Archives: cafe

moulin rouge

Since Jeff Feswick of Historia Restoration bought Treble Hall a few years ago (see my post on Treble Hall here) I have been waiting in great anticipation to see how this grand old beauty would be restored and who/what would occupy the street-level retail space once all shiny and refurbished.

On a regular basis I purposely detour my walks home to see the on-going progress of Treble Hall.

April 2011

June 2012

One rainy day I noticed that a set of red curtains and crystal chandeliers had appeared in the northern two storefronts of the building.

December 2012

January 2013

Moulin Rouge -a French inspired café and high-end boutique is soon to open its doors! I really, really hope that they have macarons and deliciously good croissants!

 

*Moulin Rouge -Café & Boutique, 10-12 John St. North, 905.220.2652

 

 

sew hungry

On September 21st I headed to my very first Sew Hungry.

Up until recently I’d never had a lunch hour long enough to check out the previous Sew Hungrys.  But being on mat leave, pregnant, super hungry and no longer having to worry about lunch hours it was pretty much mandatory that I headed down to check out the new and returning food trucks on Ottawa Street.

I loved the synergy of the food trucks, local shops, farmer’s market and restaurants all collaborating together and benefiting from the crowds of people that headed down to Ottawa Street.  Seemed like an all round success for ALL those involved in the event.  I’d hear that this particular Sew Hungry drew record number crowds in the thousands! Well done Hamilton!

My main mission for this particular truck rally was to go to The Dirty South food truck, which I had recently heard makes tater tot poutine -yeah I know -unreal!!

To be honest I was a little disappointed.  I was kinda expecting some hearty gravy and big fat squeaky cheese curds instead of plain shredded cheddar cheese. Despite the short fall the tots were served in large portion and they did taste really good (in that bad kind of way).  I had some regrets that I didn’t get their fried chicken and waffles, which looked super duper delicious.  I figured since the truck is local to Hamilton I’d have plenty of opportunity to sample their menu some other time.

I’d also previously heard about Poco Loco‘s taco chili salad in a mini corn chip Frito bag.  So as the lunch hour drew near and the line ups at the food trucks started to get too long, I opted to support this local Ottawa Street restaurant and got my first taco salad in a bag.  By no means was it gourmet.  In fact it was more of a novelty item that I can now I can say I’ve tried.  There is something a little strange about eating chili, beans, sour cream, hot sauce, and onions mashed into a brown hot mess from a chip bag.

What I really should’ve tried was the lobster roll sandwich from Buster’s Sea Cove (Toronto’s only seafood truck haling from St. Lawrence Market).  I’d later heard that this was the favourite of the day for many.

This next truck -Frittersons interested me.  I was gunning it over to the truck expecting sweet donut-like deep fried fritters topped with snow speckled icing sugar, ice-cream and berry sauce but alas the truck was a savory fritter truck not a dessert truck! I was intrigued by their “Thanksgiving in a bowl” -turkey with all the fixings plus potato cheese fritters. I love stuffing and I can’t resist anything deep fried in fritter form. My sweet fritter cravings will have to be serviced elsewhere, however I’d be willing to give these savory fritters a try for the next Sew Hungry.

One of my favourite trucks at Sew Hungry was the super adorable Manual Labour mobile trailer (aka “Frankie” -the 1969 Bailey Travel Trailer) coffee shop. I’d seen and heard of the mobile café serving up their Aussie inspired coffee specialities at events like the Junction Flea Market and The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic.

Co-owner Matthew Taylor and his partner in business and life are part of a growing community of people that have shifted from Toronto to the Hamilton area to set up shop.  Matthew -formerly a barista in Toronto’s burgeoning café and coffee scene saw the possibility and opportunity to venture for a quieter life outside of Toronto and to create a business that supports other local and surrounding businesses like Detour coffee (for their roasted beans), Hewitt’s Dairy (for their milk) and locally grown herbs for their teas from Country Herbs.

It was a pleasure to run into Shannon Stone of Best of Hamilton, who was a guest barista for the day helping fellow Aussie and co-owner of Manual Labour -Katie Browne.

Manual Labour does have merch for sale.  T-shirts for $20!

Thanks Shannon for making my delicious and beautiful first time ever “flat white“!

If you want to book Manual Labour for an event you can find their contact here, or follow them on twitter @MLcoffee.

 

apple berry café with i heart hamilton

A little while ago I had the pleasure of meeting up with Kristin from I Heart Hamilton.  Both of us, being explorers of Hamilton, decided to collaborate in our meanderings and check out a few of the new places popping up on King St. East together.

So happy to see revitalizing changes going on along this strip of King Street!

Our first priority was to stop for a bite to eat.  Kristin, knowing all things Hamilton, got me caught up with the word on the street that a new Caribbean lunch spot had just opened up.

In the space where the old Barbarossa Moroccan tea house used to be now stands the brand new Apple Berry Café.  It’s a down to earth kind of place that’s got the right prices for healthy, fresh lunches and snacks on the go or to eat in house.  Kristin and I were in no hurry so we sat back in a window-seat booth ordered our lunches and chatted with owner Opal Osiol.

Opal is just about the happiest woman on King Street!  You can tell she loves what she does mostly because she does everything with a gorgeous smile. When chatting with Opal she mentioned that for years she lived in Hamilton just down the street from King but had just recently moved to Oakville. When she saw the space on King Street become available and the opportunity to open up Apple Berry she couldn’t turn it down despite now having to commute into the city. Funny how things sometimes work out, isn’t it?

You can tell that the business for Opal is really a labour of love. She’s committed to making all her dishes fresh and from scratch. While we waited for our lunches Opal squeezed up two fresh lemonades.  They were super refreshing on a hot summer day and they were priced so reasonably too -$1 each!

The menu is pretty extensive.  Ranging from breakfast, baked goods and sandwiches to full lunches with sides.  It’s kinda a secret but Opal even mentioned that although not on the menu on some days (if they have all the ingredients) her daughter, who works along side Opal, would cook up roti too (you just have to ask)!

I went for a lunch combo of pan fried fish with lemon and butter.  With the combo you can pick a side of either home baked macaroni and cheese (which looked awesome), rice pilaf or rice with beans.  I opted for rice with beans.  For a meal including a drink and taxes, everything was under $10!

While Kristin and I were there we saw a bunch of people picking up their pre-ordered lunches to go and we saw Julie Gordon from J.H. Gordon Books next door stopping by for a freshly made smoothie.  Apple Berry already seems like a great neighbourhood fixture, and even if you’re not from the neighbourhood you should stop by for a bite to eat. There are some good things going on over there on King East.  While you’re there stop in and visit Julie at her bookstore too.

Apple Berry’s does local neighbourhood delivery service for lunches on the go to anywhere in short walking distances.  Or if you’re in a hurry and have a limited lunch hour you could always order your lunch in advance and swing by to pick up too. Apple Berry’s is open from 9:30am Mon-Wed 5:30pm  (Thurs-Fri 9:30am until 7:30pm).  Friday, July 27th is there Grand Opening! Stop by for some free menu sampling and say hi to Opal.

It has been great over the past few months to be meeting up with some of the other fabulous people that are just as much in love with Hamilton as I am. Had a great time with Kristin exploring, and I feel honoured being included on one of I Heart Hamilton’s tour stops. Thanks Kristin!

Check out I Heart Hamilton’s post here.

*Apple Berry’s Café, 312 King St. East, 905.962.8488

 

day trippin’

On a recent hot and sunny weekday Steve and I decided to do a mini day trip to St. Catharines’ old downtown strip.  To be truthful I had not been in St. Catharines since I was a little kid and the only thing I remembered about the city were its 1970′s suburbs and that huge bridge that crosses over the Welland Canal that makes you feel like you’re driving right up to the sky.  I’d never been to the old downtown St. Catharines and I was pretty excited to take a looksy.

St. Catharines’ downtown is capital O-L-D (for a Souther Ontario city).  According to Wikipedia:

The area was originally known as a storehouse for goods at the crossing of an Iroquois trail over Twelve Mile Creek. Curving Indian trails formed the foundation of the downtown streets as they appear today. Among them remains the largest and most historically-significant of the city, St. Paul Street.

Unlike many planned North American cities whose downtown streets run in a straight grid-like line St. Paul Street curves and meanders along a little ridge mimicking the winding rivery creek that used to run behind it.  There’s no creek back there now, but there is a highway.  This is just my guess as the only indications that there was an old running river was from some old writing I noted on the side of current artsy occupants of Bang On hair salon‘s building that says that it used to be an old flour mill -presumably powered by the current of the river that used to flow behind St. Paul Street?

In any case, our first stop on our mini trip was the  Niagara Artists Centre, which I had been wanting to visit for a quite a while.  It is not by any means a monstrosity of a gallery but similar to the 1-2 room gallery space of  Hamilton Artist Inc.

Artist Jared Charzewski‘s exhibit Salvage Swell was installed in the back gallery.  It was awesome! His sculpture was made up of piles and piles of used clothes.

*Niagara Artists Centre, 354 St.Paul Street, St. Catharines 905.641.0331

A few doors down was vintage clothing store Out of the Past -I know, I know Hamilton has one too but this one is the numero-uno original and I loved it! The prices were so right, and there was such a great collection of items for both men and women.

*Out of the Past, 340 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines 905.288.6007

The next place we happened upon was a real treat.

The Write Book Shop is one of those bookstores that you can get lost in for hours and hours and still have a stock pile of rainy days banked to come back for further exploration. They had two floors plus several back rooms of books ranging form rare antiques to classics, children’s books, books on Ontario, history, crafting, cooking and sewing. You name it they have it.

*The Write Bookshop, 285 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines 905.684.8426

For lunch we stopped in at a vegan restaurant/bakery/café called Rise Above. I first heard about this place via the folks at Mjolk and it looked so good that we decided to check it out for ourselves. The lunch was great and so was the Bill Murray painting exhibit (Still Murray by Grant Redman) but my favourite part of this stop were the vegan donuts. Yeah, it IS possible -vegan donuts!  AND they were good.

You can read more about the creator of these vegan donuts -Kyle Paton here.

I would love for both Kyle (owner of Rise Above) and Bruce Worden (chef or Rise Above) to open up a fresh and contemporary place like this in downtown Hamilton. Can’t you just picture it in one of the storefronts of Treble Hall?

*Rise Above, 120 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines 289.362.2636

I was reading that similar to Hamilton downtown St. Catharines was rampant with one-way streets. In effort to rejuvenate the core they converted their one-ways to two-ways and low and behold look at the new businesses opening up. I’ve even heard rumours of the rerouting of the Niagara Wine Route so that it will eventually pass through St. Catharines’ downtown. Gotta love good city planning and investment in the downtown core!

Overall it was a great little day trip to St. Catharines. I think that it has something going on, and besides I’m always up for a new place to explore.

 

the rise of coffee culture in hamilton

Since moving to Hamilton three years ago, I have seen the growth of some serious coffee culture in this city.

Moving from Toronto, where hip independent cafés and coffee shops abounded, I have to admit I was a little skeptical about how I was going to be able to get my coffee fix in the Hammer. And after I moved, I was, indeed, taken aback that a city the size of Hamilton had a serious lack of “good” coffee shops.

I found myself trekking my way down to Locke Street to indulge in the fail-safe but generic Starbuck’s latte. I on occasion schlepped it all the way to Westdale for a cup at My Dog Joe. My only downtown saving grace was Julia Serna’s delicious fair trade Colombian coffee at what was then the temporary mall location of Hamilton Farmers’ Market. She’s still serving up a fine brew at the renovated Market, along with the amazing Red Hill Coffee stand, which I’m a big fan of, too.

But I digress. What it truly came down to was that I was at a loss for a local café. I wanted a place to sit, sip on a good cup of coffee, chat with a friend and enjoy the atmosphere of a true independent coffee shop downtown.

It didn’t take long after moving to Hamilton that I could tell something was brewing (ahem). I saw the opening of Detour café in Dundas. They expanded from an on-site coffee bean roaster, serving small-scale barista espressos, lattes and the like from their tiny shop in the back of a parking lot, to a full blown beautiful and always packed downtown Dundas café.

I heard stories of the Domestique café in Dundas, which opened in 2010. It caters to coffee enthusiasts and the local cycling community. Their infamous Early Surly coffee blend that could wire a deadbeat is likely what propels those avid road cyclists up that mountain of a climb on Sydenham Road.

Not long after the café culture started in Dundas, I noted gutting and renovating had started at Hotel Hamilton — a former laundromat among other past incarnations on the corner of Mulberry and James Street North. With the main floor’s gorgeous moulded ceilings and mosaic tiled floors being revealed and refurbished, I dreamt the space would one day be home to a downtown independent coffee shop. I remember chatting with one of the developers of the building and he mentioned they were looking to lease the space to a café with the feel of something you might find on Queen West in Toronto. I couldn’t wait!

Pretty soon Mulberry Coffee Shop opened its doors. It was just what the neighbourhood needed. In the short time I’d lived in Hamilton, I saw all this inspiring change happen.

mulberry coffee shop, james st. north, hamilton

exterior of Mulberry St. Coffee House, Hotel Hamilton

mulberry coffee shop, hamilton, ontario, james st. north

Mulberry Coffee House -gorgeous molded ceilings

Mulberry latte

There have been several new coffee shops and cafés that have opened up since then. There’s Cannon Coffee Co. — better known as “The Cannon” — on the corner of Cannon and Ottawa streets. They serve my favourite latte in the city using beans from all of the local Hamilton coffee roasters that I love: Detour, Red Hill, & Speakeasy. There are Red Crow and Radius, both of which opened up recently on James Street South. On King William, there’s the recently opened Baltimore House’s gothic/Victorian themed café and wine bar and also Homegrown Hamilton (formerly Sky Dragon) with their in-house roasted-fresh coffee beans.

red crow coffee, cafe, james st. south, hamilton, ontario

Red Crow Coffee & Espresso Bar, 211 James St. South

homegrown hamilton, coffee, cafe,

Homegrown Hamilton, 27 King William St.

 

What I love is that many if not all of the new coffee shops that have opened are also serving up some phenomenal brunches, snacks and baked goods, giving us Hamiltonians a multitude of options for coffee and treats. Each place is unique, and local, adding their own flavour to the ever-developing coffee culture in Hamilton.

What I’ve discovered since my move is that anything Hamilton may be missing — like, say, a microbrewery or a vegan restaurant or a juice bar — will likely be on its way soon. If it isn’t, get on it: It’s true you can do anything in Hamilton.

My top three coffee shops

1. Detour Coffee: airy, bright atmosphere, great sweet treats, baked goods, soups, salads and the like, fabulous Detour roasted beans; 41 King St. West, Dundas.

2. The Cannon: contemporary style and design with a great people-watching window, best latte in the city, delicious daily lunches and brunches; 179 Ottawa St. North.

3. Mulberry Street Coffee House: love the casual atmosphere, my downtown go-to place for meet-ups, a cup of coffee to go, ginger molasses cookie or a savoury muffin to tide me over; 193 James St. North.

 

You can also find this post printed in The Hamilton Spectator June 9th 2012 here.

 

maps!

One thing I love about Hamilton… are people who love Hamilton too.

When I was taking a French night class a little while back for an assignment we were asked to think of someone we admire to discuss for our next class as a conversation piece.  People talked about Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, their mother or their fathers.  I came to the next class and launched into how much I admire local Hamiltonian Matt Jelly.  I had just moved to Hamilton and was inspired by Matt’s love and passion for this city.  I admired his civic involvement and take-action mentality to get things done and create change.  I like people who do what they say, and while they’re at it get other people motivated to do the same.

I live downtown, and close to the “International Village”, where I usually  rarely make it past Dennigers heading east on King.  I have always thought of King Street as a place with a lot of potential but just a little empty or dare I say vacant?  More recently I have happily noticed new stores popping up in the neighbourhood like MODify Your Closet and Accoutrements.  What pushed me further along east on King was that I really wanted  to check out Matt Jelly’s recent art exhibition of Hamilton maps at Freeway Coffee House.  So off I headed east on King past my usual landmark destination.

On my walk to Freeway I discovered so many new places like Tundra Leather -a one stop shop for all things related to leather and working with leather (tools and all!).  It’s been open since 1963!  How had I never noticed this gem? There’s a new bookshop (J.H. Gordon Books) that’s being primed to open too.

AND then there’s Freeway Coffee House.  What an awesome space!  They serve local Hamilton roasted Red Hill Coffee, they host events and parties, and they have huge windows that stretch nearly the entire length of the vast space between floor to ceiling overlooking the parkette across the street.

I loved Matt Jelly’s Hamilton map exhibit.  I enjoy seeing and experiencing things that I have a direct connection to.  So of course my favourite map was my neighbourhood’s map.

I had a friend that told me that when she was younger she’d always giggle and say “cooties” instead of “Cootes”.  Haha Cooties Paradise.

Matt’s exhibit is showing at Freeway Coffee House until May 11th.  If you’ve never been to Freeway or that neck of King Street go and check it out. Grab a coffee at Freeway check out Jelly’s maps, and then head over to J. H. Gordon Books, which is scheduled to open this month.

*Freeway Coffee House, 333 King St. East

bánh mì

I have an addiction.  I am addicted to Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches.

My favourite place for a classic bánh mì in Hamilton is from none other than Tung Hing bakery.

The bread is made in house and sometimes it’s so fresh that they won’t seal the clear cellophane sandwich bag so that the steam from the hot mini-baguette doesn’t make the sandwich soggy -mmm those days are my favourite!

I’m a fan of the $3.25 grilled chicken bánh mì made spicy with a sprinkling of fresh green chilies, cucumber, coriander, pickled daikon, carrots, and a special sauce.

The thing I like about this particular bakery is that A. it is attached to B&T Foods, which is my one stop shop for all my Asian necessities in grocery shopping and B. it has some of the most delicious pastries, savoury treats and steamed buns.

My mom loves it when I swing by for an afternoon tea after having picked up a whole box of puffed meat pastry, pâté chaud, and deep fried sesame balls with lotus paste filling.

I do somtimes venture out for a Vietnamese sandwich from Bánh Mì Excellence next to August 8 at the corner of James St. north and Wilson (shh -don’t tell the folks at Tung Hing) which is good too, but I always find myself coming back to Tung Hing proclaiming my love for more of their bánh mì.

*Tung Hing Café & Sweets, 103 Queen St. north (at Queen and York Blvd. next to B&T Foods), 905.527.8333

 

cannon coffee co.

I love, love, love Cannon Coffee Co!  It is just the type of coffee house that the east end needs.  Cannon Coffee is on the corner of Ottawa and Cannon, and has a gorgeous wide angled street view from their corner window.

Opening its doors just in time for the Christmas rush, owners Anne Cumby and Cindy Stout are serving up some of the best coffees in the city using locally roasted beans from Detour, Red Hill, and (soon to be added to the roster) Speakeasy, AND they are also baking muffin tops (yeah I know how is that even possible!?) cookies, scones and other delicious sweet treats too.

When we stopped in for a mid Friday afternoon coffee the shop was successfully abuzz with nothing but people who were just really excited to drop in and check out the fresh new space and have a coffee.

Cindy and Anne are so sweet and charming, and happily chatted with Steve and I about how they put their whole space together.  No doubt the ladies have been working hard to get everything set up and ready to go.  It really is a true work of inspiration and dedication and they have definitely been successful in creating a unique space where you just want to sit and look out those big wide windows for hours.

cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north, owners Anne Cumby and Cindy Stout
cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north, light installation Enoch Kuu

The light installation is the work of Toronto designer Enoch Khuu.  The table art book is a published work of photographs and artwork by the super talented Brooks Reynolds, whom I believe is a Hamilton local.

cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north, owners Anne Cumby and Cindy Stout

Original tiles and ghostly blue-grey hand finished pine plank floors.

cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north, Cindy Stout

cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north, lattes, coffee

This was honestly the best latte I’ve ever had (thanks Cindy!).  Mine is on the right. I take it with a little swirl of honey.  I swear with each sip I would sigh and say something really cliché in all seriousness like “mmmm this is so delicious I could die”, or “this is the best latte ever”.

cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north

cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north, owners Anne Cumby and Cindy Stout

Owners Cindy Stout and Anne Cumby.

cannon coffee co. Hamilton, ontario, 179 Ottawa St. north

 

*179 Ottawa St. north, kitty corner from Steel Town Pickers, open M-F 7-6. S 9-8. S+S 9-5. 905.912.1980

bmore

Baltimore House opened its doors last week on King William!  It’s a great spot and charmingly decorated in all its gothic goodness.  I had about 30 minutes before work one morning to stop by and grab a coffee.  I got an americano and besides being amazing, it was rich, full-bodied, creamy, not too bitter, AND it kept me going for the rest of the morning.

I’d like to stop by again to check out their Victorian parlour (when it opens in the new year), where I’d like to spend a snowy afternoon reading and relaxing in a comfy and cozy chair.  Especially now that the course I’ve been working on is wrapped up and done I will finally have the time to enjoy a place like this.

I’ve heard great things about their sandwiches too, so I will definitely be back to do some more food drink sampling.

Bmore  I think you’re my Hamilton dream come true. Did I hear talk of film nights, and a theatrical production of the Importance of Being Ernest, or am I just making this up?  AND a regular night for album spotlights (open mic for vinyl every Tuesday)!  Amazing.

For more reading on Baltimore House check out the Spec’s feature article here.

*Baltimore House, 43 King William St., Hamilton, 289.396.4830

paris

Oh, Paris… Paris, Ontario that is. A few weeks back Steve and I stopped by the small town of Paris, Ontario. The town is 160 years old and is at the cross section of two major southern Ontario rivers; the Grand River, and the Ninth River.

The Grand River, Paris, Ontario

Although Paris is beautiful, it is not, as one might think, named after la belle ville de Paris because of its notable elegance and beauty.  In fact, the town of Paris, Ontario actually bares no resemblance or connection to Paris, France whatsoever.  Its name actually came to be as a result of the large amounts of gypsum found in the area, which is used in the making of plaster of Paris.  It is also the location of where the first long distance telephone call was received by Alexander Graham Bell.

Oh, Paris you do not cease to amaze me!

Spring TIme in Paris, Ontario

Spring time in Paris as the sign connotes would be beautiful.  But I would chance a guess that fall in Paris, Ontario would be just as picturesque.  The river is lined with trees, and is banked with a row of old buildings that overlook the Grand.  I remember when I took the train in to visit Steve at his artist residency in Windsor going by Paris and thinking to myself that I definitely wanted to stop through this charming town.

If you do ever find your way to Paris, Ontario in fall, spring or summer, you can rent a canoe or kayak and do some river cruising, while enjoying the scenery.  There are also the rail trails that extend from Hamilton to Brantford and then Brantford to Paris.  I saw a lot of bikers on the Paris rail trail as we made our way out of town.

Grand Experience Canoe & Kayaking, Paris, Ontario, boat rentals, Grand River

One of the best parts of our trip to Paris were the treats!  I had a black cherry ice-cream from the ice-cream shop across from the Canadian Tire that had been retrofitted into a historic old building (why can’t more cities do this!).  We picked up some sweet and delicious treats form the Paris Bakery for the road.

The Paris Bakery, Paris, Ontario, baked goods, treats, Grand River

Then we went for a coffee at the Brown Dog Coffee and Frittery.

Brown Dog Coffee Shop & Frittery

Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Grand River, Paris, Ontario, deepfried cheese cake, deep fried banana split

Yes, yes you can! You can get apple fritters, cheese cake fritters, and a banana split fritter!

hand crank apple peeler, Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Paris, Ontario

Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Paris, Ontario, Waterdown, apple fritters

Fresh apple fritters!  What a fantastic fall treat.  Coincidentally the city of Waterdown as of September 23rd will be home to the 2nd 3rd Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery.  So this means that I’m just that much closer to having fresh apple fritters paired with super amazing coffee on a more regular basis.  Mmmmm.

*Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe & Frittery, 63 Grand River St., Paris, ON, 519.302.0722

*Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe & Frittery, 312 Dundas St., Waterdown, ON.

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