Summer may be winding down, and with it SummerFeast (August 13 – September 1), a culinary adventure in the Headwaters region that pays homage to local talent, but it’s not too late to enjoy what chefs in the area are creating with regional products. The restaurants being showcased have made an effort to source ingredients close to home, hormone free meat, and organic produce wherever possible. SummerFeast offers Prix Fixe menus for lunch and dinner, $20 and $40 respectively. It’s then left to the amateur foodie to choose his or her setting.
The menus are the result of blending experience with the challenge of creating dishes reflective of this region. What that means is a combination of international influences that have in the last several decades become essentially local, as people from around the world have made their homes in the area. There is a surprising selection of restaurants in the Headwaters region and I was pleased that my difficulty lay not in finding a good menu to sample, but rather in choosing one from so many.
Diners have the option of Bistro, Fusion, Italian, French, Mediterranean, Pub, and Continental. I chose Bistro Riviere, which offers a tempting Fusion menu and invited my mother along for a girls’ night out. Make your way up Main Street in Erin, Ontario and choose a seat on the patio overlooking the river or get comfortable in the dining room. Owners Thorntin and Sonia Macdonald will make certain you’re served great fare in a friendly setting.
We were seated at a window table with a view of the Anglican Church across the street. There is no way to forget that one is in a small Ontario town and that is part of the charm of Bistro Riviere. What follows is pure fun for the palette.
While there is a fine selection of wines and beers I chose sparkling water to accompany the meal since I was on driver duty. Shortly after being seated the breadbasket arrived. But this isn’t just any bread. It’s been baked with a light cheese coating and made in house. The bread is served with what may now be my favourite hummus, arugula hummus. I had plans to eat only one slice, but that changed after the first bite. This was no time to ration my bread consumption.
A crostini topped with mozzarella (again, made in house), tomato, and basil drizzled with balsamic reduction was served first. The tomatoes were perfectly ripened and tasted of summer. It was a fresh intro to the meal. A cold tomato and cucumber soup served with a spoonful of banana pepper guacamole followed the amuse. The vegetables, garlic, and spices are blended in such harmony that none overpowers the other. I can frankly say that had the meal ended with the soup I would have deemed it successful.
Next came the entrée and I chose the sirloin. It’s not my usual go-to, but Bistro Riviere had me at the mention of goat cheese and a Yukon and sweet potato mash. I’ve been served overdone steaks before and was very happy that this one was cooked as I requested, medium rare. The sirloin is topped with goat cheese and kumato tomatoes and placed over the potato mash and (as the menu humorously points our) ‘some really nice vegetables.’ In this case it was bok choy and asparagus and they were indeed really nice.
The meal ended over coffee and dessert; apple dumplings sprinkled with honey and cinnamon. We weren’t rushed during our meal and I liked the unpretentious setting that hints of southern Europe. The food is the focus. As it should be.
We sat inside on the evening we ate at Bistro Riviere. The night was muggy and the mosquitos were busy, but the next time I’m in Erin there’s a spot on the patio waiting for me where I can relax with a cool beverage and what I know will be a delicious meal.
82 Main Street, Erin, ON
I am a freelance writer based in the ‘burbs west of Toronto writing articles with a focus on family, travel, and food. I’ve published online at Canadian Living Moms, Yummy Mummy Club, and Balance My Life. I write Jack Straw Lane; a blog about life and trying to balance running, kids’ homework, and my search for the perfect croissant.
When presented with the opportunity for new discoveries, either in our backyard or several time zones away, my family and I jump at it. A perfect day blends food, tradition, and cultural experience served with a side of travel. I believe most things can be improved on with an extra helping of humour.