Hotelier Marcel Butchey was born and raised in London, Ontario. His hospitality career began at a variety of private clubs throughout Ontario before transitioning into a career in the hotel industry starting with the Fairmont Royal York.
With a BA from Western University, a diploma in hospitality management from George Brown College in Toronto, MBA from Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, Butchey spent nearly three years in Switzerland before spending a year in the Middle East. When he decided to return “home” he had spent over a decade abroad where he developed a wide range of competencies and a high standard of excellence and innovation in his profession.
Butchey saw immense potential in the three-storey grand Victorian-style mansion, built for former London mayor Charles Hyman in 1878. The hotel, nestled in London’s quiet Old South neighbourhood was the residence of choice when Sir John A. Macdonald visited the city.
Former owners, John and Christine Kropp, put the property on the market and Butchey made an offer that was accepted in May 2011. He converted five ground-floor suites into offices, dining space and conference rooms. Wireless Internet was also installed throughout most of the building, making the Idlewyld a more striking alternative for business and corporate events.
Workers refurbished the bathrooms in the hotel’s remaining suites. With unique furnishings, window treatments and gleaming exotic woods and other amenities the Idlewyld is a step across the threshold of a grander era. Rooms have been fitted with flat-screen televisions, the antique armoires and desks remain, maintaining the elegant ambience combined with a touch of the contemporary.
Idlewyld offers 19 guest rooms, each uniquely decorated to replicate the Inn’s idiosyncratic charm. “Each room is distinctive. All of the rooms look completely different,” Butchey tells me. The historic Idlewyld has sustained its air of grandeur for over a century. What started out as a private residence in the Victorian era has evolved into London’s premier boutique hotel, boasting membership to organizations such as Distinguished Inns of North America and is a member of Ontario’s Finest Inns.
When Marcel Butchey became the hotelier he rebranded the Inn’s restaurant as Avenue Dining. The restaurant is a reflection of the casual elegance that the Idlewyld has built its reputation around. The dining room is clean, elegant and unpretentious combined with professional service and top-drawer cuisine. Executive Chef Julie Glayshers’ passion for food translates into innovative cuisine that showcases local, seasonal and exceptional ingredients for Idlewyld’s discerning diners.
Many hoteliers fight the perception that their establishments are for the exclusivity of out-of-town guests. Consistently named one of London’s most beautiful and unique restaurants, Avenue Dining has become one of the locals’ jealously guarded secrets — a true “hidden gem” in the heart of London’s Old South Village. Butchey and Glaysher create a culinary experience that is both sophisticated and passionate. This is true gourmet dining.
There is an abiding air of efficiency and professionalism in the roomy and comfortable dining room. One evening, the waiter, Brian, wields his crumber with deftness and precision discretely across the white linen table cloth several times during an epicurean tour de force.
A torchon of Foie Gras (a controversial but popular and accepted delicacy in French gastronomy) is decadent, subtle, buttery and rich and served with a trio of thick Duck Prosciutto slices, Cranberry Conserve, Cognac and Flat Bread is indulgent. The plating is simple but visually stunning with a pleasing geometry.
A hands-down winning appetizer of Crab Globe and Chorizo tucked into a pungent pool of smoked paprika, butter and capers, packs a wallop of deep-sea flavour.
Perfectly seared Pork Belly with Apple Terrine is supremely satisfying and when Chef combines it with chestnuts, maple and cinnamon it becomes a patriotic reflection of the seasonality of the menu’s offerings.
Deconstructed Lobster Ravioli with Champagne, butter, parsley and preserved lemon arrives at the table looking like some exotic sea creature made of layers of fresh house-made pasta. Thick chunks of butter poached meaty lobster elevate this dish to nirvana. Glaysher knows how to cook both seafood and fish and a seriously delicious Filet of Pickerel is served perfectly with little embellishment and an addictively crisp skin.
Beef Rib-Eye Salad with Horseradish Dressing, Peppers and Spinach is a sure fire hit at lunch. Other lunch items are equally well-prepared. The wine list is well-chosen from an exceptional wine cellar.
The beautifully manicured grounds, front verandah and elegant ambiance of the Garden Courtyard create a welcome retreat for locals and travellers alike.
Avenue serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and a Sunday brunch. There are many venue choices available for private dining, weddings, receptions and events.
If you are thinking of tying the knot this Valentine’s Day, The Elopement package, offered by the Idlewyld , is one of the more romantic getaways. The hotel supplies the wedding officiate, two witnesses, photography, bouquet and boutonniere, candlelight dinner for two, wedding cake for two, couples massage, wine, and a two night stay in a Jacuzzi ensuite with breakfast in bed both mornings.
Avenue Dining / Idlewyld Inn
36 Grand Avenue, London ON
breakfast: 7 – 10am monday – friday 8 – 11am sat, sun & holidays lunch: 11 – 3pm monday – friday 11:30 – 2pm saturday dinner: 5pm – 9pm tuesday – saturday brunch: 11-2pm on sundays afternoon tea: 2pm – 4pm saturday
Bryan Lavery is eatdrink magazine’s Writer at Large and Contributing Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org