The Buzz: November/December 2019

Written by Chris McDonell


We are excited at Eatdrink to present an expanded Volume 8 of the Local Flavour Culinary Guide (available in late November). The guide is now a regional publication covering Southwest Ontario from Windsor to Woodstock, up to Stratford and over to Goderich. You can find it at many of the locations that carry Eatdrink, as well as at Tourism Information Centres throughout Ontario. As usual, this complimentary guide is also available online. As with all of our publications, it can be easily read on your cellphone, tablet or desktop. We are confident readers will be more pleased than ever with this more extensive guide.

Great things continue to unfold in London’s Old East Village. A sense of inclusive community is pervasive and has made the OEV a prime destination for entrepreneurial innovation. Just off the beaten path and in and around the walkable Dundas Street corridor, the area is a hotspot for culinary incubation and indie startups, is a magnet for arts and culture, and has a thriving music scene. Visitors are always looking for authentic experiences when they travel, to connect with their surroundings and live like the locals. Here are just a few of the dynamic culinary businesses in OEV: The Root Cellar Organic Café, 10 Eighteen Café, Backroads Coffeehouse & Cakery, Willie’s Café + Catering (at the Food Incubator), Momo’s at the Market (and at the Food Incubator), Unique Food Attitudes, Vietnam Restaurant, Spring (YouYiCum) Chinese Restaurant, Wisdom Teashop and Japanese Creperie, and Tony’s Pizza (a family-run Italian restaurant since 1961). There are other fine food retailers such as The Hungary Butcher, So Inviting Chinese Bakery (homemade Chinese dumplings) and Artisan Bakery. There are craft brewers Anderson Ales, London Brewing Co-op, Powerhouse Brewery, Dundas & Son’s and the new distillery Union Ten. 

The Market at Western Fair District is a vibrant hub in the heart of Old East Village bringing together community, food artisans and startups. Two floors and over 100 vendors make up The Market. The Market operates on Saturday and Sundays and features fine retailers such as The Village Meat Shoppe, Loco Fields, The Butcher’s Wife, On the Move Organics, Monforte Cheese, Petojo Food & Catering (Indonesian cuisine), Harvest Pantry (ferments, preserves, salts and tools) and Downie Street Bakehouse. Food truck operators Bifana Boys and Goodah Gastrotruck have popular booths at The Market.

Executive Chef Katherine Jones and Chef Ryan Wishak and their team at Growing Chefs! continue to work hard to challenge the perceived limitations of children and youth in the kitchen. Upcoming fall classes include Chef Maryam Yaro featuring the Food of Nigeria on November 27.

Christmas Tea at Eldon House, Saturday, December 7, 12:00, 1:30, and 3:00 p.m. seatings. Get in the holiday spirit with live entertainment, tea and an abundant menu of savouries and sweets before touring Eldon House, which will be decorated for Victorian Christmas. To register, visit or call 519-661-5169. 

Have you been to Annies Chocolates? This family-owned and operated business uses custom blends of Dutch chocolate. Annies also makes sugar-free chocolates, fudge, nuts, and offers London Ice Cream and gift baskets. 1700 Hyde Park Road (relocated from the Arva location) and 22425 Jefferies Road in Kilworth

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 been serving some of London’s best Latin-inspired food for the last four years and is relocating to the new Ivanopoblano Restaurant at 390 Wharncliffe Road this fall.

Each cookie, cupcake and custom cake is an original work of art at Hey, Cupcake! The family-run bakery, owned by Krista and Heath Trollope, caters to a clientele with a whimsical and clever sense of taste and style and an appreciation of quality. Using only the freshest and finest ingredients, every order is baked from scratch and created with “a whole lotta lovin.” They’re relocating to a solar-powered shop in the new sustainable West 5 business and residential development. Ask about their ongoing campaign “Random Acts of Sweetness!” 1305 Riverbend Road, Suite 110, at Oxford Street West. 519-433-CAKE (2253), 

For over 25 years, Garlic’s of London has been a popular dining destination. Open seven days a week, they welcome you to join them for an intimate gathering, leisurely Sunday Brunch, business meeting or special celebration. Garlic’s exemplifies the transcendent synergy between authentic, chef-driven culinary craftsmanship and meticulously procured ingredients imbued with contemporary twists on time-honoured traditions. Head Chef Alex Martin has a thoughtful, respectful edge. Food is made from scratch with inspiration from local products, and elevated by freshly-harvested seasonal ingredients. 481 Richmond Street, 519-432-4092,

Congratulations to Publican Mark Serré of The Morrissey House, who is celebrating a decade in business. 361 Dundas St, 519-204-9220,

Congratulations to Nutritionist Julie Kortekaas and Chef Shayna Patterson of Rebel Remedy, who are celebrating the third anniversary of the business. Please support them during the construction of Dundas Place. 242 Dundas Street, 519-709-2782,

Willie’s Café continues to grow and thrive in the London Food Incubator at 630 Dundas Street. Ian Kennard has expanded the seating with more tables, comfy chairs and a new cozy dining area. There is inexpensive municipal parking off Queens Ave., and customers are welcome to use the entrance accessible from the parking lot. Willie’s also provides catering services with a focus on office/corporate lunches. 630 Dundas Street, 519-433-9027,

Located at King and Talbot Streets, Origins Co., with a Grab & Go smoothie bar, is close to Covent Garden Market and Budweiser Gardens. They offer smoothies and smoothie bowls to ensure that healthy ingredients fit into your busy lifestyle. Ingredients are ethically harvested, non-GMO, and organic where possible. They offer teas, espresso and Bulletproof coffee. Open Monday–Saturday 8am–3pm, closed Sunday. 105 King Street, 519-601-5855,

The landmark Budapest Restaurant has been operating since 1956, and its current owners Eduard Nagy and Anita Tasonyi are 20-year veterans of the establishment. Protégés of the legendary restaurateur Marika Hayek, they continue to delight clients by offering authentic Hungarian specialties in this classic old-world setting. Confident, expansive cooking keeps traditional Hungarian flavours front and centre. Think classic offerings flavoured predominantly by woodsy, smoky Hungarian paprika — dishes that are precisely prepared and expertly flavoured. Located downtown in the hotel district, the restaurant is a short walk from the Delta Armouries, DoubleTree by Hilton and RBC Place London. Banquet room available. 348 Dundas Street, 519-439-3431,

Richmond Row’s Bombay Bistro is a restaurant and a cultural hub offering “a culinary tour de force of India’s cuisine,” as well as pick-up tiffin service and meal plans. They take authentic flavours from their home country and push them beyond expectations in their own unique and intimate way. 346 Richmond St., 519-601-8850,

Locomotive Espresso, a locally-owned espresso bar, is growing the five-year-old business, with the addition of a location this coming Februrary at 350 Ridout Street South (at Chester St.) in the Old South neighbourhood. Locomotive Espresso South will be brewing espresso-based beverages using Mod Bar/La Marzocco equipment, an under-counter system with above counter taps. The modular formation will create an open bar look, and the design offers excellent interaction and engagement with customers. 

“Old South is a creative and passionate community where we can expand our brand and employment opportunities while offering a sense of a community place with exceptional products,” said owner Jill Wright. Staying super local and a business incubator has been a priority for Locomotive Espresso. They were one of the first retailers to offer such local brands as Booch, Nuts for Cheese, Bliss Bars, The New New Age, and Helm Baked. They support other established businesses like Willie’s Café, North Moore Catering, The Artisan Bakery, The Tea Haus and Momo’s At The Market. 

Alchemy Bake Shoppe creates fun and interesting pastries influenced by nostalgic treats and current baking trends. With a production facility in London, Alchemy offers breakfast pastries, cookies and squares, cakes and a variety of savoury baking including quiche and pies. Find them Saturdays at the Covent Garden Farmers’ Market and on Sundays at Stratford’s Slow Food Market (10 Downie St. indoor location). Follow them — — or on Facebook for events or to place an order directly.

Jess Jazey-Spoelstra and Chef Andrew Wolwowicz’s stylish Craft Farmacy will celebrate a second anniversary in December and continue to “dispense deliciousness.” The owners are committed to sourcing and celebrating local Ontario food. The Feast ON-certified restaurant’s ever-changing menus focus on craft beer, craft cocktails, a large selection of fresh oysters, and inspired rustic farm-to-table food. Be sure to check out the Sunday Brunch prix fixe menu. 449 Wharncliffe Rd, just north of Baseline, 519-914-2699,

Reverie, the acclaimed and unique 12-seat tasting menu restaurant, continues to receive accolades. Chef features a modernist Canadian-focused five-course menu every night from Thursday to Sunday. Owners Jerrah Revilles and Chef Brian Sua-an recently celebrated Reverie’s second anniversary. They offer an intimate, immersive, innovative experience with a combination of exciting platings and vibrant flavours. Wine pairings are optional but highly recommended. Reservations required. 208 Piccadilly Street just west of Richmond, 519-914-6595,

The Western Fair Association (WFA) has announced its future business strategy, which will bring hundreds of jobs, economic prosperity, innovation and growth to London and region. The new initiative, designated The Grove at Western Fair District (The Grove), will help to develop the next generation of Canadian agri-business entrepreneurs in London, Ontario. By repurposing buildings on the WFA site, The Grove will help new and existing agri-businesses to incubate, accelerate, educate and connect. The Grove will continue the legacy of the WFA’s deep agricultural roots while keeping innovative for future growth. 

The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC) will make its new home at The Grove. The MLFPC is the organization tasked with identifying challenges and proposing innovative solutions to develop a healthy, sustainable, resilient and equitable local food system.

The first major tenant of The Grove is LiveFit, a provider of prepared meals that are delivered directly to consumers.

It’s sustainable, and it’s traceable right back to the farmers that grew it. London Brewing is proud to be the first Craft Malt Certified brewery in Canada. “This is really important to us but it’s as important to local farmers that we can raise the profile of what they are doing,” explains Aaron Lawrence, head brewer and a founding worker-owner of the worker-owned and operated brewery. “The beer we are brewing really is an agricultural product and it’s the necessary trend of craft beer to use local ingredients if it is to be a truly local beer.

The Bun offers authentic Sichuan-style Chinese street food, rejecting improvised Canadian-Chinese food dishes. The menu is straightforward , you order at the counter, and waiters deliver food to the long communal tables. Start by trying the pulled pork sandwich or Sichuan-style wontons with special chili house sauce. There is a delicious sour and spicy Sichuan shredded potato dish and blistered tiger skin peppers (the name comes from the color of the peppers after they’ve been seared in a hot wok, which resembles a tiger’s coat). There is a variety of good noodle dishes. 196 Dundas Street, 519-567-5741.

Rain & Sunny Chinese Noodles, a Hunan-inspired noodle house has opened at 186 King St., northeast of Five Fortune House, in the premises of the former King’s Diner.

Some of the most consistent dim sum is to be found at London Chinese Restaurant, located in the strip mall at Oxford and Wonderland. It is served all day. Wing’s Kitchen at Highbury near Cheapside also serves some of the best dim sum in the city. We recommend you go there from Thursday to Sunday for the finest experience. Golden Dragon in Byron is known for the best crisp, dark-golden skin Peking duck. Ordering the barbeque duck or Peking duck in advance is always recommended. The upscale Congee House is a favourite, reliably good and known for its Cantonese dishes and congee. Five Fortune Culture House located downtown at Richmond and King is well known for its Yunnan-style home cooking with Sichuan and Guizhou influences.

Thursday nights are now a Jazz Night at Michael’s On The Thames, with a different jazz ensemble featured each week. Join Michael’s for a glass of wine, appetizers or dinner BUT be sure to join them for the jazz on Thursdays! 1 York St, London, 519-672-0111,

Wich is Wich has relocated to Wellington St., south of Oxford (once Willie’s Café), serving the same great food (global flavours, exotic ingredients, and textural contrasts). Still, they’re not just serving gourmet sandwiches. Chef Josh Sawyer calls it “homestyle,” and they’re taking comfort food to a whole new level. Locally-sourced whenever possible, meals are crafted from hearty artisan bread, slow-roasted meats, garden-fresh vegetables, gourmet spreads and sauces. Wich is Wich’s weekend brunch (served both days), lunch, and dinner menus (Tuesday–Saturday) can be paired with great wines, local beers and cocktails. They also offer catering, grab-and-go. 731 Wellington St., 519-860-9424,


Nosh Mondays at The Red Rabbit are a way of celebrating each season, allowing each chef to let their talent and creativity shine. It is also a culinary adventure. Join them Mondays from November to April. Make your reservations early. 64 Wellington Street, Stratford, 519-305-6464,

We continue to hear great things about the new Braai House, which recently opened above Stratford’s iconic Keystone Alley. The menu, created by executive chef and owner Anthony Jordaan, highlights the amazing flavours that come off a South African-style braai, a wood-fired BBQ/grill. 34 Brunswick St, Stratford, 519-271-5647,

Find the unexpected and latest trends in home décor, culinary must-haves and gift giving in Stratford. Explore the Stratford Christmas Trail to capture the spirit of giving and the joy of checking items off the list. You’ll discover unique and individual gift ideas when you stroll the festive streets. It is easy to kick off your holiday shopping with six gifts for just $30(+HST) and a choice of 25 stops. Purchase your pass at Stratford Tourism, Village Craft and Candle in St. Marys, or The British Touch in Shakespeare — before December 20.

Visit the highly anticipated Christmas Open Houses at Rheo Thompson Candies (November 3), Bradshaws (November 8) and Wills & Prior “Deck the Halls” event (November 9) to discover the first of the holiday trends, flavours and gifts. Enjoy the holiday splendour at The Parlour Christmas Open House and artisan creations at Treasures (both November 24). The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop marks ten years in Stratford with tastings (Dec. 5).

Sip wine and shop at the Start the Holidays Art Show and Sale, at Factory163 where the building’s heritage character complements the artisanal creativity (Dec. 7–8).

Stratford Chefs School invites you to an array of culinary classes for the home cook. Learn to make an amazing home charcuterie board (November 18), cooking with cannabis (November 25), and much more. Stratford Chefs School Dinners, prepared by students, take place Tuesday through Saturday at the new Stratford Chefs School Kitchens. Student-created menus as well as international inspirations are paired with wine and can be reserved online.

Junction 56 Distillery’s spirited tours introduce you to the making of craft spirits, and provide and opportunity to taste and ask questions of the crafters while stocking the holiday bar. (Saturdays at 11 am) 45 Cambria St., 519-305-5535,

The Milky Whey Fine Cheese shop presents “Creating the Perfect Holiday Charcuterie Board Workshop”, including refreshments (Nov 14 & 27) and Pairing Quebec cheese and Cider (Nov. 16).

Take a special friend to Afternoon Tea with Santa (Dec. 8) at The Bruce. Prepare for the season with Gingerbread House Decorating (Nov. 30 and Dec. 6), a Holiday Baking class (Dec. 14) and Cookie Decorating (Dec. 22), all perfect for sharing the children’s wish lists.

A Very Victorian Christmas returns to Market Square (November 24), for a festive and vibrant outdoor market in the heart of Stratford’s heritage downtown that includes art, music, Santa, and children’s crafts. Don’t miss the magical carousel. Mini markets will be featured on Saturdays November 30, December 7 and 14, complete with a visit from Santa.

Breakfast with Santa at The Parlour (December 8). Here’s a family favourite adding to the excitement and fun of the holidays and kids under ten eat free.

Santa’s Parade of Lights, Sunday, November 24 one of Southern Ontario’s best Santa Claus parades. Leaving Lakeside Drive and making its way through uptown Stratford, bringing Santa to City Hall. There are prizes for the best illuminated and best decorated floats, free hot chocolate, hotdogs and donuts at City Hall, music and carol singing, the lighting of the City Hall Christmas Tree, and decorations by Santa.

Home for the Holidays Hanukkah Party with the Stratford Chefs School, December 15. A holiday party that highlights the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah. Celebrate your family’s long-held traditions, or simply join the fun and learn more about this festival. Everyone is welcome. Hanukkah Sameach! $20/person (children 12 and under free).

Congratulations to Madelyn’s Diner, which recently celebrated 34 years in business. Madelyn’s Diner would not be the business it is today without Madelyn, whose daughter reminds us “was a pioneer in Stratford, as a female business owner, providing good food, sourced-locally, long before that was a movement.” Madelyn’s mission statement reads:“It’s not about making money … It’s about feeding the world, with good food, good service and good fun.” 377 Huron Street, 519-273-5296,

The Mill Stone Restaurant & Bar features Chef Jeremy Hayton’s seasonally-inspired lunch, dinner and late-night menus using many locally procured ingredients. Lao pop-up snack bar is now the last Saturday of every month. Serving up Laos cuisine and regionally-inspired cocktails until the wee hours. Followed up with Sunday Laos snack features on the regular lunch menu. 30 Ontario St., 519-273-5886,

Revival House has seen some notable changes. It now offers an exciting new menu crafted by new Chef Andrew Tutt. With the colder weather, they’re also re-opening The Belfry, the perfect spot for cozy winter meals and drinks.

A number of amazing musical acts will soon grace the Revival House stage: Nashville-based Canadian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Linda McRae celebrates the release of her new record, Going To the Well, on November 14. London, Ontario vocalist Megan Schroder brings her classic country Patsy Cline tribute on November 15. Award-winning vocalist and songwriter Michael Bell presents an all-star band with The Bowie Lives, a sensational Bowie tribute, on November 16.

On Sunday, December 15, from 3–5 pm, Revival House hosts the Annual Rhéo Thompson Candies’ Scotch and Chocolate Pairing. Individually wonderful, brilliant when paired. Special guest certified whisky sommelier Steve Rae creates a whisky journey through Scotland, touching the different regions and flavour profiles. Rhéo Thompson Candies’ chocolatier Christine Chessell has selected a variety of chocolates to compliment the scotches. Enjoy this excellent combination of flavours for $60 per person (chocolate-only tickets are available for $25):

The annual Bradshaw’s Holiday High Tea at Revival House is offering two seatings November 24, featuring three stunning seasonal loose-leaf teas from Sloane Fine Tea. Enjoy a special selection of holiday treats created just for this event by Revival House, and beautiful classical holiday-themed music by the talented musicians of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the holidays with friends and relatives!

Approaching the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s death, the Stratford Symphony Orchestra presents Legend and Legacy with Sarah Pratt performing Violin Concerto in D (November 23).

Share the tradition of the Messiah performed with orchestra and presented by Stratford Concert Choir, St. Joseph›s Church (December 7). Special guests The Blyth Festival Singers.

Enjoy the intimacy of a Christmas Sing-Along (December 13), presented by Stratford Symphony Orchestra at the Falstaff Family Centre.

Around Our Region

St. Marys Winterlights Display is on between November 15 and January 5. Hop aboard horse-drawn carriages to ride through the park and admire beautiful festive light displays. The display opens following the Santa Claus Parade and will be lit nightly for all to enjoy.

Love chocolate? Indulge in exquisite chocolate from Woodstock’s Habitual Chocolate — a bean-to-bar chocolate company. Cocoa beans are bought from small family farms all over the world, and flavourful dark chocolates are handcrafted in the store. Choose from an assortment of culinary chocolate, dark chocolates and custom chocolates crafted for special occasions. Soy-free, nut-free, gluten and vegan options are also available. 389 Dundas Street, Woodstock, 519-535-1341,

Congratulations to Dave and Michelle Schonberger of Tree to Table by Ottercreek Woodworks who recently won Best Culinary Experience in Ontario. Within their first year of operation they also won 2018 Ontario’s Southwest Innovative Experience of the Year.

Christmas Movie Trivia at Upper Thames Brewing Co. Test your knowledge of holiday classics while sipping on craft beer at the brewery on November 27.

Sollgood Holiday Social Market: Hit up downtown Ingersoll for a unique, curated artisan market of local goods, handmade products and tasty treats.

Brewed Exploration at Upper Thames Brewing Co.: Step behind the bar to learn about brewing from grain to glass and even bottle your own beer on December 7th.

A Taste of Norwich Township: A food and drink event featuring the best of Norwich Township on November 31st. Call 519-476-6172 for tickets.

Enjoy an Old Fashion Christmas at Snyders Family Farm. Don’t miss out on the holiday farm fun at Snyders, including s’mores, fresh-cut trees, bakery treats, a Christmas hayride, meet n’ greet with Santa and more open weekends November 23–December 15th.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with The Beatles at The Elm Hurst Inn, with a Beatles tribute band and a delicious, festive buffet.

Oxford County chocolatier Cindy Walker is a small-town shop owner, a certified tea sommelier, and “The Queen of Ganache.” As owner and head chocolatier of Ingersoll’s Chocolatea, Cindy crafts hand-cut chocolates with unique, creative flavours and sources a handpicked selection of teas. In her upcoming Truffle Camp workshops (November 16, December 7 & 18), participants take on the role of chocolatier and step behind the counter to craft a dozen of their own delicious, multi-flavoured truffles alongside Cindy. 38 King Street East, Ingersoll, 519-495-6020,

The grand opening of the 55,000-square-foot Eataly Toronto, the first in Canada, is set to open in the Manulife Centre on November 13. The food hall and culinary emporium comprises three floors, and is introducing over 1,000 Italian products new to Canada while showcasing Italy’s 20 regions. Pasta-makers, pizza-makers using specialty-made ovens, a Macelleria (butcher shop), a seafood restaurant and an Enoteca where one can have an aperitivo are among the offerings. If that isn’t enough, there is a bakery, formaggi (cheese) and salumi counter with 400-plus varieties of Italian and local cheese, a gelato lab, a chocolate and pasticceria (pastry counter), an on-site brewery, a marketplace and a culinary classroom. An all-day Grand Café serving all types of Italian-style coffees and alcoholic beverages.   

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Submission deadline for the next issue: December 5

About the author

Chris McDonell

Eatdrink founder and publisher Chris McDonell brings integrity and a widely diverse background in publishing to the task of making Eatdrink a vital part of the food and drink scene in Southwestern Ontario.