Be a Taste Explorer

GPSGreat Palate Sensations By Judy Johnson

Gastronomic Geocaching

It’s hard to imagine a better area for gastronomic geocaching than the Lake Huron Shores area – superb foods and beverages are waiting to be discovered. Feast on palate pleasures from the Lake and our fertile farmland that stretches inland – prepared with creativity and care. Sample the food and drink of the many artisan craftspeople who bring their unique vision to produce extraordinary edibles!

Observe 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

Global Gastro. Sample authentic Caribbean cuisine at Island Spices, where you can partake of homemade patties and coco bread. Famous for its fresh, home-made dough pizzas, including Mediterranean, Hawaiian and Mexicana, Grog’s Pub & Grill also serves the yummiest combination of garlic and cheese known as Zaney bread. Destination restaurant Midori Sushi has out-of-the-traditional-bento-box sushi; enjoy the patio and live music. German küche at Hessenland Country Inn includes Kalbs Schnitzel Wiener Art; try with Helles draft beer or Hessenland’s own beer and wine. Be sure to make reservations for their Long-Table Vineyard Dinner. Discover Chevapi (Serbian sausages) at Veslo Family Restaurant, along with other specialties like Lepina bread, Goulash and Karadjordjeva (a rolled schnitzel stuffed with cheese and fried to perfection). Pad Thai and Lemongrass Spring Soup tempt at Exeter Thai Cuisine. A British High Tea of fancy sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, tea and treats awaits you at AkSence. Cornish Pasties and melt-in-your mouth shortbread entice at Grandpa Jimmy’s Scottish Bakery. Sample Chicken Parmigiana and other pasta dishes at Pizza Delight. Cucina Italiana includes panzerotti at Godfather’s Pizza. Local craft brews are on tap at Paddington’s Pub as is the signature “Tilson Burger” topped with a fried egg, made using the owner’s own mother’s family recipe.

HINT – FAMILY & FUN

Snacks & more. The Highway Girl offers raw, vegan and gluten-free savoury and sweet goodies and drinks along with vintage ambiance.  Got a sweet tooth? Try a huge “Pink Lemonade” cupcake – just one of the delicious go-to treats at The Pink Flamingo Bakery.  Or, step back into the ‘50s at Donut Diner – a fan favourite for fresh, hot mini-donuts made by the lady who rocks a 50s’ look with kerchief, apron and cat eye glasses!  The sweet theme continues at BeaverTails where chocolate hazelnut spread topped with Reese’s Pieces and peanut butter create a signature decadent “Triple Trip” pastry.  While Arbor Acres Country Plaza serves two dozen soft serve ice cream flavours. Classic outdoor dining at Denny’s Drive-In satisfies with summer favourites like fresh-cut fries, poutine and footlongs. Or, sit-out under the trees at family-friendly Woodland Drive-In while enjoying classic burgers, wraps and “Fuller Fries” topped with cheese, bacon, diced tomato and green peppers and sour cream.

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

Savour the scenery!  Smackwater Jacks Taphouse customers drink in fabulous sunsets along with Canada Craft on draft. Enjoy local lake fish and meat dishes.  Check out the picturesque, sailboat-filled Bayfield marina while noshing at The Docks Restaurant & Bar and be sure to Funk Up Your Fries! Bring your camera when you dine at The Growling Gator! Lake Huron views are on the menu along with an array of drinks and eclectic dining choices.  Steak night, specialty pizza, nachos and a splendid view of the golf course are among dining delights at Dave’s Pub & Grill at Oakwood Resort.

HINT – HISTORY & HOSPITALITY

History meets the present. A 138-year-old landmark on the Grand Bend strip, The Colonial Hotel has been operated by the same family since 1945, serving up pub grub and cold beverages, Mom’s Homemade Meatloaf, Rum and Raisin Bread Pudding and more in the restaurant, pub or on the patio. The family at Aunt Gussie’s has been welcoming folks since the ‘50s. Sample great breakfast choices; enjoy homemade food, healthy snacks and drinks day-long. Menu innovations now include gluten-free muffins, raw vegan energy balls and organic Kombucha beside traditional favourites. The Albion Hotel has been a country-styled favorite for over 140 years and touts, some say, a resident ghost with a tragic story. Food-wise, think country classics, pub grub, fresh fish, ribs, etc.  The Grand Bend Public School opened in 1874, known today as the Schoolhouse Restaurant it aces homework with dishes like meat loaf, chicken pot pie and ratatouille. Smaller portion sizes available as are your choice of more than a dozen savory sides.  Port Albert General Store has served its community since 1841; relax on a Muskoka chair while eating a “Road Kill Sandwich”.  Converted grist and wool mills form part of Benmiller Inn & Spa’s scenic property where The Ivey Dining Room uses local ingredients in its fine dining dishes. Try Maple Glazed Ontario Duck Breast and Artisanal Cheese Board.

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

Locally world-class. .  A sophisticated menu awaits you at The Willow Room at The Little Inn – think Ontario Lamb, Duck Magret; savour Sunday Brunch.  Sample the Ontario Tribute Board/Charcuterie or Chicken Appleby with Brie & Caramelized Granny Smith Apples at Eddington’s of Exeter.  The Prime Rib Saturday Buffet that runs Victoria Day long weekend until Thanksgiving is a popular event at The Oak Dining Room at Oakwood Resort.  A Seafood Sampler, Coconut Curry Chicken and Chocolate Toblerone Fondue tempt at F.I.N.E.  A Restaurant.  While Samuels Bistro at Samuels Hotel boasts Lobster Stack and Smoked Pork and Pear.

HINT – PATIO, FUN & MUSIC

Folks in the know embrace the area for a wide selection of live music, including local musicians and bands. Check out local listings in papers and restaurant Facebook announcements to discover what’s on. Drink up the summer on a patio and have fun with old – or new – friends.  The Bourbon Bar at The Ashwood accompanies Venison Striploin, Ribs and more with live music; kick back on the patio in warm weather.  Gables in the Bend is a venerable beach venue with live entertainment – check out Monday Jam nights, Country Night summer Thursdays (show your dance moves), acoustic Sundays and more. Dine in or on the popular Uptown-Downtown Patio.  The fusion menu at The Sandbar & Grill includes Seafood Jambalaya and Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl; Friday and Sunday live music adds to the laid-back enjoyment.  WhiteCaps serves up barbecue and more with sides of live local music, darts, pool and sports on the big screens.  Crabby Joe’s Tap & Grill offers burgers, pasta, ribs and wings; nosh in or out on the summer patio. Big screen TVs attract sports enthusiasts.

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 Bountiful Berries. Visit family-run Bayfield Berry Farm to pick your own and buy in-season raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and saskatoons. Time your visit to enjoy a light meal or weekend Breakfast Buffet and then take home specialty preserves, berries and baked treats (low sugar and no sugar options).  Pork Points. The Whole Pig is a registered CQA (Certified Quality Auditors) family-farming operation whose pigs are fed on-farm ingredients. Their quality meats supply many local restaurants and are available direct to you from their farm retail store. Fans love The Whole Pig BBQ-Quarter package.  Talking Turkey. Third-generation Hayter’s Farm (65-years of turkey passion) offers turkey kabobs, fillets, sausages, roasts, burgers and more at their retail store, as well as being a Beer Store and LCBO outlet. Meat Magic. Buy locally-raised, in-store-made cold cuts and specialty meats from at Metzger’s Meat Products – a European style butcher store. Check out smoked pig ears and bones for your pooch. Williamson Farms Country Store sells pork and beef from its own farms, maple syrup from their sugar bush and a selection of Ontario cheeses to customers.  Gift selection too. Apples & more. Fourth-generation-owned Crunican Orchards grows about a dozen apple varieties to suit every taste, and sells apple cider vinegar, apple cider and more. Farm Fresh. Masse Fruit & Vegetables grows everbearing strawberries and sells seasonal produce. Watch Facebook for their strawberry announcements!  Simply Sweet. Mennonite owned and operated Zehr’s Country Market offers home-made pies, Chelsea buns and other treats, as well as Mennonite farm-raised meats and seasonal produce.  How Sweet It Is! Gregarious Cravings tantalizes taste buds with decadent treats to savour with your cuppa, while you browse their unique gifts and vintage items.  Amazing Breads. Red Cat Farm & Bakery specializes in natural European-style breads, including wheat-free recipes. Hand crafted breads and scratch-baked pastries, buns and other treats are created at Khaos Artisan Kitchen.

HINT- COFFEE, JUICE & KOMBUCHA

Fair and So Fine. Shopbike Coffee Roasters sources organic and fair trade coffee  beans to roast and grind in small batches. Try fan favs Coffee Americano and Maple Latte.   Quality Coffee. Owners of Coastal Coffee Company travel to family-owned coffee growers in Nicaragua, Columbia, Rwanda and Brazil to source top specialty grade beans that are small-batch roasted. Coastal Coffee is proud of the long-standing partnerships with their growers that grow into friendships as well.  Juice & Smoothies. Inspired by all things green, good, yogic, surf and elephantine, Elephant Juice uses local organic produce for green and good juice and smoothie creations. Meanwhile, Registered Holistic Nutritionists at Culture Shock Kombucha brew up phytonutrient, antioxident, probiotic infused kombucha beverages using local and organic, quality ingredients, including reverse osmosis water. Nutritious and delicious try Pear Ginger, Cranberry-Orange, Vintage and Strawberry Basil.