The Buzz: March/April 2017

Written by The Editors

In March, local restaurants will be bringing their culinary creativity to a celebration of Canada, offering a secret menu item that explores quintessential Canadian flavours, ingredients, and storytelling through food. Try these special culinary twists at The Black Walnut Bakery Cafe, The Boombox Bakeshop, Fancy Tarts, Olive R. Twists, Plant Matter Kitchen, Shelly’s Tap and Grill, Smoke’s Poutinerie and Twisted Toque.

In London’s charming Wortley Village, Pure Bon: A Food Shop — with its delicious chef-prepared take-home meals and gourmet kitchen items — closed for repairs after a flood caused extensive damage before the shop could even celebrate an official grand opening. Happily, the business has re-opened to rave reviews.

Blu Duby North, located at 745 Fanshawe Park Road, just west of Wonderland, is now open for lunch and dinner. The restaurant borrows much of what has made the original Blu Duby, located within the Hotel Metro in Downtown London, such a popular success.

Latino Flavours Restaurant has opened in the premises formerly occupied by BEGOS at 129 Dundas Street. The restaurant features pupusas, tacos, arepas and chimichangas. Try the pineapple cobbler and coconut flan.

The Black Trumpet courtyard garden may be the most tranquil dining location in London. Chef Scott Wessling’s new spring menus have a contemporary take on iconic classics, drawing from local seasonal ingredients. New menus also include both vegan and vegetarian features.

One of our favourite food trailers is the organic, Mexican-inspired Ivanopoblano in the parking lot of Lyn-Dys Health Food at 1016 Oxford St. E. Ivan Santana-Barnes has returned with some fresh ideas after taking a brief winter break for some culinary inspiration in Guadalajara, Mexico.

We are hearing positive reports about The Take Out Fish & Chips London, at 1635 Oxford St. E. at Second St. London does love its fish ‘n’ chips. Kipps Lane Fish & Chips, established in 1972, is hopping, and has added lunch service on Fridays and Saturdays. New customers are welcomed and encouraged, but the cozy little restaurant and take-away shop teems with happy regulars.

Jess Jazey-Spoelstra of North Moore Catering and The River Room welcomed uber chef Andrew Wolwowicsz to the team last fall. This talented duo are partnering in a new and exciting project. Craft Farmacy will open in the former Custom Cuisine Catering on Wharncliffe Rd. this spring.

Twisted Toque Social Grill, a Canadian-themed restaurant designed as the prototype for a national chain, has opened at 186 King St. next door to the popular King’s Inn Diner.

Thomas Waite of In Home Chef opened Spruce on Wellington at the end of January, in the premises formerly occupied by Willie’s Café. Waite promises that the 32-seat restaurant (with 22 more on the back patio in season) will provide patrons with an innovative dining experience “unlike anything that London has seen before.” Waite and Spruce’s chef de cuisine Troy Klungel will launch a series of weekly cooking classes in early spring.

The Gourmet Deli has opened a second downtown location for its quick-service deli and sandwich emporium, in the space formerly occupied by the Queens Café across from Victoria Park.

Longtime fans will be glad to know Ian Kennard let us know that he has secured a new location for Willie’s Café and Catering. He has signed a lease with Dave Cook and the Old East London Food Incubator and has started moving in, although he is waiting for a city building permit to do some minor upgrades to the space. He hopes to be up and running again in late March, continuing to provide catering services and a smaller version of the Willie’s Café lunch menu for takeout, Monday to Friday , 11am–2pm. Stay tuned!

Edgar and Joe’s Café has opened a new satellite location inside the Innovation Works London building at 201 King Street. It is open weekdays from 8am–4pm.

The new Ground Up Organic Café at Richmond & Piccadilly offers plant-based fare, from espresso drinks to wraps like the “No-chicken Curry Wrap.” The menu is as much of a personal statement as a business venture for co-owners Steve Loney and Jamie Norman.

Rebel Remedy Fresh Bar, operated by nutritionist Julie Kortekaas and Chef Shayna Patterson (formerly of The Root Cellar), will open shortly at 242 Dundas St. The take-away features fresh, healthful breakfasts and nutritious lunches, including cold-press juices, kombucha, salads, bone broth-based soups and Pilot Coffee.

Kelly Gowanlock of The Littlewood Pie Co. in Lambeth recently sold the business to Steve and Tracy Nakonecznyj of Spicer’s Bakery and Deli. “I’m really looking forward getting back to having time to play in the kitchen and creating recipes,” says Gowanlock. “It’s in my blood, I can’t escape it.”

London Brewing Co-operative now has a retail store and taproom on Burbrook Place in Old East Village, where visitors can purchase 4 oz. samples and 12 oz. drinks as well as beers to take home in growlers (1.89L), Boston rounds (950mL), and 650mL bottles. There are also t-shirts, shirts, and sweaters for those looking to wear their beer! Down the line they hope to offer take-home flight paddles so you can host your own craft beer sample parties.

Dos Tacos at 611 Richmond St. is a partnership between two young business owners, Asaad and Ziad, who were inspired by “gourmet” taco restaurants they saw while on holiday. They are currently doing renovations to the space, and plan to keep the garage-style doors in the storefront area.

Spuddy’s at 421 Richmond St. offers a fresh and unique take on the traditional baked potato, and partner Mo Kadri’s passion for his potatoes is sure to keep customers coming back. The menu starts with large jacket potatoes, baked to perfection. Add a dab of butter, hot sauce, shredded cheddar and a variety of meats, salads, condiments and sauces according to your preferences.

Patrick’s Beans is roasting a proprietary blend of coffee for Tourism London for Canada’s 150th anniversary. The beans will be available at both the Tourism London Information Centres downtown and on Wellington Rd.

Charles and Jill Wright’s Locomotive Espresso, at Pall Mall and Colborne, recently celebrated their 3rd anniversary.

The new 10Eighteen Coffee Bar in Old East specializes in locally-roasted, fresh pour over coffee and espresso by Joe Oranato’s O’Joe in Mount Brydges. Owners Kate Sullivan and Kirby Collins offer butter tarts, doughnuts, sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards, craft beer and wine.

Squire Pub & Grill will open in the space formerly occupied by Le Rendez-Vous at 109 Dundas Street in March.

The Rhino Lounge Bakery Coffee Shoppe in Museum London offers an in-house scratch bakery that brings decadent desserts to a whole new level. You have to try their hybrid doughnut, an homage to the cronut, available only on Thursdays. It has a dedicated following! And check out their vegan-inspired “Herbivore Wednesdays.”

After a $10-million renovation, the London Hilton relaunched as a DoubleTree by Hilton property. The former London Grill was transformed into Blake’s Bistro and Bar, with a contemporary look and updated menu catering to all tastes and budgets. Try the signature AAA steaks, Pad Thai and Conrad Burger.

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology will be celebrating Maple Harvest season with demonstrations of traditional harvesting methods used by Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabec ancestors, informative exhibits, cultural activities, treats and more on March 11th and 12th.

Nutrition Bites owner Sandra Venneri is one of six women named as a Top Finalist for the Mompreneur Startup Award. The local business specializes in nutrition education services, including personalized cooking lessons, birthday parties and mindful eating workshops. Growing Up Healthy Seed-to-Fork Kits are an innovative product that provides a fun, food literacy activity making connections between growing food, cooking and personal nutrition while focusing on truly fresh, local, wholesome ingredients.

In just over a year, Boho Bake Shop has grown rapidly, and now supplies a number of local retail stores and cafes with healthy, plant-based baked goods. Products can also be found at the Western Fair Farmer’s & Artisan’s Market. The business is expanding into a new production space in Old East Village to accommodate further growth.

Miki Hambalek of The Hungary Butcher (892 Dundas St. and at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair) now offers a weekly rotating product list of 56 types of fresh, handmade sausages, using all-natural casings with no fillers or nitrates. There is also Halal chicken on offer.

The Harvest Pantry, located on the main floor of the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair, is a small wares food and kitchen retailer focussing on small batch ferments, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, shrubs, ciders, vinegars, miso and kombucha. Owner Val Andrews also prepares house-made pickles and preserves like ginger-pickled golden beets.

Have you had a cruffin yet? One of Black Walnut Bakery Café’s unique baked goods, it’s a croissant-muffin that’s baked, rolled in sugar and piped with seasonally-flavoured custards and creams. Another customer favourite is the plain buttermilk scone with ham and an egg, sunny side up.

Pepper Tree Spice Co., Port Stanley’s artisan spice and herb shop, is returning to its roots and has established a booth at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair. Owner Debbie Kussmann is excited about this, as a great adjunct to her lovely shop in Port. Expect a wide range of Pepper Tree spices, using only organic and natural ingredients, gourmet foods, kitchen and bakeware, gifts and accessories.

Congratulations to Andrew and Erin Jardine, owners of The Village Meat Shop at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair, on the latest addition to your family. The shop offers hormone- and drug-free Ontario beef, pork, bison, lamb and chicken from Metzger Meat Products, Lena’s Lamb, Blanbrook Bison Farm, Little Sisters Chicken and Glengyle Farm Organics.


McCully’s Hill Farm Weekends: Sugar Bush Tours include a wagon ride through the sugar bush, a guided tour of the sugar shack and a visit with the farm animals. Enjoy Pancake Brunch served with McCully’s own maple syrup and maple pork sausage, and maple baked beans and fruit. Saturdays and Sundays in March.

Stratford salutes spring with the Swan Parade Weekend, the quirky ritual of marching the swans to the Avon River, April 1 & 2.

Cheese lovers, mark the week of April 1–9, as Stratford restaurants present their signature cheese dishes and the Canadian Dairy XPO welcomes farmers and industry partners from around the world. Visit CheeseFest (April 5) at the Stratford Rotary Complex to sample a wide variety of cheeses and learn more about Canada’s important dairy industry.

What began as a special occasion for Mother’s Day last year was so popular that Bradshaws and Revival House have paired up to present High Tea once a month on the last Sunday of the month. &

On April 22 & 23, join naturalist/forager Peter Blush as he searches forest trails for wild edibles such as wild leeks, trout lilies, saddle mushrooms, wild ginger and more. Learn to harvest sustainably. Recipes will be supplied.

Looking for a great place for crepes? Pavillion Coffee & Crepes on Market Place is gaining rave reviews with a large menu of savoury and sweet crepes, waffles and more.

Opening in the spring is SAV Eatery and Smokehouse on Wellington Street, offering a delicious menu and cooking classes.

Stratford Chefs School is planning to offer cooking classes during the summer in their beautiful new Kitchens on Ontario Street.

The Parlour Steakhouse welcomes Executive Chef Alan Van Heerdan, originally from South Africa, bringing global inspiration to local ingredients.

Around Our Region

Experience the annual Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush Maple Event every weekend in March and during March Break. The whole family will enjoy the guided tours, horse-drawn hayrides through the maple groves, sap-making demonstrations and displays.

The Idlewyld Inn and Hotel Metro in London and Stratford’s The Bruce were shortlisted in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada.

Congratulations to Streamliners Espresso Bar at 767 Talbot Street in St. Thomas on your opening. Drop by and check out their hand brewed Las Chicas Del Café coffee and fresh pastries.

Kettle Creek Inn is offering two wine pairing dinners (March 4th and April 1st). $60 per person; four course dinner with each course perfectly matched with its corresponding wine. On hand will be Chef Rob Lapman and his culinary crew, as well as Martin Gorski of Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW). Reservations are strongly recommended.

Deb Benner of Heritage Line Herbs reminds us the 2017 list of potted herbs and heirloom vegetables is now available — email Plants will be available at Horton Street Market in St. Thomas in the spring. There will also be a big supply of milkweed available. Help the butterflies to thrive! Details on Facebook or at 519-619-2153.

The folks at Ontario’s Southwest know what people love. The Craft Beer Cookbook has fabulous recipes that showcase the region’s unique brews. On your next trip to Ontario’s Southwest, visit the breweries to stock up on the signature ingredients for these delicious dishes. You can read the Craft Beer Cookbook online, or download a copy at

The Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance is “stoked about Ontario seafood.” After you read Tracy Turlin’s review of the Ocean Wise 2 cookbook in this issue of Eatdrink, check out the Alliance’s website for some local inspiration.

Cuvée Grand Tasting is Ontario’s only Grand Tasting of local VQA wine. This year, the event returns to the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls on March 24. With over 50 participating wineries, Cuvée features Ontario’s finest winemakers, each presenting their favourite wine. In addition, top chefs from across the province will create signature dishes at live cooking stations.

The King Edward in Ilderton has introduced a new English Pale Ale to an already-strong line-up. “Hobgoblin Gold is a crisp and dry golden ale with a well balanced hop nose,” says owner Rich Hunter. “It’s the perfect pairing with our latest wing flavour, Edinburgh Nights, based on the Scottish capital’s famous “chippy” sauce as I experienced it on an epic 1987 pub-crawl.” Count us intrigued!

Cindy Taylor of Transvaal Farm and C’estbon Cheese launched Kitchen Smidgen is St. Marys in November. The bakery is currently open only Friday and Saturday, but make a point to drop by. Taylor’s cinnamon buns and scones have a bit of a cult following already.

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The Editors