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Restaurants in or near Stratford, ON


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Sorry, I mistakenly posted this in the Heartland forum first.

Ms. Alex and I spend three or four days in Stratford each year. Our current favorite is Sapori Pasta and Seafood House, an authentic and reasonably priced Italian restaurant. We like the food at Bijou very much but during busy times, with the small room and open kitchen, we walk out smelling like we had worked a shift on the sauté line. We haven't been to Down The Street in several years but used to like it very much. York Street Kitchen is reliable. We also like Tango Coffee Bistro for coffee and pastry or a light lunch, or just hanging out. We haven't been to The Belfry (at The Church) but probably will try it this year. We generally avoid Rundles, The Old Prune, and The Church.

Are there any other recommendable places in or near Stratford? For example, we've heard some good things about Woolfy's, in St. Mary's, but have never been there. The Brittany and The Waterlot, both in New Hamburg and both apparently French-oriented, sound like they might be promising.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I can say only good things about both Down the Street and Woolfy's in terms of value for money and good quality food.

We eat at Woolfy's at least once a year, and the food while not overly fancy is always prepared perfectly, and I do mean perfectly. When he can't get top notch ingredients for menu items he simply won't make them. He uses local ingredients as much as possible. Desserts are good. You simply cannot get a bad meal at Woolfy's

Down the Street is a fresh funky casual bar, with upscale bar food of very good quality. The frites with aioli are always a treat, and the lunch and dinner menu's have plenty of variety at a very reasonable price. Desserts are good here too. This isalso a fun place to people watch.

We also like York Street sandwiches for a quick lunch and I agree completely with your opinion of bijou.

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Living less than 2 hours from Stratford and being diehard theatre goers we make the trip several times a year - sometimes for a weekend, but more often for a matinee and dinner.

Bijou has become a favorite - but really more during the top and tail of the season when reservations are easier to come by. The food is consistently very good, the service friendly and the value excellent compared to most of the higher end places in town.

Down the Street was our past favorite, but in the last two years we've felt that the food has suffered as the "scene" has escalated. I guess it depends which you're after as to whether you will still enjoy it as much as previously.

Woolfy's is on the list and has been for some time. Maybe next year.

Just a bit further down the road is our find of this year "Smith and Latham" in St. Mary's - a bright and airy bistro type restaurant. We had a very good dinner ( I'm sorry but the details escape me) and superb service. The hostess/ owner is particularly charming. Her husband is a wine geek and is in charge of the wine list, which has some interesting picks from Niagara. We'll certainly return during next season - even though it's in the opposite direction from home.

Cheers,

Kathy

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I called the other night to make a reservation at Woolfy's and got a recording saying they were closed until mid-February because of vandalism. In St. Mary's?!!

Kathy, can you or your husband reconstruct any of Smith and Latham's menu? They don't seem to have a web site. Thanks.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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  • 1 month later...
  • 11 months later...

I wanted to bring this thread back to life.

My husband is coming to Stratford for the first time this summer--this will be my sixth summer of visiting.

Definite dining plans:

The Church--it is simply the most perfect dining experience, IMO.

Sapori--divine food

Boomer's--poutine. Need I say more?

The New Dundee Emporium--Tea, scones and clotted cream. Perfection.

The rest is up in the air--

Down the Street-- We loved it in 2003 and were disappointed in 2004. Way too much attitude and medicore food.

Bijou--we had to go out to get more food after dinner there once.

Bentley's Annex--there was something I didn't like, now I can't remember what it was...

We had service issues at Olde English Parlor and the Sun Room.

I'm willing to drive for a meal or two but Mr. BLB gets carsick so I want to stick to town as much as I can.

Any ideas?

Changes I should think about?

Thanks!

Jennifer

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I wanted to bring this thread back to life.

My husband is coming to Stratford for the first time this summer--this will be my sixth summer of visiting.

Definite dining plans:

The Church--it is simply the most perfect dining experience, IMO.

Sapori--divine food

Boomer's--poutine.  Need I say more?

The New Dundee Emporium--Tea, scones and clotted cream.  Perfection.

The rest is up in the air--

Down the Street-- We loved it in 2003 and were disappointed in 2004.  Way too much attitude and medicore food.

Bijou--we had to go out to get more food after dinner there once.

Bentley's Annex--there was something I didn't like, now I can't remember what it was...

We had service issues at Olde English Parlor and the Sun Room.

I'm willing to drive for a meal or two but Mr. BLB gets carsick so I want to stick to town as much as I can.

Any ideas?

Changes I should think about?

Thanks!

Jennifer

What specifically made The Church such a good experience for you? Have you ever eaten at The Belfry?

We did get to Woolfy's last May and enjoyed a very pleasant meal. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, the food wasn't "overly fancy" but was of high quality and thoughtfully prepared. It's about 20 min. from Stratford.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I wanted to bring this thread back to life.

My husband is coming to Stratford for the first time this summer--this will be my sixth summer of visiting.

Definite dining plans:

The Church--it is simply the most perfect dining experience, IMO.

I'm willing to drive for a meal or two but Mr. BLB gets carsick so I want to stick to town as much as I can.

Any ideas?

Changes I should think about?

Thanks!

Jennifer

What specifically made The Church such a good experience for you? Have you ever eaten at The Belfry?

We did get to Woolfy's last May and enjoyed a very pleasant meal. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, the food wasn't "overly fancy" but was of high quality and thoughtfully prepared. It's about 20 min. from Stratford.

We had dinner at the Belfry last year--it was decent but the service was sub-par, especially compared to the service downstairs at the Church.

What makes the Church such a good experience?

Either our waiter has photographic memory or their computer system is simply the best I've ever seen. He knows what wines we order from year to year. And what we ordered. (And which one of us ordered it...) It never feels forced.

That's a HUGE part of it.

The only similar type of service I can compare it to would be at Citrus in LA and now at Citronelle in DC.

The food....the food is amazing. We learned our lesson after the first few years and try to schedule dinner there near the end of the run--otherwise the rest of the meals become a chorus of "it was good, but it wasn't the Church."

The soups always blow me away. The foi gras (sp?) is great. The meat and fish dishes offer a wide variety.

Oh, and the chocolate desserts are pretty darn fine.

We tend to go on Saturday night, after the theater rush so it's not crowded and we can really relax and enjoy the food.

I'll add Woolfy's to the list to check out! Thanks!

Jennifer

Edited by bookluvingbabe (log)
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  • 4 months later...

Stratford--visit one is complete; visit two to come in August.

Mr. BLB enjoyed Stratford and the dining but I don't think he liked it as much as I do.

The highlights:

The Church--I was actually pretty disappointed. Despite a long-standing request, we were seated with a different waiter who just wasn't a smooth or as familiar with the wine list as my usual waiter. Mr. BLB liked the food quite a bit, I thought I had better there. The fois gras was tough! :shock:

Sapori--Again, I've had better meals in previous years. No pork marsala, no specials, and odd service glitches...

Olde English Parlor--Upgraded service, good food and the wandering ministrel seems to be a thing of the past.

Boomer's--What can I say? Poutine and good fish. :wub:

The New Dundee Emporium-- Tea, Scones, Devonshire Cream. Perfection.

Other meals--

Madyln's Diner--Nice breakfast

Foster's--Nicely poached cold salmon on a really hot day; odd pieces of rhubarb in my husband's creme brulee but not in mine. They comped his dessert and apolgized; he was traumized.

Boar's Head Tavern--Nice pub grub lunch before the theater one day.

Can't wait for August!

Anyone else been recently and have reports?

I didn't get a chance to try Garlic's or 38--both new since last year. It also looks like new places are going in where Curry On used to be and in the Albert Place Hotel....

Jennifer

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Can someone please fill me in on The Old Prune and Rundles?

Had lunch at Rundles last year. Notably I remember nothing about it except a nicely designed room, mediocre food, small portions, large prices, distant, perfunctory, formal service, stained seat cushions, and my overall disappointment at a mailed in performance.

Edited by brab (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

I was in Stratford a few weeks ago and ate at Woolfy's (about 20 minutes outside of town, in St. Mary's) and Bijou. We also had a meal in Niagara on the Lake at the Hilldebrand Vineyard. All of the meals were good. The best food, I felt, was at Bijou, but I could understand that the wrong table might leave you smelling of "kitchen." We were in the far back of the restaurant at a window banquette. Service was informal (20 something girls--acting students?) but I really liked my hailbut with curry-spiced vegetables. The atmosphere at Woolfy's was very pleasant. We were there during a thunderstorm--moody! We heard the story of the break-in last Feb--very disturbing--a group of toughs, supposedly on drugs, came in looking for a safe and decided to trash the place, doing $80,000 worth of damage. All is orderly now. We had good food there, too. My husband had a Thai chicken curry that was full of cilantro and very fresh tasting. I liked my pate starter. Duck in a blackberry reduction was well prepared but a little ordinary. I didn't finish it (ok, I'm watching my weight, but at good restaurants I normally finish the entree). The food at Hilldebrand struck me as oversalted, but the setting was gorgeous--we were able to eat outside overlooking the vines. I had a mini tasting menu, each little serving accompanied by its own wine. Rather charming.

If anyone is going up there, I highly recommend the production of Sondheim's "Into the Woods." It is a high concept re-imagination of the original--set in a Canadian ice storm!

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I was in Stratford a few weeks ago and ate at Woolfy's (about 20 minutes outside of town, in St. Mary's) and Bijou.  We also had a meal in Niagara on the Lake at the Hilldebrand Vineyard.  All of the meals were good.  The best food, I felt, was at Bijou, but I could understand that the wrong table might leave you smelling of "kitchen."  We were in the far back of the restaurant at a window banquette. Service was informal (20 something girls--acting students?) but I really liked my hailbut with curry-spiced vegetables.  The atmosphere at Woolfy's was very pleasant.  We were there during a thunderstorm--moody!  We heard the story of the break-in last Feb--very disturbing--a group of toughs, supposedly on drugs, came in looking for a safe and decided to trash the place, doing $80,000 worth of damage.  All is orderly now.  We had good food there, too.  My husband had a Thai chicken curry that was full of cilantro and very fresh tasting.  I liked my pate starter.  Duck in a blackberry reduction was well prepared but a little ordinary.  I didn't finish it (ok, I'm watching my weight, but at good restaurants I normally finish the entree).  The food at Hilldebrand struck me as oversalted, but the setting was gorgeous--we were able to eat outside overlooking the vines.  I had a mini tasting menu, each little serving accompanied by its own wine.  Rather charming.

If anyone is going up there, I highly recommend the production of Sondheim's "Into the Woods."  It is a high concept re-imagination of the original--set in a Canadian ice storm!

How were the portions at Bijou? It's been off our list for a few years due to the tiny, tiny portions...

Thanks!

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I thought the portions were fine, but as you can see in my review of Woolfy's I didn't finish the duck served there, so my appetite may not be a good guide! I find that if I am having a starter as well, and considering dessert, that I don't want a mega entree. But since the place isn't cheap, I can understand wanting a bigger portion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

JUst got back from a trip to Stratford and had dinner at the Belfry.

I have to agree with the person upthread who said the service was sub-par. I have never eaten at the Church so I really can't sompare there, but I have had better service in much cheaper places. We had to ask for refills on our water, and were only offered one slice of bread each. And it took almost 45 minutes for our appetizers to arrive.

As for the food I was actually kind of disspointed. I had the tomato and mozzarella stack and while the menu claimed charried tomatoes, I had under ripe cold ones.

The husband had the poutine that was very tasty, but found the fries lacking in crispness. They had not been soaked and blanched and were very dark.

The mains were also a slight dissapointment. I had the Bison, and asked for medium rare. I got what was obviously the end of the roast and it was more like medium. But the panko onion rings were superb!

Dessert was great, but I was again not pleased with the level of service. I had mentioned that it was a birthday celebration for the Husband and would have thought that would have at least meant a candle or a little something, I don't know maybe I am expecting too much.

I don't think I would rush to go back. I have had much better dinners for a lot less money. And I don't feel that the prices are in line with the atmosphere. It was much too casual for what we were paying.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was in Stratford last month and our innkeeper recommended the Globe, not far from the Avon Theatre. It's owned by the former chef at Foster's. It was open for lunch only, and had not yet received its liquor license.

Tapas style portions, and the food was excellent, nicely presented, at very fair prices.

Among the dishes we sampled were kung pao sweetbreads and lobster risotto.

I highly recommend this newcomer.

They plan to have a dinner seating, maybe by now they do.

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  • 3 months later...

Only 5½ months 'til our next visit to Stratford! Lodging is set and tickets will be ordered tomorrow, so all that remains is deciding where our three dinners will be this time.

Thanks for the tip about Globe Restaurant, marlowe. The small-plate menu looks appealing. The web site indicates they now are licensed and are serving dinner. However, the lunch and dinner menus, at least on the web site, are identical.

Avoca Restaurant and Bar looks like an interesting place. Any opinions about the food and service?

Also, is there any word on Garlic's? (I love the typo on their menu: Pork Tenderloink.)

Or how about 38 (no web site yet)? A poster on Fodor's says, "Like Bijou, these are recent Stratford Chef School grads who focus on using the freshest ingredients, often organic. If you don't mind the bachelor pad decor, the food is amazing."

After your first report, BLB, we started considering The Church's five-course tasting menu, including wine. However, for ~$US115 pp (drat that diminishing exchange rate!) it would need to be pretty special.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Avoca had just opened when we were there in August. It didn't seem especially Irish so we skipped it.

The Globe looked interesting but we didn't go in.

Garlic's got a mixed review from our innkeeper so we passed.

38 has a very tiny little menu, smaller even than Bijou's so it's a gamble if you are a picky eater.

I would really strongly suggest the Church for brunch if you don't want to do the pre-fixe. (I will also confess that in August we ate there 4 times--once for the Caberet with the Belfry menu, once for brunch and twice for dinner. We saved our pennies like crazy.) If you go for dinner, ask to sit with Robert. He is wonderful and will take perfect care of you.

We had several lovely lunches at Boomer's this last trip. Fast, easy and tasty.

Overall, I thought the last two trips that the quality was going downhill at a few places, notably Pazzo, Fellin's and the Boars Head.

We haven't made our plans yet--waiting for more of the casting to be fleshed out , hopefully soon!

Good luck!

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Also, is there any word on Garlic's? (I love the typo on their menu: Pork Tenderloink.)

We have a Garlics here in London. The food is fine, Nothing spectacularly special but not bad. I think we have been twice. The cost is pretty reasonable.

No Idea what the service is like at the Stratford location.

Which shows are you going to see? I got my playbill in the mail yesterday and am already plotting.

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Also, is there any word on Garlic's? (I love the typo on their menu: Pork Tenderloink.)

We have a Garlics here in London. The food is fine, Nothing spectacularly special but not bad. I think we have been twice. The cost is pretty reasonable.

No Idea what the service is like at the Stratford location.

Which shows are you going to see? I got my playbill in the mail yesterday and am already plotting.

Henry IV Part I, Much Ado About Nothing, and South Pacific. It'll be interesting to compare this year's Much Ado to their 1998 production set in 1920s Italy.

I agree with you , BLB, about the decline in quality at certain restaurants. I don't mind a tiny menu, though. I actually prefer eating at a place that does a few things very, very well.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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  • 3 months later...

I'm getting ready to make our dinner reservations for this year, so I wanted to bump this thread and see if anyone had any updated information. I'm especially interested in feedback about Globe, 38 (still no website), Avoca, and the post-expansion Bijou. Thanks.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well!!!

My wife and I just had dinner at Globe Restaurant, and we are smitten.

A quiet Thursday in March and as we arrived right at 5 no one was there yet.

without looking at the menu's we simply asked to have the chef start sending food out, with help from staff suggesting at least 4 dishes to share before desert.

First off was small cups of dashi, a bonito broth with noodles and veg. Delicous, very simple, yet tasty.

Next up came a venison carpaccio with soy cured foie gras crispy shallots and peanuts. This was GREAT. The gamey taste of the venison, combinesd with the silky foie gras, and some mint and chive oil, with tiny pieces of peanut for texture made this dish so awesome!!!

On to Lobster ceviche with sweet red pepper and chipotle foam. Again wow!!

The lobster gave such a clean taste of the ocean, with the fresh taste of red pepper and a little cilantro, followed a few seconds later with the mild burn of the chipotle. Hard to describe in words . . but a great taste.

Next up came artic char with potato pancakes ( I forget what the sauce was). This was my wife's favourite, I found it good but a little plain (not a big fish fan :) . . She went on and on about how much she liked it.

At this point the server asked how we were doing and I felt like we could use one more dish so I asked for one of the vegetable dishes. We had bok choy with oyster mushrooms braised in soy. Great taste , . . nothing overbearing letting the vegetables stand on their own.

Desert was AMAZING!!!!!

My wife had "The Egg" Chocolate pot du creme topped with caramel foam and madon fleur du sel. This was served in a real egg shell like a hard boiled egg!!

The caramel and fleur du sel went together like magic and then you could scoop the chocolate out of the egg. My wife was in heaven. I have the Sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. The server gladly arranged to substitute the vanilla ice cream for cinnamon ice cream. all the ice creams are homemade btw. This dish was just soooo good. Flavor, so old school and so satisfying!!!

OK

So we get the bill . . My wife had a glass of wine, and I had coffee.

$75!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I will admit the portions are small, and those with big appetities will want a couple of more dishes but . . we were definitely eating off the top end of the menu.

I love food, but I have no use for pretention.

This restaurant is all about the food. And what they are offereng for the price point is so darn impressive.

We have not been eating out much lately, but I have a feeling we will be driving to Stratford often now!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Our reservations are set! -- two dinners at Globe (inspired by Stalder's report) and one at 38. We also have a lunch reservation at Bijou. We'll probably hit up Boomer's, Tango Coffee Bistro, and/or Avoca for our other lunches. Report to follow in a couple of months...

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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