The 2014 London’s Local Flavour Culinary Guide is hot off the press. A project by eatdrink magazine for Tourism London, the guide provides a rich overview of the city’s breadth of exciting dining and shopping opportunities. The guide goes out to Ontario Travel Centres, London’s Tourism Information Centres, and major entry points to the city, such as the London International Airport, the VIA Rail station, the London Convention Centre, the Downtown London office, as well as at dozens of local businesses, libraries and the farmers’ markets. It’s also available online, with links both on the Tourism London website and the eatdrink site. For information on outstanding local restaurants, culinary retailers, and our farmers’ markets, there is no more comprehensive resource available. Get your copy; it’s a keeper. For a view of the guide and more, go to www.londontourism.ca/culinary
London’s Garlic’s of London and La Casa are both celebrating 20 years in business. Marienbad and Chaucer’s Pub will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this June. Heartfelt congratulations all around.
Wen Bei Li’s Chinese Five Fortune Club Restaurant and arts and culture centre is expected to open in early March at the southeast corner of Richmond and King Street. The cuisine will be a combination of Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou influences.
The Japanese-inspired Sakata Bar and Grill has opened in the premises that Blue Ginger previously occupied on Richmond Street.
Meals on Wheels will be holding their annual event, called “Walk for Wheels,” at Covent Garden Market, upstairs on the Mezzanine on March 28th from 2-4 p.m.
The Covent Garden Farmers’ Market operated by Christine Sheer is London’s only 100% producer-based market. This means that every vendor at the market sells what they grow, raise, bake, and preserve themselves. For more info about The Covent Garden Farmers’ Market, including recipes and special events, go to the farmers’ market blog, at www.coventgardenfarmersmarket.com
UpFront at the Market, in the southwest corner of Covent Garden Market, and Café One on Richmond Street both closed in February.
The new brain child of The Wolfe Brothers, “Rock Au Taco,” next door to the Early Bird Diner, is serving up delicious and authentic tacos and Mexican cuisine, ice cold cervezas, and smooth tequila. www.theearlybird.ca
The Root Cellar, an organic café, bakery and juice bar in Old East Village is expanding into the neighbouring premises at 621 Dundas Street. The cafe is an offshoot of On the Move Organics, a local company that unites people to local certified organic food producers through its home delivery service, its operations at Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market, and the Dundas Street café. When completed this spring the dining room will have tripled in size. In warm weather diners will be able to enjoy the sidewalk patio. www.fb.com/TheRootCellarOrganicCafe
Locomotive Espresso opened their doors mid-February and is looking to fill a growing worldwide thirst for local, independent coffee bars serving the highest quality beverages. Locomotive is located at the corner of Pall Mall and Colborne (at the railroad tracks), in the former Helen’s Variety.
Los Comales, known for its Mexican and Latin American food, has reopened for casual dining or take-out with delivery to be offered in the future. It offers many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. The focus is on flavour, not heat, but home-made hot sauce is available. 561 Southdale Rd Unit 9c., 226-663-8452
The Curry Garden Restaurant has relocated. It is now south of King Street on Richmond in the premises formerly occupied by Los Comales. The Asian Buffet is relocating in the premises formerly occupied by the Curry Garden Restaurant.
The 2014 seed season has started. Rick Weingarden and Allan Watts, from Anything Grows SEED Company, a permanent vendor at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisan’s Market on Saturdays, have hard-to-find seeds and organic sprouting seeds available year round. With a larger space, anything grows has expanded into other categories: bird feeders, gloves, potted arrangements, flower bulbs, sprout growers and hand-weeders, just to name a few. This spring, enjoy the Anything Grows advantage: A choice of five great seed suppliers — along with their favourite gardening supplies — all available in one spot. Whether you are a discerning veteran gardener or an enthusiastic beginner, get the seed varieties you’re looking for quickly and easily. www.anythinggrows.com
Hope made Delicious. A Taste for Life Participating Taste restaurants open their doors on Wednesday April 23rd and donate 25% of the evening sales to AIDS Service Organizations in the community. Support the men, women and children in your community by going out to dinner. A Taste for Life serves the regions of Perth, Huron, Oxford, Elgin, Lambton and Middlesex counties. Monforte on Wellington will be joining Molly Blooms and Foster’s Inn in Stratford this year. www.atasteforlife.org/london.htm
Chef Brian Magee will be opening FLAVURS Artisan Kitchen & Bar in the premises formerly occupied by Smoke-N-Bones on Wellington Road South at Southdale. The locally-sourced menus will find inspiration in updated versions of globally inspired street food. FLAVURS will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Owner Jim Agathos’s The Dancing Greek (formerly the Huron House) has closed. Agathos’s grandson Zack is opening the Icarus Resto Bar in the premises formerly occupied by the Coffee Culture on Richmond Street. The Mediterranean-themed restaurant will have an open kitchen and is expected to open in late March or early April.
Last year London City Council agreed to get public feedback on a proposed program to allow new-style food trucks. The current bylaw was drafted to deal with catering trucks, hotdog carts and other vendors that have traditionally been confined to private parking lots and special events.
The City has revised their initial food truck plan, and proposed a much less restrictive version that balances the interests of stakeholders and encourages a vibrant street food experience for the public. However, there are restrictions. There is expected to be a 25-metre buffer zone separating food trucks from existing restaurants. They will also be required to stay clear of schools, which have healthful-food guidelines.
In the meantime, an impartial food truck advisory review panel made up of volunteer representatives (based on London’s Urban Design Peer Review Panel) is being formed to provide expert opinion and recommendations regarding food truck strategy in London.
In addition, the panel will be charged with encouraging culturally diverse and original menu offerings, and endorsing the promotion of healthy eating. Vendors would be encouraged to be innovative and consider focusing on a variety of nutritious, seasonal, fresh and local ingredients.
At the moment it appears that there will be no selection criteria based on proposed menu offerings, business plan, innovation, and level of vendor experience or overall impact to London’s food truck/street food culture. However, it is too early to try to define what that culture should look like, and consumers will ultimately determine its future and success.
Chris and Mary Woolf have returned to St. Marys. Little Red’s Pub and Eatery opened in mid- February, at 159 Queen Street. The Woolfs always made a trip to the former Woolfy’s well worth the drive. www.woolfys.com
Paint Ontario is a project of the Grand Bend Art Centre and runs March 8–30. This 18th annual juried show of representational art is a competition, an exhibition, and a sale, and is being held in the Lambton Heritage Museum in Grand Bend. www.paintontario.com
Chef Gus Merkies from the Schoolhouse Restaurant in Grand Bend has introduced a new menu and added a Prix Fixe dinner menu. He will also be participating in the second annual Arts, Eats and Beats weekend featuring local artists, chef-inspired eats and live music, in May. www.grandbendschoolhouse.ca
The Hessenland Country Inn reopens for the weekends in April, with their annual Spring Wedding and Event Fair the last weekend of that month. Hessenland, famous for Chef Frank Ihrig’s innovative German-style cuisine, is located along the shores of Lake Huron between Bayfield and Grand Bend, just outside the hamlet of St. Joseph. www.hessenland.com
Chef/Owner James Eddington advises us that his Eddington’s of Exeter restaurant will be closed March 9–24 for renovations. Selected by the province of Ontario as one of our best “destination restaurants” in the Days Out Ontario program, Eddington’s has long been satisfying appreciative diners with seasonal menus using local producers, and is well deserving of this honour. Exeter is a pleasant 30-minute drive north of London. www.eddingtons.ca
While the past few months of severe winter weather have put a damper on things for a number of restaurants, Rich Hunter of The King Edward pub in Ilderton reports especially brisk business, in part due to their proximity to an excellent snowmobile trail. Glad to hear it, Rich! www.thekingedward.com
The Bakery at Pazzo closed in mid-February. The owners of Pazzo are looking forward to unveiling a brand new Pazzo experience this April.
Rundles has announced that it will be open for its 37th season from May 23 to September 20, 2014. www.rundlesrestaurant.com
The Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival, usually held in September, will take place earlier this year, on the weekend of July 18–20.,This has become one of Ontario’s largest food festivals, and celebrates local cuisine, talented chefs and passionate food producers. www.savourstratford.com
The restaurant and lounge are now open at The Bruce. The hotel will be opening May 24th. The Restaurant is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday at 5:00 pm with the last reservation at 9:00 p.m.; The Lounge is open late night. www.thebruce.ca
There’s always a lot going on at Mercer Hall. The Craft Beer Dinner Series continues, with Silversmith on Mar 20th and Beau’s on April 17th. Includes a 4-course chef-inspired menu & four 10 oz. craft brews! Limited seating, meet the brewery reps and talk about craft beer. www.mercerhall.ca
Savour Stratford Tutored Tasting: Cider and Cheese. Sample some of the newest offerings from the LCBO, perfectly paired with a selection of exciting cheeses. The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop, 118 Ontario Street. Saturday March 29, 2014 firstname.lastname@example.org www.themilkywhey.ca
Craft Beer Dinner Series: Taste and learn about some tasty local craft beer. Keith from Beau’s All Natural brings his knowledge and love of beer to the long tabled dinner of 4 courses paired with 4 craft brews. Mercer Hall, 104 Ontario Street. Thursday, April 17 2014 www.mercerhall.com
Take a self-guided taste of maple delights at various food shops and restaurants on the Savour Stratford Maple Trail this spring. More info at www.visitstratford.ca/mapletrail
GE CAFÉ Chef Cooking Class Series is back. Join celebrated chefs in the kitchen for an exclusive hands-on cooking experience. Pairings of alcoholic beverages are served with each lunch. Take-home recipes are included. Overnight packages are available and tickets can be purchased online at www.visitstratford.ca/gechefs
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