529 Dundas Street, Woodstock
Monday – Saturday: 9am–11pm
Downtown Woodstock’s newest addition is the recently opened 160-seat Ironworks kitchen. The name is a nod to Wood stock Iron Works, established in 1842 by Homer Pratt Brown, who became town mayor in 1861. Lunch and dinner menus feature elevated comfort food. Signature items include the “Homer Brown Burger” and the “Ironworks Salad,” as well as plenty of nods to today, including short ribs, rainbow trout, lamb shanks, chipotle mac’n cheese, and steak and frites. The Kids Menu includes a charcuterie board! There is even dessert poutine.
1140 Southdale Road West, London
Monday – Thursday: 11:30am–9pm
We’re crazy for the delectable gnocchi at Radu Rotariu’s Italian-inspired Bocconcini at Southdale and Boler Road in Byron. Chef Brian Honsinger’s pillowy potato dumplings with braised beef, cabernet and wild mushrooms are authentic and classic Italian cuisine. Try the oven-roasted Tuscan-inspired chicken. There is a wood-fired oven for fresh bread and pizza. The manicotti is outstanding and the silky, house-made tiramisu otherworldly.
The Little Green Grocery
129 Downie Street, Stratford
Formerly known as Your Local Market Co-op, The Little Green Grocery recently relaunched as a boutique grocery store “that has everything you need in one quaint little space.” At once both a throwback to simpler times and a forward-thinking enterprise committed to environmental sustainability, the store adds a different element to the charm of downtown Stratford.
Fruit and vegetables from local farmers are available in season, of course, but in the spirit of “one stop shopping,” items such as lemons are also available. Similar thinking means there are items for vegan, vegetarian and carnivore diets. Every day, in-house chefs make bread, sandwiches, salads, frozen meals, pastries and “healthy bites.” They also make delicious dips, spreads and dressings, even ice cream.
Striving to make “zero waste” easier, there is a refill section for items like shampoo, lotions, dish soap, laundry detergent, and a number of dry goods. Bring your own bags and containers. Should you forget, free donated containers are on hand. Catering is also available.
The Tin Fiddler Brew Pub & River Run Brew Co.
146/148 Christina Street North, Sarnia
Sunday – Thursday: 11am–10pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am–midnight
Mark Woolsey and John Tidball are partners in the new Tin Fiddler Brew Pub, located in a large historic building (circa 1890–1910) in downtown Sarnia. They have also launched River Run Brew Co. after gutting the basement and installing fermenters and equipment purchased from another craft brewery that was upsizing. Initially, they are brewing a range of beers exclusively for their own pub, and it’s been a challenge to meet the demand of enthusiastic customers.
Extensive renovations to the 12,000-square-foot interior have revealed long-hidden charms in the space, highlighted by 16-foot plaster ceilings, brick walls and a terrazzo floor. A new kitchen and washrooms have been installed. An outdoor courtyard, opened last year, got good use this summer as a live music venue. The food menu includes an interesting selection of sophisticated pub food, including a traditional fish & chips, onion rings battered with puffed quinoa, and lamb tacos.