Located about a 45-minute drive from Kitchener-Waterloo or a two-hour drive from Toronto, Stratford, Ont., draws crowds of people each year to its internationally acclaimed Stratford Festival (April to November). But chefs, brewers and foodie entrepreneurs are also flocking to the area and seriously upping the town’s culinary offerings. From a distillery to a chef school, here’s how to get a taste of this small town’s big food scene.
This cute-as-a-button downtown bistro puts a French twist on local ingredients to create prix fixe menu items that are perfect for filling your belly before heading to the theatre. Highlights include Lake Erie pickerel, vegetable rolls with coconut peanut sauce and Bijou S’mores.
Many chefs in town, and throughout Ontario, are graduates of this prestigious school. To hone your own skills, you don’t have to sign up for a full-time course. Instead, take an Open Kitchen class (offered in spring and summer). Lasting anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, classes focus on topics such as pizza-making, pastry or vegetarian fare. Another option: Book a seat at one of the student dinners (starting October 24) where chef hopefuls do their best to shine.
As a craft distillery, Junction 56 focuses on high quality, small-batch sippers, including unique offerings such as Sugarshack (moonshine, flavoured with maple syrup) or a wheat-based, award-winning vodka. Take a tour or simply sip your way through its tasty offerings and pick up a bottle of your favourite to take home.
The menu at Revival House leans heavily on farm-to-fork ingredients with heavenly results. Housed in the historic MacKenzie Memorial Gospel Church, the restaurant serves up classics such as croque monsieur, French onion soup and delicious burgers. Or, nibble your way around Perth County with a colourful Instagram-worthy charcuterie board featuring local meats and cheese including cheese from hometown hero Monforte Dairy.
This downtown spot makes no apologies for its extensive menu. It doesn’t subscribe to any one style of cuisine—you’ll find Japanese, Thai, Mexican and Canadian fare here. The beer menu is well curated, featuring local craft beers alongside international rarities that will make beer buffs swoon. It can get busy, but time your visit a bit later in the evening when the theatre set vacates the premises en masse.
You too can sample the very same butter tarts favoured by the city’s most famous former resident, Justin Bieber. Madelyn Diner’s bacon butter tart is a featured item on Savour Stratford’s self-guided Bacon & Ale Trail. This diner is also well-loved for its all-day breakfast menu, featuring a perfectly executed eggs Benedict and homemade scones. And no, it’s never too early to enjoy one of its exquisite, old-fashioned milkshakes.
How many restaurants can you name that have a full-time forager? The Restaurant, located inside The Bruce Hotel, can make that claim. Ingredients are foraged from the woods of Perth County by full-time forager Phil Phillips. Chef Arron Carley then incorporates those ingredients, which include puffed wild rice, mushrooms and ramps, into his Canadiana menu. The menu changes regularly at this fine-dining establishment, but the try the BC sablefish served with wild mushrooms, Canadian rice amazake, pickled cattail and wild rice miso.
10 Dishes to Eat in Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton's reinvention is happening at a furious pace and leading the way is a strong food scene. Our top dishes worth the trip to Steeltown include Monte Pollino pizza from Born and Raised, a Canadian brunch plate from Cannon Coffee Co. and sushi nachos fromNique Restaurant.