Thursday, December 6, 2012

Woolfy's Restaurant and Little Red Café

Little Red Riding Hood, You Sure are looking good. You're Everything a Big Bad Wolf Could Want.

Woolfy's Restaurant and Little Red Café

Woolfy’s at Wildwood is situated on Highway 7, and Perth Road 118, just outside St. Mary’s in an inconspicuous bungalow surrounded by a farmer’s field. Chris and Mary Woolf, make a sojourn to Woolfy’s well worth the drive. They know how to provide a warm and welcoming ambience. Over many years of dining at Woolfy’s I have never had a disappointing experience.

Chef Chris Woolf is the back of the house and Mary Fuller Woolf a consummate host is the front. The Woolf’s are Perth County restaurant royalty. Their commitment to the hospitality industry is nothing short of formidable.

I first encountered the Woolf’s while working in Stratford in the mid-eighties.

Chris worked with Chef Jean Marie Lacroix at the Church and Chef Neil Baxter at Rundle’s and went on to teach at the Stratford Chefs School, in those early years when it was the only way to find some financial stability in the culinary life in a largely seasonal theatre town. Mary worked through the then burgeoning Stratford culinary scene (Rundles, The Old Prune, 20 King Street) so inevitably they were destined to become icons of the local culinary scene.

The restaurant was originally established in the spring of 1994, formerly known as 'The Wildwood Inn' which catered to nearly a dozen motel rooms and a dining room that served breakfast and lunch.

The motel disappeared and Chris and Mary renovated and refurbished the interior and exterior of the restaurant in early 1999 and changed the name to 'Woolfy's at Wildwood'.

Earlier this year, Chris and Mary decided to reinvent “Woolfy’s” in an effort to both rejuvenate and keep their dream and passion alive. They added the “Little Red Café”, a casual alternative to the white-linen main dining room. Woolfy's now has two distinct areas: elegant fine dining with comfortable leather chairs in the main room and menus that are more often than not cultural journeys into the local terroir and the more moderately priced café with a sophisticated twist on classic diner food and minimalist tables. Unless your mind is made up it makes for a difficult choice when Mary greets you at the front door.

Both areas feature concise well-thought menus that reinterpret traditional classics, with modern techniques and seasonal ingredients. Chef’s food is always consistent: innovative and executed with finesse and a polished presentation. This is a scratch kitchen. Chef makes his own condiments, bakes his own delicious bread and hamburger buns. The produce is often organic.

The Woolf’s have been true pioneers when it comes to supporting culinary regionalism: dedicated and loyal supporters of the area’s farmers, artisans, sustainable and organic producers for almost two decades. Chris was re-interpreting culture-specific culinary specialties with homegrown ingredients long before the term “local” became part of our culinary lexicon.

Lunch at the Little Red Café is genuinely delicious. Velvety and naturally sweet Carrot and Orange Soup with Fresh Ginger is thick and delicious. Both the Poutine with Salsa and Local Cheese Curds and Poutine with Bison Chili and Local Curds are to die for. Grilled Goat Cheese, Olive and Tomato Salad is a simple sandwich on house-baked bread elevated to great heights. A hand made patty of farm-raised Blanbrook Farm Bison is one-third the fat of beef and fewer calories than even chicken. When combined with cheese and bacon it makes for one of the best burgers around.

Dining at Woolfy’s is a well-rounded experience. The service is professional, knowledgeable and affable. The wine list is substantive with upwards of 50 varieties includes Ontario selections and many bottles in the mid- range.

Closed January to March (Open Valentine’s Day); closed Sunday and Monday

St. Marys, ON  N4X 1C5
(519) 349-2467

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