Help. Is there decent food available in Barrie, Ontario?
- andreas Nov 21, 2006 08:50 PM
I've got to meet with some business associates in Barrie on Thursday. Lunch has been mentioned. Can anybody recommend a decent place somewhere in downtown Barrie? Preferably Italian, but Thai would also be very welcome. No fish please, one of the guys I am meeting with is not a fish lover.
Haven't been to the restaurant, but the food I've had from Oscar's has been wonderful in the past. have been to a couple events they've catered. outstanding duck confit, and excellent maple hot-smoked salmon.
I've been to Garraways for dinner and it was very good...have friends that have been to Oscar's and also like it....hope you'll let us know where you go and give us a review!!!
My parents live in Barrie, have been to Oscar's many times and Garraway's once. Would recommend either, they are both better then average. Even had a few great meals at Oscar's... it would be my choice out of the two.
I went to Oscar's in September. It was the first time I visited since the renovations and I was very disappointed. The food was cooked well and tasted good but I found it to be overpriced for the portion size. I didn't like the new decor either, seemed they were trying to be too pretentious. Previously I found it to be "good value" when compared to Toronto, now I would say it is the same. It used to be more cozy feeling as well.
Ok, so we went to Garraway's Bistro. Review as follows:
The bistro is located at a busy corner in downtown Barrie. Actually a lot prettier than I thought it would be, some nice stores, coffee and tea shops etc. Nice.
The first thing we noticed when we entered the bistro was the smell of cooking oil. This came from the open kitchen at the back of the place. Bad ventilation is most likely to blame. The decor is pretty basic in an 80's kind of way. Old blue carpet, black metal chairs. Tables are nicely laid out, with generous space allowance. White linen, fabric napkins, in black. Not to my taste but I suspect that the owners simply didn't have the money needed to renovate the place.
The service was excellent from the minute we entered the place. I suspect that the woman in charge was the chef's wife. Friendly and clearly very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the food. The wine list was decent and well priced - we picked a bottle of Californian Cabernet for just over $40.00.
The food: I started with a crab cake, which was excellent. Fresh, nicely caramelized on the outside and juicy in the middle. It came with a flavored mayonnaise, red cabbage sprouts and pomegranate seeds which were all entirely superfluous. This set a bit of a theme. The food is good, but it tries too hard, especially for a bistro. My entree was beef ribs with a herb risotto and fresh vegetables. The ribs were wonderful, falling off the bone goodness. However, the BBQ sauce they came with completely overpowered the delicate herb risotto and the flavored oils that it was dressed with. A real shame, as the risotto was excellent and the oils prepared with care and attention.
One of my fellow diners informed me that his pudding, a nut tart with home made ice cream, was wonderful. The chef, Jim Garraway, has been working in some pretty impressive kitchens. However, in my personal opinion, he is forgetting that he's now running a bistro. He tries to serve simple bistro fare but makes it too fussy - he can't resist the temptation to show off his considerable craft and knowledge in dishes not designed for the purpose. It is my suspicion that he is missing his days in big kitchens in expensive hotels.
If he would renovate the dining room, install a decent extraction system (which might very well be in place and just been broken when we were there) and simplify his cooking Barrie would have a real gem of a restaurant.