The Buzz: January/February 2018

Written by The Editors


The big news for 2018 will continue to be the ever increasing popularity and passion for plant-based cuisine. Vegetarian, vegan and root-to-stalk cooking have gone from hot food trends to mainstream contenders. London’s newest plant-based, vegan, organic, fine dining restaurant Plant Matter Bistro recently opened across from the Central Library. There’s also a new grab-and-go hot spot in town creating vegan comfort food, V Food Spot at the corner of Dundas and Clarence Streets operated by Michelle Lenhard, Andy Paquet and Dana Inglis.

The Forest City Cookbook, featuring 120+ original recipes from London’s culinary community, has surpassed their crowd-funding campaign goal. To guarantee yourself a copy, you must pre-order through the Forest City Cookbook site (it has been extended until February 15, 2018). Once the funding campaign is closed, there will be no other way to purchase a book — no second print run — so order your copy today!

Chef Josh Sawyer and Elaine Sawyer’s Wich Is Wich: a proper sandwich and supper shop is now open evenings, Thursday to Saturday, with a playful but intelligently curated menu. Lights will dim and the focus shared with great wines and cocktails. A series of “pop up” themed suppers will begin with “1920’s Sicily” in November.

Londonlicious — The Blizzard Edition — runs January 12–February 4. “Taste The Industry’s Best Lunch & Dinner Menus For Less.” Lunch menus start at $15 for two courses, and three-course dinners are $25–$40. Over 40 restaurants are participating this year, so there is literally something for everyone. Find the list of locations and menus at but contact the restaurants directly to make your reservations.

Nutritionist Julie Kortekaas and Chef Shayna Patterson opened Rebel Remedy to rave reviews at 242 Dundas St., last year. The popular downtown take-away features plant-based breakfast and lunch options, Pilot Coffee, cold-press juices, salads, and kombucha.

Carmen Mihaltan and Simelia Moga’s new Cameli’s Pastry and Café has opened at 119 Dundas Street.

London Training Centre has launched the next series of Provisions Cooking Classes. These two night classes in January, February and March are a fantastic opportunity for people to work closely with chefs Simon Briggs and Steve James. The classes are small — 8 to 10 people.

London Wine Bar has opened a second location in Wortley Village at 175 Wortley Rd. in the former Gusto location. Chef Nam Nguyen from the Tasting Room has created a menu of small plates, appetizers, pastas and offerings that are globally inspired.

The Other Bird restaurant group opened Hunter & Co. in December. They recently released their first cookbook, Debauch, with recipes from chef/owner Matt Kershaw. It also features some stunning crafted cocktails. Sunday is Industry Night starting at 8PM, with $5 specials all night long.

Restaurateur/caterer Jess Jazey-Spoelstra and Chef Andrew Wolwowicz’s stylish Craft Farmacy opened to acclaim in December. The owners are committed to sourcing and celebrating local Ontario food. The menu focuses on craft beer, a large selection of fresh oysters with rustic farm-to-table food. 449 Wharncliffe Rd, just north of Baseline. 519-914-2699

Reverie, a new 12-seat “tasting menu” restaurant on Piccadilly Street just west of Richmond, showcases a Canadian-focused five-course menu every night from Wednesday to Sunday. Owner/ Chef Brian Sua-an will be featuring “Pastry Sundays” beginning in January 2018. Reverie offers an intimate, immersive, innovative experience with a combination of understated platings and vibrant flavours and textures. Reservations required.

TG’s Addis Ababa Restaurant is a gem tucked inauspiciously on Dundas Street between Burwell and Maitland. 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 519-433-4222

Each week, Miki Hambalek of The Hungary Butcher makes fresh sausages from old world recipes, using only the finest pork, beef and spices. All his beef products are from hand-selected cattle — sourced from local farms that do not use GMO feeds or antibiotics, grass fed and silage finished. Corn is never part of these animals’ diet. Hambalek also sources free range chickens. The main store is located at 892 Dundas St.

Agnes Petenyi operates a popular booth at the Market at Western Fair called The Butcher’s Wife, and is opening a new store in January at 10 Hawthorne. The new operation will feature cabbage rolls, goulash, pastries and takeout.

Michael Naish and Justin Belanger have opened Storm Stayed Brewing, a brewpub in the premises once occupied by The Cove restaurant at 169 Wharncliffe Rd. S.

The London Wine & Food Show returns with more food, wine and entertainment than ever before. The show promises to bring Londoners an enticing mix of local restaurants, wineries, craft beers, and spirits. There will taste seminars, stage presentations and entertainment. Sip, sample and savour at London’s Wine & Food Show! Metroland Media Agriplex. January 18-20, 2018: Thursday 5–10:30; Friday 3–10:30; Saturday afternoon 12 noon–4:30; and Saturday evening 6–10:30.

Restaurant entrepreneurs Cathy and Bobby Docherty recently opened a new Wok Box on Richmond Row. Wok Box specializes in fresh, wok-cooked Asian cuisine, offering simple but extensive menu options inspired by the flavours of 10 Asian regions: Thailand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, Korea, China, Japan, India, Cambodia and Vietnam. Noodle and Rice boxes can be customized with beef, chicken, shrimp, vegetables or tofu, eight sauces and 14 toppings. Many dishes can be customized vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. It’s also healthy fare that has been endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Blu Duby has a diverse and loyal clientele by combining an accessible menu and wine list with upbeat ambience. Blu Duby North on Fanshawe Park Road west of Wonderland features the same great menu and service that you’ve come to expect from their downtown London location. Dan Groves has joined as General Manager for Blu Duby downtown. Peter Pownal has joined as General Manager Blu Duby North. Chef Dani Murphy is operating the kitchen at Blu Duby North and Chef Graham Stewart recently launched a new shareable menu downtown. Manager Scott MacDonald recently celebrated 5 years at Blu Duby Downtown.

Michelle Pierce Hamilton and Yixing Tang of The Tea Lounge, located at 268 Piccadilly Street, recently celebrated their first year anniversary. Patrons can experience exceptional quality, ethically-sourced teas from around the world. A selection of healthy snacks and baked goods by well-known local bakeries are available to take with your tea, whether you’re in the mood for a tasty treat, wholesome ingredients, or have food sensitivities. Several fun and educational tasting events will be held in January and February including Vegan Dim Sum, Robbie Burns Dinner and Valentine’s Day Tea.

10Eighteen coffee bar in Old East Village features hand crafted, fresh pour over coffee and espresso roasted by O’Joe. They offer something for everyone, including food, craft beer and wine.

Growing Chefs! Ontario opened last year in the former Auberge Restaurant at King and Maitland and is home for the ground-breaking program that unites chefs, growers, educators and community members in children’s food education projects. The sunrooms, dining rooms and bar have been turned into teaching areas. Upstairs features three rooms that can be used for private functions, corporate meetings and teaching facilities. Executive Director Andrew Fleet tells us that they will have one of the first Ocean Wise events in London in January and definitely the first with Northern Divine Aquafarms.

Community-focused, local, organic and sustainable are the words used to describe The Root Cellar’s philosophy. With an emphasis on “from scratch” seasonal menus, Chef Paul Harding and his culinary team procure ingredients from local organic farmers. We love the locally-sourced sausages and water buffalo burgers.

Chef Kim Sutherland has been hired to lead the culinary experience in the new $6.1 million dollar Boler Mountain Chalet. Well known and respected in the London culinary scene, Chef Sutherland is a local Londoner with extensive experience in large scale culinary establishments with an eye to local sustainable practices. Former executive chef at Budweiser Gardens, Sutherland is passionate about local, sustainable food and loves to share that passion with others. Sutherland’s menus for Boler Mountain include an array of healthy and family-friendly items to meet the needs of active outdoor enthusiasts. Chef will also be offering special occasion meals for corporate functions, weddings and private events. Seating is available for up to 200 in a variety of private space configurations

Shawn Slade and Shannon Kamins of Booch Organic Kombucha have scored provincial honours by being named Young Entrepreneurs of the Year by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

The People’s Choice Awards are presented by the London Region of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association to individuals who are selected through consumer votes. Online voting closes on Thursday, January 18.

David Chapman of David’s Bistro 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 than the folks at David’s. The restaurant will re-open February 10th after months of renovations. The bistro is a venerated downtown culinary destination with an extensive and ever-changing consignment wine selection. 432 Richmond Street (at Carling) 519-667-0535

Mark Serre makes The Morrissey House a welcoming destination, with a unique selection of beers and innovative pub food offerings. The pub offers women a 13% discount on lunch and dinner items on Mondays. It’s Serre’s way of confronting the gender pay gap that has left Canadian women earning 87 cents an hour for every dollar made by men, according to Statistic Canada data. Previously, Monday nights were reserved for the pub’s patrons taking part in trivia quizzes. Now, the Monday women’s discount night will also involve donations to local charities such as Anova, My Sisters Place, Life Spin and the London Abused Women’s Centre, among others. 359 Dundas Street. 519-204-9220

The Lavery Culinary Group is offering its full range of services to businesses from fine-casual restaurants to fine dining establishments to artisanal and specialty food start-ups. Consultation services for both new and existing businesses include entrepreneurial support, business planning, menu development, employee training, and more. Culinary marketing services comprise photography, cinematography and visual storytelling, as well as web development. They provide specialized services to entrepreneurs in the food community to help them bring new ideas and businesses to market. Expertise is focused on helping start-ups and existing restaurants improve operations to achieve a sustainable and profitable operation. From Farm to Fork, the Lavery Culinary Group’s experience will guide any culinary endeavour to success., 519-280-7565

Donald and Nora Yuriann’s Dragonfly Bistro has an irresistible kitchen, a moderately priced menu, and genial service. They recently celebrated 10 years in business. Join them Mondays for the Indonesian prix-fixe menu only. On Wednesday–Saturday you can order from the a la carte menu. 5:30–9pm for dinner. Open for lunch Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This is a hidden gem in plain sight, on Richmond Row. 715 Richmond Street, 519-432-2191

The River Room, Jess Jazey-Spoelstra’s venue 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–Friday, and weekends for Brunch. Museum London, Ridout St. N., 519- 850-2287

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. There are 23 micros on tap, with excellent style variation. Craft beer enthusiasts and serious hop heads have made this local landmark part of Ontario’s rich pub culture. 420 Talbot Street North (at Carling), 519-601-4447

Zen Gardens Vegetarian Restaurant’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

Meander a couple of blocks from downtown to Blackfriars Bistro and peruse Betty Heydon’s eclectic, handwritten menu. Located steps from the historic Blackfriars Bridge, this is an artistic bistro featuring innovative, seasonal blackboard specials with health-conscious menu choices. Drivers need to come onto Blackfriars Street from Wharncliffe Rd. 46 Blackfriars St., 519-667-4930

The Grand Theatre and Business Cares were thrilled to announce that the Grand’s inaugural #HumbugtoHunger campaign created in support of the London Food Bank raised $133,169. They reached out to more than 25,000 theatre patrons attending the holiday engagement of A Christmas Carol. Following each performance, actor Benedict Campbell (Ebenezer Scrooge) spoke to the audience about the increasing number of Londoners in need — more than 8,000 each month. “Imagine this theatre filled ten times over. That represents the number of individuals helped by the London Food Bank each month, 40% of whom are children.” Cast members were then on hand in the lobby with collection baskets.

“#HumbugtoHunger was a combined effort across the entire organization,” said Deb Harvey, Grand Theatre Executive Director. “We started with a beautiful production that told a story of kindness and charity. With a committed group of staff and backstage crew, a supportive Board of Directors, coverage by local media, and, most importantly, the generosity of audiences, we raised this incredible amount. It was a magical experience for all of us.”

“The Business Cares campaign continues to grow with new partners every year,” said Wayne Dunn, Business Cares Campaign Chair. “Each partner adds a new layer of awareness across the city and the Grand’s #HumbugtoHunger campaign has done as much for raising awareness as it has had in impacting our fundraising totals.” At the final performance, Dunn met with the cast and crew to talk about the impact of their efforts. “This level of donation has a huge impact on our ability to raise the nutritional value of the Food Bank’s offerings … We will be able to purchase more perishable food items such as milk, eggs, bread, fruit and vegetables.” Congratulations from Eatdrink to all involved.

Edo Pehilj has made Garlic’s of London the prototype for the ethical modern Ontario restaurant. The cooking repertoire 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

You may well be sitting on a connection to London history. Robert Robinson’s Upholstery has been in business since 1916, and continues to serve many of the city’s restaurants, new and old. Providing residential and commercial upholstery, including quality repairs and re-coverings to any type of fabric, their highly experienced and skilled team offers in-home repairs as well as pick-up and delivery for larger jobs. All their work is covered by a lifetime warranty. 519-455-9910


We are hearing great reports of fab new Stratford restaurant The Common, at 80 Wellington Street in the former Monforte on Wellington space. “Our cuisine is an eclectic mix of comfort food from around the world.” Join Chef Tim Otsuki to eat without borders.

Starting in March and running until the end of September, roll up your sleeves, tie on an apron and join the instructors at the Stratford Chefs School for Open Kitchen: hands-on classes for the dedicated home cook. All classes are held in the state of the art Stratford Chefs School kitchens at 136 Ontario Street and range in cost from $45 to $75. Discount multi-class passes available! or call 519-271-1414.

Stratford Chefs School’s popular Dinner Series returns on January 9th after the winter break. Known as Stratford’s most cherished culinary secret, the Dinner Series features the talent of Canada’s next generation of exceptional chefs. Menus change daily and include wine pairings with each course. Dinners run until March 2 and often sell out. or call 519-271-1414.

Stratford Chefs School welcomes International Chefs in Residence in January. Italian Michelin Star Chef Cristina Bowerman (Glass Hostaria, Rome) joins the School January 23–27. Known for her highly innovative cooking that honours her Italian heritage, Chef Bowerman will create menus and mentor students in the SCS Kitchens during her residency. This is your opportunity to taste the food of one of Italy’s most respected chefs. January 30 to February 3, the School welcomes Argentinian Chef Matias Aldasaro (Casa del Visitante, Mendoza). As Executive Chef of a 5-star restaurant at the renowned Familia Zuccardi Winery, Chef Aldasaro’s menus emphasize the important balance between food and wine. Reservations are required. To book online, please go to, or call 519-271-1414

Savour Stratford Chocolate Trail, Stratford’s most popular and longest running trail relaunches February 1 with new offers and a fresh new look just in time for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy six delicious chocolate tastes for just $30 on your custom designed self-directed route Tuesday–Saturday (Offers limited on Sun & Mon)

Savour Stratford Maple Trail, the seasonal spring trail, will be available March 1– April 30.

Revival House is taking a seasonal break for the month of January. Thursday to Saturday dining and weekend Brunch will return on February 1, 2018. The intimate upper dining room, The Belfry, which seats up to 40 guests, will be Stratford’s cozy go-to for evening meals, get-togethers and sharing warm experiences during the winter months by the fireplace. Chef Loreena Miller’s country-French menu includes local seasonal offerings with small plates like Roasted Root Vegetables (Honey + Herb Pistou, Candied Walnuts), classic French Onion Soup (Swiss cheese, sourdough croutons), Roasted Beets Salad (Goat’s Cheese, Hazelnuts, Honey + Citrus) and Crispy Camembert (Rosemary, Sour Cherry Preserves and crostini). Grand Plates include the soul-warming Risotto Aux Champignons (Oyster and Cremini mushrooms, parmesan tuile, thyme oil), Beef Short Rib (red wine braised, greens, parsnips, and pommes puree) and Potato Gnocchi (butternut squash, Cremini mushrooms, parmesan cream and sage). Availability may be affected by concerts and special events so reservations are suggested. 519-273-3424.

The 2018 “String Bone Presents Live at Revival House” monthly concert series continues winter through spring, featuring Canadian musicians in a one of a kind concert setting. The dining and events venue launches the 2018 concerts on February 2 with A Tribute to Willie P Bennett featuring Rick Taylor, Blurry Pickers and more. March 2 will feature Whitehorse-based, Western Canadian Music Award winning Sarah MacDougall on a double bill with 2016 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee Megan Bonnell. Tickets and other concert info can be found at

The 3rd Annual Revival House Winter Craft Beer Festival on Sunday, February 25 features an afternoon of food with beer samplings presented by brewers from across the province. Meet brew masters and beer aficionados from Ontario craft breweries including the new Shakespeare Brewery and other favourites Cowbell Brewing, Railway City Brewing, Stratford’s own Black Swan Brewing Co. and more. $35 tickets and event information available at

Around the Region

Patrick’s Beans has grown to serve customers across Southwestern Ontario and continues to provide consistently great tasting coffee. It’s not just Patrick Dunham’s coffee that’s approachable — the business philosophy of Patrick’s Beans is all about making personal connections. Dunham roasts coffee beans in small batches and then blends them to achieve tastes and complexities that cannot be found in single varietal options. Patrick’s Beans provide core commitment to quality, relationships and hands-on service. In fact, Dunham carries out most of his deliveries, to businesses and residences, in person. When Dunham opened Patrick Beans three years ago, he wanted to continue and expand on the benefits that buying Fairtrade and Direct Trade coffee has with growers. Often Fairtrade coffee is sold at a premium in Canada and the profit stops at the roaster/cafe. Dunham wanted to find a way to continue the economic impact of premium coffee in the communities he operates in. The program launched by donating 1% of total roast volume per month to community organizations. This began at 8 lbs a month and has grown to 30 lbs per month, divided between three cities and five organizations.

Join Upper Thames Brewing Company and Habitual Chocolate as they take you through the art of pairing beer with chocolate. Learn and taste the outcome at this delicious workshop All proceeds go to the Canadian Mental Health Association of Oxford. 50 Tickets, $20/each are available at Upper Thames and Habitual Chocolate. January 11th at 7-9pm, Upper Thames Brewing Company: 225 Bysham Park Rd. Woodstock.

Food as Medicine Workshop: Join Amy Walsh as she discusses how food can help your health, lower inflammation and give you more energy. Check out tasty and easy meal ideas plus take home recipes and sampling. $35 fee, January 13th 9:30am-12pm, Indigo Lounge: 264 Tillson Avenue, Tillsonburg

Woodstock Chamber of Commerce Presents Forks & Corks: Enjoy live music while mingling and sampling a selection of domestic and craft beer, wine, spirits and of course, food. $45 + HST ticket for three hours of sampling. February 6th at 6-9pm, Oxford Auditorium: 875 Nellis St, Woodstock, ON

The Minimum Wage Increase will be phased in over the next 18 months, rising to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018. Workers who have held a job for five years will now be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation. They will also have the right to 10 emergency days annually, two of which must be paid; reasons for leave will be expanded, meanwhile, to include the experience or threat of domestic or sexual violence. Students and liquor servers have separate, lower minimum wages than the standard under the new legislation. Liquor servers will see an increase from $10.10 per hour to $12.20 per hour. Students under the age of 18, who work part time during the school year (up to 28hrs/week) and on school breaks, will see an increase from $10.90 per hour to $13.15 per hour. Ontario is the only province where liquor and student servers are subject to a wage lower than the minimum wage, although, similar exemptions exist in B.C. and Quebec for tipped employees.

Are you a business owner in the tourism industry looking to enhance your current offerings? Are you looking to learn and improve skills that will bring your experience to the next level? Are you looking to be inspired and meet new people? The Ontario’s Southwest Tourism Conference is a fantastic opportunity to kick-start change and create a better future. This year’s conference will be held March 20–21 in Leamington, at the Best Western Plus Leamington Hotel & Conference Centre. Keynote speaker David Coletto is a marketing research leader and an expert on millennials. Coletto delivers strategic advice and research design expertise to many of Canada’s foremost corporations, advocacy groups, and political leaders. See the full agenda and registration information at

Valentine’s Day is recognized as a day for romance and dining. Chocolates, cards and flowers may be expressions of love on Valentine’s Day, but many couples take it one step further and dine out on February 14th. What better night to go out and dine and combine the pleasures of love of food and wine? Many of us agree sharing the pleasure of dinner together publicly is a romantic expression of our affections. In fact, going out to a restaurant to remains the number one preferred activity for spending time with family and friends. Studies state that Canadians choose to make it a special night with a loved one, as 86% of Valentine’s Day reservations were for a table for two. We suggest you book early.

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Deadline for submissions for the March/April issue is February 15.

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The Editors