The Buzz: September/October 2019

Written by The Editors


We here at Eatdrink are moving ahead with an expanded and updated Local Flavour Culinary Guide (Volume 8) featuring the best of Southwest Ontario. London remains the geographic hub in a larger wheel that will include participants from the counties of Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Huron, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Sarnia-Lambton, and Windsor-Essex. This is a natural evolution from last year’s Volume 7, when we first opened up the guide to businesses outside London. We’re happy to report that the 30,000 copies we printed and circulated last year were the right amount. We distributed them to essential, targeted locations like tourism offices, the airport, farmers’ markets, and select restaurants, craft breweries, shops and cultural hot spots. This year we are excited to invite all of our southwestern Ontario partners to take part in Local Flavour. Participants must be independent businesses committed to offering exceptional local culinary products, services, and experiences. Please let us know if you would like to participate in this guide. We are looking at a launch late in October.

Congratulations to the iconic Arva Flour Mill, ­celebrating its 200th anniversary. Wow! Eatdrink will pay more attention to this remarkable achievement in our next issue, and finding out more about the new Mill House Bakery. The historic mill is located in Arva, just north of London, and supplies a variety of flours to some of our region’s best bakeries and restaurants. 2042 Elgin (off Richmond St. N), 519-660-0199, 

It’s the return of the 6th annual Heeman’s Food Trucks of the Farm Event and this year they will be hosting 13 trucks. It all goes down over two days in the parking lot in front of Heeman’s greenhouse September 7 and 8. The trucks will be serving up deliciousness from 10am–3pm. This year marks the return of some fan favourites, along with some trucks appearing at the event for the first time. 20422 Nissouri Rd., Thorndale, 519-461-1416,

The majority of London’s food trucks are available for catering, and a few operate year-round, such as Goodah, The Donut Diva, My Big Fat Food Truck, and Big Daddy Bacon. There is a little something for everyone, including Gourmet Grilled Cheese, Mini Donuts with over 30 sugary flavours, Portuguese Fusion, All Things Bacon, Tacos, Mac and Cheese, Shawarma (Halal), Poutine, Perogies, and Ice Cream. A lot of trucks have vegetarian and vegan options. A pilot Food Truck Night has been launched at the Western Fair Farmers Market lot on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Food Truck Association is working with a local producer to create a show about food trucks for the Rogers Network. The show should be going into pre-production soon. 

This year’s VegFest — London’s annual “plant-based party” — takes place Saturday, November 9, 10am–6pm, at the Metroland Media Agriplex, Western Fair District. A variety of vendors will be offering food and drink samples, and all kinds of support for a plant-based lifestyle.

Jill’s Table is celebrating 20 years as London’s premier food and kitchenware destination. In 1999, Jill Wilcox opened Jill’s Table in a small corner of the newly rebuilt Covent Garden Market. Two years later, she relocated to her present location, bringing in superior products from around the world, showcasing local food artisans, providing in-store demonstrations, and servicing home cooks and professional chefs with speciality food items, cookware, bakeware, and kitchen utensils. Jill’s Table is also a gift-giving destination that promotes and sells Canadian handmade products and creates exceptional gift baskets. 

Since 2009, Jill has been hosting food and wine tours to France, Italy and Portugal, and in the near future will be adding tours to Ireland and Spain. In 2012, Jill started the Jill Wilcox Foundation as a way of giving back to the local community with 100% of all funds raised going to help women and children in food-related initiatives. 

Over the years, Jill has been recognized for her leadership in business, with awards including the YMCA Women of Excellence, London Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Award and Canadian Gift Association Retailer of the Year. This fall, Jill is launching her 24th year of cooking classes, with a full lineup of demonstration and hands-on classes headed by master chef Ran Ai. Jill’s Table invites you to join their 20th anniversary celebrations on October 2, 3–7 pm. 115 King St.

Congratulations to Downtown London’s David’s Bistro and Reverie Restaurant, who are both listed in the recently released 2019–20 edition of Anne Hardy’s Where to Eat in Canada. This annual guide, published by Oberon Press and now in its 48th year, offers an independent review of some 500 restaurants in more than 200 cities, towns and villages across the country. 

Thursday nights are now a Jazz Night at Michael’s On The Thames, with a different jazz ensemble featured each week. Join Michael’s for a glass of wine, appetizers or dinner BUT be sure to join them for the jazz on Thursdays! 1 York St, London, 519-672-0111,

Chef Josh Sawyer and Elaine Sawyer’s Wich is Wich has relocated to Wellington St., south of Oxford (once Willie’s Café), serving the same great sandwiches (global flavours, exotic ingredients, and textural contrasts). Weekend brunch is served both days, and dinners Tuesday–Saturday. They also offer catering, grab-and-go, and a patio for dining. 731 Wellington St., 519-860-9424,

The Forest City Film Festival (FCFF) will run October 23–27 in Downtown London. Screenings will take place at Wolf Performance Hall, Fanshawe Good Foundation Theatre, Imagine Cinemas, and Museum London. On September 12, the 2019 Season Launch will announce all the films, film personalities, and events coming to FCFF. This is a free celebration at Joe Kool’s, followed by Open Air Cinema at Dundas Place, where there will be a free screening of “The Breakfast Club” and London’s favourite food trucks. 

Forest City 48, a 48-hour filmmaking challenge open to everyone interested in filmmaking, will run October 18–20. The inaugural Forest City Youth Film Festival, a day of seminars for young aspiring filmmakers, and screenings of the best short films created by Southwestern Ontario high school students, takes place Oct. 23. On Oct. 24, Lerners Opening Night, a gala event, will be followed by the opening night film (TBA) and an audience after party. 

Screenings and industry sessions will be held October 25–27. The Networking and Microkeynote Party, for local businesses and creatives in the film industry hosted by FCFF and London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), happens Oct. 25. The FCFF PitchFest is on Oct. 26. Pitchfest winners can win up to $10,000 in prizes. On Oct. 27, the Closing Night film (TBA) will be followed by an Awards Celebration, with winners from all categories and competitions announced.

Origins Co, a grab-and-go coffee shop, relocated from Ann Street to King and Talbot Streets (in the space previously occupied by Fire Roasted Coffee). Origins serves fresh juices, smoothies and smoothie bowls, as well as baked goods with gluten-free options. Using ingredients that are ethically harvested, non-GMO, and organic where possible, it also offers teas, espresso, and bulletproof coffee. 105 King Street, 519-601-5855,

Blackfriars Bistro & Catering is now also open on Mondays for lunch and dinner. Betty Heydon’s locally-acclaimed farm-to-table bistro continues to wow all age groups and recently celebrated its 23rd birthday. Chefs prepare innovative, seasonal blackboard specials with cutting-edge menus that respect tradition. Closed Sundays, 46 Blackfriars St., 519-667-4930,

Eduard Nagy and Anita Tasonyi’s landmark Budapest Restaurant features a new, elevated patio with a stunning retractable canopy. Signature dishes include a variety of superb schnitzels, chicken paprikash, goulash, and Hungarian cabbage rolls with a modern flair. 348 Dundas Street, 519-439-3431,

Olha and Anatolii Prytkova’s charming Happiness Coffee and Desserts celebrated its first anniversary. The family-owned business bakes all the European-style desserts from scratch, including high-quality specialty cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts, and chocolates. 430 Wellington St., 204-293-9530.

Willie’s Café continues to grow and thrive in the London Food Incubator at 630 Dundas St. Ian Kennard has expanded the seating with more tables, comfy chairs and a new cozy dining area. There is inexpensive municipal parking off Queens Ave., and customers are welcome to use the entrance accessible from the parking lot. Willie’s continues to provide catering services with a focus on office/corporate lunches.

Wanting to create “the healthiest most digestible bread possible,” owner of The Whole Grain Hearth Bakery artisan baker Richard Placzek has committed to only using natural sourdough yeast in his breads and freshly milling his own flours from organic grains. Producing a variety of beautifully handcrafted breads and enticing pastries such as Red Fife Butter Tarts and gluten-free Spelt Pop Tarts, Placzek’s offerings are available at various locations, including Covent Garden Farmers’ Market and Remark, as well as at the bakery itself on Fridays 11–5 and Saturdays 10–3. 958 Leathorne St., Unit #3, 519-719-7355,

Regenerate Heritage Grain Weekend, featuring a Rotational Grain Eating Dinner hosted by Fanshawe College and a 2-day Bread Camp, is back and has expanded to include new grain-focused events. Regenerate has partnered with Fall Food Fest at Covent Garden Market for a day of community-building activities to build a strong narrative around five components of grain: Bread, Beer, Distilling, Pasta and Pizza. The regional collaboration weekend will highlight all these areas to engage consumers, chefs and farmers. September 17, 28 & 29.

Chef’s Table at the downtown campus of Fanshawe College is both a restaurant and a café. Menus showcase local suppliers and farmers, with staff creating many items such as cured meats and preserves. The Chef’s Table gives students hands-on training and an opportunity to gain practical experience. There is an open kitchen, wood, exposed brick, and marble countertops, with a relaxed and accessible ambiance. The restaurant is open weekdays. Lunch: 11 am–2 pm; Dinner: 5 pm–8 pm. 130 Dundas Street, 519-452-4433.

Aranka Csárda is a family-run Hungarian restaurant on Longwoods Road beside Miller Berry Farms just outside of Lambeth. The hospitable owners take pride in what they do and serve only authentic and quality food, with daily specials such as traditional schnitzel, chicken paprikash, and cabbage rolls. 7447 Longwoods Road, London, 519-652-9696,

PC Cooking Schools at Superstore offer one-hour weekly daytime “What’s for Dinner?” classes on Thursdays: Oxford and Gammage 12:30-1:30 pm; Oxford and Hyde Park Road 1–2 pm. Both locations offer a schedule of evening classes that run 6:30–8:30 pm.

Joan Hepburn of award-winning Joanie’s Pastries will be opening her storefront in early September in Northridge Plaza (1444 Glenora Drive). This is the first gluten-free bakery in London to be certified by the Celiac Society. If you haven’t tried her gluten-free tarts, cinnamon buns or cookies, you are missing out! 519-281-9605,


The stunning new Braai House recently opened above Stratford’s iconic Keystone Alley. The menu, created by executive chef and owner Anthony Jordaan, highlights the amazing flavours that come off a South African-style braai, a wood-fired BBQ/grill. The menu is meant to bring friends and family together to enjoy great food and atmosphere. 34 Brunswick St, 519-271-5647,

The Mill Stone Restaurant & Bar focuses on “global tacos & tapas,” an assortment of small plates inspired by assorted cuisines, a large variety of authentic Mexican tacos, and internationally-inspired creations such as curries and confits (served on fresh handmade tortillas). In addition to those all-day menus, there are sandwiches during lunch and a pre-theatre prix fixe for dinner. Late Night Lao is still going strong Saturdays 10 pm–2 am. An updated menu recently launched, with new delicious snacks to explore. The same menu is also on offer during “MexiLao” Sunday lunch alongside the taco menu. Looking ahead to the off-season, there will be a couple of events focusing on food and music, featuring collaborations with other chefs from around town and beyond. 30 Ontario Street, Stratford, 519-273-5886,

Downton Abbey High Tea at Revival House: Are you ready to “Spill the Tea” and talk ALL about the amazing Downton Abbey Movie? Come in your best Downton Abbey fashion and enjoy tea and tiers at Revival House. Sunday, September 29, 2019, 12 noon–2 pm. $45/person.

Check out The Red Lion Room, Stratford’s new performance and entertainment venue. Located in the Windsor Hotel, the stated aim is inviting: “Simple understandable food; support for the craft beer movement; delicious value vino; a quiet place to relax (even on Mondays). 23 Albert Street, 226-766-9818,

The Slow Food Perth County Sunday Market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Market Square. You’ll find local produce, bread, soups, sweets, crafty things, lacto-fermented foods, cheese, grass-fed meats, and garden seeds. 

Stratford Farmers’ Market, a year-round market operating since 1855, offers fresh produce, crafts, meat, and cheese at Stratford Rotary Complex-Agriplex, 353 McCarthy Rd, Saturdays 7 a.m.–12 noon. 519-271-5130.

The self-guided Savour Stratford Chocolate Trail introduces you to world-famous confectioners and bakers. Sample decadent treats and meet the makers. Twenty-eight delicious treats will tempt you.

Stratford Symphony Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Season opens October 5 with the wonderful concert Once Upon a Time, with fairy tale-inspired musical compositions from the ages, narrated by Stephen Russell from the Stratford Festival Acting Company. The SSO’s season opener will also feature sopranos Katy Clark and Leanne Kaufman from the Canadian Opera Company.

Around Our Region

Chef Rob Lampman, formerly of The Kettle Creek Inn, and his partner Terrie Collard have created the welcoming Two Forks in Port Stanley. A large outdoor patio and chef’s garden enhance the vibe. Small plates, designed for sharing, are made from scratch with local ingredients. You’ll find freshly shucked live oysters right at the bar, local wine on tap, craft beer flights, and handcrafted cocktails. 295 Bridge Street, Port Stanley, 226-658-4887,

Solo on Main is a family-run restaurant with Chef Lauren Van Dixhoorn at the helm. In seasonable weather the smartly appointed patio and inviting front porch offer alfresco seating and great Port views. The cooking is refined and the presentation modern and thoughtful. 187 Main Street, Port Stanley,

The Vedovas opened The Kettle Creek Inn in 1983, after purchasing and renovating the building, and the business is now one of Ontario’s Finest Inns. Jean, along with her sons Troy and Dean, operate this ten-room, five-suite facility that features a charming restaurant, gazebo and sidewalk patio. 216 Joseph Street, Port Stanley, 519-782-3388

Lola’s Lounge is a former retro diner that has been converted into one of Sarnia’s local hot spots. Tania Auger, the talented owner, has put her stamp on almost every facet of the restaurant, especially the food. Auger sources local ingredients in season and serves generous portions. Steaks, fresh fish — from Purdy’s of course — and big martinis. 110 Christina Street South, Sarnia, 519-336-8088

Throughout the year Jane Magri’s Wildflowers Farm offers seasonally-inspired events to create a sacred space for community to gather, nourish, and celebrate all that Elgin County has to offer. The barn offers one-of-a-kind experiences and can be booked for private functions, from family dinners to celebrations. Check out the Fall Harvest Dinner on Saturday, Sept 14, 5–9 pm, $60 + HST, with live music by Tuerto Loco. 42338 Fruit Ridge Line, St Thomas, 226-926-6432,

Brenda Daniel of From the Meadow has been farming since 1978. She and her husband Dave, along with their daughter Heather, grow, harvest and manufacture a variety of natural herb products on their five-acre plot. They call their MyPick® (local farmer verified) business an “adventure” and are passionate about creating revitalizing and relaxing healing creams, scrubs, shampoos, soaps, and more with their own culinary herbs and other natural ingredients. Their products are available at the “Farmacy” at the farm in Elgin County, and at the Market at Western Fair. 3881 Avon Dr., Harrietsville, 519-269-3961,

Affinage 101 at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese: Wash wheels of cheese, learn about aging, and finish by creating a few fondues for your group, with the cheesemaker Shep Ysselstein. September 7 and October 5. 445172 Gunn’s Hill Road, Woodstock, 519-424-4024, 

SixThirtyNine opened its doors in 2005, cultivated by Pauline Bucek and Chef Eric Boyar. The modern dining space provides a comfortable atmosphere. They focus on attentive service and local, terroir-driven Canadian cuisine. 639 Peel Street, Woodstock, 519-536-9602,

IRONWORKS kitchen is downtown Woodstock’s newest hotspot (see the article on page 18 of this issue). Lunch and dinner menus feature elevated comfort food, including the signature “Homer Brown Burger.” 529 Dundas Street, Woodstock, 519-290-0926,

Brewed Exploration at Upper Thames Brewing Co.: Calling all hop heads, this is the experience for you. Step behind the bar to learn about brewing from grain to glass, and even bottle your own beer on Sept 21. 

Enjoy a warm and inviting atmosphere with counter-service light pub fare at Brickhouse Brewpub. Twenty-four taps of Ontario craft beer. Half are Upper Thames brews. Onsite brewing and retail. 190 Fairway Road, Woodstock, 519-421-2218,

Elio Caporicci’s Early Bird Coffee is Woodstock’s first coffee roastery and café. Established in 2018, the company wholesales throughout the city and has an onsite café serving specialty and standard coffees, along with delicious baked goods. The café is small and homey and a great spot to grab your morning cup or to meet up and hang out for a while. Premium coffee from select growing regions with an emphasis on sustainability is at the forefront of the business. Roasting top quality beans weekly ensures that the coffee is always fresh and at its best.

The Wine Cellar & Cheese Shop: Create your own quality wines by batch, at the shop. Find a wide variety of exciting local artisan and imported cheese. Canadian-made jellies, compotes and gourmet crackers are available. 118 Thames St. S., Ingersoll, 519-854-5760, 

Handcraft a dozen gourmet truffles at Truffle Camp alongside Cindy Walker of Chocolatea. Learn how to use flavours from Southwestern Ontario to create a selection of delectable ganache as you step into the role of a chocolatier. $75.00 per person + HST. Chocolatea, 38 King Street East, Ingersoll, 519-495-6020,

The bounty and beauty of autumn is on full display at Hessenland Inn & Vineyard. Along with a delicious menu offered over Thanksgiving weekend, the Inn and their boutique vineyard, Schatz Winery, will be rolling out their 4th Annual Long Table Dinner on October 5. Enjoy Cocktail Hour with local libations and hors d’oeuvres in the vineyard, and a 5-course dinner with wine accompaniments in the Garden Room, including Schatz Winery’s inaugural vintages. On November 2, German tradition will be celebrated once again at Novemberfest — A Tribute to Ernst L. Ihrig (Dinner, Dance & Parkinson Fundraiser).

The 1909 Culinary Academy is Canada’s first chef training facility with a focus on agriculture and the myriad of techniques used to cultivate the food destined for your chef-inspired menu. The schoolhouse presents a lesson in community heritage stewardship. Inside original details are everywhere, and include the blackboards, decorative tin ceiling, lighting fixtures, trim, doors, wainscoting, hardwood floors, and original dual entry foyer. Find out more about owner/executive chef, Murray Zehr, and the restaurant and training opportunities available through the Academy. 5183 Trussler Road, Ayr, 

Adventure Farms in Full Swing: Come September Snyder’s Family Farm and Leaping Deer Adventure Farm are slinging loads of fall fun, from corn mazes to farm animals, and loads of tasty fall;

McCully’s Fall Harvest Festival: Weekends in October enjoy wagon rides, a corn maze, pumpkin catapult and more.

Have you visited Jordi Carr and Natalie Crittenden’s Harris Electric Eatery in St. Marys? This new hot spot features the casual charm of a modern pub in a heritage setting, with a creative, chef-driven regional dining experience. 159 Queen St. E., St. Marys,

The Pristine Olive from London is thrilled to be supplying the newly opened Mindful Market and Eco Hub in Blenheim, ON with a fresh supply of quality extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The Mindful Market is a specialty food store carrying local/regional foods and eco products.

Railway City Brewing in St. Thomas is introducing Barrel Aged Honey Elixir. They’ve whisky barrel-aged their classic Honey Elixir to a hearty 7.2% ABV, available in 750ml bottles. Double Dead Elephant is back, and Train Reaction, a sea salt and lime Mexican lager, is a perfect end-of-summer quencher. Elgin Harvest is coming Fridays (4–8pm) with handcrafted, wood-fired pizza. On Saturdays (2–8pm), The Tipsy Pig comes in with their classic smokehouse BBQ. It’s Game Night on Tuesdays and Beer Cocktail Night happens Thursdays. Enjoy a variety of handcrafted cocktails made with premium liquor and Railway City’s most beloved beers. Live music on Saturday evenings. See the website for ticket info.

Alton Farms Estate Winery is hosting its Annual Grape Stomp Saturday, September 28. Festivities begin at 12 pm with the first stomp starting at 2 pm. There will be competitive stomps and kids stomps, so bring your family and friends! Time trials will determine the most productive stomper, measured by the volume of juice produced. Stomping fee is $5 per entry, with all proceeds in support of Bluewater Centre for Raptor Rehabilitation. (Raptors are magnificent birds, plus they help keep grape-eating bird populations in control!) Hot dogs and hamburgers will be available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds donated.  

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Submission deadline for the next issue: October 5

About the author

The Editors