La Sirena Gordita – Tapas Bar on Coco Beach

Where can you find one of the most amazing views in Mexico , specialty cocktails, friendly service, and amazing food at great prices? Get out your maps because this place is off the grid, kind of on the border between the states of Jalisco and Colima, on Coco Beach (Pacific Ocean), on the Isla de Navidad. Confused yet? Just drive east from Melaque or Barra de Navidad, towards Manzanillo and exit on the road to the Grand Bay Resort and Golf Course. Easy peasy.

La Sirena Gordita, or the Chubby Mermaid to us Gringos, has become a favorite spot for Cathryn and I to visit, while we’re in Melaque. Granted, it took us two attempts to find the place, but it was well worth our time and fun exploring the surrounding countryside. The unique tapas bar is actually part of the Villa Star of the Sea Spa Boutique Suites, but caters to wayward tourists looking for a cool drink and good grub.

The menu includes free sea breezes, and is Mexican-North American fusion, including unique salads, a meat & cheese tray, burgers and seafood. Drinks include ice cold beer, wine, and delicious cocktails – the pina colada was the best I’ve ever had. So far, Cathryn and I have sampled the Chile Relleno, Cheeseburger, Caesar Salad with Shrimp (amazing), and the Portobello Quesadilla, none of which disappointed us.

Portions are healthy and prices are a steal by Canadian standards. Servers are friendly and the owners are from Canada’s west coast. They cater to locals and Gringos alike, but ask for a heads up phone call or reservation if you have a group or want a guaranteed table. There are shady seats near the bar or beach chairs and umbrellas if you want to get a bit closer to the ocean, all offering an amazing unobstructed view.

Cathryn and I have been the the Chubby Mermaid twice now and will do our best to go back again before heading home. It gets a 9 our of 10 from us.

Pomegranate Restaurant

It’s been too many years since I’ve visited the Pomegranate Restaurant in Windsor, and after eating there tonight, I’m disappointed I didn’t return sooner. The ‘Pomo’, as we used to call it, is still a family-run business serving excellent Chinese food to long time loyal customers. Take out business was brisk while Cathryn and I were there, with many obviously picking up dinner to bring home.

Back in the day, when I worked for a living, we took our lunch hours and completed reports in the back corner of the dining room. And on occasion, I’d loose money while playing cards with the staff after hours – all in fun, of course, since everyone is family there. It was nice to see some familiar faces and hear that Chef Henry was still in the kitchen, serving great food.

As with most Chinese restaurants, the menu is huge, but the wait staff is more than happy to help with your selection and very responsive to fine tuning your order. The wonton soup was hearty and served piping hot. The pork spring rolls were crispy, with a filling that reminded me of the inside of a tortiere. We had two each but wanted more.

Our two main dishes consisted of house special egg foo young and stir-fried veggies with all the goodies you can think of. And to top it off, besides the traditional fortune cookies, they gave us extra almond cookies. I forgot how addictive they are. The service was fast and friendly and prices are reasonable. Cathryn and I both give the Pomegranate a 9 out of 10, since nobody is perfect 🙂

Breakfast at Jim’s Sub Shop – Kingsville

Cathryn thought it was too nice a day to be inside and suggested we needed to go for a ride somewhere. I took that as a reason to go out for breakfast, but we didn’t discuss where we wanted to eat until we got in the car. After a great recommendation from my brother, we decided a drive to Kingsville was in order so we could try Jim’s Sub Shop.

Don’t be fooled by the name. Jim makes submarine sandwiches, just like the kind we used to feast on after a night out drinking, and not like those fake Subway things. But I digress…let me get back to breakfast, Jim’s specialty Eggs Benny’s and the thick and juicy peameal bacon he likes to brag about.

Having realized I left my Covid vaccination papers, government issued ID, and my phone with the backup vax info, next of kin, and favorite cat photos in the car, Cathryn saved me the pain of hobbling on my gimp knee and volunteered to retrieve all the documents necessary to cross the Berlin Wall.

A man behind the counter, who was wearing an apron and later identified as Jim, kindly accepted me as his prisoner and agreed to hold me in Covid jail until my wife returned with my paperwork. Our documents were presented and I was released from custody. The décor was nothing fancy, but clean and comfortable. They also have patio seating outback.

We were lucky enough to have the restaurant owner, Jim, come to our table for our order, and to share his sense of humor. A patient man, he stood by as Cathryn’s customized an order of his Eggs Benedict Florentine. I was torn between the cheeseburger and hookee omelet, something Jim created using seasoned shaved beef. I chose the cheeseburger and he said it came with all the fixins.

Jim wasn’t kidding about the mustard, ketchup and pickles that made my omelet look more like a pizza. I’m not into the yellow condiment, but the eggs and other cheeseburger goodies were piping hot and delicious. It came with real home fries, done on the grill. Cathryn got the Eggs Benny Florentine, with peameal thick as a steak, extra large eggs and homemade hollandaise sauce sprinkled with real bacon bits. Hers looked like it belonged on the cover of a food magazine.

To our delight, both our meals were served hot off the grill, and stayed that way until we finished them. Service was quick, friendly and efficient. Prices for breakfast were in the $7 to $15 range, depending on what you order. And besides subs, they do burgers and sell specialty Greek foods like humus and fattoush.

Jim’s is located on Kingsville’s main strip, between Vern’s and The Grove. Cathryn and I were both filled up by our meals and are happy to recommend Jim’s for breakfast. I give them a 9 and she a 10 out of 10.

Part II Bistro – Goderich

On our recent Tobermory trip, for a change of scenery, Cathryn and I decided to take the back roads up north – getting off the highway when we could, and following Lake Huron’s eastern shoreline. Knowing the six hour ride would take us longer, we booked a room in Goderich to make it a two-day trip. On the first day we stopped in Grand Bend to stretch our legs and see what is new. The beach resort town was bustling, with plenty of new places to get your favorite junk food, and a complete makeover of the old Colonial Hotel is in progress.

Cathryn barely remembered being to Goderich years ago, so we drove down to the waterfront and along the public beach. The old CPR Train Station has been meticulously restored and relocated there and converted into a restaurant. New since my last visit is a wooden boardwalk with exercise stations, running the full 1.5 km length of the beach.

For dinner we sought out the Part II Bistro, on the main square – more like an octagon loop that surrounds the court house, with a half dozen streets as spokes, radiating from the center. It was Tuesday, and to our disappointment many restaurants in town were closed for the night. Part II Bistro was open and had rave reviews so that’s where we went. They have a beautiful patio out front that offers a great view of the town square, but the weather and seasonal bees had us reserve a table inside.

I can best describe the décor as eclectic, with tables partitioned for privacy and Covid reasons. They had a nice selection of local craft beers and a descent wine list. We sampled both. A picture of our appetizer wouldn’t do it justice – look up Gnudi on their menu – ricotta, parmesan and garlic formed into soft pillows, with a semolina flower crust set on a slowly simmered IPA, basil tomato reduction. Yes, it was a savory and delicious as it sounds.

Cathryn saw a lamb shank on the menu so there was no decision for her. I was torn between the Sacchietti Pasta and the Greek chicken, but was in need of a good carb fix and chose the latter. Stuffed egg pasta filled with mushrooms and black truffles, tossed with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, woodland mushrooms, spinach, onions and garlic. Finished with cream and herbed infused olive oil and topped with parmesan cheese. OMG! Need I say more? The little pasta pouches made for the best I’ve ever had.

The Lamb Shank was braised perfectly in Moroccan influences of cumin, cinnamon and cardamom, set on Israeli couscous with ratatouille vegetables, topped with it’s own braising reduction. Cathryn barely had to coax the meat off the bone, which I secretly think she wanted to suck on.

Dessert was mostly for me, she only wanted a bite. I selected the peanut butter chocolate cheesecake, of course. The picture tells the story, and it tasted even better than it looks.

Service was just a tad slow, but like everywhere else these days the restaurant is having difficulty in finding wait staff. They did a great job with what they had and Cathryn and I eagerly give Part II Bistro a 10 out of 10.

El Farolito Restaurant – Melaque

El FarolitoI literally stumbled across this place on one of my morning walks and never noticed that it was a full-service restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. El Farolito (The Lantern) is tucked into one corner of the little market stalls in Melaque Centro, one street west and kind of behind Super Hawaii.

It wasn’t until we were sitting in the restaurant having dinner, that we realized that the restaurant used to be in Villa Obregon where Non Solo Pizza is now. The waitress confirmed that they moved two years ago. Friends had recommended El Farolito to us then, but we never got around to visiting.

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The Detroit Shipping Company

downloadIt seems Cathryn and I don’t get out for dinner as much these days, mostly because we like to cook, and that we expect good food and service for the price we pay. We’ve also been slacking in visits across the border to Detroit, where exciting things have been happening in the restaurant and entertainment scene.

Take the Detroit Shipping Company for example. Some enterprising entrepreneurs took a vacant lot near the Cass Corridor, stacked metal shipping containers in the shape of a square, and added a handful of specialty restaurants to a revitalized neighborhood. The is plenty of room for inside and outside drinking and dining and hanging out.

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Rants, Raves & Reviews – Capone’s Grill & Pasta Shop

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Cathryn and I don’t get out for dinner much these days, mostly because many restaurants aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Who wants to pay forty bucks for a steak that’s not cooked to your liking or eat frozen veggies. Maybe it helps in our case that we both like to cook, and cook the way we like.

Not to say there aren’t any great restaurants in Windsor. Take the little Italian grill and pasta shop called, Capone’s on Wyandotte Street, in old Riverside. Owner John Fuerth is the restaurant’s first reason for success. He openly admits that he mimicked his favorite Italian restaurant, the Cook Shop, when he created Capone’s.

dinnerCathryn and I have eaten in both places and John hasn’t missed a beat. We were able to get a table on Friday night without reservations and were welcomed as if we were extended family. We started with the scallop appetizer special. They were plump, seared to perfection and served with a tasty reduction and veggie slivers.

Cathryn had the Chateau Briand and I ordered the carbonara with pancetta, asking for it to be on the creamy side. The wait wasn’t long and our meals were served piping hot from the kitchen that was only a few feet away (a very cozy place for the cooking staff). C’s filet was cooked exactly how she asked. I received a damn good sized bowl of pasta – easily the best carbonara I’ve had in many years.

desertFor dessert we had cheesecake that was made inhouse. It was not your normal triangle slab cut from a pie tin. It resembled a large scoop of ice cream, light and creamy, with no gram crust, and topped with blueberry sauce. OMG good.

Even with a decent bottle of  wine, our bill barely broke a hundred dollars. The same meal would have cost us almost double at the Cook Shop. John told us Lino recently retired and sold the downtown landmark. Not a problem for us since we’ve found our new favorite Italian eatery. Both C and I give Capone’s a 10 out of 10, and I think that’s the first time ever.

The New Old Elora Mill

IMG_2932 (2)Cathryn had dropped a few hints that we were over due for a mystery date (an overnight at an undisclosed destination), the comments directed in my direction for her birthday month. It had been a whole two months since our return from Egypt and Africa so I almost felt sorry for her and decided to surf the web for an idea to satisfy her wanderlust itch.

One of my cousins posted on Facebook that she was at the spa in the Elora Mill. The last time Cathryn and I dropped by the village of Elora the Mill was closed, fenced in and under construction. We tried to peek through the fence but couldn’t see what was in the works. I messaged my cousin who said the Mill was newly renovated and open for business.

I browsed the internet and checked the web site, balking at the listed price for spending one night in a hotel room. Reading on I was able to get into the last night of an off-season promotion that made the cost more palatable. Just because I thought my wife deserved a treat I shelled out $350 banana peels for a room in the mill. The clincher for me was a complimentary bottle of premium wine in the room and a hundred bucks off our food and beverage bill in either the lounge or restaurant.

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Rino’s Kitchen & Ale House

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Formerly the Nesbitt Inn, Rino’s Kitchen and Ale House is a small restaurant on the fringe of downtown Windsor that is big on character and flavor. Meals are served inside a one hundred year old stately brick home on Elliott Street at Pelissier. It’s far enough from the bar scene to have ample parking right next door.

Chef Rino Bortolin proudly uses local ingredients for his ever-changing menu, and he offers local craft beer and wine. His prices are fair and offerings range from burger to lamb shank. The atmosphere is cozy and casual. In the warmer weather tables are set up outside on the deck and sometimes in the back yard.

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Muy Bien Melaque

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We’ve been in Melaque, Mexico just over a month now, our second visit to this undiscovered gem on the Pacific coast. The towns of Villa Obregon and San Patricio help to form what is known as Melaque, a little known destination for many Canadian snowbirds. Although tiny in comparison to places like Puerto Vallarta, Melaque has a great selection of bars and restaurants to quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger. Although we’ve tried many different establishments in the last month, I am only mentioning three of our favorites in this blog post.

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