The Buzz: August / September 2018

Written by The Editors

This column consists of regional culinary information, including a large scoop of local news and inside information. There is no charge to be included here, and we encourage chefs, restaurateurs, brewers, fundraisers, culinary artisans, farmers — and everyone else with information to share — to send us details. Short and sweet! We want to include as many items as possible. See the end of this column for contact details.


Since 1969, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest has developed its own traditions, becoming the largest Bavarian festival in North America with the greatest Thanksgiving Day Parade in Canada. Thousands of visitors celebrate annually in our Festhallen, and by attending one or more of our 40 family and cultural events. Through the celebration of this spirit of Gemuetlichkeit, the local economy is stimulated and over 70 charities and not-for-profit organizations raise funds to support the high quality of life enjoyed in Kitchener-Waterloo. Tickets for the 50th Anniversary event (October 5–13) are on sale now.

The King-Scott area of downtown Kitchener has seen several changes in the food landscape of late. With its low-profile geography, Stonegate Bistro, located in the subterranean depths of Scott Street between Duke and King, has closed. The venue had something of a loyal following and the occasion to prepare a culinary throwback, whether ironic or not, every now and then: cedar-plank salmon. A cryptic sign on the restaurant door says a new restaurant will be “opening soon,” in typical restaurant-speak.

At street level and right on top of the former Stonegate is Elevenses on Scott (, a café, lunch stop and snack shop that has recently changed hands. 519-579-7661

Just around the corner on King Street, Sahar Kitchen Indian has taken over space vacated by the Korean restaurant Shinla Garden. A few blocks west is Izna Japanese Donburi House, which at the time of writing was close to opening.

Legacy Greens is moving to Ontario Street between Duke and King, helping create a little food hub for a block or two. It started as a fall and pre-Christmas “pop-up” greens shop, but its immediate popularity prompted owner Jordan Dolson to stay open year-round. Dolson says the move is exciting. “We had the opportunity to purchase the property and renovate it to our needs,” Dolson says. The re-location gave Legacy the chance to build an accessible entrance and a bifold door to create both “an outdoor feel” and street-merchandising opportunity. There’s also a commercial kitchen in the new space. “For the most part,” Dolson adds, “we have all the same products and same prices, but we now have the building block in place to grow our prepared food options and retail sales.” That makes it another great addition to the growing downtown Kitchener food scene.

Nearby, Mark’s Caribbean Kitchen and Seafood has opened at 20 King Street East, a venue for restaurants that dates to the 1990s. Mark’s is virtually directly across the street from Rainbow Caribbean, long a popular place for patties and other Jamaican fare. A blend of cultures, the kitchen prepares both a $13 fish and chips and a $36 surf and turf with lobster.

The popular Relish Cooking Studio, formerly on Regina Street in Uptown Waterloo, has moved to 90 Victoria Street North in Kitchener in the same plaza as Cake Box. A kitchen store and culinary education facility with regular cooking classes (for summer classes sign up online) and guest chefs, Relish is owned and operated by Donna-Marie Pye and Maria Burjoski. Incidentally, the kitchen from their Regina Street facility is for sale, with asking price $5,000.

A few blocks away at The Tannery, Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, with several locations in southwestern Ontario including Waterloo, has re-modelled and re-envisioned the décor in their store neighbouring Communitech. Balzac’s owner Diane Olsen says they brightened up the space and are better set up to hold events and a variety of functions. That makes it a good place to enjoy their nitro cold brew coffee (a partnership with Toronto’s Junction Craft Brewing), on tap and an excellent rich and creamy sip for the hot summer months.

Just across the street from the Market and Nova Era in the new building at the corner of King and Cedar streets is the awkwardly named Pho Vietnam K & W. (Along with Salvadoran pupusas, the downtown has several pho restaurants.) Drop by and say hello: there’s no phone number or website readily available yet.

Joining the bevy of international food vendors upstairs at the Kitchener Market (300 King Street East) is Naranj Blossom, a Syrian-Turkish restaurant serving modern fare serving sweet and savoury fare. Call 519-573-1353.

In the Belmont-Highland food hub, Muya Ethiopian restaurant is undergoing renovations and an expansion to the half-dozen or so tables in its dining room.

The long-time Weston Bakery outlet store on Victoria closed on July 20. AM Africa restaurant on King Street East near Rockway Gardens Kitchener also closed.

Is this the future of dining out? North America’s first-of-its-kind smart dining experience from Graffiti Market, Red Circle Coffee Co., Red Circle Brewing Co., Ignite Restaurant Group and Kodisoft Smart Dining Tables (a state-of-the-art ordering system) are introducing a new program. Located in Kitchener at Catalyst137, the technology accelerator (formerly a tire warehouse on Glasgow St.) is the world’s largest IoT manufacturing hub. Graffiti Market began with the goal of fuelling the creative spirit in its staff, customers and community through a unique mixture of food, art and technology. As North America’s first-of-its-kind restaurant, retail market, microbrewery, coffee roaster and bakery, Graffiti Market has partnered with Kodisoft, providing patrons with a unique dining environment and a new way to discover the Graffiti Market menu featuring Detroit-style pizza, housemade pasta and rotisserie chicken. Whether you’re immersed in the interactive Smart Tables, admiring the murals created by local artists, or simply enjoying one of the in-house made Red Circle beers or coffees, you’re sure to experience something unique.

Carly Blasutt and Ryan Murphy’s new iteration of Public Kitchen & Bar is a stylish independently owned restaurant in one of Kitchener’s oldest neighborhoods. They take pride in creating delicious small, shareable plates and well-crafted cocktails. They also offer new and old world wines and an all-Ontario craft beer list at reasonable prices.

Jill and Mica Sadler had a vision to create a socially vibrant dining experience where people could come together, enjoy great beer, wine, share charcuterie and cheese boards and other locally-sourced eats. Swine and Vine was born earlier in the year, to accomplish just that. The charming and updated premises at 295 Lancaster Street West in Kitchener, was previously occupied by Public Kitchen & Bar which has moved a few blocks to Victoria Street.

Unique and delicious, original creations from master baker Martha Borys, The Lancaster Co.’s new Crumb Bakehouse offers pies, cakes, cookies, bars, milk buns, baguettes, beignets, cornbread, pastries, and breads — both artisan and rustic, yeast and quick-breads alike. Crumb Bakehouse currently resides within The Lancaster Smokehouse, but they have plans to expand the Bakehouse into its own retail and kitchen space in the future.


Welcome to Meltwich Food Co., Waterloo, in the busy and crowded King-University food hub near Wilfrid Laurier University. There have been a couple of grilled cheese shops in the area, and this one is obviously targetting students. And drawing on the “Food Co.” Identifier. Pick a sandwich base and add toppings. There are burgers and Philly Cheesesteaks too. Cheese and especially Cheddar plays a big part.

Also near Laurier, Kitchener’s Metro Restaurant — long a favourite for schnitzel and Germanic fare — has taken over Frat Burger, at one time no less than a Mecca for burger aficionados who loved their tri-blend of house-ground burger meat that was cooked a bit pink if you asked for it. The restaurant is a combination of the two called Metro on King (even though it is on University Avenue).

Serving what they describe as 100 per cent plant-based “power food,” Copper Branch in the heart of Uptown Waterloo, which is really downtown, has been open since early 2018. “We offer healthy food that people can feel good about eating and that tastes great,” says Ashley York, store supervisor. They serve some playfulness in the form of zucchini noodles with Sicilian “Coppernata.” Get it?

The appearance of Mashawi Waterloo near Conestoga Mall proves the adage that there is always room for more shawarma, the ubiquitious middle eastern roasted meat dish.

Weber Street Public House, Waterloo, has opened for business, fitting into the former long-time Benny’s location. Recently, the location at Weber Street and Lodge was the reappearance of the once-popular Mother’s Pizza (which collapsed quickly after it opened).


In Cambridge — Preston, to be specific — Top Market Meats has a bricks-and-mortar presence at 960 King Street East that, while only 650 square feet, is serving customers a wide selection of “seasonal goodness,” according to owner and farmer Leslie Zinger. “It’s everything local: meats, cheese, eggs, vegetables, fruits, honey, maple syrup and more.” The selection changes with the seasons, she adds. “We also work with other local farmers and online businesses that use Top Market as a pickup location.” That’s collaborative and smart business.

Nearby at 763 King Street East Cambridge is Wuddup Dog, a hotdog and sausage joint—what they call “gourmet street meat”—for dine-in, take-out and delivery. Needless to say, there are many dog varieties and fries, onion rings, mac-and-cheese but also an assortment of deep-fried desserts. Owner Todd Johns says be on the lookout for them to be moving to a new location.

Guelph & Wellington County

A few weeks open and a new Mexican restaurant in the heart of downtown Guelph is understandably busy with customers curious about the food. La Reina — “The Queen” — opened in late June in the space that was formerly Van Gogh’s Ear at 10 Wyndham Street North. Calling themselves “an authentic Mexican restaurant,” La Reina draws on three Mexican-born chefs and serves several familiar dishes such as flautas, carne asada and ceviche as well unique dishes such as guajillo-braised lamb borrego, braised venison and avocado and a confit of peaches, according to owner Bryan Steele (not the Stratford Chefs School Bryan Steele). There’s also a late-night menu, cocktails and tequila. And check out the dessert menu: there’s a suggestion to “Tip the Kitchen” with either Sol or Modelo beer. “I’ve seen what the kitchen goes through,” says Steele, a Humber culinary grad. “This is to show appreciation for what they do.”

Head over to Carden Street and you’ll find Tomme Cheese Shop, which opened in late June with a goal to fill a gap in the fine cheese market in the city. They’re currently doing that with about 100 cheeses in stock from local to international. “And we’re not finished yet,” says owner Andrew Wheeler. He and his wife Kim Wheeler came to Guelph and fell in love with the city about eight years ago. “We love food and asked what do we need here?” Cheese was the answer. To go with it, there is just about everything you need for charcuterie boards or a stand-alone cheese feast. Tomme has partnered with Guelph businesses Trotter’s Butcher Shop and Charcuterie and Polestar Hearth Bakery. As for the name, which denotes an Alpine cheese, “we just liked the sound of the word,” says Wheeler.

We send congratulations to Western Burgers and Steaks in downtown Guelph, who recently celebrated their fifth anniversary. That’s makes the traditional gift given wood, fitting for the modern-day saloon in the former Diplomat Hotel from the 19th century.

The building on the northwest corner of London and Woolwich roads, the former home of With the Grain, is in the process of being refurbished by the Neighbourhood Group of Companies (NGC). The group behind Borealis in Kitchener and Guelph, The Wooly Pub and Miijidaa Café & Bistro are set to open a new restaurant. Going back to square one, Court Desautels dove into the site’s history, right back to the 1890s when it was known as Park Grocery. The crowning achievement for the NGC is it receiving B Corp Certification in the spring of 2016. The rigorous process for qualification requires a company to focus on its staff, the community and the physical environment rather than solely chasing profits. NGC is the largest restaurant group in the world to have achieved B Corp certification.

The Townships & Beyond

For the first time since it opened in 1975, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market was sold to new owners in the spring. The Shantz family, which owns Mercedes Corp. together with more than 40 independent shareholders, sold the market, along with several other businesses to the Schlegel family’s Schlegel Urban Developments. The new Market owners said it has been a smooth transition. Open Thursday & Saturday all year around, and Tuesdays during summer months too (Until August 28, 2018).

In honour of the 35th anniversary of Stratford Chefs School, work is currently underway on Farm to Table, a cookbook that pairs 25 Stratford Chefs School alumni chefs with their favourite food producers and farmers for a culinary adventure through Perth and Huron Counties. This stunning book will not only feature recipes from some of the region’ s most celebrated graduates of the Stratford Chefs School, but also includes fascinating interviews with the chefs conducted by CBC food columnist and Eatdrink contributor Andrew Coppolino and striking imagery provided by photographer and SCS alumna Terry Manzo. The book will be launched at the School’s Season Opener in late October.

The Stratford Chefs School’s 2018 Long Table Dinner is just around the corner, so don’t miss your opportunity to join a fun and eclectic group of people for an exceptional outdoor dining experience set in the heart of Stratford’s heritage district. Guests gather around one long beautifully appointed table to enjoy a four-course dinner of incredible local food complemented by VQA wines. Participate in the unexpected. Sunday, September 9, 2018, Stratford Market Square, $125 per person ($50 tax receipt)

Plan to attend the 12th Annual Stratford Kiwanis Garlic Festival on September 8 and 9 at the Community Hall in The Stratford Rotary Complex. Raising funds for local community projects and supporting local garlic growers, The Kiwanis Club of Stratford once again will deliver a fun family weekend, complete with an Ontario Garlic & Artisan Market, cooking demonstrations by professional chefs, educational forums, live entertainment, artisanal cheeses and exclusive wine/spirits/beer pairings and tastings.

The Appetite for Words Festival program is a partnership between the Stratford Writers Festival and the Stratford Chefs School and features authors who have written about food, and fiction writers who allow food to become a strong component of scenes and/or the characters in their novels. The best part is, chefs and students from Stratford Chefs School develop and prepare inspired menus, matching an author’s readings with appropriate food at literary dinners and lunches, so you can taste the words you’re hearing. Appetite for Words revolves around storytelling and is created for the enthusiastic and curious — anyone interested in reading, discussing and consuming food (that’s you, right?). Participate in educational workshops and tasting sessions with some of Canada’s best food writing talent and build skills and increase your knowledge of both the culinary and literary arts. From a literary picnic-style farm lunch to a food photography workshop, whet your appetite for literature.

Savour Stratford Chocolate Trail — If you’re a choco-holic this is the trail for you! What could be better than spending an afternoon (or two) strolling the Victorian streets of Stratford and sampling chocolate? The self-guided Chocolate Trail is offered year-round and can be used at six of the 27 stops. Tickets are just $30 (+HST) and valid for 1 week from the date of purchase.

Savour Stratford Bacon and Ale Trail — Bacon and Ale — two of life’s greatest creations! This self-guided walking trail includes vouchers that you can use at 5 stops. Each voucher will entitle you to a “tasting” of a unique bacon and ale inspired treat and the chance to speak to Stratford and area’s culinary stars while visiting unique restaurants and retail locations. This trail is offered year-round and is valid for 1 week from the date of purchase ($30 +HST).

Honey Meets Blueberries Meets Cheese — Enjoy free samples and learn at three great locations, Saturday, August 11. Oxford Honey offers honey sampling and bee-keeping demonstrations (9am-4pm). Berrylicious Fruit Farm offers blueberry sampling, and you can pick your own and learn about berry benefits (Tours 10am & 2pm).  Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese is sampling Brie with honey and blueberries, with face painting and live music. (Tours 11am & 3pm)  Sponsored by Oxford Fresh.

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The Editors