Goderich’s newest boutique bistro and hotel, Samuels, is named after local men who worked in the production of salt, milk and ice cream. Owner Kim Burgsma, with the help of her husband (and contractor) Hugh, transformed picturesque dairy farmland on the Maitland River just north of Goderich into a property with a lovely 14-room contemporary boutique hotel. Now, three years later, Burgsma has grown the culinary offerings at Samuels to include casual fine dining, sushi nights and culinary classes with Goderich native and Fanshawe College Chef/instructor Scott Baechler.
The results she has achieved would make both Samuels proud to have their names attached to the enterprise. Samuel Bisset and his family produced award winning dairy products on the land for 70 years in the 1900’s. The Burgsmas transformed his former silos into their unique home. Inspired, they then bought an adjacent former banquet hall and transformed it into a single hall hotel, with half the rooms facing the river – in fact you can walk to the banks and enjoy fishing or hiking. A Garden Room, which was originally Colborne Public School – a two-room late 1800’s school – became a breakfast room with exposed brick walls juxtaposed with Nevada Red walls and stone accents. It is now Samuels Bistro, with full service dining and seating for 28.
The other Samuel was Samuel Platt, who is credited with discovering salt in Goderich in 1866. The result was that Sifto became the town’s main industrial employer; the mine head can be seen from the hotel. Guests can hike to the Goderich harbour for a closer view or to enjoy a famous Lake Huron sunset.
Samuels has recently joined Ontario’s Finest Hotels, Inns & Spas. Every room has a gas fireplace. Some King Riverside suites have Jacuzzi tubs. All rooms are tastefully decorated and are accessible. A second-storey Schoolhouse Suite has two bedrooms, full kitchen and a large balcony with a view of Goderich and the sunsets. This is where Chef Baechler offers culinary classes in the winter and spring. Baechler has over 20 years experience as an executive chef in international five star hotels across Canada and the world, including Rimrock in Banff (the only five diamond in Western Canada), The Four Seasons in Whistler, and Fairmont in Dubai. Most recently, while teaching at Fanshawe, Baechler was part of Culinary Team Canada, winning top honours in Europe. Baechler says that Samuels’ small size creates the perfect balance. “I am a Goderich boy, it’s a great untapped destination, and people who live in Goderich work hard to protect that.”
Baechler says he was drawn to Burgsma’s love of gardening and culinary. “Over the summer we have a full farmers market in the downtown core. It’s simply the place to be. Kim and I are hoping to do a dinner together at some point, so keep an eye out,” he teases.
Burgsma is the chef at Samuels and it’s a job she clearly enjoys and excels at. Her playful approach with local Perth Pork Products results in such items as wild boar ragu and sweet candied bacon in fennel salad. Burgsma’s apple crumble pie made with Arva Four Mill flour is light and flaky. In season she makes peach and berry pies. Fifty percent of the menu changes seasonally. She also loves seafood and features large shrimp in her chowder and in her coconut curry prawn with basmati rice. Samuels serves VQA wines and is fully licenced. The Bistro Garden Room can also be used for private functions and meetings.
“I’m careful what I choose to put on the menu,” says Burgsma. “Small is not bad.”
Clearly, she loves her sense of place and its history. The family has lived on the site for 33 years and daughter Holly Dalton is a local photographer. “It’s a beautiful area we have here.”
Burgsma has also teamed up with another Goderich restaurant, Thyme on 21, offering guests a Culinary Adventure which includes a two-night stay, and dinners at both locations. Given the skills of Thyme’s Chef Terry Kennedy, that sounds like a delicious get-away.
Samuels Boutique Hotel
34031 Saltford Rd, Goderich
Jane Antoniak has covered Huron County for eatdrink magazine for five years. She is also Manager, Communications & Media Relations, King’s University College, Western.
Bruce Fyfe enjoys culinary photography for eatdrink. He is a Librarian at Weldon, Western University.