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Jul 6, 2011 02:03 PM

Trip report: Prince Edward County (very long)

Thanks very much to the hounds on this thread for all their recommendations:

Headed to the County on Monday -- arrived in time for lunch at Lake on the Mountain resort. Got a seat on the patio. I'm not sure why the patio is placed so close to the road, when there is a gorgeous spot next to the lake itself another 20 feet over. A huge wasted opportunity. Regardless, the weather was beautiful and it was perfectly shady and breezy, so the patio was the place to be. DH and I split the BBQ pulled pork sandwich and the quiche Lorraine. They smoke their own pork in house, and while it wasn't the smokiest pulled pork I've ever had, it was moist and we got some bark in and amongst the meat. The bun was appropriately soft and squishy. Very tasty sandwich. The quiche had massive chunks of triple smoked bacon, the custard was light and creamy and the pastry was reasonably flaky and delicate. Again, a very tasty dish. We upgraded to the strawberry social salad as a side for both of our dishes -- greens, red onions and local strawberries in a poppyseed dressing. The strawberries were delicious, but the dressing was too sweet. The salad needed something salty (like some crumbled feta) to offset the sweetness. I had a glass of their house white, which was from a Pelee Island winery -- it was crisp and dry and perfect for the day. Despite the overly sweet salad, lunch was really nice and a perfect way to kick off the trip. $32 before tip for 2 entrees, 1 glass of wine and a half pint of beer.

Headed to Huff Estates Winery and Inn, where we were staying. Note to County trippers -- the inn at Huff Estates is great, especially if you are looking to avoid "country quaint" (we had a premiere suite overlooking one of their vineyards -- midweek pricing is very reasonable, and a hot breakfast is included, as is a winery tour and tasting). It's also conveniently located halfway between Picton and Wellington.

We stopped at Schoedter's Market right before we got to our hotel. Big thanks to k8supergrover for recommending this gem of a place. First of all, they've got the best cinnamon-sugar dusted cake donuts I've ever had. They make them fresh everyday and they were so good that we went back all 3 days we were there to grab a couple. They also have a small cafe with homemade soups (served with their homemade brown bread) and sandwiches. We had a light lunch there on Tuesday -- soup, bread, freshly made buttertart and a delicious strawberry shortcake (real shortcake! local strawberries!). On our way out, we picked up several dozen donuts to freeze and a loaf of their dark rye, which we sampled at home -- wonderful. They have lots of pickles, gluten-free baked goods and freezers full of local meats and other goodies.

Schroedter's Market (Cafe and Bakery) - corner of HWY 62 and Country Road 1

Dinner on Monday was at East and Main in Wellington. It was the only fine dining option that was open on Mondays, and thank goodness it was, because dinner was really fabulous. I started with a beautiful sparkling rose from Hinterland winery. We skipped apps and went right to mains -- a pork wellington and their local, grass-fed 12 oz. ribeye (not exciting, but fit the bill at that particular moment). The ribeye was cooked perfectly and served with a delicious carmelized shallot and wild mushroom reduction. Excellent fries, too. The pork wellington took about 40 minutes to prepare and it was well worth the wait. The pork was tender, juicy and soooo flavourful with some sort of herb paste rubbed on before they wrapped it in the pasty. The pastry was flaky and buttery. It was served with a green peppercorn demi-glace and some perfectly cooked veggies, including some delicious fresh peas. The red blend from Rosehill Run went nicely with the pork. We were too full for dessert (though I was sorely tempted by the honey panna cotta), but another glass of the Hinterland rose was my dessert. :) $95 before tip for 2 mains and 3 glasses of wine.

Tuesday breakfast was at the Lighthouse Restaurant at the Picton Harbour Inn -- a classic old-school family restaurant just past the bustling main street. DH's peameal, eggs and toast were cooked perfectly and the homefries were some of the tastier ones I've had, as they are sauteed with onions and mushrooms. I had wild blueberry pancakes, which were chock full of blueberries, but sadly the pancakes were gummy and they were served with "pancake syrup" rather than real maple syrup. I found out afterward that I could have asked for maple syrup for an upcharge. Our waitress kindly took my uneaten pancakes off the bill. My side order of farmer's sausage was tasty, especially since they offered to butterfly them when I asked for them well done. Crispy, fatty goodness. I'd go back, but would skip the pancakes. $15 before tip, after the removal of my pancakes.

We had limited options for Tuesday's dinner, as most restaurants are closed. We honestly would have gone back to East and Main to try more of the menu, but it was closed. We decided to go casual and went to the Barley Room Pub at the Waring House. DH had a very good club sandwich (real turkey) and a mediocre minestrone soup. I had their "special" shepherd's pie, which is the meat and veg wrapped in puff pastry, served with mashed potatoes and veggie of the day on the side. The shepherd's pie part was just ok -- the gravy (served separately) was thick and congealed, but the mashed potatoes were awful and the veggies were bland and dry. I got a slice of coconut cream pie to go, and that was probably the best part of the meal. Bottom line -- this place is a pass. It was half the cost of East and Main and waaay less than half the value. $52 before tip for 2 entrees, dessert, 1 cocktail and 1 glass of wine.

Wednesday breakfast was at the hotel -- a perfectly reasonable hotel breakfast in a nice setting. But "dessert" was more donuts from Schroedter's.

Wineries we intended to visit were:

- Closson Chase
- Norman Hardie
- Rosehill Run
- Keint He

Tastings at Closson Chase are pricey at $12 for 3 2-ounce pours (very generous 2 ounces, I might add). They let you take your glasses out to their lovely patio garden to sip if you wish.

Ended up stopping in at Hinterland to pick up a couple of bottles of that very nice sparkling rose, which it turns out is all they have available at the moment. Made with methode champenoise, it's a decent value relative to true champagnes and relative to other wines in the County.

Norman Hardie: closed on Tuesday. :(

Rosehill Run: closed on Tuesday :(

Keint He: no idea, as we were so disheartened that we gave up and went back to Huff Estates to do a tour and tasting there. Learned some interesting facts about the viniculture practices in the County vs. the Niagara region.

Stops at Fifth Town Cheese and Black River Cheese (had to get fresh curds!) rounded out our eating tour.

I should note that the service was uniformly friendly, and in a really genuine, relaxed way. I would be happy to get that kind of service in Toronto regularly.

All in all, it was a great trip with beautiful weather. It was a nice change for us from the Niagara region. It's always surprising how darn BIG the County is. Can't see it all in just a couple of days, which makes it nice to go back to and explore other areas in future trips.

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  1. So glad you enjoyed the county! I've heard a rumour that those donuts sell for a pretty penny somewhere in Toronto after being shipped out frozen but there's nothing like getting them fresh!

    8 Replies
    1. re: k8supergrover

      No rumour -- Grinder Coffee (east end on Gerrard) buys the donuts 70 dozen at a time!

      1. re: TorontoJo

        Oh dear god. Now I know where to buy them. AND they're conveniently close... *pokes wasitline* Those donuts were goooood.

        1. re: jlunar

          Yeah, they are kind of perfect in my book. I just had two for lunch. And they really do freeze well. I'm worried how quickly I'm going to go through my stash.

          Let us know how much Grinder is selling them for if you go. They sell for $.60 a donut at the market.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            $1.50 at Grinder! Apparently, they get flash-frozen.

            1. re: jlunar

              Holy cow, that's pricey! I suppose it takes into account the fact that he drives 2.5 hours to pick them up, but still... And yes, they are frozen right after being made. In fact, the 3 dozen I brought home with me were actually from Grinder's stash, because they hadn't gotten to making the donuts yet the morning we left the county. The wife of the husband/wife team that own Schroedter's is really lovely woman. We chatted with her quite a bit on our 3 visits to her store. During our first visit, I was eating my very first donut while standing in line to pay -- when she found out that was my first time trying their donuts, she told the cashier not to charge me for it. Whee!

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Yeah, $1.50 is pretty atrocious, but I'm okay with that if I really want a donut. I may give the edge to Little Nicky's though! 'cause of the machine. gimmick, but I think it's cute.

                1. re: jlunar

                  Really? Is a $1.50 atrocious for a good quality baked good? Maybe I've lost touch but it doesn't strike me as out of the ordinary. However, as a reference point I haven't bought a donuts from a Tim's or the likes in about 10 years so maybe shopping at independent bakeries have clouded my judgment.

                  1. re: JennaBean

                    You're right, atrocious is a bit far (goodness knows how much more I've spent on worse!). But I think it's a lot for a smaller donut that I likely would not have bought unless I had tried it before (which I had). I don't think I'd have ever gambled on it if it were an unknown quantity!

                    This could be also because donuts are not my first choice in baked good. Croissant vs donut and the croissant would win (and I'd pay twice as much to boot).

    2. I second the vote to stay at Huff Estates winery if you like clean, modern accommodations. Newsroom Suites in Wellington is also in the same category and right across the street from East and Main if you need to stumble home after too much good wine.

      Now that Harvest has closed down, what's the "big" go-to restaurant in the County? We enjoyed Blumen Bistro even more than East and Main last summer.

      Thanks for the heads up that wineries are closed on Tuesdays. I had been planning a weekday visit but will push it to a Wednesday-Thursday.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Food Tourist

        I'm looking for one great Saturday lunch near Fifth Town and The Country Cider Company in August. Has anyone eaten at Wapoos Winery or the County Cider? or is there anything in the "east of Picton" area of the county worth a lunch visit?

        We ate at Lake on the Mountain brewery last summer:

        Okay here is what I've researched for this summer's visit:

        ALL wineries are open daily in the summer season (not just July & August) including the County Cider company (make Waupoos cider, etc.


        Only Keint-he is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays (open by appointment only)

        Angeline's Inn is where Michael Potters is cooking these days.
        Open Wed thru Sundays for supper.

        There's a farmers market at Sandbanks winery on Aug. 3

        There's a play during the month of August at Rosehall Run winery:

        Fifth Town does wine and cheese pairings (5 cheeses and 4-5 beverages) for $12 at 1:00 and 3:00 every Saturday in the summer.

        1. re: Food Tourist

          I haven't eaten at County Cider, but the setting is really lovely. I stopped in at Waupoos and the restaurant is really beautiful -- sort of a large gazebo-style building, overlooking the water. I think either is probably a good bet.

          Interesting about the wineries saying that they are open daily, because I can promise you that there were very prominent "CLOSED" signs at Norman Hardie and Rosehill Run. And this was around noon, so it wasn't because we were early. I am very glad we didn't make the drive to Keint-He to be disappointed again!

          I look forward to trying Blumen Bistro on our next trip -- I was sad to have missed it this time around.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            I know how you feel....I've gone well out of my way to eat/drink somewhere before and been faced with a closed sign. Winery owners, listen up: if you have a family emergency or a life-and-death situation, please post that on your closed sign so that we actually want to return and support your business online! Being "closed" with no explanation in High Season is unacceptable.

      2. Has anyone eaten at The Duke of Marysburgh
        in Wapoos? Is it scenic from the screened-in patio? They say they serve local seasonal cuisine.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Food Tourist

          County Cider is amazing. Great view. Amazing food. Sent a co-worker there the other week and he raved.
          The east end the county is my area and it's a bit empty as far as places to sit down and eat, sadly. I have been to the Duke...didn't find it as scenic as County's a bit of an overlooked cousin of county eateries, to be honest, but it is pretty low key as far as service. It has been a few years since I've been there.
          I have heard sub par things about Wapoos Winery as far as food goes but have not been there myself to verify.

          1. re: k8supergrover

            Thanks -- this is exactly what I needed to hear. County Cider it is!

            1. re: Food Tourist

              They only offer outdoor seating, just fyi. I have heard that the pizza especially good but I've never had anything sub par there. Nothing too complicated just yummy. and the cider is delish.

        2. Has anyone eaten at Clara's at Claramount lately? Is it as good as Where to Eat in Canada says?

          They could certainly improve their online marketing and add a menu and more appealing photos.

          Does anyone like any of the beers at Barley Days Brewery near Waring House? Wondering if it's worth a tasting stop -- are there any other breweries other than Lake on the Mountain in PEC?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Food Tourist

            Big scandal with Barley Days last year, they had brought in a brew master from Germany but he left (or was asked to leave??) when the brews he was producing didn't sell as well (sources unverified, just the local gossip mill). The beer is ok, nothing earth shattering, I like the Pale Ale...all of the beers are very "full flavoured" if that is your thing!

            No word on Claramount from my sources

          2. How about Bloomfield Carriage House? It seems like fine dining, is open most nights, and got 3 stars from Toronto Life:

            Would you choose one fine meal at Bloomfield Carriage House, Angeline's, or Clara's? How do these compare to Blumen Bistro and East & Main?

            On the casual side, I enjoyed Slickers ice cream in Bloomfield last summer...a nice stop with a bit of a line-up.

            Carriage House
            260 Bloomfield Main, Bloomfield, ON K0K1G0, CA