Saturday, January 3, 2009

Prince Edward Country and The Barley Room

Prince Edward County is quickly becoming the new food-lover destination. The Globe and Mail has boasted that PEC provides, “wine from a cadre of excellent wineries while being attentive to its past traditions—superb cheeses and heritage vegetables, lake caught fish and that great County beverage, apple cider.” Only 217km North-East of Toronto, this not-too-far-away hot spot has been gaining the recognition it deserves. A wonderful landscape of vineyards and restaurants complements the local community’s drive for truly living local: the 100-mile diet would be no problem here. Chefs are also happily partaking in all that PEC has to offer: Jamie Kennedy’s farm is tucked away near Picton so I am sure that I cannot be too far away from all the fresh, local food my palate desires.
Prince Edward County provides a detailed brochure of 23 of the best places to eat and drink. Compiled of a varied selection, some of the 23 hot spots include the Milford Bistro, a romantic restaurant in a 19th century building; Buddha Dog, supplying what Toronto Life claims to be “the best hot dog in Canada”; and the County Cider Company, complete with a tasting room and wood-fired oven for lunches infused in every way with delicious apple cider. Number 11 on the list is the Waring House. The Barley Room is an important part of The Waring House and offers all-day casual dining and live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Executive Chef Luis Sousa did not let the greasy reputation of pubs deter him from creating a fabulously simple and local lunch menu. Knowing the regular pub crowd doesn’t like fussy food, Sousa has created a menu that brings together local ingredients (so local some ingredients are from farms right down the street!) and creativity to form a inexpensive but unforgettable lunch. You must start with the Prince Edward County Apple Cider & Old Cheese Soup ($6): Light and not too thick, this vegetarian soup features local apple cider vinegar which cuts the smooth and slightly sharp (and also local) Black River cheddar perfectly. The pan-seared calve’s liver changed my feelings of liver altogether: Served with a Madeira wine demi-glace and smothered in mushrooms, the velvet texture of the liver was pleasantly surprising ($13). The Shepherd’s Pie, although not made the traditional way with lamb, was saucy and cutely encased in a half moon of puff pastry. The vegetables at its side were not only cooked properly, but were cut in juliennes so perfectly that they would make any culinary student blush ($12). The Barley Days Brewery Battered Fish & Chips were fabulous: not greasy in the slightest and best of all, the fresh haddock had been battered and fried so perfectly that when my fork cut off the first corner of fish the noise alone made my mouth water and my eyes widen. The menu also features daily specials of homemade soups, main course selections, pastas, hot pots as well as homemade- of which I had none, but definitely will next time. The Barley Room has the comfort of a pub and the respect and support of the locals and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area, following the Taste Trail.
For more information about the Taste Trail, visit

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