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Tobermory good eats

Going to Tobermory for the long weekend and searching for chow-worthy suggestions! Heard good things about Stone Orchid (rijstafel - Indonesian) and Grandview Inn. Any experiences/opinions of must-try food in that region? We are adventurous eaters and don't care about atmosphere or service.

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  1. Wiarton is about half an hour down the road from Tobermory, and has a few interesting gems.

    Howell's fish do fresh and smoked whitefish, splake, and pickerel, in a small store off the main street (there are signs). The people there are characters with colourful language. They also have a van which caters to local church fish fries, and does amazing fish and chips. Fish fries are the equivalence community festivals, with strangers welcome.

    Also in Wiarton, Sullivan's Butcher shop does some good sausages that are worth trying (need to be grilled).

    There is also an organic farmer's market in one of the small towns in the area, but I'm afraid I can't remember which day.

    I've seen ads for E'Terra in Tobermory, a high-end eco resort, which purports to do molecular gastronomy with local foods, but can't vouch personally. I'd be curious to hear what that's like if you try it. Enjoy!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Snarf

      I love both Howell's and Sullivan's too! But the OP should check their hours before making a special trip.
      In Tobermory I was pleased to see so many places proudly offering the local whitefish. The place we chose was fine but not worth a particular rec.
      Oh I love the Sweet Shop, their fudge is quite good.

      1. re: Snarf

        Friends of mine (lurkers on this board) stayed at E'Terra for two nights recently - they said you have to request supper because it's not a conventional restaurant since the 6 room resort is actually more of a B&B. They enjoyed Mermaid's for sandwiches and Stone Orchid for the experience.

        1. re: Food Tourist

          I enjoyed my Reuben sandwich at the Mermaid's and the soup of the day.

      2. If you stop at Howell's take a cooler for sure. I can't think of any other lakefood outlet in Grey/Bruce. Now, when are you going up and when are you coming back? And where are you travelling from? I may be able to direct you with that info to some local treats.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DockPotato

          We are driving up around 5 pm on Saturday from downtown Toronto, and heading back to Toronto on Monday evening. We'll be camping in Tobermory so no high-end eats.

          1. re: Food Tourist

            Hmmm. That means you will miss the Owen Sound Farmers market on Saturday morning and it's a good one. However, the Owen Sound Salmon Derby is on and there is a fish fry from 4 to 9 pm on Saturday.

            On your trip back Monday, Hwy 9 through Arthur is not a bad option. A slight detour as shown on the map will take you to Mapleton Organic Dairy Inc in Moorefield - well worth the time.


            You'll be a bit east of my ambit but I'll offer some general suggestions that hold true thrugh Grey/Bruce and list what's on now.

            Watch for farm signs. Corn is at its best right now – local growers have the best anywhere and it should be fresh picked that morning. Farm eggs are probably $1.50 to $1.75 per dozen. I pay $1.50 for fresh brown eggs and I honestly don't think there is a size category for these – Some weekends I can't close the carton lid.

            Do not pass up cantaloupes or honey dews if you see them. They too are at their best now and the taste of a fresh, super-ripe melon is amazing. Lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic and beets are good. Tomatoes are nearing the end of the road and beans are long gone. We've had a dry summer and this tends to intensify flavours - I just had some local peppers that are scrunched up, pock-marked and thin-walled but were all flavour.

            When you get north of Owen Sound, watch for smoked fish - you may find First Nations outlets on the peninsula. Howells may even have some.

            The route mentioned should take you past Amish farms. You can tell them because there are usually working horses in the field and no hydro lines strung to the house! The produce is generally free of any kind of chemical and the chickens are generally free range.

            Have a great weekend and hope this helps.

        2. Spent a week in Tobermory in July - do so most every year. Not much on the food front.

          Lee's Restaurant (on the corner into town) is fine for whitefish and has very good service but I'd avoid the Crow's Nest (other side of the street) - we've had two really average meals there lately.

          For smoked fish drive up the road around Little Tub Harbour - on the left is a sign for fresh and smoked fish - drive down the driveway - great smoked fish here (you're right on the water - I can't remember if it's as far as the Grandview but I don't think so.

          Peacocks (the grocery store) has good meat.

          Have fun!

          1. Hi Food Tourist

            I've also read good things about Stone Orchid, so when we were in the Bruce Peninsula, we gave it a try. The Indonesian food served at this restaurant is a local interpretation of what Indonesian food would be. If you've had Indonesian food in Indonesia or Holland, do not expect anything close. If you've never had Indonesian food before, it might be an interesting experience.

            We tried a lot of different restaurants when we were at the Peninsula, and the best one in our opinion was Bayview Cookhouse located at 651 Berford in Wiarton. We were staying in Lion's Head, so the drive was not too bad. But if you are staying in Tobermory, you might want to consider the driving distance. I still remember they had a nice garden salad, served with chuncks of fresh pineapple, grapes and strawberries with a very nice poppy seed dressing; for two nights in a row they had a wonderful juicy and tender ribeye steak, served with mushrooms, mashed potatoes and veggies, at a reasonable price. The menu changed daily. Oh... and before I forget, the pies and tarts for dessert were homemade. Yum!

            If you need a place to eat on the way into or out of the Bruce Peninsula, I would recommend Jazzmyns in Owen Sound. Great food and nice service, although unfortunately the pies were not homemade. http://www.jazzmyns.com/

            Enjoy your trip!

            1 Reply
            1. re: tjunmin

              A restaurant tip for Wiarton? This is gold! Too late for this year but good for next. Thanks.

              I wouldn't double back to Wiarton in the middle of a short trip to Tobermory myself, the drive can be close to an hour (77 K but one lane, 80 limit, slow drivers).

            2. There is a wonderful thin-crust pizza place in Tobermory...better by far than anything I've had in Toronto. It's on the south side of the little bay, just west of the main hotel/restaurant. I highly recommend it. It's more for take out or casual eating by the water (there are a couple of small outside tables). Really, I couldn't believe how good this pizza was.

              20 Replies
              1. re: retrobolted

                Based on this post, I was up in Tobermory yesterday to make a visit to a friend, and I had to try the pizza. The pizza was terrific.
                I too recommend it.
                Della Rocca Pizza is the best I've ever had, a thin and crispy crust. I devoured it in about 10 minutes.
                I should have bought more than 1, and taken them home. But alas, I didn't.
                Since they are only open in July and August, I now have somewhere to go next year, and I will buy more than 1.

                Della Rocca Pizza
                30 Bay St S, Tobermory, ON N0H2R0, CA

                1. re: paulcol

                  Any more thoughts on Della Rocca Pizza?? Sounds interesting.

                  Also, any thoughts on Little Tub Bakery?

                  Other thoughts on any new spots?

                  (Will be there next week)

                    1. re: magic

                      It's a small place and nothing changes very fast. Lots of whitefish which satisfies me. I get the fish tacos mentionned here I believe and they are fine - considering the context - NOT Toronto chow level.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        I agree with julesrules. I stick to whitefish or pickerel when I dine in Tobermory, Sauble Beach, Owen Sound, etc. Pie and buttertarts are usually pretty good on the Bruce Peninsula, too.

                        Tobermory Restaurants


                        Tobermory Delis/Take-out


                        1. re: prima

                          Thanks julesrules and prima!

                          Della Rocca any good?

                          1. re: magic

                            So I had a chance to review the thread and I don't think The Fish and Chip Place (south side of the bay by the Sweet Shop) is mentionned here. It's.... fine. I get the fish taco mostly because I get sick of the non-stop fried food on the peninsula. Well the fish is still fried but at least no fries ;)
                            I like the Sweet Shop too. It's not "gourmet" but pretty tasty if you like that kind of thing.
                            And I love Tobermory despite the lack of chow. Have fun!

                              1. re: magic

                                Magic anything new to report back on after your trip? We're also heading up there in a couple of weeks on a trip around Georgian Bay.

                                1. re: abigllama

                                  The weather didn't cooperate so I didn't go. Plus I got sick. :(

                                  If you need any Collingwood, Thornbury, Stayner, Blue Mountain, Elmvale, Wasaga, Midland recs I can help (on another thread maybe...)

                                  1. re: magic

                                    You got Wasaga recs? Those are gold!

                                    1. re: julesrules

                                      I dabble in all sorts of Georgian Bay recs :)

                                      1. re: magic

                                        I don't think there's been a Wasaga thread in quite a while - there's usually not much to say. What did you find?

                                        1. re: julesrules

                                          Of all the Georgian Bay/Blue Mountain towns Wasaga is the one I am least familiar with. I agree, I don't think there's much there.

                                          One possibility is Catch 22. They recently closed down their Collingwood location and opened in Wasaga Beach. I haven't been to the new Wasaga location.

                                          Catch 22 is a seafood place, operating in Collingwood for maybe 8 years. Ironically, I always found their seafood to be pretty awful. However the rest of the menu was very good! Really good pastas, amazingly decadent skillet garlic bread, really good desserts etc. And I heard they recently incorporated flat top burger creations on their menu, so that sounds good. Burgers are ground in house I believe. So I want to pay them a visit this summer.

                                          Also, near Wasaga - but not Wasaga proper is Rockdell Tavern Steakhouse - right on Hwy. 26 . An institution for good reason. Great steak, schnitzel and chops. Homemade coconut cream pie. Great atmosphere and staff.

                                          1. re: magic

                                            Catch 22 appears to be walking distance from our cottage, so thanks for the info. I tend to avoid 'seafood' restaurants in tourist areas (and let's face it, most restaurants in Wasaga Beach) so it's good to know their other food is worth a try.

                                            1. re: julesrules

                                              Yeah, their non-seafood items I like! Maybe give them a try. :)

                                    2. re: magic

                                      We're starting at Blue Mountain before heading to Bruce. There's been some shuffling up there since we skied there last winter so will resurrect one of the old Blue threads. Any help is much appreciated!

                                      1. re: magic

                                        Della Rocca was excellent. We were staying at the Blue Bay Motel which is right between Della Rocca and the LCBO. So we got take out and ate it on our patio chairs in front of the room with a bottle of cab. We split a bunch of stuff but the pizza and pasta were fantastic and very fresh.

                                        A bunch of the food we encountered seemed to revolve around the deep fryer. A friend rec'd Shipwreck Lee's. It was kind of fun to eat outside with the pirate staff, but the food was greasy, heavy and fairly bland.

                                        We enjoyed the wraps and breakfast sandwiches at The Coffee Shop on Bay St. It was a solid place to grab something quick before heading out for the day.

                                        1. re: abigllama

                                          Will have to get to Della Rocca when I finally get to Tobermory! Thanks for the report!

                                  2. re: julesrules

                                    Tried The Fish and Chip fish tacos during a recent visit after a friend recommended them. They were good and I agree on needing a break from fried foods/carbs. They came with breaded/battered (can't remember) fried fish, slaw, salsa and a lime wedge on a soft chewy tortilla We added guacamole to ours. I'd return when in the area next.

                    2. Just wondering if anyone out there can add to this list? I'll be on the Bruce Peninsula this coming weekend (staying in Lion's Head) and am doing my homework. Willing to drive to get to good food, and interested in anything local/seasonal, rather than the usual steak/pizza/pasta type of fare. Lately I've been obsessed with smoked fish, so I'll definitely check out Howell's - and I plan to spend some time in Tobermory as well. Any hidden gems in the area?

                      Also, does anyone have an opinion of the Grandview Inn in Tobermory? They have a menu online listing broiled whitefish for $25, which seems a bit steep, but perhaps it's worth it?

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: dxs

                        Funny you bumped this up as I was reading through Chow Hound the other day and was just about to bump one of these Tobermory threads as I will be going up on Wednesday for a few days. If you have to get back before Wednesday please post about any finds! I read in one of the other threads about an Ice Cream place on Manitoulin Island. Sounded good. Will try to get out to that one.

                        Also interested in other tips/thoughts about food in this area.

                        1. re: ylsf

                          Back from my trip and not much to add, at least restaurant wise. Had decent whitefish (fried) and chips at the Fish & Chip Place in Tobermory - of all the F&C joints I checked out, it had the nicest view and atmosphere. Friendly service, cold beer.. good enough for me. The other place I had a sit down meal at... the less said about that the better. I'll put it this way, the chef has access to a large clear plastic container of dried parsley flakes and isn't afraid to use it!

                          The real food action in Grey/Bruce seems to be at the farmer's markets and local stores. To echo DockPotato above, the Owen Sound farmer's market on Saturday is pretty great, with a real emphasis on local food - the Saugeen River CSA has a stand there, as does Howell's Fish and Ideal Meats (in the indoor part of the market). I picked up some very tasty smoked whitefish from Akiwenzie's stand.

                          Most of the farmer's markets in the region take place on Saturdays - although there is one in Keady on Tuesdays. On the peninsula itself, there is a farmer's market at Lion's Head on Saturdays, but I just missed it. If you can, pick up a copy of the Grey Bruce Agriculture/Culinary Map, an online version of which can be found here: http://www.foodlinkgreybruce.com/ . It lists markets, farm outlets, grocery stores and restaurants that have some kind of connection with local foods.

                          Oh, and if you get a chance stop in at Harvest Moon Organic Bakery, on Hwy #6 in Lion's Head, just north of Lindsay Road 5. Delicious pasties (I had one with potato, onions, white cheddar and fresh herbs - excellent pastry) and the pies looked great, although I didn't try any.

                          Please report back if you have better luck than I did on the restaurant front. Slim pickings up there!

                          1. re: dxs

                            I get to Owen Sound rarely, but intend to visit Rocky Racoon Cafe next time - I hear a lot about it locally and there has been reference to it on this board.. Did you get to try it dxs?

                            1. re: DockPotato

                              Nope, it was on my list of options but I both times I passed through Owen Sound I was having a rare moment of not being hungry :)

                              If you do make it there, let us know how it is - it bills itself as 'global food, locally sourced' in the directory I mention above, it would be interesting to know how accurate that claim is.

                              1. re: DockPotato

                                Rocky Racoon is awesome. I'm there rarely, but a good friend eats there once or twice a week if he can (lucky guy can go there for lunch)

                                He's really passionate about the food, and has mash-ups of different styles.

                          2. re: dxs

                            I had the broiled whitefish tonight (june 27, 2009) at Grandview, it was on the today's special, I already forgot what kind of sauce they said it was. my friend rmmbrs it was hollandaise, it was watery and not like holandaise. The fish didn't taste like it was broiled . It tasted like the fish was baked. The whitefish was fresh. The whole dish was bland, dissappointing. Boiled potatoes, boiled carrots, steamed broccoli and some spinach that was tossed on the side to fill up the plate.

                            I would not recommend spending $25....for the broiled whitefish dish.

                            I would have liked grilled fish. Especially for someone who lives in the city with no backyard, would like grilled anything from a barbecue.

                            Thumbs down.

                            I'm not sure what they meant by fine dining. Nothing was inventive. What's with those jar cups to drink water. Fine dining, gimme a water goblet! I think they can't decide if it's country or fine dining. But hey...I guess this is fine dining for tobermory. I forget this isn't the city.

                            My best meal was my breakfast this morning at Congee Queen and my home made orange blossom baklava! And so much cheaper!

                            I have photos of my dish ..... I"ll upload it later.

                            1. re: Chocaholic

                              Yeah, I decided against Grandview in the end - good to hear I made the correct decision! The $25 whitefish was like a warning bell.

                            2. re: dxs

                              I had white fish at Lighthouse in Tobermory (the one called Fresh White Fish in the menu).


                              I can not say it was special, but it was fresh and the taste was OK.

                              Lion's Head Inn has an amazing seafood chowder.


                              1. re: blue bike

                                I had lunch at Craiggy's. It was 10:40am when I got there. I didn't want to eat breakfast. So, I had some coffee and fantastic blueberry pie! Dessert first... not bad ... YummmmMmmmmm... then waited for my whitefish lunch, that was really good too! Skip Grandview and probably just try Craiggy's and the lighthouse (which I didn't get to try) instead!

                                1. re: blue bike

                                  Interesting, I've eaten at Lion's Head Inn several times and I haven't found anything to be amazing! Reasonable pub food and I do appreciate the Neustadt on tap, but I wish they'd make more effort on the local/seasonal front. At least the dinner menu has white fish. Can you describe the chowder?

                              2. Additional recommendation:

                                MAPLE RIDGE FAMILY CAMPGROUND & RESTAURANT, Miller Lake, Ontario.
                                519-795-7575. Right on Rt. 6, northbound side, about 20 minutes drive south of Tobermory. A delightful couple named Shirley and Larry Adams run the whole operation. They have run the joint for 20 plus years and mentioned something about retirement plans... So not sure they will be there very long. Anyway, their food is relatively basic, but very good for what and where it is. And reasonably priced. Our favorites were their "broasted" chicken dinner -- something like $12 gets you 3 pieces of chicken, potatoes, corn, ice-cream or rice pudding and a homemade soup. We had the good fortune of catching them at the end of their shift and talking to them as they were winding down their day. Their warm and friendly personalities were the highlight of our visit to the Bruce Peninsula. They do have a liquor license -- you can get a frosted glass and bottle of beer for under $4. A glass of wine for about the same. Other family specialties: cole slaw, spinach and bean soup, liver and onions, chicken kebabs. All very good, stick to the ribs, comfort food. They do close down for a good portion of the winter. Call before you go to check their hours (phone provided above).

                                1. Headed up to Tobermory for a few days this week-end, so bumping up this thread. Anything new to check out? Or has anything gone seriously downhill and ought to be avoided? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: FrenchSoda

                                    The mexican place closes early (7 or 8pm) on Saturday nights. I heard the Indonesian place is gone now :(

                                  2. On a recent trip to Tobermory, we ate at Crows Nest Pub for lunch. Shared a white fish chowder and fish and chips (whitefish). The whitefish chowder was really good! Lots of fish and vegetables! The fish and chips were tasty pub food.

                                    The Fish and Chip Place where we had the fish tacos (detailed in another post in this thread). We ate at Bootleggers Cove Pub a few times due to location and it was also good and sometimes really good pub food with a beautiful view of big tub harbour.

                                    Little Tub Bakery for breakfast pizza, breakfast pattie and butter tarts. Really enjoyed the breakfast pizza which had pizza sauce in the crust. Didn't enjoy the breakfast pattie. butter tarts were really good, although way too runny. Filling dripped out.

                                    Craigie's Harbour View for breakfast which was great except the home fries could have been more cooked. Maybe ask for well done.