weren’t afraid to ask the tough questions either. We wanted to know which restaurant’s nacho recipe could use some tweaking.  “That's hard to say because we once wrote that the Duke put too much salsa in their nachos and they were soggy, but that was a long time ago and I think they've since changed the recipe. I would definitely go back and try them now,” said O’Connell.

Healey White called herself a “traditionalist” when it comes to cheese and said she does not like when restaurants top their nachos with queso instead stating “[q]ueso has its virtues, but it cannot replace actual, shredded cheese on nachos.”

Sexy Chicken Nachos from Bridie Molloy’s

Sexy Chicken Nachos from Bridie Molloy’s

Since launching St. John’s Nachos Review, the duo have received a positive response. “We saw the Bridie's nachos referenced somewhere as "award-winning", and really, really hope that was us,” said O’ Connell.

“As far as I'm concerned, that "award-winning" descriptor in the Bridie Molloy's menu is 100% about St. John's Nachos,” said Healey White who is happy when followers interact with and tag he accounts on social media.

For more information about St. John’s Nacho Review, you can visit their website, like them on Facebook, check out their YouTube channel, or follow them on Twitter @sjnachos and Instagram @sjnachos.

We can also confirm that Bridie Molloy’s award winning nachos do indeed come from St. John’s Nacho Review