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stratford festival 2010

Bijou has been my favourite place to eat in Stratford over the last few seasons, so it will probably be the first restaurant I visit in Stratford. I'm also hoping to visit Down the Street, Rene's Bistro, Rundles & Woolfy's (closer to St. Mary's, but a short drive away) this year.

Which restaurants are you planning to visit?

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Rene's Bistro
20 Wellington St, Stratford, ON N5A2L2, CA

Bijou
105 Erie St, Stratford, ON N5A2M5, CA

Rundles Restaurant
9 Cobourg St, Stratford, ON N5A3E4, CA

Down the Street Bar & Restaurant
30 Ontario St, Stratford, ON N5A3G8, CA

Woolfy's Restaurant At Wildwood
Hwy 7, St Marys, ON N4X1C5, CA

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  1. In case any CHs are heading to Stratford this month or next, here is a link to a prix fixe lunch and dinner specials that will be taking place at various Stratford and St. Mary's restaurants throughout May and June: http://www.welcometostratford.com/dine/

    1. My first meal during the 2010 season was a quick lunch at Down the Street.
      My burger was made of locally sourced beef, topped with Monforte goat cheddar, served with decent frites for $16 ($14 burger/fries+ $2 for the cheese). Friendly server, and generous portions.

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      Down the Street Bar & Restaurant
      30 Ontario St, Stratford, ON N5A3G8, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: phoenikia

        My 2nd meal of the 2010 season was a 3 course dinner at Rundles' Sophisto Bistro. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7136...

        My 3rd meal this season was a lunch at Woolfy's in St. Mary's. Nice atmosphere. I had the arancini, followed by a chicken and mushroom crepes, which were not traditional crepes, since the crepes were prepared ahead of time, then baked in a casserole dish, rather than being prepared a la minute. Regardless, it was still quite tasty, although somewhat heavy due to lots of melted cheese. For dessert, we enjoyed the house-made almond brittle ice cream. I liked the house-brewed unsweetened iced tea that was served with a sprig of fresh mint. Service was friendly and efficient.

      2. We're going to Stratford next week to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We're looking forward to seeing The Tempest. Our pre-dinner lunch will be a specialty sandwich at the York Street Kitchen. In the evening we will be visiting an old favourtive that we've not been to in a couple of years.... The Old Prune. Will report back upon our return.

        We really enjoy most of the restaurants you've mentioned, save one - Rundles. We have never had a worse dining experience in Stratford. Granted, this was abou 15 years ago. We found the menu incredibly dull and boring and the service matched the menu. Actually, worse... it was pretetencious and inattentive. Usually we'll give a place a second time to redeem itself but Rundles was bad we had no desire to go back.

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        Old Prune
        151 Albert St, Stratford, ON N5A3K5, CA

        York Street Kitchen
        41 York St, Stratford, ON N5A1A1, CA

        7 Replies
        1. re: cynalan

          Hope you have a great anniversary weekend! I still haven't tried the sandwiches at York Street Kitchen. Will have to try a sandwich on my next visit. Which sandwiches do you like the best?

          I hope you enjoy your meal at the Old Prune when you visit. I wasn't impressed with my dinner at the Old Prune a few years ago, and I haven't returned since then.

          I'll be interested to read your report. Maybe it will convince me to give the Old Prune another chance.

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          Old Prune
          151 Albert St, Stratford, ON N5A3K5, CA

          York Street Kitchen
          41 York St, Stratford, ON N5A1A1, CA

          1. re: phoenikia

            The YSK is well worth the stop. Everything I've tried has been good. Just order whatever you like best. Try the buttertart (made with puff and very little filling -- unlike most BTs) and the brownie (dry and not too sweet).

            1. re: Atahualpa

              Thanks for the comments & recs, Atahualpa!

              1. re: phoenikia

                You're welcome. I'd kill for a sandwich as consistently good as the YSK's. I don't know why places like the Sandwich Box in Toronto can't seem to get it as good.

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                Sandwich Box
                238 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z7, CA

            2. re: phoenikia

              Thank you for the kind wishes.

              First as Uncle said... Go see the Tempest. Christopher Plummer commands the stage. This is the best Shakespearean production I've seen in more than 30 years of travelling to Stratford.

              Now, on to the review of the Old Prune. Sadly, this restaurant did not live up to past glory. The proprietors of our B and B mentioned that the owners are considering retirement. The lack of interest shows. The restaurant is tired looking and staff were quite junior and not as attentive as restaurant of this ilk should command. Requests had to be made to replenish bread and water, even though the junior waiter was attending her station no more than six feet from us.

              The menu was a 2 or 3 course prix fixe at $51.50 or $66.00 respectively. There were about 6 app choices, 7 mains, and 5 desserts available. Here's a run-down of our meal.

              Amuse-bouche - some type of unidentifiable herbed foam on a crostini. Waitress simply left them at our table without a description of what it was. It was actually quite good, though still not sure what it was.

              Appetizers - My wife had the smoke rainbow trout (very good) and I, the pork cheek terrine (tiny and flavourless). The latter was similar to a head cheese, i.e. pork/jelly terrine. It was accompanied by a yogurt based sauce (bland) and a few leaves of watercress (extremely salty - very strange). The terrine was at most 1 ounce - very small portion.

              Mains - My wife ordered the poached lake huron whitefish. It was a poached filet with very little flavour. The asparagus tempura was nicely done, however with the tempura quite crispy and the aspargus served al dente. As for the the tobiko oil, if it was on the plate, it must have been in a small quantity as its flavour could not be detected. For my main, I ordered the roasted beef striploin. This had to be one of the most disappointing dishes that I've had in a fine restaurant. The strip loin (all 2.5 ounces of it and I may be generous in my guesstimation) was served rare as requested but was extremely tough. A few pieces of boiled fennel were added. The jus was bland and not identifiable.

              Desserts - Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble was 90% dough with very little fruit though the ginger ice cream was good. My wife ordered the vanilla mousse. Nice texture but no detectable vanilla flavour.

              Conclusion - It really pains me to write this review. The Old Prune was the site of 2 of the best meals I've had in Stratford, albeit many years ago. Interestingly, I read a mini-review in a Toronto paper yesterday that still sings the praises of the restaurant. I could not disagree more. Food was bland, portions were tiny. In fact, I left the restaurant hungry and had to grab something at Bentley's later on to stave off the hunger. The restaurant is a faded shell of what it once was. Sadly, I shall not be returning. There are simply many better options in Stratford.

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              Old Prune
              151 Albert St, Stratford, ON N5A3K5, CA

              1. re: cynalan

                Sorry to hear about your experience at the Old Prune. I think I remember reading that the business was for sale a few months ago.

                Interestingly, our server at Woolfy's mentioned Chistopher Plummer often dines at Woolfy's. Mind you, I'm sure he dines at several of the better restaurants in the Stratford/St. Mary's area while he's performing at the Festival.

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                Old Prune
                151 Albert St, Stratford, ON N5A3K5, CA

                1. re: phoenikia

                  We were told by our B&B hosts that he also frequently dines at Rundles Sophisto Bistro. If anyone's tried it recently, I would love to hear opinions. We're back in Stratford later this month and looking to try something new.

                  By the way, we walked past Avoca and saw that it was closed for the season. I'm not surprised as they were charging rather high prices for a setting that looked more like a beer hall than fine dining, with food too match.

                  I know I must sound picky, however we have had some great dining experiences... Pazzo upstairs, Bijou, Keystone Alley, and more....

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                  Pazzo
                  70 Ontario St, Stratford, ON N5A, CA

                  Avoca Restaurant & Bar
                  23 Albert St, Stratford, ON N5A3K2, CA

                  Keystone Alley Cafe
                  34 Brunswick St, Stratford, ON N5A3L8, CA

          2. I like to check in at The Erie, olde tyme seasonal burger shack out on Erie Street a couple of kilometres south and west of the downtown. Great spot for pogos, fries, deep fried pickles - you know the kind of stuff. No indoor seating; you sit on the picnic benches outside.

            Good spot for a quick lunch before a matinee or after one to fuel up for the drive home if you are not staying in town for an evening show. If you are doing two shows in the same day, well . . . a nice dinner between shows at one of the downtown spots mentioned here is probably a better idea.

            Saw The Tempest opening night. Chris Plummer is on top of his game.

            1. Enjoyed a brief visit to this beautiful city. The theater experience at the Festival was wonderful! CH recommendations are always right on target. Although we didn't dine there, Rene's and Bijou appear to have the most creative cuisine, in spite of their tiny size. We enjoyed the thin crust pizza at Pazzo and had a good basic pasta at Fellini's. Got a sandwich to go, prior to the theater, at York Street Kitchen and waited 25 minutes for it! Good food - but too much of a wait. All is all, it was a fun visit and the Caversham House B&B was the right place to stay!

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              York Street Kitchen
              41 York St, Stratford, ON N5A1A1, CA

              Pazzo
              70 Ontario St, Stratford, ON N5A, CA

              1. Last weekend was the Culinary Festival in Stratford, and most of the upscale restaurants were sold out for their early seatings. Happy to see the restaurants were busier this season.

                I tried getting a reservation at Bijou, Rene's and Keystone Alley, but they were full. I was lucky to find a table at Woolfy's near St. Mary's. It looks like we may have reserved the last table, because it was a full house when we arrived. My friends enjoyed the duck breast with port sauce. My halibut with tarragon was delicately flavoured. While it was cooked perfectly, I would order something else on a future visit. Good service as always.

                Hopefully I'll get a chance to try Rene's or Keystone Alley on another occasion.

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                Keystone Alley Cafe
                34 Brunswick St, Stratford, ON N5A3L8, CA