Eat, Drink, Skate! Where to Eat in London

Written by Bryan Lavery

It’s time to roll out the red carpet. On March 11, 2013, figure skating fans from around the world will be coming to London, Ontario for the 2013 International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships. This premier sporting event will run from March 11 to 17, at Budweiser Gardens. For those visiting London for the first time, and for locals looking for a quick refresher course on the dining scene close to the action, here is a partial list of many of London’s fine restaurants.



Abruzzi Ristorante  Abruzzi is downtown London’s premiere Italian-inspired restaurant, an up-to-date epicurean hot spot serving both modern and emblematic regional specialties. Owners Rob D’Amico and Chef Dave Lamer’s offerings are intuitive, often iconic, prepared with locally-sourced and quality ethnic ingredients. A superior wine list has plenty of interesting consignments. 119 King Street   519-675-9995

Amici Italian Restaurant  Chef Paul Krohn’s small and attractive Alto Adige-inspired trattoria, located in the downtown hotel district, serves traditional “rustic” Italian specialties with quality ingredients. The place fills up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation. Attentive service. 350 Dundas Street  519-439-8983

Auberge du Petit Prince   Chef focuses on good, simple, seasonal, country-French cuisine, such as shrimp au pistou, confit of duck, vichyssoise and French onion soup. The pièce de résistance: the delicious escargot fondue. Dine in sophistication, with crystal and linen. Extensive wine cellar. Free parking. 458 King Street (at Maitland) 519-434-7124

Billy’s Deli   Billy’s Deli has been a down­town landmark for thirty years. For lunch, specialty deli sandwiches like the quintessential Reuben and Montreal smoked meat are made with a quarter pound of meat, warm and sliced off the brisket. Interesting daily blackboard specials are enticing, and add ­seasonality to the extensive menu. Billy’s is known for its fantastic baking.  113 Dundas St. (at Talbot). 519-679-1970

The Black Shire Pub   In addition to the pub menu you are offered weekly crafted menu items of updated comfort foods that are simple and familiar. At The Black Shire you will find seventeen taps on the main coffin and another three in the second floor lounge. Bubble and squeak with bangers and neeps.  511 Talbot Street 519-433-7737

Black Trumpet   Elegant with an idiosyncratic point of view expressed in its Dutch-colonial Indonesian eclecticism. Chef and his culinary team have an up-to-date take on world-inspired cuisine. Sourcing Australian lamb racks, farmed Faroe Island salmon and Muscovy duck to create upscale time-honoured offerings. 523 Richmond Street (South of Kent Street) 519-850-1500

Blu Duby   Clever and witty service is a Blu Duby hallmark. Chefs Alicia Hartley and Dani Gruden-Murphy combine comfort food classics with Asian and Mediterranean twists to make a recession-friendly menu. Beef cheek tacos with Gruyère hit a high note. Blu Duby continues its ascent. Diverse wine list.  32 Covent Market Place (north side of the Market to Dundas St.) 519-433-1414

Braywick Bistro and Wine Bar   Anissa and Barry Foley and Chef Ian McGill have elevated the bistro. A stylish interior with warm tones punctuating the serene, gently-lit interior provides a welcoming oasis. Signature dishes include the ubiquitous (in this case newly gluten-free) Pad Thai. The sweet potato stix have gone AWOL, instead a much more ambitious menu is redefining this made-from-scratch kitchen. 244 Dundas Street (across from Central Library) 519-645-6524

Budapest Restaurant   A local gem with lots of red velvet and unintended kitsch, doyenne Marika Hayek has been delighting clients by serving Hungarian specialities in this traditional old- world tavern setting for over 50 years. Of course, you must try the schnitzel or the stuffed veal — the spätzle is also delicious —save room for the palacsinta. 348 Dundas Street 519-439-3431

Che RestoBar   Marvin Rivas fêtes patrons at his welcoming Latin-American inspired restaurant. This chic hot-spot features exposed brick walls, granite bar, and massive light fixtures. The menu has a distinctly Peruvian flavour, influenced by Chef German Nunez’s heritage. The tuna ceviche, yucca poutine and skirt steak tacos are to die for. Interesting wine and exotic cocktail lists.  225 Dundas Street (at Clarence) 519-601-7999

The Church Key Bistro-Pub   Vanessa and Pete Willis’ Church Key is a downtown gastro pub with farm-to-table cuisine and an impressive selection of craft beers. Chef Michael Anglestad follows in the modern British tradition by specializing in traditional food prepared with innovation and finesse. Sea scallops wrapped in house smoked salmon, drizzled with grapefruit and rice wine syrup and togarashi aioli are nirvana. 476 Richmond Street,  (North of Queens Avenue) 519-936-0960

David’s Bistro   David’s presents perfectly executed classic regional French-inspired specialities and has developed a strong and rustic culinary signature. French cuisine is all about tradition and consistency, and nobody does it better, night after night. The bistro with its tiny bar, vibrant red walls and black-checked tablecloths is a venerated downtown culinary destination. Extensive and ever-changing consignment wine selection. The succulent confit of duck is requisite.  432 Richmond Street (at Carling) 519-667-0535

The Early Bird   This red-hot, retro diner has added an additional 28 seats to the premises to accommodate line ups. The adjoining Night Owl is now a cozy Bourbon bar. Signature dishes include the King-sized turducken club sandwich made with turkey, chicken and duck, perogies, and Montreal smoked meat that is made on site. Save room for the bacon-fried pickles. These are dishes with real soul. 355 Talbot St., 519-439-6483

Garlic’s of London   Edo Pehilj’s Garlic’s is the prototype for the ethical modern Ontario restaurant. The cooking repertoire of rising culinary stars, Chef Joshua Fevens and Chef Chad Steward, is influenced by a strong commitment to supporting local and sustainable food and agriculture, and has been instrumental in helping to raise the bar for intelligent and ethical dining in London. 481 Richmond Street 519-432-4092

Gozen Bistro and Grill   Gozen has a strong following, with a menu of authentic Japanese Sushi and Korean specialties. Signatures include: Bulgogi wrap with marinated beef, served with lettuce, rice and Kochujang sauce. Soft shell crab tempura is the house specialty. 219 Queens Ave. (at Clarence) 519-858-9998

The Grille at Delta London Armouries   The Grille, at London’s Delta Armouries has been recently refurbished and redecorated. Originally constructed in 1905, this historic building was the location for training Canadian soldiers during the two great World Wars. Chef serves a locally sourced menu of delicious internationally-inspired cuisine. 325 Dundas Street 679-6111

Jambalaya   Jambalaya — a traditional Cajun blend of deliciously spiced meat, rice and vegetables — is the perfect name for Chef Kevin Greaves’ sultry restaurant. Chef pays homage to his native Guyanese cuisine. Laid-back comfortable surroundings, upbeat music, slate-tile floors, exposed brick, a fireplace, and walls adorned with splashes of colour and vibrant prints. 19 Dundas Street (at Talbot) 519-858-2000

Kantina Café   Owner Miljan Karac and Culinary Rock Star/Chef Danijel “Dacha” Markovic prove their ferocious artistry by reinterpreting classic Balkan-inspired cuisine in their chic but casual downtown restaurant. This is a scratch kitchen and all items are made in-house and by hand. The menus are hyper-local and artisanal, with thoughtful and exciting riffs on an iconic indigenous cuisine.  349 Talbot Street 519-672-5862

La Casa Ristorante    Consistency and familiarity are the hallmarks of the La Casa experience. Chef Scott “Scotty” Sanderson’s menus are rooted in the Italian tradition. Pasta and pizza purists will appreciate the house made offerings. Sanderson’s Rabbit Straccetti (twisted rags) with Ontario rabbit ragu, red pepper, fennel, tomato and Romano cheese, alone is worth the visit. 117 King Street (across from Covent Garden Market) 519-434-2272

London Ale House   The Ale House has a huge selection of beers — local, from around the world, draught, bottled and ciders. Menu items are prepared in-house, from scratch — even the condiments, using beers and ciders with each of their menu items. 288 Dundas Street (across from Delta Armouries Hotel) 519-204-2426

London Grill at Hilton Hotel London   From your greeting by the Beefeater doorman, to three unique dining options, enjoy the Hilton experience with a London twist. London Grill offers fine casual dining in an intimate setting, featuring beautifully prepared and presented menu selections. Enjoy light snacks in JJ Keys Lounge, the cozy piano lounge. The Market Cafe offers a great menu for breakfast or lunch. The emphasis is on quality ingredients, freshness, and exceeding customer expectations. 300 King Street (E of Wellington) 519 439 1661

Massey’s Fine Indian Cuisine   Chef Patson Massey shows his expertise with the combining and roasting of exotic spices, subtle and complex, bestowing and building flavours to great effect. A variety of vegetarian offerings and classic favourites like: smoky-spiced Baingan Patiala, everything tandoori, butter chicken, nann, and various exotic accompaniments. 174 King Street (near Richmond) 519-672-2989

Marienbad Restaurant / Chaucer’s Pub   Marienbad is located in one of London’s oldest heritage buildings. A popular downtown restaurant, Marienbad brings a polished European flair to downtown dining, in a casual atmosphere. The menu features European and Austro-Germanic specialties, signature dishes include an exceptional steak tartare and schnitzel, and there is a superior beer selection. 122 Carling Street (at Talbot) 519-679-9940

Michael’s On The Thames   Enjoy Continental cuisine in the relaxing atmosphere of a stone fireplace, a view overlooking the Thames River, and the elegance of a baby grand. Specializing not only in old-world continental cuisine, but also in the classic European-style tradition of tableside cooking, which includes: steak Diane, Chateaubriand and classic flambéed desserts, as well as signature flaming after-dinner coffees. Free parking with reservations. 1 York Street (at the bridge) 519-672-0111

Milos Craft Beer Emporium   London’s premier craft beer destination is owned and operated by publican Milos Kral. Chef Matt Reijnen prepares menus that reflect their farm-to-table commitment and passion for everything local. 23 micros on tap, with excellent style variation. Craft beer enthusiasts and serious hop heads are quickly making this local landmark part of Ontario’s rich pub culture. 420 Talbot Street North (at Carling) 519-601-4447

The Morrissey House   Morrissey House is welcoming, with a unique selection of beers and innovative pub food offerings. Chef Andrew Harris delivers a menu to please, portions are ample, the selections are varied and the spice quotient is as advertised. Comfortable, recognizable, and yet with their own twist. 359 Dundas Street. 519-204-9220

The Only On King   Hot-shot Chef/owner Paul Harding plays to all his strengths with a superior grasp on the tenets of terroir. Harding’s farm-to-table philosophy and cooking repertoire continue to impress while attracting savvy diners. If you are looking for your inner gastronome this is the place. — Foie gras parfait and ravishing charcuterie. Standout Sunday brunch.  172 King Street 519-936-2064

The Raja   The Raja exudes elegance and a level of luxury befitting its name. Many dishes beg for overindulgence. Share the mixed platter with vegetable pakora, chicken tikka, sheek kabab, and onion bhajee, all served on a sizzling platter. The dining room has character and sophistication with its marble floors, deep red painted walls and white accents. 428 Clarence St. (North of Dundas) 519-601-7252

The River Room   Jess Jazey-Spoelstra’s River Room, inside Museum London, has banks of tinted windows with panoramic views overlooking the Forks of the Thames. With the clubby ambience of a Manhattan restaurant, with its casual, tailored décor and New York attitude, The River Room is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday, and weekends for Brunch, and will open for dinner during the skating competition. Museum London, Ridout Street North. 519- 850-2287

Tamarine by Quynh Nhi   This sleek and urban-chic spot has a sophisticated palette and an upscale mix of contemporary Asian-inspired motifs, art, cuisine and ambiance. Chefs Quynh and Nhi combine the freshest ingredients with traditional flavours to create a unique menu designed to promote communal dining. Long Phan is your charming and knowledgeable host.  118 Dundas Street 519-601-8276

The Tasting Room   Lively tapas bars were the inspiration for this restaurant. Menus are a mixture of up-to-the-minute trends and updated classics. Appetizers are the main focus and the list is extensive. Wine tasting flights are divided into four, 2-ounce glasses of red or white. 483 Richmond Street 519-438-6262

TG’s Addis Ababa Restaurant   Noteworthy restaurants can pop up in the most unexpected places. This hospitable gem is tucked inauspiciously in a row of buildings between Burwell and Maitland on Dundas Street. Owners, T.G. and Sam, guide the uninitiated to select from a menu of outstanding and perfectly prepared Ethiopian specialties that are elaborately spiced. Vegetarians and expats flock here. 465 Dundas Street (at Maitland) 519-433-4222

Thaifoon   A casually hip and stylish take on the ancient Thai culture, with a décor and cuisine that honours the past while embracing modernity Thaifoon has earned both raves and respect for their delicious food and friendly service. One of the city’s go-to Thai restaurants.  120 Dundas Street (East of Talbot) 519-850-1222

Trü   Trü Restaurant and Lounge, located in one of London’s most historic buildings, boasts a kitchen at the top of London’s dining scene. Chef’s commitment to freshness and knowing the provenance of what is on the plate is the cornerstone of Trü’s culinary philosophy. 45 King Street (at Ridout Street) 519-672- 4333

UpFront at the Market   Chefs Josh and Jody Stall’s eclectic menus reflect its owner’s passion for bold, exuberant and diverse flavour combinations. Internationally-inspired casual comfort food made from scratch. 130 King Street (at the Covent Garden Market) 519-675-1020

Waldo’s on King Bistro & Wine Bar   Mark Kitching’s talented culinary brigade offer traditional bistro-style selections. This is where you will find the best “organic” burger in town. Greg Simpson rocks the bar at Waldo’s several nights a week. 130 King Street (Covent Garden Market) 519-433-6161

The Works   The Works is downtown London’s gourmet burger bistro. There are over 60 topping styles on offer, with a variety of meat and vegetarian options. 145 King Street (across from the Covent Garden Market) 519-601-5464

Zen Gardens Vegetarian Restaurant   Zen Garden’s creative kitchen serves the best healthy vegetarian meals that you can imagine, in an upscale, tranquil atmosphere. Even meat substitutes are made from natural ingredients and spices; absolutely no chemicals or preservatives. 344 Dundas Street 519-433-6688



Aroma Mediterranean Restaurant and Adega Lounge Wine Cellar   Felipe Gomes’s Aroma evokes a strong Old World ambiance. The open courtyard dining room features a three-storey vaulted ceiling, creating a spacious yet cozy space. Menus feature signature specialties from all over the Mediterranean. There is always a selection of fresh fish. 123 Richmond Street (at Piccadilly) 519-435-0616

The Coates of Arms Pub & Restaurant   This traditional British Pub offers a wide selection of domestic and imported draught beers. Their tagline is “Be warm. Be Welcome. Be at Home.” They feature a full menu including many traditional and iconic pub specialties like: Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole and Cottage Pie. A warm and friendly vibe provides the ideal location to meet for a casual lunch, cocktails at five, dinner or an evening out on the town. 580 Talbot Street (corner of Albert) 519-432-1001

Dragonfly Bistro   Donald and Nora Yuriann have an irresistible kitchen, a moderately priced menu, and service that is welcoming. If you are planning to visit for Indonesian Rijsttafel on Monday nights, be sure to make a reservation. This is a hidden gem in plain sight, on Richmond Row. 715 Richmond Street   519-432-2191

Fellini Koolini’s Italian Cuisini / The Runt Club   These sibling restaurants are located on a charming side street just off Richmond Row. Fellini Koolini’s is über-restaurateur Mike Smith’s tongue-in-cheek homage to the surreal Italian director. Favourites include a seemingly endless selection of highbrow/lowbrow creations: pastas, thin-crust pizza, steamed mussels, calamari, steaks, etc. Next door, The Runt Club is a typical “local,” offering Fellini’s menu. 155 Albert Street, 519-642-2300



All offer ample free parking.

Avenue Dining at Idlewyld   Owner Marcel Butchey and Chef Julie Glaysher create a culinary experience that is both sophisticated and classic. The restaurant is a reflection of the casual elegance that the Idlewyld, an elegant boutique inn, has built its reputation around. Plaudits for the cozy ambience, innovative cuisine, bravura and artistry on each plate. Jazz Nights. 36 Grand Avenue 519-433-2891

Blackfriars   Meander a couple of blocks from Downtown to Blackfriars Bistro and peruse Betty Heydon’s eclectic, handwritten menu. Culinary doyennes Chef Jacqui Shantz and Zakia Haskouri are part of the culinary brigade. Located steps from the historic Blackfriars Bridge, this is an artistic bistro featuring innovative, seasonal blackboard specials with health-conscious menu choices. Irresistible Sunday brunch.  46 Blackfriars Street, 519-667-4930

Mykonos   Heidi and Bill Vamvalis have been serving authentic Greek food and traditional English fish and chips for over thirty years. In that time, we expect the gracious and irrepressible Heidi has hugged the entire city. Mykonos has an extensive menu selection of casual Greek fare. There is a nicely revamped wine list featuring several good Greek selections. 572 Adelaide Street, 519-434-6736

The Springs   Chef Andrew Wolwowicz has earned the not-so-easy admiration of fellow chefs. A remarkable culinary gymnast who cooks with skill and dedication, his menus are crafted from local, regional and seasonal products and are executed with innovation. There is the luxury of ample well-lit parking. 310 Springbank Drive, 519-657-1100

Windermere’s Café at The Windermere Manor Hotel and Conference Centre    Executive Chef Kristian Crossen embraces a farm-to-table approach. He and his culinary team showcase a selection of “old favourites,” signature ingredients, and taste experiences that change regularly to take advantage of the seasons. Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner; Sunday Brunch. 20 Collip Circle (off Windermere, W of Western Road) 519-858-5866


BRYAN LAVERY is a well-known chef, culinary activist, Farmers’ Market Manager and writer. Mr. Lavery has spent many years in teaching, consulting, and advisory roles with various culinary initiatives.


About the author

Bryan Lavery

Eatdrink Food Editor and Writer at Large Bryan Lavery brings years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, as a chef, restaurant owner and consultant. Always on the lookout for the stories that Eatdrink should be telling, he helps shape the magazine both under his byline and behind the scenes.