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.

Harbour House Waterfront Eatery

My personal chef, Cathryn, wasn’t sure what to serve for dinner last night so I suggested we try the new Harbour House Waterfront Eatery (old Lilly Kazilly’s) on Riverside Drive at the City Marina. It was Tuesday and I messaged the restaurant to ask if I needed reservations. The response (on Facebook) said it was a good idea so I requested a covered table on the patio, in the shade. I was told it wouldn’t be a problem.

We experience a bit of confusion at the hostess desk while the couple in front of us tried to select a table where they wouldn’t be attacked by bees. Then they had to wait for their friend who forgot his mask. When our turn came the young lady asked where we’d like to sit and I repeated my earlier request for the patio in the shade. We were led to a tiny little table outside the covered deck, with an umbrella that only shaded half. Cathryn had to continually adjust her chair to avoid having the sun in her face. I didn’t bother to ask for another seat since the patio area was packed and business was brisk.

Service was a bit slow but we waited patiently, understanding that the patio is huge and they were really busy. We ordered a couple of draft beers while we looked over the menus. I found it odd how 4 or 5 dishes were listed as coming soon – something our inexperienced waitress wasn’t aware of when she accepted an order from the table beside us. She later returned with the bad news for the man, and delivered our slightly chilled beers. Cathryn complained and our server said she’d check with the bar.

Our waitress returned with the same beers -now even warmer. I had taken a couple sips of mine, she offered a story about how the kegs froze and they had to warm them us before they could cool them again. I kept my beer and Cathryn considered a glass of wine, until she saw the $14 price tag for a 9oz glass. They didn’t have the seltzer she asked for and settled for another. We used the glass of ice that came with it to chill our water.

We decided to share some appies, sample the menu, and started with Oysters Rockefeller and Mussels in a garlic wine sauce. The mussels were okay but I found all the garlic in one clump inside one of the shells and most of the onions in another, as if they were tossed in as an afterthought. (Not the one’s pictured on left) The oysters were dry and tasteless, probably the worst we’ve ever had. We asked for a bowl of Lobster Bisque but were told they were out and just starting to make more.

For a seafood restaurant right on the lake, I was a bit surprised they didn’t offer Pickerel. We ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna, which came with a side salad. The vinaigrette dressing was too bitter for me but the tuna was delicious. A huge serving that was cut in two pieces, was perfectly seared and encrusted in toasted poppy seeds, with fresh avocado and roasted tomatoes. It was a bit pricey at $32 but a large enough serving for us to share and be satisfied. The tuna was the highlight and best part of our experience.

And right in the middle of tuna heaven an AC/DC song started blaring over the sound system. It took a few minutes before the corrected the problem, so much for dinner music. Our bill came to $109, a bit steep I thought for 2 appetizers, 2 drinks and 1 entrée (she didn’t charge me for my diet coke because of the warm beer). So there you have it…the majority of reviews for this place have been favorable; perhaps we just hit an off night. There is much room for improvement in our opinion. We both rated it a 6 out of 10.

Chowder Wars – Gibsons & Sechelt, B.C.

One of the things Cathryn and I were most looking forward to while visiting the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia was the seafood. Having sampled our share on the east coast a few years ago, we wanted to see how the west coast fared. After a short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver to Landale, we drove directly to Gibsons to kill some time while we waited to check into our Airbnb.

We took a quick look at the Persephone and Molly’s from the old Beachcomber TV series days and strolled out onto the pier. Our thirst for craft beer and hunger for fresh seafood cut our walk short. We headed to the closest and most scenic patio on the pier, Gramma’s Pub. The place was a bit weathered but we were distracted by the beautiful harbor view.

The menu covered all the bases and we each found a likeable local brew to toast our first stop on the Sunshine Coast. Things took a quick turn when Cathryn announced it was our first time in Gibson’s Landing, and she asked what was the best local fare. The waitress was greeted with two blank stares when she started describing their nachos and potato skins.

With my mouth still agape, I asked about the seafood on the menu. She said they were out of almost all their seafood – quite an unbelievable statement to me since we’d just seen a guy down on the dock selling fresh fish and prawns. Cathryn prayed that the calamari was local (I knew better) and I ordered the seafood chowder. The squid was the previously frozen stuff I expected, but my chowder was pretty damn good – creamy, the way I like it, with a variety of seafood. My only complaint was the tails on the shrimp and mussels still in the shell, I had to stick my fingers in the hot chowder to de-shell.

My next bowl of chowder was at the Black Fish Pub, in Gibsons, where we met some friends for lunch. It was a clam chowder that was loaded with clams and spices but not quite creamy enough for me. They had lots of other seafood on their menu and Cathryn had a niece piece of sockeye salmon. The craft beer was excellent too.

My third bowl of chowder was consumed at the Lighthouse Pub in Sechelt. We had just been to the beach and seeing mussel shells scattered all along the water’s edge, steered our stomachs to the restaurant. We were not disappointed by the fabulous waterfront view, local craft beer, and seafood. Cathryn had a bowl of mussels in a creamy garlic and onion sauce and and did the seafood chowder. Bowl number three was the tastiest yet, but the small bits of seafood were well hidden by the larger chunks of potatoes.

Stealing some mussels from my wife’s plate added to my creamy chowder treat which was lip-smacking good when I used my garlic toast to soak up every last drop.

We’re off to Nanaimo next and I’m sure the chowder wasr will continue. We already know what will be for dessert.

India 47 Restaurant & Bar

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Are you looking for something different to tingle and tantalize your taste buds, exotic and spicy foods that scream flavour? You have to check out the new India 47 Restaurant & Bar at Lesperance and E.C. Row, in the former Webb’s or Rygate. I don’t know a heck of a lot about authentic Indian food, only having been to a couple other restaurants serving that particular country’s fare, but this new venture caught my attention.

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The Baked Potato Guy – Melaque

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Warning: Actual Baked Potatoes are more than double this size.

Who’d a thunk you can make a meal for two out of a baked potato. Or better yet, how can someone make any money selling them at 80 Pesos, loaded with butter, sour cream, onions, and any other toppings or sauces you want, like mushrooms, bacon, or even beef.

Leave it to an entrepreneurial Mexican who threw a small barbecue and a couple tables right on the street, in Downtown Melaque (just past the Oxxo and across from Toba’s Wings) on the road to Villa Obregon. I don’t know if the improvised street stand has a name, and have only seen an orange piece of cardboard listing his prices, taped to the wall.

Cathryn and I have either walked or bicycled by the Potato guy in the past, but tonight we finally tried one. Funny thing was, we were having wings at Toba’s and are not fans of their French Fries. We smelled and eyed the cooking potatoes in wonderment. It can’t hurt to ask, right?

When our server took our order, I asked about the possibility of adding a potato from down the street. He smiled and told me the owner was his amigo, and that I should go right ahead and help myself. So, here’s to starting a new trend…or at least making an attempt to bring these two guys together, under one roof.

We dug in and dissected our giant spud, which had to weigh two pounds or more. Looking closer, while digging into the creamy delight, it appeared as though it had been twice cooked – baked first, then whipped with butter and sour cream and onions. It was an awesome mixture, to which we added sauteed mushrooms. It was easily more than enough for the two of us, in addition to our wings, and could probably feed a small family of four as a side dish.

Who the hell needs boring fries?

ChavaKiah Massage Cafe

chavaI literally stumbled across this hidden gem while exploring the back streets running parallel to the blurred Melaque/Villa Obregon border. I saw the words Chavakiah and Desayuno scribbled on a chalkboard near Esmerelda’s and ambled over the cobblestone to see what I could see, and maybe eat.

And there it was, an oasis among the non-descript faded pastel bungalows, a few umbrellaed tables and another chalkboard to signal I had the right place. I sat outside the first time but had to take shelter inside today because of the unusual rainstorm (it never rains while we’re here in the winter).

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Toba Wings in Melaque

58724844_1086800061443780_6099295323476197376_oFinally, a restaurant in Melaque with good chicken wings. Not the small pigeon wings or tiny appendages stolen from young birds before they grow feathers, but large-almost jumbo, fat and juicy wings with a few decent sauces to choose from.

Everyone knows I love food, but no everyone knows I’m a chicken wing aficionado, having sample cluckers in restaurants from here to Alaska, and from San Francisco to Capetown, Africa.  Toba Wings might not have the best wings in the world, but they are good enough for this birdman to make a return visit.

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Maria’s in Melaque

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West Melaque is becoming a hub for tasty new restaurants. Cathryn and I haven’t been here in two years but were happy to see restaurants like the Wok and De Maria en la Playa in the end of town we’re staying. We’ve been to Maria’s three times now and had excellent food each time.

The Italian restaurant is right next door to Tito’s, in the same building that was Tito’s the last time we were in town. The dining room is cozy, extends out onto a wood deck, and has seating on the beach. Menu items include salads, pasta and steaks. The guacamole we had for starters was one of the best we’ve had in Melaque.

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Soprano’s – Best Pizza in Melaque

IMG-20191225-174736jpgThis post is for all Canadians and pizza lovers staying in Villa Obregon, Melaque or San Patricio. The pizza restaurant formerly known as Nonsolopizza, on the corner across from the bus station and beside the taxi stand, is now called “Soprano’s Pizzeria.” The owner said he had to change the name for technical reasons.

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Etta’s Greekish Eatery

78424932_2513138285597021_5714507940707172352_oIt will be no surprise to some of our friends who already dine at Etta’s Greekish Eatery, that it’s become our favorite breakfast place. We’d heard it was going to change hands, with a new non-Greek owner taking over, and we were a bit concerned they’d change things and ruin a great restaurant. Don’t worry, that’s not the case.

I’d just been talking Windsor Pizza with some buddies, who’ve all noticed how great Italian Pizza places have all but vanished – with other ethnicities taking them over and ruining a good thing. Etta’s seems to be an exception so far, they’re still serving the same great food and they’ve kept the same staff. They can make all the difference, as we learned from the Country Diner on Manning after the old cook retired.

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