Cruise the back roads enjoying the regional specialties of Ontario’s South Coast.
Cruise the back roads, enjoy that pastoral countryside and indulge in the regional specialties that characterize Ontario’s South Coast. Explore the sandy beaches, lush forests, fishing ports, vibrant trails, numerous parks and rich agricultural lands.
We’ve mapped out a weekend that will allow you to explore the local culinary point of view and simple pleasures that tell the story of this part of the province. It will take you from the Grand River to Lake Erie, stopping at several quaint towns enjoying their culinary delights as you go.
Twisted Lemon Restaurant & Flavour Junkies in Cayuga is the perfect place to stop for dinner as you enter into the region. This award-winning ‘hidden gem’ is owned and operated by Chef Dan Megna, who worked under the tutelage of celebrity chef Mark McEwan. The seasonal and locally inspired menu showcases ingredients almost exclusively from Haldimand County, offers monthly features and the breads, desserts and sorbets are made from scratch in-house. Since its opening, Twisted Lemon has been recommended in the Where to Eat in Canada guide.
Follow the lead of Hollywood star Hillary Swank and enjoy the simple elegance and unrivalled charm of The Lalor Estate Inn, the jewel of Dunnville. Each of the four guest rooms is uniquely and beautifully appointed, offering fresh roses, fluffy robes, pillow-top mattresses and turn-down service for the ultimate pampering experience. Wind down by strolling through the gardens and majestic trees or enjoy a nightcap on the wrap-around porch before retiring for the evening.
In 1887, James Hewitt, founder of Hewitt’s Dairy, began delivering milk to the residents of Hagersville in his horse-drawn Democrat. Today, the dairy remains one of the oldest family-owned dairies in Ontario. A full range of milk products is processed, including milk and chocolate milk, cream, cultured products, goat’s milk products, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and sugar-free, low-fat ice cream. Stop by the popular Dairy Bar for their famous ice cream.
For lunch, head to the Blue Elephant Restaurant & Craft Brew House in Simcoe. The Blue Elephant is one of the most refined, casual dining establishments in this neck of the woods. It first became popular with locals seeking its signature curry dish and other iconic menu items but is also revered for its in-house microbrewery and seasonal beers. The restaurant is split into two distinct sections – the dining area, which is opened only for dinner, and the more casual British-themed Tuskers Pub, which serves lunch and dinner. Pay specific attention to the items marked “Taste of Norfolk,” as they are menu offerings sourced from area farmers.
While in Simcoe, be sure to make a stop at Jensen Cheese, an award-winning, family-owned manufacturer of artisanal cheddar cheese. Each cheese is crafted with the utmost care and attention using the “Old World Curing Process” to guarantee that the texture and traditional full-bodied flavours are at their peak. Stop by for a tasting of their renowned cheese, including the five-year old cheddar.
Hidden in the middle of somewhere special you will find Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm. Have a GPS handy, or ask a local to point you in the right direction. Take your time – it is worth the effort. Ramblin’ Road, in La Salette, is Ontario’s only Brewery Farm. Here you will find an actual working farm with crops growing, a hop garden flourishing and a brew house in full operation. Best known for their premium, hand-crafted beers – Country Lager, Country Ale, Country Pilsner and the DPA – Dakota Pearl Potato Ale. They also produce the best kettle chips in the province. Grab a bag or three to snack on for the journey home.
The Normandale Century Inn & Restaurant is an ideal location to spend the night and enjoy some bird watching, cycling, walking and the quiet and hamlet of Normandale. The quaint inn features four rooms with private ensuite, satellite television, high speed wireless internet, air conditioning and a fabulous country breakfast.
Get your morning caffeine fix at The Urban Parisian, Port Dover’s authentic French bakery. European in style, the shop is known for its magnificent French pastries, rich bold coffee, exquisite tea and, of course, wonderful bread baked in-house every day. You must have the key lime pie, which comes straight from heaven.
The Cider Keg consists of hundreds of acres of apple orchards surrounding the Farm Market and Cider Mill in Vittoria, just 15 minutes east of Port Dover. Their biggest claim to fame is their sparkling apple ciders. In fact, in 2010, their apple- rhubarb blend was served to the G20 leaders when they visited Canada. Cider Keg is also known for its coveted Apple Pie in a Jar, as well as cherry, pumpkin and other flavours. Farm market tours are available.
Close to the Lighthouse Festival Theatre, Schofields Bistro is a great spot offering “accessible taste” in a renovated in a renovated historic building in downtown Port Dover. It’s causing quite the buzz with great food using fresh local produce and a wine list with a strong selection of Ontario and Canadian vintages.
The fourth and final stop of the day is Burning Kiln Winery in St. Williams, just minutes from Port Dover, Turkey Point and Simcoe. Situated on a ridge overlooking the UNESCO-designated Long Point World Biosphere Reserve, the winery creates distinctive wines made from hand-picked grapes that have been dried in former tobacco kilns used by farmers past. Partake in a winery tour, sample a flight of wines and enjoy the outdoor patio before making your way home.