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Homage to The Indomitable Marika Hayek of Budapest Restaurant

BY BRYAN LAVERY



It saddened me to read of Marika Hayek’s passing earlier this week. Budapest Dining Room and Tavern, a local gem with yards of red velvet and charming unintended kitsch continued to evolve while its grand interior remained virtually unchanged. The décor with plush velvet valances and curtained alcoves, brocades, red and gold wallpaper and comfortable armchair seating evokes another era. The Roma “Gypsy-style” aesthetic is also the restaurant's brand. It became both an anomaly and anachronism. The restaurant's two main rooms lead back from Dundas Street and are linked by an arched passageway across the middle, an ornate banquet hall at the far end, and the kitchen at the other end. There is almost always a musician—a piano player with a penchant for delivering uninvited political observations—playing the sentimental melodies traditionally adopted by Hungarian Romani musicians. He plays to the Budapest's patrons between brief monologues. He is part of the idios…
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Remembering Chef & Baker Extraordinaire Lindsay Todd Reid

By Bryan Lavery




I was saddened to hear early today that Lindsay Reid had passed away after a brief illness. Lindsay's motto was to “share really good baking,” made from scratch in small batches, using high quality ingredients. That required patience and precision – something Lindsay appeared to have in quantity. Lindsay incorporated only pure natural ingredients, unbleached organic flour, local eggs, honey and butter in his baking in the bake kitchen in the cellar of his Sebringville home. On offer were hand-made croissants, squares, tarts, muffins and seasonal specialties. Lindsay asked me not to refer to his baking as iconic – so instead I referred to his delicious baking as being emblematic. His baking represented everything good and comforting.

The first time I tasted his baking was at the Stratford Slow Food Market. I was hooked. I was very happy when he decided to join us as a vendor at the Western Fair Farmers’ Market, after receiving plenty of encouragement from Alan Mail…

Hunter & Co: Speakeasy Ambience with a Big City Vibe

BY BRYAN LAVERY

Londoners can now enjoy the output of chef Matt Kershaw of Hamilton’s acclaimed restaurant group The Other Bird, at Hunter & Co. on Talbot Street
 Photos by Nick Lavery, Lavery Culinary Group

Restaurateur Erin Dunham and executive chef Matt Kershaw of The Other Bird restaurant group in Hamilton have expertly refurbished the former Kantina/Black George space on Talbot Street for their latest restaurant project. Hunter & Co. is a sultry cocktail bar/lounge with a speakeasy vibe featuring interesting hot food, as well as charcuterie and fresh oysters. We attended the soft opening and realized immediately that if you want a seriously well-crafted cocktail this is the place to go. We could sit at the bar all evening and watch Dave Fauteux and crew craft cocktails.






The restaurant’s urban vibe takes inspiration from two of their Hamilton-based restos: Rapscallion Rogue Eatery (offering culinary connoisseurs a full nose-to-tail experience) and a little bit of Two Black She…

Los Lobos: Modern Mexican from the Invincible Wolfes

BY BRYAN LAVERY
When Air Canada announced Canada’s top 30 best new restaurants on its longlist for 2017, Wolfe of Wortley, in London’s Wortley Village, made the prestigious list. Los Lobos is the latest creation from brothers Justin and Gregg Wolfe, who are also the proprietors of The Early Bird (and the former Rock au Taco and Nite Owl). Los Lobos literally means “the wolves” in Spanish.

     Left to right: Greg, Oliva, Jenn and Justin Wolfe at the visually arresting Los Lobos bar Photos: Mariam Waliji 


Gregg and Justin both come from musical backgrounds. They spent years traveling as musicians and gaining valuable experience, which they put to use in their business ventures. Gregg spent a decade in Toronto working in nightclubs, while Justin worked as a chef at various restaurants in between travelling. The brothers went into business as Wolfe Pack Inc., and opened the Nite Owl rock lounge in December 2009. In 2012 they opened The Early Bird on Talbot Street, attached it to Nite Owl, an…

Chef Thomas Waite’s Go-To Neighbourhood Destination, Spruce on Wellington, Celebrates its One Year Anniversary

Spruce on Wellington is a seriously good neighbourhood restaurant. Chef/owner Thomas Waite and his staff are celebrating the restaurant’s first anniversary this month. The food is among the top-tier in London, Ontario. Waite and his staff are among a select group of restaurant professionals devoted to offering and advancing locally-focused contemporary Canadian cuisine in the city. The restaurant opened in January 2017 in a small house on Wellington Street between Oxford and Piccadilly Street. Its warm minimalist design has charm and is compact with 32 seats in the dining room and 22 on a nicely appointed seasonal patio.

Waite is celebrating the anniversary with updates to the warm décor, acoustic enhancement and the launch of new and accessibly priced menus. The friendly, intelligent staff includes chef Ashton Gillespie, Jamie Sandwith, Larissa McCutcheon and Jason Astels who are committed to delivering a professional restaurant experience. The culinary team is known for classic, se…

Craft Farmacy – Dispensing Deliciousness Farm to Table & FEAST ON Certified

BY BRYAN LAVERY
The talented Jazey-Spoelstra and Wolwowicz are partnered in Craft Farmacy with Harmen Spoelstra. General Manager Geoff Hammond and Assistant Manager Cody Ballman round out a powerhouse restaurant team. This is the ultimate neighbourhood restaurant. With 112 seats, it features sharing plates, fabulous house cocktails, craft beer, a superior wine list and plenty of pizzazz. There is a private event space with room for 40 on the second floor.
Jazey-Spoelstra’s stylish design sensibility is reflected in Craft Farmacy, and delivers style and comfort, with attention to the smallest details. Setting the tone is a long bar, stunning fireplace, custom-made leather banquettes and repurposed tables with comfortable chairs. The servers’ leather aprons are custom designed by Coakley’s.
Jazey-Spoelstra delivers cutting-edge and quality food experiences combined with extraordinary service, her forte and hallmark as the owner of North Moore Catering, River Room and Rhino Lounge. Wolwowic…

Reverie Restaurant: London's Best Kept Secret - Chef Brian Sua-an's Thoughtful Modern Canadian Cuisine

BY BRYAN LAVERY
There has been a movement towards a modern, minimalist cuisine that is natural, but also resolutely seasonal, local, and with a focus on pristine ingredients and terroir. New Nordic Cuisine has been a phenomenal success, one that has resonated with chefs all over the world. London-based chef Brian Sua-an has adapted the Nordic discipline in refining the spectrum of Canadian flavours. This is a new concept, modern, minimalist and hyper-curated. Before Reverie opened, I attended a tasting menu preview that garnered spectacular reviews. This is an intimate 500-square-foot space with four tables of two (or a communal table of eight) and four seats at the bar with an open kitchen. There is one five-course tasting menu that changes. The goal is to serve inventive and intelligent cuisine based on simple, high-quality ingredients and traditional techniques. Everything else is secondary. By keeping everything simple, from the pared-down equipment (dishes are hand-washed) to th…