Perth County has become ground zero for up and coming food and drink companies of southwestern Ontario. In Stratford and St. Mary’s, living in a small town doesn’t mean you have to give up on fab tastes or finding locally-grown or produced treats from morning until evening. For newbies or regulars, check out these places in Stratford and St. Mary’s to expand your taste knowledge of southwestern Ontario’s Perth County:
At Revel Caffe, the spacious coffee shop of Stratford’s Market Place, regulars know they’re getting a cup of coffee that only passes through a few hands – from grower to roaster to cafe staff to customer. Following the belief in direct trade coffee, owner Anne Campion has created a place for community and coffee lovers.
Visitors to Stratford can indulge in Monforte Dairy cheese creations by dropping by its café on Wellington. Taste grilled cheese with apple butter, the charcuterie and cheese platters paired with a chilled Honey Pop from Tallgrass Mead, and when it’s warm, enjoy on the caffe’s back patio.
Indulge in handcrafted spirits from Junction 56 Distillery, found on the other side of the tracks. Named for Stratford’s place in Canadian train history, the Junction 56 Moonshine can now be found in the LCBO, but a visit to the distillery provides access to purchase gin and vodka, and soon, cinnamon liqueur, a collaboration with fellow entrepreneur Tea Leaves.
Start with a pint at Black Swan Brewing Co., or for those who want to find out the full range of creativity of this craft beer brewery – go for a flight.
Then when the tummy starts grumbling, make tracks across to the opposite side of the street to Downie Street Burgers to indulge in the bacon jam poutine, one of the stops on the Savour Stratford Bacon & Ale Trail.
Mercer Hall Inn offers a wide variety of craft beers from southwestern Ontario, as well as a locally-sourced menu inspired by Chef Ryan O’Donnell’s time spent in Japan. The izakaya offerings include crispy raw radish and green bean salad, grilled mushroom steam bun and the steamed pork dumpling plate. Visitors can plan to stay at the historic inn located above.
SLEEP & FORAGE
Between Stratford and St. Mary’s, a weekend can be planned at Transvaal Farm. The welcoming farmstay offers a place to stay in the country, with the ability to gather eggs in the chicken coop and forage in the farm’s kitchen garden.
Guests will find their fridge stocked with homemade jam, fresh goat milk and C’est Bon chevre, and can sign up in advance for culinary workshops.
Drop by Stonetown Cheese, a dairy farm owned by Hans and Jolanda Weber, who now work with Swiss master cheesemaker Ramon Eberle to create tasty European-style cheese. With names inspired by the county, like Wildwood for the 50 year old Wildwood Dam and by the family heritage, like Homecoming, a Swiss-style cheese.
After exploring the lures of Queen Street East in St. Mary’s, refuel at the charming Little Red’s Pub & Eatery for locally-sourced tasty eats like crispy Great Lakes yellow perch, Ploughman’s Lunch featuring local producers and the Blanbrook Farm Bison bacon cheeseburger with a refreshing Little Red’s iced tea with lavender sugar.
Restock the pantry with farm-made goods like fruit pies, butter tarts and jam, seasonal fruit and vegetables and Ontario maple syrup at McCully’s Hill Farm. This farm also provides excursions for local schools to learn about farm animals and see how they tap the maple trees in early Spring.
Take a stroll along Stratford’s York Street, and it will be hard not to enter Kandy Cakes, a wee bake shop with a wide variety of cupcakes as well as custom-made cakes. Part of the city’s newly-launched Pumpkin Trail, each baked good is made fresh daily by owner Kandy Cosstick.
The writer was a guest of Stratford Tourism Alliance. It did not review or approve this article.