The Buzz: July/August 2014

Written by The Editors



The SmartAPPetite Team will soon launch SmartAPP, a smartphone application to make it easier to reach healthy eating goals, and help find local food businesses and farmers. What started last summer as a small pilot at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market will soon be a “farm-to fork” tool designed with the feedback of local foodies, farmers, producers, retailers, restaurateurs and other stakeholders throughout Southwestern Ontario. The team invites all those that want to share feedback to its next event at the London Central Library on July 8 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Future workshops will also be held in Perth & Oxford County. See for more details. The team will also be at the Local Food Skills Feastival on July 17.

The Only On King is offering a prix fixe menu dining option Tuesdays through Thursdays. For $35 per person you can enjoy an exquisite three-course menu with plenty of choices. On Wednesday nights “Sausage and Beer League” offers sausage plates served with sides and garnishes. Plates are paired with beers provided by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. Also on Wednesday nights draft beer is only $5.

The Root Cellar Organic Café’s former kitchen will soon become London’s first co-operatively owned nanobrewery and will offer the beer, on tap, in the café. The restaurant is expected to have its liquor licence in the very near future.

After 12 years on Richmond Row, and 5 years downtown, owners Kevin and Denise Greaves are closing Jambalaya. It’s time for a break and they are actively looking for someone to take over the location. The existing on-street patio is expected to be moved to the front of Blu Duby.

Zack Agathos, formerly of Huron House/The Dancing Greek, has had more delays with his new Icarus Resto Bar on Richmond Row. As of this writing, he’s predicting a July opening. Agathos will begin with a soft opening for his contemporary Mediterranean inspired

Downtown London’s Five Fortune Culture Restaurant proprietors, Wenbei and Jie Liang Yin are part of the wave of restaurateurs offering a true ethnic dining experience. The owners of the Yunnan-inspired restaurant will be taking a month-long holiday from July 15 to mid-August.

Jeff and Sandi Harvey, new owners of Billy’s Downtown Deli on Dundas Street, continue the popular downtown landmark’s 30-year traditions. For lunch, enjoy classic deli offerings like the quintessential Reuben and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches or interesting daily blackboard features. Now is the season to check out Billy’s for exceptional pies.

Black Trumpet Chef Scott Wesseling has a modern-day take on international classics, drawing from local and seasonal ingredients to create his new menu offerings. The vaulted ceilings, towering centre-hearth fireplace and detailed craftsmanship create a warm ambiance. Enjoy the expanded terraced courtyard for al fresco dining. Closed Sundays.

After a longer than expected renovation, Covent Garden Market produce merchant Chris Doris and Woodstock restaurateur Greg Efstatheu are expected to open Olive R. Twist this summer. The new restaurant will occupy the refurbished and updated premises formerly occupied by UpFront at the Market and Chancey Smith’s.

Each week, Miki Hambalek of the Hungary Butcher makes fresh sausages from old world recipes, using only the finest pork, beef and spices. All his beef products are from hand-selected cattle – sourced from local farms that do not use GMO feeds or antibiotics, grass fed and silage finished. Corn is never part of these animals’ diet. Hambalek also sources free range chickens. The main store is located at 892 Dundas St. Hambalek also operates a popular booth at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market and his wife, Agnes, operates The Butcher’s Wife at Ogilvie’s Market in Hyde Park.

Luis Rivas and Elsa Garcia and family continue to provide Latin flavour and ambience at their new and much larger True Taco Authentic Comedor Latino restaurant, across from their former premises on Dundas Street, near the Aeolian Hall. This lively cantina, with vibrant red walls and plenty of comfortable seating areas, including a private room, is the second incarnation for Rivas and Garcia. They are expecting to be licenced in the near future.

Sasa and Branka Milidrag’s four-month old Euro Pastry bakery is located at 727 Richmond St. at Piccadilly. Only pure, high quality natural ingredients are used in their baking, with no added chemicals or preservatives. Inspired by the classic European baking canon, cookies, cakes (Sacher tortes), pastries, strudels and savouries are made in-house daily, from scratch. Quality and a high level of service are the hallmarks of the hands-on owners.

Farm Boy, the Ottawa-based food store chain, opened its first Southwestern Ontario store in London in June. The grand opening was a swanky affair attended by many local food luminaries. The 27,000-square-foot market employs about 150 people at 1045 Wellington Rd., most recently the location of Tag, a clothing and decor retailer. The chain buys fresh produce from local farmers whenever possible. 

Annie’s Chocolates opened their first popular chocolate shop in Arva, in October 2011 at 21556 Richmond Street, two lights north of Masonville Place. A new location is expected to open early July next to David’s Bistro in the former Donna’s Apparel & Accessories store on Richmond Street. Annie’s also makes delicious chocolate-covered butter tarts that are quite popular with customers who visit her in the Arva location.

Ivette Calderon recently opened a Mexican cafeteria-style restaurant at 129 Dundas called BEGOS. The term “bego” was coined by her mother to describe the baked, stuffed baguette that she created. The focus is on healthy baked bread made with whole wheat, flax seed oil, and other quality ingredients. The fillings seem to follow along the style of pizza flavours — pepperoni, Hawaiian, mushroom, Italian and Mexican. The restaurant will be licensed and Calderon is hoping to put a small patio outside.

Mojo, Forked River Brewing Company’s newest creation, is an American wheat beer with tropical fruit flavours coming from the hops and infused with locally sourced rhubarb. This unique beer was made possible by fans of Forked River, who brought rhubarb in from their backyards, and local farms, Mazak Farms ( and Thomas Brothers. Get this refreshing brew at the brewery, Wednesday through Friday 12-5:30pm and Saturday 11-4.

Congratulations to Milos Kral on having his popular Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium at Talbot & Carling included in’s list of the Top 10 Beer Bars in Canada. In addition to his 23 draught taps and two cask hand pumps, Milos’ sourcing of local Southwestern Ontario menu ingredients was noted, as was the pub’s “de facto spiritual home” to Forked River Brewing.

The 2014 Forest City Beer Fest will be held on Saturday, August 16 at Covent Garden Market. Free entrance with Talbot Street Food Vendors 11 am–10 pm (All Ages) and a Beer Garden on Rotary Square 2-10 pm (19+). Beer & Cheese Pairings, Beer Seminars, Cooking Workshops and more.

We bumped into Lynn’s Bakery & Deli owner Roy O’Connor and family at a Western convocation and caught up a little. The three-generation family business got its start at 2190 Dundas St. when Roy’s father launched a Buns Mastery Bakery franchise back in 1980. A few years later, Roy’s sister Lynn opened Lynn’s Deli next door and by the mid ’80s, Roy and his wife Rose were running both businesses, and eventually dropped the Buns Master association. Today, with two dozen employees, bread, rolls and pizzas are fresh baked daily and the deli offers a full selection of deli meats and cheeses, sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts. City of London-approved caterers, Lynn’s services all functions, from office luncheons to weddings.

Located on Fanshawe Park Road West, Brazza Restaurant is the latest entry into the London fine dining scene. Owners Cathy Bento-Silva and David Silva describe Chef Jason Bailey’s Portuguese and European cuisine as traditional cooking with a new age kick.

Jill’s Table. Jill’s has launched its Summer Cooking Class series and is excited to turn these lazy days of summer into a culinary delight. Chefs back by popular demand include Paul Harding from The Only On King, Emily Richards, Christie Pollard and Josie Pontarelli. Jill will be hosting classes in which she treats guests to the delicious recipes she picked up on a recent trip to Tuscany along with a unique “market” class where she will take participants to the Covent Garden outdoor market to shop and cook in season and locally.

Bill Wittur of Noteworthy Wines has established a London chapter of the International Wine and Food Society (IWFS). The goal of the new branch will be to encourage wine and food enthusiasts to meet on a regular basis for great culinary and tasting experiences. For membership details, please email or call 519-914-1204.

Kevin and Mandy Whiting and Chef Brian Magee recently opened The Oxford Kitchen in the premises formerly occupied by Bronson’s in Woodstock. The Oxford county-sourced menus find inspiration in updated versions of globally inspired comfort foods. Try the King Duck perogies with kimchee and pancetta or the Brussels sprouts and kale salad with crispy boar bacon and lardon-dried cherries. Think traditional everyday food reimagined, like pork and beans, which in this chef’s hands becomes apple-Marsala braised pork cheek with bean succotash.

Congratulations to Woodstock’s Shep and Colleen Ysselstein at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese for winning Business Development Bank of Canada’s Best Young Entrepreneurs Award and its $100,000 prize. You can purchase Gunn’s Hill Cheese in London from All ‘Bout Cheese at their 898 Dundas Street location or at their booth at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market.

Chris and Mary Woolf opened Little Red’s Pub and Eatery in St. Marys this past spring. The Woolfs have been pioneers when it comes to supporting farm-to-table and have been dedicated and loyal proponents of the area’s farmers, artisans, sustainable and organic producers for two decades. The eatery features a wide selection of Ontario craft beers and wines. Be sure to check out their new digs.


The Benmiller Inn is delighted to host Taste of Huron’s first 2014 Food for Thought dinner on Tuesday, July 8. Highlighting the “Magic of Mushrooms,” Chef Spencer has put together a creatively mouth-watering 3-course menu for this Special Dining event. $40 per person.

The next Food for Thought dinner is “It’s the Schnitz” III on Monday, August 11, 2014 at Hessenland Country Inn. Learn what makes a good schnitzel and see the many ways it can be prepared. Guests will graze until their heart’s desire at food stations set-up amongst the gardens while watching the beautiful Huron County sunset. $45 per person.

For all 2014 Food for Thought Dinners:


The restaurant at Mercer Hall Inn offers chef-inspired artisanal food and drink featuring local cuisine, Ontario-focused wines and house-infused cocktails. Mercer Hall was recently included in the The 2014 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada, as determined by an esteemed roster of chefs, food industry professionals, connoisseurs, and travel and food writers.

Stylish rooms in a heritage home overlooking a court­yard provide a sublime setting for one of the consistently best dining experiences in Stratford. Chef Bryan Steele serves up contemporary seasonally-inspired cuisine at The Prune. Sommelier/dining room manager Peter Lavoie showcases boutique vintages from local and international growers. In the aim of broadening Chef Steele’s cooking style to a larger audience, the Prune will be featuring a new prix fixe menu with a lower, more accessible price point and an expanded selection of offerings.

If you like ethical farm-to-table dining that won’t break the bank, Monforte on Wellington is a hands-down winner. The kitchen has developed a synergy between the local terroir and the diner, no doubt inspired by Monforte Dairy founder and cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen. The restaurant is a casual seasonally-inspired osteria featuring an ever-changing selection of artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, and pastas, salads, soups, tourtiere, fritters and other specialties, prepared in-house. There is a 35-seat courtyard for al fresco dining.

Chef Yva Santini’s Italian kitchen at Taverna Pazzo brings a new sensibility to Stratford’s main corner. Sustainable seafood such as oysters, crab and lobster make up the heart of this season’s menu, and are joined by house-made pastas and gnocchi, and locally-sourced meats and produce. Check out the recently opened Pazzo Bambino next door for lighter fare and delicious grab-to-go options. Chef Sirka Sie is the talent behind the stunning food (and delectable zeppole) in the Pazzo Bambino.

The Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival, ( presented by GE Café Appliances, will take place on the weekend of July 18–20. This year’s theme is Coast to Coast to Coast. Meet some of the top young chefs under 40 from across Canada – from Newfoundland to the N.W.T. to B.C. – all award winners, many trained in Stratford, and others associated with Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain. With over 150 chefs, farmers, producers, Ontario vintners and craft brewers, cheesemakers and culinary personalities, this is one of the largest culinary festivals in Ontario.

Refine your cooking skills and philosophies at the Toronto Star Culinary Stage where renowned Canadian chefs featuring Dale MacKay, Carl Heinrich, Rich Francis, Todd Perrin, Doug McNish, James Walt, Paul Rogalski and Derek Dammann present their distinctive approaches to creating authentic Canadian cuisine. $5 fee per event or $20 all-access pass.

GE Café Chefs Series presents Canada’s first Top Chef, Dale MacKay, along with Jamie Oliver’s business colleague, and Quebecer, Derek Dammann on Saturday July 19 at Stratford’s Local Community Food Centre for a playfully polished 5-course demonstration-style class. Featuring the best of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec, each course will highlight Perth County ingredients and regional technique. The menu will be paired with carefully selected wine from Rosehall Run Winery while sustainable vintner Dan Sullivan will be on hand to answer all your wine queries.

The Taste of Ontario Artisan Alley will be a bustling open-air market on Saturday July 19, from 11am-5pm. Free admission. Expose your palate to samples from Ontario’s leading breweries, vineyards and distillers featuring Mill Street Brewery, Reif Estate Winery and Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery, to name a select few. Pair local varietals with gourmet Ontario cheeses and mingle among producers and connoisseurs alike. At $1.00 a beverage ticket, sip, graze and enjoy the pay-as-you-go system.

Alison Fryer of Toronto’s former Cookbook Store moderates Women in Food Breakfast, an open forum with a focus on Women in Agriculture, on Sunday, July 20. Featured panellists share stories of their varying roles and experiences on the farm and in the office:

Nosh on seasonal morsels at Savour Stratford Sunday Grand Tasting, the ultimate culinary garden party on Sunday July 20, presented by Scotiabank, set under an elegant tent along York Street. Treat your palate to delicacies from 30 top local chefs, paired with VQA wines and craft beers. Place a bid in the silent auction for a chance to take home top tier culinary wares. Tickets are $100/VIP (12 pm entry with take home VIP bonus), $75/General Admission (1 pm entry) and can be purchased online.

JENN & Larry’s Emporium of Wonders is inviting young gourmands to explore the playful side of cooking at the Emporium of Wonders kids’ tent sponsored by Stratford’s own JENN & Larry’s Brittles and Shakes. This multi-tented, action-packed marquee offers Creepy Crawly Cooking (yes, that means bugs!), earth sundaes, The Farmer and That Smell puppet show, cupcake decorating, storytelling, face painting, music and of course food!

Stratford Culinary Adventures: Flavours of Stratford Culinary Walks — Choose from three diverse culinary tours with local food enthusiast Kim Thompson. Offered mornings and afternoons: A Very Tasty Trek takes you to hidden gems featuring bold breads, baking, cheeses, teas and gourmet products; Fabulous Food and Great Gadgets blends heavenly hors d’oeuvre and refreshment pairings with the finest kitchen wares; Savoury Eats and Tasty Treats explore sweet and savoury tastes at unique downtown shops.

Weekend Foraging with Peter Blush — Learn how to identify, harvest and prepare nature’s bounty with conservation and sustainability in mind. $30/adult, free/child.

Stratford Festival Table Talks — Casting call for theatre moguls who brunch! Join a series of professors from top tier Ontario universities for lively seminars and a delectable buffet lunch.

Stratford Festival Alice Adventure Lunch — Fit for the youngest of theatregoers, dine with the Mad Hatter or the Queen of Hearts at an adventurously themed lunch every Saturday and Sunday during the months of July and August.

Stratford Summer Music pairs with Rundles to present Musical Brunches — Over six weeks in July and August, multi-instrumentalist Anna Atkinson will perform her classical original personal musical journey, while Rundles will inspire with their famed modern haute cuisine and boutique wines.

Slow Food Perth County Pork Party: bring your appetite to Stratford Sunday August 17 for an authentic Perth County local lunch featuring slow roasted, sustainably produced Perth County pork at the Slow Food Sunday Market in Market Square.

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The Editors