The Buzz (Waterloo Region & Wellington County) October/November 2018

Written by The Editors

This column consists of regional culinary news, 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.


After a bit of a wait running the gauntlet of bureaucratic requirements, tiki bar The Grand Surf Lounge is open for business on Ontario Street, south of Charles and across from the transit terminal. The small venue is sister venue to Grand Trunk Saloon, mere metres away. Both cocktails and food sometimes arrive in bowls. That could be the Flaming Crab Rangoon Bowl or Octopus Bowl to eat and the Scorpion Bowl or Blue Hawaii bowl cocktails to share. Try the “Three Dots and a Dash” cocktail — pretty darn good. Needless to say, there’s a lot of rum here.

The Grill House at 825 Weber Street East at Montgomery in Kitchener has re-opened and re-branded with the tagline “Fresh Food. Fast.” Chef and owner Bruce Sutherland, Red Seal-accredited, has been in the restaurant and catering business for over 30 years. It’s a venue for soup and sandwich fare, a couple of breakfasts, some fresh baking — cinnamon buns and danishes, for instance — and Philly cheese steak and other lunches with cevapi, as a nod to the restaurant’s previous iteration serving eastern European dishes.

We reported earlier that Wooden Boat Food Company was about to open — and so it has, at 1-20 Hurst Avenue in the Mill-Courtland area of the city near the Iron Horse Trail. Owner and chef Thompson Tran describes it as a “ghost kitchen” that will be collaborating with other food operations, such as the popular Nate and Hugo Confections, and a keto food producer. Striving to be a sustainable operation in all aspects, including building materials, vegan food options will be 100 percent vegan with dedicated cooking equipment and surfaces. Friday and Saturday nights will feature Vietnamese street foods that can be purchased for take-away.

Celebrating three years serving locally-inspired dishes, Fork and Cork Grill continues to offer wine and special dinner events such as a toast to Ontario’s “cool climate cuisine” at the end of October. Executive chef Eric Neaves explains the new wine-making initiative: “It’s a really great direction with a very low-intervention, naturally fermented style. It’s a growing trend in Niagara, and one that I think produces wines with more complexity,” according to Neaves. “I also believe it will help us earn more of a distinct reputation on the world wine map. When you use natural yeasts instead of commercial, selected yeasts, you get a wine that’s truly representative of Ontario’s terroir.” Fork and Cork is also offering fun one-off events during the fall such as “Smoketoberfest” (October 2-14) and “Taste of Fall” (October 18–November 11).

You can support the work of The Working Centre while enjoying a good cup of coffee and some home-made food by visiting this new addition to the block between Scott and Eby streets along King Street East in downtown. Located at 256 King Street, Fresh Ground Café serves coffee (including Aeropress) and “light-eating” plant-based foods, such as salads, flatbreads, a whole-grain veggie burger, quinoa burger, black bean burger, and The Ferment: hummus on sourdough and veg. And, rarely seen in these parts, a galette.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest. Since 1969 K-W Oktoberfest has developed its own traditions, combining the largest Bavarian festival in North America with the greatest Thanksgiving Day Parade in Canada. Thousands of visitors celebrate annually in the Festhallen and by attending one or more of 40 family and cultural events. The local economy is stimulated through the celebration of this spirit of Gemuetlichkeit, 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 event (October 5–13) are on sale now.

OktoberLICIOUS brings the spirit of Gemuetlichkeit to local participating restaurants and provides a great opportunity to explore the outstanding culinary offerings in Waterloo Region. Participating restaurants add an OktoberLICIOUS prix fixe menu with special beer pairings to their menu for a three-week period. This allows each restaurant to participate in the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Festival by introducing German delicacies with a Bavarian twist to their customers, at a special price. Some of the past participating restaurants are Rustico Kitchen & Bar, Harmony Lunch, The Boathouse, Sole’ Restaurant and Wine Bar, Marbles Restaurant and TWH Social Bar & Bistro.

Taps and Apps is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region’s signature event catered towards young professionals. Join other like-minded individuals with an interest in tasty food, craft beer, and networking. Grab a friend and come out to enjoy 10 local restaurants, 10 local craft breweries, and live music at one of the region’s most iconic landmarks — The Walper Hotel — all while supporting local youth in need of mentorship. What better way to celebrate our community than by supporting the children who grow up here? #MeetKW at Taps and Apps!

Bao Sandwich Bar is one of those places not many people know about, but is always packed. Located in the heart of University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University district, it’s a bit hard to find since it’s on the ground floor of a condo building in the student district. The bao sandwiches and kimchi poutine make it worth the hunt. Bao specializes in Vietnamese subs (Bánh mì) and Taiwanese steamed buns (Gua Bao).

Loloan Lobby Bar in uptown Waterloo is helmed by the owners of Jane Bond and Bhima’s Warung (a local food institution and considered by many to be one of Waterloo’s best restaurants). The food and drinks are incredible, but the architecture and unique design also make this restaurant special. You feel like you are in a beautiful Thailand resort.

The Rich Uncle Tavern got its name from a cigar that used to be manufactured in and around the tavern’s current location, back in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The Ignite Restaurant Group looked back to find inspiration for the Tavern’s name. Joseph Winterhalt, a local cigar manufacturer in Kitchener, then known as the City of Berlin, created the “Rich Uncle” line of cigars and boasted they were “10 cents and worth it.”

The name Graffiti was inspired by the Led Zeppelin album, Physical Graffiti, and allows the Ignite Restaurant Group to share their love for art and hip hop. The food philosophy at Graffiti Market is to create local comfort food with unique variations, drawing inspiration from Tuscany to Detroit, and the surrounding rural areas in Kitchener.

Swine and Vine, owned by Jill and Mica Sadler, was conceived to create a socially vibrant dining experience where people could come together, enjoy great beer and wine, and share charcuterie and cheese boards and other locally-sourced food. The premises at 295 Lancaster Street West in Kitchener were previously occupied by Public Kitchen & Bar, which has moved a few blocks to Victoria Street.

Waterloo Brewing can lay claim not only to being Ontario’s first craft brewer but also its largest. The recipe uses fresh, handmade, simple ingredients and hasn’t changed since 1984. As the thirst for exceptional craft beers has spread, these brewers have kept their heads down and stayed true to what they believe are deeply shared K-W values of quality, craftsmanship and a spirit of innovation.


If Indiegogo has anything to say about it, Waterloo will soon have a zero-waste bulk grocery store at 110 King Street South. Simply named Zero Waste Bulk, the store will partner with local producers and sell bulk foods, produce, fresh breads, bulk liquids such as cooking oils, as well as cookies, brownies and Nanaimo bars.

Look for a major move by the Fat Sparrow Group that will take it outside of the borders of the City of Waterloo for the first time, according to co-owner Nick Benninger. With Marbles, Taco Farm, Uptown 21 and Harmony Lunch under the Fat Sparrow Umbrella, and mere blocks away from each other, Benninger says that he’s excited to take this next step beyond Waterloo. He can’t say much more as the deal is pending.

The folks at Show & Tell Coffee on Ontario Street in downtown Kitchener have opened Brch Social (pronounced “birch”) at 1 King Street North at Erb Street in downtown Waterloo. The store promises “coffee, cocktails and good company” (or is that cmpny?).

Also now open in the heart of Waterloo’s centre core at 75 King Street South is Anchor Bar (purportedly the epicentre of Buffalo chicken wings in downtown Buffalo, New York, in the mid-1960s). Anchor Bar Waterloo opened in late August and is located in Waterloo Town Square in the space that was formerly Carl Jr.’s, off Willis Way. The Anchor management report that they expect to sell in the neighbourhood of 2,500-3,000 chicken wings per day. That’s a lot of chickens.

Now open near University of Waterloo is Pilaf Restaurant — no doubt it serves some rice with a name like that. Dishes are Indian and Pakistani. Like so many new restaurants in the area, it is based on the business model of building a multi-storey apartment or condo complex and leasing the ground floor units to restaurants. (The remaining floors are for students.) You certainly can’t knock that arrangement, though, because it means many small outdoor malls of unique restaurants for us to sample.

Long a sushi and sashimi favourite in the downtown core of Waterloo, Watami closed up shop in the summer of 2016. There was much sadness in the city. But then, there was rejoicing! To a general sense of excitement, Watami has re-opened at 14 King Street North in the former Hot Wheels location. For many, the restaurant is among the top venues for sushi and sashimi — and it is not an AYCE. The former location had a terrific ramen that was served on Sunday. Let’s hope that holds true at the new location, too.

Congratulations to Bailey’s Local Foods, celebrating its tenth year in Waterloo. Bailey’s is an online farmers’ market where you order what you want and exactly how much from a wide selection of farmers and producers within a 100-mile radius of Waterloo Region. It’s a year-round service too. You can get more information at


Cambridge-based B Hospitality, a full-service hospitality group, has grown rapidly in Waterloo Region. It is the new food and beverage provider for Lot 42, a very cool and very large multi-faceted space on Ardelt Avenue. They’ve built a state-of-the-art catering kitchen and a 30-seat chef’s table. “It’s a unique design and multi-use environment,” according to executive chef Aaron Clyne. “It gives us more than enough support for catering and our food trucks.” The area for the chef’s table features a wood-fired grill. There’s a special temperature-controlled wine cellar and facilities for meat production, dry-aging and charcuterie. “It’s a humidity- and temperature-controlled unit with air purification. We’ll be able to age charcuterie and cheeses for longer periods of time,” Clyne says. The company has partnered with a number of local farms and will be able to do whole-animal butchery in the new facility.

Guelph & Wellington County

For more than 60 years, Reids of Cambridge has been producing chocolates, nuts, candies and other confections on Ainslie Street in downtown Galt. The long-standing sweet shop is coming to Guelph in October. It will take over the Nutty Chocolatier space in the Old Quebec Street Shoppes following a renovation.

The sleek and modern 39 Carden Street is inspired by the French bistro style, but is not a strictly a French restaurant. Chef features cuisine with a contemporary twist, prepared fresh daily using local ingredients. Snack, weekend brunch, lunch and dinner items are featured on the chalkboard menu.

Eric Chevalier of Eric the Baker on Carden Street comes from a long line of Basque pastry chefs. His great-great-great-great-grandmother was the first woman Cordon Bleu chef at the legendary Le Grande Hotel des Paris. He sells a spectacular line of French pastries.

The Neighbourhood Group will be launching their annual Harvest Food Festival at all their restaurants, where they will be showcasing local farmers with a portion of sales going to local food assistance programs. This network of restaurants includes The Wooly, Borealis Grillehouse & Bar (locations in both Guelph and Kitchener), and Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro. The Harvest Food Festival runs from Tuesday, Oct 16th to Sunday, Oct 28, 2018.

Andrew and Kim Wheeler want TOMME Cheese Shop “to be the cheese shop a food-centric town like Guelph deserves.” Located off Market Square on Carden Street, they retail an impressive range of artisanal Canadian and international cheeses, along with complimentary foods like olives, salami, spreads and crackers, cheese panini at lunchtime, and accessories.

Trotters Butcher Shop and Charcuterie on Cork Street in downtown Guelph procures quality local meat from small farms in the Wellington Region. Nose to tail items are made in-house and include smoked, cured and fresh meats. Educating customers about the sources, variety and quality of the product line is almost as important to Guelph butcher Brett MacDonald as retailing his delectable products.

Guelph has stunning architecture, a strong cultural fabric and a rich historical background. Taste Detours highlights Guelph’s history by mapping it from one culinary experience to the next, offering an authentic taste of place. Lynn Broughton, founder of Taste Detours ( is a certified Food Tour Professional. Broughton has just launched EatStreet: A Moveable Brunch. This Saturday morning tour starts at the Guelph Farmers’ Market for a deep dive into Guelph’s agricultural roots. You’ll receive a sample from a few different market vendors and then head off to several stops in downtown Guelph. A bit of sweet, some savoury, a World of Taste, and much fun in between. Businesses on the tour include Guelph Farmers’ Market (Taste of Craft, Rodolfo’s Rebel Foods and Fengs Dumplings), TOMME Cheese Shop, Crafty Ramen, The Olive Experience, Killer Cupcakes Goremet and Guelph Caribbean Cuisine.

Guelph did well recently at the 2018 Ontario Brewing Awards. Wellington Brewery’s golds included Country Dark Ale and Rhubarb Saison, while Royal City Brewing Co. won gold for a refreshing Oktoberfest (they also won bronze at CBAC for the Belgian-style Dubbel). Guelph has some of the best beer names too. Double Trouble Brewing Co. has Hops & Robbers IPA and Grow a Pear cider, while Brothers Brewing Company makes Tropic Thunder Pale Ale and Space Beer.

Guelph’s Wellington Brewery is Canada’s oldest independently owned microbrewery. The brewers craft award-winning beers in small batches using the freshest all-natural ingredients. Since 1985 they’ve been a pioneer in the craft brewing scene by producing traditional style ales as well as experimenting with new recipes as part of their Welly One-Off Series. They won five gold and one silver awards at the Ontario Brewing Awards.

Opening at end of October or in early November — fingers crossed — Park Grocery will be Guelph’s newest restaurant and more. It’s a multi-faceted business and one with substantial history. “It’s a neighbourhood deli offering roasted chicken, sandwiches, salads and soups all made from scratch,” says Court Desautels, Group Leader and CEO of Neighbourhood Group of Companies (NGC). But it will also be a bar, offering local beers, ciders and wine, with a barista-driven café featuring organic fair-trade coffee and teas alongside artisan sodas and milkshakes. The first business in the location was called Park Grocery, which opened about 1890. Desautels says it housed a variety of grocers until 1943 when it became a tire shop. In 1947 it became a grocers again, and then Guelph Delicatessen, before finally becoming With the Grain restaurant. “With an eye to a sustainable future, Park Grocery will support a living wage and many local environmental and social initiatives. When you consider that this very location has been serving authentic, great tasting meals since 1890, it’s no surprise that this newest iteration of the past is so forward thinking,” Desautels says.

The Townships & Beyond

Vibrant Farms is growing, with more reach across Ontario. The Baden-based organic and pasture-raised farm has partnered with another farm and has expanded home delivery and a more robust online store as well as greater reach across Ontario by virtue of a partnership with Erb Transport.

In its first appearance outside the GTA, Pickle Barrel is opening two new restaurants in Waterloo Region: one in Cambridge in the former Milestones on Hespeler Road (opening at the end of October), and one in the former Spring Rolls in Conestoga Mall, Waterloo (scheduled to open in early February).

Bradshaws Christmas Open House: Friday, November 9, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Bring along a few of your friends for a fun night out and the first look at Bradshaws in all its Christmas glory. There will be delicious food samplings, hot new product demos, an assortment of holiday giftware, kitchenware and entertaining items. Free gift with purchase and enter to win door prizes. 

Bradshaws High Tea at Revival House will be held Sunday, November 25.

A Victorian Christmas in Downtown Stratford & Outdoor Christmas Market: Sunday, November 25. Visit Stratford’s historic downtown for the Outdoor Christmas Market in Stratford’s Market Square. Enjoy a local art show, crafts for kids and meet Santa. Shop vendor stalls for holiday foods, crafts and gifts. Sip hot cocoa, listen to costumed carolers singing seasonal tunes and embrace the character and charm of Christmas in Stratford.

Stratford Christmas Trail: From November 1 to December 20 capture the spirit of giving and the joy of checking items off that list on Stratford’s Christmas Trail. You’ll discover unique and individual ideas as you stroll the festive streets, exchanging six vouchers at your choice of 27 stops.

Appetite for Words: Stratford Chefs School and Stratford Writers Festival takes place October 27 and 28, featuring a Literary Dinner with Jackie Kai Ellis at Stratford Chefs School on October 27 and a Literary Brunch with Anna Olsen, at the Revival House on October 28.

Stratford’s Olive Your Favourites let us know that new southern hemisphere extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) have arrived from Chile and South Africa. The customer-favourite Hojiblanca EVOO from Australia is due at any moment.

Milky Whey offers Cheese Pairings starting October 27. Explore pairings of Seasonal Beer and Cheese (October 27), Canadian Cheese and Wine (Nov 10), Who’s Got Your Goat with Pinots on the side (Nov 24) and Deconstructing a holiday charcuterie board workshop (Dec 1). All tastings are guided by cheese monger Liz Payne in the Whey Back Room of Milky Whey Fine Cheese, Stratford. Reserve your seat early.

The Bruce Restaurant offers a complete take-away Thanksgiving dinner.

Stratford Farmers’ Market is a year-round market operating since 1855, featuring fresh produce, crafts, meat and cheese. Stratford Rotary Complex, Agriplex, 353 McCarthy Rd. Saturdays 7:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Stratford Chefs School launches its 35th year with their “Season Opener” party on Friday, October 19th. Celebrate the start of a new school year and a new Stratford Chefs School cookbook, Farm to Table: Celebrating Stratford Chefs School Alumni Recipes & Perth County Producers (Blue Moon Publishers). This stunning book retails for $30 and features recipes from some of the regions’ most celebrated graduates of Stratford Chefs School and fascinating interviews with the chefs conducted by Eatdrink contributor and CBC food columnist Andrew Coppolino and striking imagery provided by photographer and SCS alumna Terry Manzo. A good party always ends up in the kitchen and this one will be no different! Meet the students and faculty, learn about exciting upcoming events and the dinner series, and explore the outstanding facilities. Wine and beer will be available. Space is limited. RSVP

Stratford Chefs School Dinner Series reservations opened on October 1st! And keep in mind Stratford Chefs School Dough. This is a gift certificate program where “dough” (aka dollars) may be applied towards any SCS merchandise, Dinner Series, and Open Kitchen cooking class. Purchase SCS Dough valued at $120 for only $100! Starting on October 1st SCS Dough can be purchased at the Administration Office at 192 Ontario Street. SCS Dough is available in $5, $10 and $20 denominations and is redeemable at full denomination value. Some restrictions apply. To learn more, visit our website or call the office. 519-271-1414,

Stratford Chefs School is thrilled to announce Jane Sigal is the 2018 Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence. Jane Sigal is a celebrated journalist, editor, recipe developer, translator, teacher, and is the author of nine cookbooks. Her most recent book, Bistronomy: Recipes from The Best New Paris Bistros (Rizzoli, 2015), has been widely praised by critics and industry leaders. Jane will spend two weeks at the school working with the students and participating in a number of events open to the public.

Savour Stratford Culinary Trails: Explore the delicious flavours of Chocolate and Bacon and Ale on self-guided culinary walks to various food shops and restaurants. Available all year round, they are great for a girls’ getaway, a couple’s diversion or just for fun. Culinary trail gift certificates, great for Christmas, birthday and anniversary gifts are redeemable at a later date and can be purchased on-line.

Stonetown Artisan Cheese is a purveyor of Swiss mountain-style cheeses, hand-crafted by master cheesemaker Ramon Eberle. Using unpasteurized milk from farmers Hans and Jolanda Weber’s herd of Holsteins, Eberle uses raw milk so that the cheese ripens as naturally as possible while the flavours improve with maturation. Cheeses and other local products are available to buy on-site at the farm store. Guided group tours are $5 per person (minimum 15 people). See the complete process of cheesemaking with the cheesemaker. The tour lasts about 60–90 minutes. 5021 Perth County Line 8 (Kirkton Road), St. Marys, 519-229-6856,

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The Editors