If I asked you to imagine dining alfresco, what image would come to mind? Would you visualize a backyard poolside patio, families enjoying the beachfront picnic tables or perhaps picture yourself under an umbrella at a waterfront restaurant terrace watching the sunset over Kempenfelt Bay?
I am fairly certain that your vision wouldn’t include rows of tables covered in white linen, set with sparkling silver for a five course feast at the Barrie Bus Terminal.
Curb Appeal is an opportunity for five of downtown Barrie’s best restaurants to work both individually and collaboratively, no, that’s not a contradiction of terms, bringing to the table their best for guests to experience a gastronomic tour de force.
Libations of the red and white varietals were courtesy of Ryan Traversy while Redline Brewhouse provided the suds. The weather was perfect for sipping, strolling, tasting and tossing back a tomato soup shooter from Lazy Tulip, with a tiny perfect grilled cheese triangle. This melting, a symbolic representation of the rich downtown camaraderie; cheese from J’adore, bread from Homestead Artisan Bakery & Café, grilled to a gentle toasty crisp from the Grilled Cheese Social Eatery of course!
I recognized the music chosen to welcome diners from the first notes. The Petula Clark classic ‘Downtown’ as played by Ben Lemen of Stonetrotter, with the dulcet tones of singer Courtney Dubois, the perfect audio accompaniment.
Sushi from KoHyang House came complete with chopsticks, beautiful BBQ pork brioche buns from Homestead Artisan Bakery & Café were addictively good. Cheese trays from J’adore are always magnificent, but might I gently suggest they be presented at the traditional time; after the meal, post dessert, with a tip of port and delicious dark chocolate. Cheese and chocolate, as J’adore is so named, are the best of friends; Jessi Rae Fournier is onboard for this pairing Chefs!
Although the coming and goings of the buses was slightly disconcerting, the weather was perfect, décor artfully atmospheric, the service flawless. Diners chatted with old friends and new acquaintances; sharing food has an amazing bonding influence.
For anyone new to Barrie this would be a great opportunity to experience the cuisine of some of our finest downtown restaurants; creativity flourishes with the opportunity to create unique items not on their regular menu, and while designing each course is the responsibility of one Chef and their team, everyone works together plating and serving. This is collaboration; this is our downtown community in action.
Painters Hall opened the evening with a rich escargot and wild mushroom ragout appetizer on puff pastry with pesto.
The wine pairings came quickly, unfortunately I was unable to capture the names, a menu with wine list would be a great addition for those of us that like to keep track.
Chef Marco Ormonde from The North presented his version of salad Niçoise, his seared tuna was divine, the curried leeks added a twist of crunch, my personal favourite dish of the evening.
A traditional noodle dish with gentle flavour was offered from Ko Hyang House.
Chef Randy Feltis, the driving force behind Curb Appeal offered Hickory smoked ribs, spring slaw with mint and panko crusted corn on the cob. Bring on the summer flavours!
Dessert was from the Orillia location of Kenzington Burger Bar, Brandon’s crew served a double; one rolled, one tart, with raspberry coulis and crumbled sponge toffee, a very sweet finish to the meal.
I was pleased but not surprised to learn that a generous donation was made to the David Busby Street Centre from the Curb Appeal crew.
Altruism is a commodity in our downtown, generous sponsors of events give back to the community, local merchants are known for paying it forward in unique ways.
The fabulous feast that is Curb Appeal is not only an amazing act of culinary creativity, it is a welcoming gathering, a cross sections of Barrie community members, showing what can be done when we work together.