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Jan 10, 2009 09:25 AM

Guelph Eats

Hello All;

I'll be in Guelph all next week on business and was wondering if you could provide me with some recommendations besides Moxies and Turtle Jack's...

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Artisanale is a fabulous restaurant on Quebec St. The owner/chef is very passionate about serving fresh food that is often local and organically grown/raised. The menu focuses on French bistro favourites, prepared with a great deal of care.


    21 Replies
    1. re: Tatai

      I wasn't to impressed with Artisanale. I found the food portions small. The steak frites lacked any presentation and the steak was thin and had no flavor. Guelph does have some nice Bistros

      Bistro dining

      Bin 23. www.bin23.ca I have always had great dinners there.

      Babelfish Bistro. 80 Macdonell Street

      Atmosphere Cafe ( amazing thin crust pizza) www.atmospherecafe.ca

      For fine dining

      The Other Brothers www.otherbrothers.ca been going here for about 10 years menu hasn't changed much the food and service is top notch.

      La Cucina, one of the best Italian restaurants in the area. It's closed till feb 3 www.cucinaguelph.ca

      If you want curry. Diana Downtown has the best curry in the city as well as some non curry dishes. http://www.dianadowntown.ca/welcome.cfm

      Also good. http://www.cardenstreetcafe.ca/
      I would avoid eating at most of pubs downtown . The best pub grub in the city is the Woolwich Arrow. Lots of micro beers on tap http://www.woolwicharrow.ca/

      West end of guelph has a new place borealis bar and grill. Pretty decent food at good prices. a lot of their products come from Ontario farmers. www.borealisgrille.ca/

      1. re: Jab05

        Glad to hear that The Wooly (an old fav haunt), Diana, and Carden are still going strong...

        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

          agreed. I'm kind of craving Carden Street right now. Latino's seems to have gone downhill, which is a shame, I used to LOVE them.

      2. re: Tatai

        Artisanale=banal.Too much self-righteousness/atititude coupled with mediocre food.Steak Frites for me, like Jab05, was leaden and tasteless but then Rowe Meats never wowed me. The concept is tired, too. They'll tank in the current downdraft.

        1. re: Kagemusha

          Strange, I was there for lunch a few weeks ago and the food was delightful. I can't remember the exact details of what we ate, but there was a lovely soup, a really good green salad, and a braised chicken dish that was both delicate and full-flavoured at the same time and very rustic in nature. I think a couple of these were daily specials.

          Just curious: which concept do you consider tired?

          1. re: Tatai

            "Local" food at jacked prices that presents no discernable quality edge.

            1. re: Kagemusha

              agreed Kage --
              I'm through town often and consider the Albion a staple - very decent much better than pub food. As well Bin 23 is excellent, not that expensive either if you want to compare to what you'd pay in the city. Heard good things about Borealis but haven't been. The roti spot is good on cork st. Diana is OKAY food super overpriced for the portions and not even touching TO indian. I'd say the 'bin is the winner - they've dropped a ton of dough into this place and its a really nice place to hang out in.

              1. re: dannyboy

                The Albion is rock-steady: good food, nice draft, pleasant pub vibe.Guelph has always suffered from trailing edge resto hacks who think they're doing the locals a favor. Recessions usually do 'em quick. Will try Bin 23.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  Wow, those are pretty strong sentiments. Has the owner given you reason to believe that he's doing the locals a favour?

                  Personally, I always thought that the point of sourcing local food is the fact that it is local as opposed to something grown across the continent on an agro-industrial complex. Yes, there is often little difference in the quality of local versus imported product other than the mileage on it, but again, isn't that the point?

                  It's funny, I've eaten at Artisanale before and agree with Tatai: the food was lovely. If you consider bistro food banal, you should ask yourself why that genre of food continues to thrive centuries later. I'll take it over pub grub anytime.

                  1. re: sloweater

                    Let's see if they're still afloat in June, OK? Yup, I've been twice and found the service fumbling and/or condescending by turns. Believe me, the register at the Albion will still be ringing when the paper's peeling off the windows at Artisanale. Nice try but so-so food+and less-than-winning attitude are the verdict from me and more tolerant friends and family who've seen 'em come and go in Guelph over 20+ years.

                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      Britney Spears sells more albums than Leonard Cohen, but it doesn't make her better.

                      To each their own; I'm just a little surprised by the vitriolic response. It seems a little over the top when, by your own admission, their worst crime in your opinion is mediocre food.

                      1. re: sloweater

                        I agree, sloweater. I sense a certain bitterness in Kagemusha's tone and words that goes beyond his/her perceptions of the flavour and quality of the food at Artisanale.

                        It almost sounds as if Kagemusha would like to see the owner run out of town. Which would be a shame: I met him when I was in the restaurant and have rarely come across someone so passionate and committed to what he does and the quality with which he does it.

                      2. re: Kagemusha

                        June? i don't think they will last that long. The only reason i went to Artisanale was back in November all the other restaurants downtown were fully booked up on a Friday night. We arrived there was only a few tables there, Don't get me wrong its a beautiful restautant, but there is no need to have tables that close together when there is plenty of room, our table for two felt like a table for six. The hostess kept seating couples right next to us when the entire restaurant was empty, people kept asking to sit some where else i don't blame them!

                  2. re: Kagemusha

                    Kagemusha, do you have the same negative view of the newly opened Borealis Bar & Grille, which aims to source 95% of its food from local growers/producers? A quick look at their menu www.borealisgrille.ca/borealis-home reflects prices similar to those at Artisanale. Or are you more tolerant of Borealis because it's locally owned by the Arrow Group/Woolwich Pub and not by an "outsider"?

                    1. re: Tatai

                      I don't like the place. Get over it! Haven't eaten at Borealis and don't care who owns what or where their spuds come from, OK? Artisanale simply struck me and mine(most of them far more tolerant)as longer on attitude than aptitude when it came to food. I'm tiring quickly of the "save the world with local pork chops" schtick that often--but certainly not always--fogs an otherwise pedestrian kitchen. Frankly, I saw the same front of the house ineptitude Jab05 described on my visits, as have friends and family, that made the evening uncomfortable. Who needs that?

              2. re: Tatai

                My friends and I have been unimpressed by Artisanale, finding it overpriced for the small portions and pretentious. There are lots of other, wonderful restaurants in Guelph.
                I endorse all of Jab05's recommendations and would like to add Shakespeare Arms on Harvard for pub grub and atmosphere and The Fat Duck, a gastropub at 210 Kortright Rd. W. for more upscale casual food.
                For curry, I prefer Bombay Cafe on Municipal. It's small, modest, inexpensive and the food is delicious. I've heard they have wonderful lunch specials during the week but for lunch, my daughter and everyone in her office gives an enthusiastic thumbs up to Diva Classic Indian Cuisine, 336 Speedvale West. They are also open for supper.
                Greek Garden, 497 York Rd., is a favourite of mine and my (adult) kids. Prices are very reasonable, food excellent Greek fare.
                With the Grain, 294 Woolwich St., has wonderful breads, soups, sandwiches and an excellent vegetarian chili that even my carnivorous sons like. Excellent coffee and baked goods, too.
                Bistro Six, 35 Harvard Rd is a hidden gem. Phone: 837-5754 for reservations. The quality of food would cost much more elsewhere.
                For vegetarian and vegan, a favourite is The Cornerstone, which is right downtown,
                1 Wyndham St. N.
                One last endorsement: I know people who make a point of going back to Friends in Our Kitchen, 35 Macdonell Street, whenever they are in Guelph.

                1. re: lady_traveler

                  a few places on your list i need to try! I love the fat duck too the burger there is amazing. i heard Bistro Six has new owners and new menu.

                  And i hate to see Artisanale fail! i love the atmosphere and concept of the place. But the chef/ owner needs to wake up look how busy the other bistros are downtown his place is almost always dead when i walk by at dinner hours. Revamp the menu and hire a new chef, or that place will be closed in no time.

                  1. re: Jab05

                    I'd hate to see Artisanale fail, too. Something was lost when it changed hands a few years ago and was no longer part of The Bookshelf: the food and service have suffered.

                  2. re: lady_traveler

                    Oh my. Bombay Cafe 'special lunch'. Sooooooo good. Making me feel like hoping in the car and heading to Guelph.

                    And Greek Garden, sooooo good. I've yet to find a place that rivals it in Toronto.

                    Sometimes I really miss Guelph...

                    Oh, and Bistro Six is no longer Alvin and Glenna, I've been told it isn't really as good any more, but haven't experienced it myself.

                    1. re: mainja

                      So, a group of us ate dinner at Café Greek Garden tonight. I really wanted to like this place: Its location is a convenient halfway point for family in Toronto and west of Kitchener.

                      We ordered the appetizer with three dips, taramosalata, hummus, and tzatziki, It was fine, but nothing special; the most disappointing of the three, the taramosalata, tasted more of potato than anything else, alas. Onto the mains, which were brought to the table at various times, so that some had almost finished their meals by the time others' arrived; why the Caesar salad was last to arrive, I have no idea... The first disappointment with the mains, and a significant one for me, was the fact that the vegetables were from frozen. Unacceptable, and it makes me question the restaurant's overall commitment to quality ingredients. Hubbie and I ordered the platter for two: moussaka, which was better than some of my Toronto experiences with same, pork & chicken souvlaki (the latter of which contained at least one piece that wasn't properly cooked through), lamb chops, lemon potatoes, some boring rice, and the aforementioned disgusting frozen veg. One of our party stopped eating and expressed that his chicken wasn't cooked properly, Actually, the inside was raw!!! Don't remember what the dish was called, but it was a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto. I am not talking about a little bit pink, here, but the entire inside of the breast, more than half of it, was completely raw. The waitress took the plate back and said there would be no charge for the dish and a new one would be prepared. Some time later, she produced the replacement and apologized again. My dining companion asked if there had been a problem/new chef or something that resulted in his chicken being undercooked, and the waitress offered up that the chef had been working since Tuesday without a day off, but she did say that wasn't an excuse, Why offer that up, then? By that time, I had the piece of undercooked chicken from my souvlaki ready to show her--I had discovered it in the interim--and I mentioned that they might want to just look at how the chicken was being cooked because some of mine was undercooked, as well. I acknowledged it was nothing like my dc's, however. She didn't even look at it, respond, or acknowledge it as any type of problem, which stunned me. Of course, it paled in comparison to the other situation, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.

                      Granted, Toronto has its share of bad Greek restaurants, but Café Greek Garden is not good food, Greek or otherwise.

                2. If this is a repeat then i apologize as my prior post did not seem to take - I would suggest Woks Taste - they have amazing chinese food. On many occasions I crave the beef lo mien noodle soup and need to plan a return visit to enjoy a bow.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: juliewong

                    Agreed. Woks is old school but actually tasty and satisfying. Friends kvetch it's not "authentic" but, damn, it's good!

                  2. For lunch, I've always been a fan of The Cornerstone. A small, cozy place with tasty food. While it's a haven for vegan and vegetarians, give it a try even if you are not one. It's a wonderful spot for good eats.

                    1 Wyndham Street North, Guelph, ON N1H 4E2
                    (519) 827-0145

                    1. 6 of us went to Envers a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say, despite the amateurish service, everything, particularly the food, was excellent. I'll definitely be back! It's a gem of a restaurant, for sure!