Be a Taste Explorer

Gastronomic Geocaching

GPSGrand Bend Area Palate Sensations By Judy Johnson

Think of discovering the superb foods and beverages in this area as gastronomic geocaching.

Follow the cardinal rule of geocaching: Take something/leave something. Take memories; leave something – share your finds and leave a review on TripAdvisor and a “like” on Facebook.

DIRECTORY OF PLACES TO EAT

Quick sampling of hints to begin your CULINARY QUEST

HINT – INTERNATIONAL

Taste the planet. Midori Sushi has out-of-the-traditional-bento-box sushi like Drum Roll Please – salmon and tempura banana with spicy peanut sauce; enjoy the patio and live music. German küche at Hessenland Country Inn includes Kalbs Schnitzel Wiener Art; try with spaetzli and Hessenland Helles draft beer. Taste Chevapi (Serbian sausages) and lepina (raised flatbread) at Veslo Family Restaurant. Pineapple Chicken Curry and Snow Coconut Soup tempt at Exeter Thai Cuisine. Fan favs are pizza and Zaney bread at Grog’s Pub & Grill. Meat pies and melt-in-your mouth shortbread beckon at Grandpa Jimmy’s Scottish Bakery. Sample 5-Layer Lasagna at Pizza Delight. Cucina Italiana includes panzerotti at Godfather’s Pizza. A British High Tea of fancy sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, tea and treats awaits you at AkSence, also home of a Ploughman’s Lunch. Local craft brews are on tap at Paddington’s Pub as is a Tilson Burger topped with a fried egg.

HINT – FAST, FAMILY, FUN

Snack and fast foods are plentiful. At Mae Allen Edibles choose from more than 30 toppings on Footlong Fridays. Best’s Restaurant & Homemade Ice Cream has been making ice cream for more than two decades. BeaverTails creates a divinely decadent Triple Trip. Denny’s Drive-In satisfies with summer favourites like homemade fries and dogs. Refuel at Kettle & Stony Point First Nation at Country Style/TCBY/Mr. Sub. Select from two dozen soft serve ice cream flavours at Arbor Acres Country Plaza.

HINT – HOME COOKING COMFORT

Find meals like Mom or Grandma made. Breakfast from 6am (7am on Sundays) at MacPherson’s Restaurant where meat loaf, hot sandwiches and homemade pies hit the spot later. Huron Family Restaurant has daily specials with homemade soup or salad and dessert (rice pudding and coconut cream pie are fan favs). Paul’s Diner shows its roots with an ample Irish Breakfast among its morning options. Aunt Gussie’s breakfast choices please; enjoy homemade food for meals and snacks day-long.

HINT – VICTUALS WITH VIEWS

A picture is worth a thousand words – so is a great dining view! Bring your camera when you dine at The Growling Gator! Lake Huron views are on the menu along with an array of drinks. Try tortilla-wrapped deep-fried cheesecake or Sweet Bourbon Salmon. Smackwater Jacks Taphouse customers have a front row seat to watch fabulous sunsets. Canada Craft on Draft is a draw, as are locally-sourced fish and meat dishes. Purdy’s at the Bend offers locally-caught fresh fish take-out dinners along with views of the marina and lighthouse. Rib night, steak night and home-style Sunday suppers and a splendid view of the first tee on the golf course are reasons to dine at Dave’s Pub & Grill at Oakwood Resort.

HINT – HISTORY & HOSPITALITY

Built in the 1800s, these local treasures have been repurposed. The Grand Bend Public School is where the Schoolhouse Restaurant aces its homework with dishes like meat loaf, chicken pot pie and large or small prix fixe dinners. Port Albert General Store has served its community since 1841; sit on a Muskoka chair to try Road Kill Sandwich featuring a secret recipe pork meatloaf. Converted grist and wool mills form part of Benmiller Inn & Spa where The Ivey Dining Room uses local ingredients in fine dining dishes like Grilled Ontario Duck Breast and Duo of Bruschettas. A local landmark, The Colonial Hotel serves up pub grub and cold beverages, Mom’s Homemade Meatloaf, Mom’s Rum and Raisin Bread Pudding with ice cream and more.

HINT – CATERING

Ditch entertaining fuss and muss! Make a Wish Cakes fills custom cake orders – think Pink Champagne with Raspberry Filling or Salted Caramel Crème Cake. Catering ranges from hors d’oeuvres to barbecue from Back ‘n Time Catering; you can also take out home-style frozen TV dinners. Pineridge Barbecue Co. offers meat choices including chicken or baby back pork ribs with hot or cold sides. Finish with fruit crisps. Jerry Rader’s Homestyle Catering serves up roast beef, pork and turkey, Mennonite pigtails and old-time church supper recipe book sides and desserts.

HINT – FINE DINING

The finest local ingredients are used to create world-class dishes. Sample Whiskey Braised Beef Rib or Chicken Appleby with Brie & Caramelized Granny Smith Apples at Eddington’s of Exeter. Mixed Mushroom Egg Roll with Goat Cheese & Truffle Aioli and Chocolate Toblerone Fondue tempt at F.I.N.E. A Restaurant. Bacon Flatbread and Pistachio Turkey Schnitzel are on the menu at Samuel’s Bistro at Samuels Boutique Hotel. Sample daily dinner buffets with carving stations in the summer at The Oak Dining Room at Oakwood Resort.

HINT – PATIO, FUN & MUSIC

Check out local listings/papers/announcements to source live music. Drink up the summer on a patio and have fun with old – or new – friends. The fusion menu at The Sandbar & Grill has options like Curry Poutine and Vegetable Samosas and live music. WhiteCaps Grand Bend serves up barbecue and more with sides of live music, darts, pool and sports on TVs. The Gables in the Bend is a venerable GB venue with live entertainment – check out Country Night summer Thursdays (show your dance moves), acoustic Sundays and more. Dine in or on the popular patio. Crabby Joe’s Tap & Grill offers burgers, nachos, and wings; nosh in or out.

FARM TO FORK, FARM-GATE and EATING LIKE LOCAL

Sandy beaches stretch along the Lake Huron shoreline, giving way in the east to some of the most productive, fertile agricultural land in the country. Top farming practices produce superb products.

This sampling of farm-fresh foods and locally-produced brews and wines is just that – a taste. Drop by the Grand Bend & Area Welcome Centre to pick up maps and info.

HINT – FARM TO FORK & ARTISAN CRAFTED

Meats, fruit, produce & baking Talking Turkey. Third-generation Hayter’s Farm offers turkey kabobs, fillets, sausages, roasts, burgers, deli items and more. Pork Points. The Whole Pig is a family pork farming operation. Fans love the BBQ Grill Package with its wide assortment of pork products. Meat Magic. Find in-store made cold cuts, sausages, salamis, and specialty meats at Metzger’s Meat Products. Check out smoked pig ears and bones for your pooch. Bountiful Berries. Bayfield Berry Farm, a family-run berry, fruit and limited produce operation, offers light meals and weekend Breakfast Buffets. Buy specialty preserves and baking in the gift shop. Farm Fresh. Everbearing strawberries are a major draw at Masse Fruit & Vegetables, where sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins are seasonal produce. Simply Sweet. Zehr’s Country Market makes Mennonite pies in a variety of flavours, Chelsea buns and other treats. Fresh meats and in-season produce are also sold.

Coffee, Cider, Wine & Craft Beer. The owners of Coastal Coffee Company travel to family coffee growers to source top specialty grade beans that are small-batch roasted and sold in-store. Wine Wisdom. Dark Horse Estate Winery offers tastings and tours. Sip wine on the patio overlooking the vineyards while deciding on your bottle purchases. Growler Goods. Visit Stone House Brewing Company to taste the Pilsner, brewed with Canadian barley, SAAZ hops and well water. Learn the legend of the 64-oz. Growler. Cider Sensations. Try award-winning ciders made from Ontario apples at Twin Pines Orchards & Cider House. Taste Ice Cider and Apple Wine. Bean Brews. Shopbike Coffee Roasters sources organic and fair trade coffee beans to roast and grind in small batches. Grape Goodness. One hundred percent locally-grown grapes produce the wines of Alton Farms Estate Winery. A lightly-filtered process maintains flavour.